Three years ago, a homeschooling friend of mine approached me and invited me to join the academic Co-Op she was starting for homeschooling families. I had never really thought about it before. What should I do?
Before I join anything, I like to know what the bottom line is. How much will it cost and what am I getting for my money? Costs add up with homeschooling because we pretty much have to pay for everything. Could we afford this new group? Are there supply fees or sign up costs?
Academics or Social
Co-Ops can vary in their emphasis. We are part of two different Co-Ops. One is a LEAH (Loving Education at Home) group for support and we meet once per month for our kids to have organized social interaction. The focus is on kids making friends and moms connecting. Our other Co-Op meets once per week for classroom instruction and the emphasis is on academics with group participation. Click here for info on NY state LEAH: https://www.leah.org/
Understanding what your kids need is an essential part of being a successful homeschooling parent. Are they craving more time with friends? Do they need accountability that a class would provide to get through a certain subject? Is there an area that they would love to learn more about outside of what you can provide at home? Keep in mind that your child’s needs may be very different from your own. I’ve seen introverted moms turn down Co-Ops because they didn’t see the value in adding one more thing to their To-Do list. Yet, their kids were really desiring more time with friends. The needs of a social child are very different from those of a less social parent.
When kids see their peers perform in class it can spur motivation in an area that maybe was lacking before. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the class I teach at our weekly Co-Op. Kids who have hated writing previously are now excited about getting their next story written. The main ingredient that has been fostering motivation in the students is a positive peer review that each child receives after his or her work is shared with the class. The Co-Op setting is providing encouragement for kids to succeed academically.
Homeschooling parents appreciate the control they have over the education of their kids. If you join a group then you are going to have to let go of some of that control which may be hard. There will be the ebb and flow of group dynamics to flex with. Your child may not like certain teachers. You as a parent may have to tolerate another mom that does things differently than you do. The leader of the group may rub you the wrong way on occasion or make decisions for the group that you disagree with.
Being a part of a Co-Op is going to require work from the parents. Groups do not run themselves. You will not be able to drop your child off and then leave to accomplish your errands for the day. It’s a good idea to check out what is expected of you before you sign up. If you are already in a hectic season with your kids maybe there is a manageable task you can do for the group and then gradually you can do more.
Find a group today! For a list of homeschooling Co-Ops nationwide click here: https://www.homeschool-life.com/custom/49456.
We also have a directory of homeschool support groups, organized by state by clicking here.
Sarah Brutovski is a homeschool mom of three children. She grew up just down the street from where she and her husband are raising their family now in rural Upstate New York. When she is not teaching her kids, grocery shopping, or drinking coffee you might find her training for a half marathon, escaping for a morning at the beach, or chatting on the phone with one of her four siblings. Sarah loves writing on her blog sarahswritingcafe.blogspot.com and currently teaches creative writing at her kids’ weekly co-op.