I love co-op!
Every Monday we happily trek off to our co-op bright and early (not all that early). We spend the day there. The kids all take 4 classes and I am the executive director and teach two classes. When I look ahead to those days after my kids graduate, I can hardly bear the thought of not being able to come to co-op. I’m sure God will provide me with an outlet for this passion or change it when the time comes, but until then, I’m going to enjoy every minute.
The services that our co-op provides to our family is indispensable to us. I think that co-ops are such a great service for homeschoolers to participate in that I want to devote a part of my blog to talking about them, sharing information that can be helpful to their leaders, and to help inspire creative ideas for activities and classes.
Co-opping (for lack of a better term) can add a depth to your homeschool experience in a way that no other type of educational format can provide.
It is usually inexpensive compared to cottage schools, and definitely compared to private schools. Of course these are three very different types of institutions. Co-ops and cottages schools are most similar, whereas private schools and public schools are more closely related. But for what you get, a homeschool co-op is by far the least expensive option. It is also relatively inexpensive because usually co-ops are staffed mainly by volunteers. There is just no way to beat the cost of a volunteer.
Co-ops can give you opportunities to satisfy that all important question (not really all that important) of how to socialize your children. Each week your children get to visit with their friends and interact in a classroom setting. And the best part, so do you! Plus, there are always additional actives going on like mom’s night out and play groups. The vast majority of my kids’ friends came from our relationships at co-op.
Belonging to a co-op can give you an opportunity to put many of your activities under one umbrella. Depending on how your homeschool co-op is set up, you may be able to use it like a one stop shop for all those classes you may run to each week like art, music, scouts, academic classes and PE. Your co-op may also provide opportunities for field trips, sports, or other similar clubs and activities. This saves gas, time, and money.
Co-ops can also provide needed academic classes that you may either not feel comfortable with teaching or provide you with an opportunity to have access to a teacher that knows a bit more, or maybe even a lot more about a subject than you do. Often parents bring their strongest skill to the table, so the variety of classes is as varied as the members of your homeschool co-op.
Of course not all co-ops are built the same and not all families enjoy them as much as I do, but the possibilities are endless with co-ops because they are so dependent on the members’ needs and personalities. If you don't find what you like at one, you are likely to find it at another, and if you don't find it there, you can always start one up yourself.
When I signed up to be a founding member of our homeschool co-op I had no experience with co-ops at all, nor did the other two ladies who co-founded with me. We had absolutely no idea what to do or how to do it, we just knew that we wanted to be a part of a co-op. From what we had read and heard from friends it sounded like fun. Unfortunately, there was not a co-op that was convenient to our homes. We knew that we could make it happen if we had a little help, but as I searched the blogosphere, I didn’t really find a whole lot. There was a plethora of information on homeschooling, but not very much out there for co-ops specifically. Now that I have some experience under my belt, I want to share what I have learned.
I invite you to share your experiences, advice, and ideas about co-opping with my readers. Post your thoughts below in the comment section. I may not use every idea that crosses my email. I will send you a response if I decide to use your submission in a blog post so that you can link to it if you so choose.