One of the most frequently asked questions I get from homeschool moms is "Should I join a co-op". I cannot imagine homeschooling without my co-op group. I enjoy our sense of community, the encouragement, and the friendships we have made over the years. But a quality homeschool co-op group can offer so much more...
What is a homeschool co-op?
A homeschool co-op is a group of families who meet together and work cooperatively to achieve common goals. This is HUGE! (make sure you agree with common goals)
Looking for a co-op group is like going to the ice cream shop...so many flavors! Some are purely academic with paid teachers. Some groups meet together and just enjoy field trips. Homegrown, my co-op, is a good mixture of both academic and fun!
The first step for deciding if a co-op is right for you
So, the first thing you need to do, before committing to your local co-op group, is to attend an open house or a visitation day. This will allow you and your children to see how the group operates. Spend time viewing various classes, talk with moms, and even visit again. Check out their policies, what classes will be offered, and any fees that you will be required to pay. Then, go and visit another group. It's my personal opinion that one should not join a co-op until you have visited several and spend time in prayer. Ask the Lord to direct your path.
Related Content: Find local co-ops near you.
Remember, a co-op is NOT a support group....although the friendships you make with other moms are a wonderful support system...especially when you want to give up this crazy homeschool life. But rather it will require commitment and dedication...even when little Johnny doesn't want to get up and go to Friday classes.
Are you ready for the commitment?
Joining a co-op is making a commitment. Our homeschool co-op, for example, puts every mom on a teaching team. For example, last year I was on the middle school science team. It was so much fun teaching the human body with three other nurses. The students read their textbook and did all the workbook material at home. Then each Friday we held a "lab" group. We dissected frogs, fish, took food coloring and learned the blood flow through the heart, and so much more! The kids had a blast. But, as part of the team, I had to prepare.
What's good about our co-op is that each group gets a planning hour. Although we had met over the summer, while our kids played, and made a basic game plan we still needed to plan weekly for some cool human body experiments. It offered my kids a chance to participate in some fun labs...that I'd probably never had done at home while offering me some wonderful fellowship.
Why a co-op might work for your family
1. Co-ops provide group learning
Homeschool co-ops promote group learning through raising hands, waiting for your turn, public speaking and group projects.
2. Co-ops allow you to learn from others
It's a great chance to share and learn from others. We have really utilized the talents of our moms...especially those who love science! This is great if you are weak in a particular subject and don't think you would be good at teaching it to your children.
3. Co-ops share expenses
Science lab equipment can be very expensive, especially during the high school years. We usually put 2-4 students per lab group and split the costs. And the kids love to do science labs with their friends!
4. Co-ops give a sense of accountability
It gives our children...and our moms...a sense of accountability. They need to learn to turn in papers, follow a syllabus, and stay on track.
5. Co-ops help share the teaching load
Our co-op maximizes my time! I could never pull off all those science labs myself. I love going each Friday to our science labs, knowing that my kids will have a great learning experience while having some much fun. AND I didn't have to do it all myself!
6. Joining a co-op changes up your routine
It's a break from the everyday routine...for both student and mom. From field trips to classes... it's something to look forward to each and every week.
7. Co-ops promote fellowship
Fellowship and socializing are important for both the parents and the kids. One of the biggest concerns from new homeschool moms is if their child is getting enough time socializing with peers. Homeschool co-ops provide a place where not just your kids can make friends, but also where you can make friends!
8. Co-op graduation
Most co-ops I have been to host a graduation ceremony every year for their seniors. This gives them a great feeling of accomplishment and is a lot of fun! We also keep a directory of all our graduates so that family and friends can write them encouraging messages. See
Popular Article: Why Your Homeschool Senior Needs a Graduation Ceremony
9. The best part about joining a homeschool co-op are the field trips!
I LOVE a good field trip and it's so much more fun with our friends! Plus, homeschool co-ops often get group rates making the field trips more affordable. Find a field trip near you
Recommended Article: Go on a Field Trip and Fill Your Life with Adventures!
NO co-op in your local area? Why not start your own! When we moved to Maryland that's exactly what I did. I was shocked at how many moms showed up for our first interest meeting.
NO place to host a large group? No problem. While we lived in Florida we had a small group of 5 moms that met weekly. We rotated houses, went on field trips together, and became such good friends.
I know you are probably wanting details on how I started Homegrown Homeschool Co-Op-but that's for another blog post. For now, if you are local to the Harford or Cecil County area come for a visit! We are having open house meetings on March 20th & 27th, 2020 at Strong Tower Church. To register, please go to our website at https://www.homeschool-life.com/MD/homegrowncoop/
Are you currently in a co-op? What do you love about your co-op? Let me know in the comment section below! Also, help others find your co-op by submitting it to our homeschool co-op search tool! Submit Here
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