Cooperative learning, in the form of homeschool co-ops, can be very beneficial for both parent and child. In a homeschool co-op, children have the opportunity to learn a subject their parents may not be as qualified to teach, such as Spanish, chemistry or algebra.
Image credit: Tiany Davis
Socialization, fellowship and relationship building are also great benefits of joining a co-op.
While the thought of organizing your own co-op might seem overwhelming, with some direction and teamwork it can be successful and rewarding. Creating a homeschool co-op for your local homeschool community will be a lot of work — but the rewards are many.
Decide on the size of your co-op
The steps you will take to set up a homeschool co-op will depend greatly on how large a group you would like to include.
If you live in an area with a small homeschool community, you can decide to create a smaller co-op with just a few families who share the same philosophy.
You can do monthly field trips, park days and or have a parent teach a certain subject based around their expertise.
Decide if you will have an open or closed co-op, and if you plan to host a larger group, you should decide on the number of students or families you are willing to include.
Don’t play co-op superwoman
You will not want the starting and running of the co-op to be a one-woman show. Find a trusted few that share your vision for the co-op and create a co-op board. Meet with your board to outline the vision of your co-op, write a mission statement or statement of faith, choose a name and create membership prerequisites. Enlist parents that are willing to teach classes, help in the daycare or assist the teachers. Remember that a co-op does not have to limit itself to academics alone — music, art and martial arts are all great additions to a co-op.
Image credit: Tiany Davis
Find a location to hold the co-op
With the size of your homeschool co-op in mind, choose a location to hold regular meetings. Most co-ops are held at churches, recreation centers, parks or public libraries.
Choose your classes
Writing, chemistry, physics, anatomy, algebra, art, geography, WWII, Lego education, drama, pottery, music appreciation… the possibilities are endless!
Create a schedule
You will need to choose the day of the week the co-op will meet. Most co-ops meet just one or two days each week. Create a daily schedule for classes according to age groups and/or grade level. Decide which month your co-op will begin and when it will end. Many co-ops start in September. You may also want to consider taking the month of December off and note holidays and when they fall throughout the year. You also may want to schedule in parties, fun days and or extra-curricular activities apart from your co-op day.
Be creative and enjoy yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the co-op — delegate! Build relationships, make memories and above all, allow the children to have fun!
Tell us: Do you belong to a homeschool cooperative? How has it been a benefit to your child’s homeschool journey?