How to Decide if a Homeschool Co-op is for You

A homeschool co-op can provide unique opportunities for you and your children. They can also add busyness and stress to your family life. It’s wise to think through why you want to join a co-op and whether the benefits for your family outweigh the drawbacks.

How to Decide if a Homeschool Co-op is for You

Benefits of a Homeschool Co-op

  • Co-ops are a wonderful way for you and your kids to establish friendships. Seeing the same people week after week provides the consistency that is often needed in making friends.
  • They can fill gaps in your children’s education. You might not have the time, talent or interest to teach art, do science experiments or have lengthy literature discussions with your kids. However, another parent might be eager to teach those topics to a group of students.
  • Children can gain confidence in working in groups and speaking in front of peers.
  • A co-op can help you stay on schedule with school work. If your kids are taking one of their core subjects at the co-op, then you will be held accountable to keeping up with the lessons. (This could be a drawback as well.)
  • Gathering together with like-minded families on a regular basis can provide you with much needed support and encouragement.

Drawbacks of a Homeschool Co-op

  • Co-op takes a day out of your regular homeschool schedule. It often means squeezing five days of work into four days so you can attend the co-op classes.
  • Joining a co-op can interrupt nap times if you have little ones.
  • Juggling a baby at co-op can be a challenge for moms who also need to help in their older children’s classes.
  • When you attend a co-op you are forced to stick to a schedule. Families who homeschool for flexibility will find the co-op structure very constrictive.
  • Depending on your personality, you and your children might be exhausted after a day of co-op.
  • Your children might become aware and even insecure about academic or developmental weaknesses that they have as they compare themselves to their peers in the classroom setting.

Consider Your Family’s Needs

It is important to consider your family’s needs and desires when deciding whether to attend a co-op. You will also want to ask some questions of the co-op coordinator to see if that particular co-op is a good fit for your family. Here are some questions to think about.

  • Are you looking for core academic classes or fun, enrichment classes?
  • Is the co-op open to all homeschoolers or is it exclusive to families with particular values and beliefs?
  • Do you prefer an inclusive or exclusive group? Think about whether you want someone with different values and religious beliefs teaching your child.
  • Are siblings allowed to participate?
  • Does the parent have to stay on site?
  • What is required of participating families? Do you have to teach a class or help in one? Are you required to help with set up or clean up?
  • What is the total cost of the co-op? Do they have discounts for large families?
  • How are the co-op fees used? Is it used to cover the facility rental and supplies for the class or are the coordinators profiting from the co-op?

My family has enjoyed being a part of local co-ops throughout the years. We usually end up joining a co-op one year, burning out by the end and opting to pass on co-op the next year. Then, after a year off of classes we are usually eager to jump back in and participate in another co-op the following year.

We love the friendships that we build at homeschool co-ops but we grow tired of the way it ties up our family schedule. One year on, one year off, seems to work for us! Does your family attend a homeschool co-op?

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Comments

  1. Great tips, I’ve experienced a bit of all of this. The benefits and the drawbacks. We participate in a weekly group, at times we have added a second coop that is more extra curricular focused but generally that takes too much time away from home for us.

  2. Thank you for this! I have really felt hesitant about joining any formal Co-Ops for just these reasons. If my son is having a difficult day, I need the flexibility to change our routine. I am just sticking to social gatherings right now, and loose child led meet ups.

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