We have enjoyed hosting a homeschool cooperative in our home for the past 7 years. In a co-op, families join together to share in the instruction of their students.
Whether it’s a core subject, elective courses, or physical fitness, the goal is to work together.
The word cooperative is defined as “involving mutual assistance in working toward a common goal”. That goal is the success of our students. If you aren’t familiar with homeschool cooperatives but are intrigued by the thought, here are a few ways you can become involved!
Look to your local support group
Most states offer enrichment opportunities for homeschoolers. Some are divided by region, but others are established locally. If you have not joined your local support group, I strongly encourage you to do so. Through your local support group you will find community with other homeschool families, social activities, and many times, an opportunity for group classes.
It’s nearly impossible to be a master at every subject your child is taking, especially when they reach upper middle school and high school. A local support group will help you find other parents who are strong in the areas you feel weak…and it’s such a blessing to find other parents who struggle with the same challenges you do.
Seek out a private cooperative
One of the blessings of home education is the opportunity to tailor your child’s education. Depending on where you live, you probably have the freedom to select your course schedule and determine which classes your student completes at home or in a group setting.
Ask the parents of your student’s homeschooled friends if there are any families getting together to work through a particular subject. You may be surprised to find that there are more group education options than you realize. Even if they are meeting to cover a subject you feel comfortable teaching, the opportunity to enjoy time together is beneficial.
Create your own cooperative
You’ve searched and searched and have not found a co-op to join…now what? Create your own.
Yes, you can create your own group class and the plan for doing so is fairly simple. It will take organization and commitment, but isn’t that already a key element for a successful home school? When developing your plan consider the following.
Subject matter. Will you focus be on a core subject or an elective? Science labs are always more fun to do in groups and literary studies greatly benefit from group discussion. Additionally, subjects that require an audience, such as public speaking or debate, are great choices for a co-op.
Determine your curriculum. Find curriculum with teacher guides that are easy to follow and student work for varying levels. Students study and progress at different paces, so finding a curriculum that can be adjusted to meet the student’s academic level is important. Also remember that many curriculum suppliers offer discounts on group purchases. Consider implementing a “book fee” in your sign up process and order in bulk for savings!
Who will join you? Sometimes it’s easier to determine who will join you in your co-op, then determine what you will study. Finding a core group of families to share in your educational journey will not only provide friendship, but also will allow you to balance strengths and weaknesses in your teaching styles. Organization, communication, experience, and hospitality are all things that can be divided among the families in leadership.
Where to meet. Often, the size of your group will determine where you meet for class and there are benefits and challenges to every location. Churches, your home, a local coffee shop, or family businesses can all be potential locations. As you search for locations, keep in mind your cost, insurance requirements, ease of location (is it in a central location or out of the way), and if you decide to meet in a home remember that cold and flu season will affect what students bring to your home and your ability to host if your family is sick.
As we prepare for our 8th year hosting a co-op in our home, I am once again reminded of how thankful I am to walk through the challenges of upper level studies with treasured friends. I will be praying that you find that treasure as well!
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