Tuesday, February 15, 2011

10 Days of Getting Started: To Co-op or Not to Co-op?

That is the question. Do we join a homeschool co-op? Lots of other families do it. Should we? I've been asked to share some schooling with a few friends. Is it worth it? I'm sure some of you have been asked or you know about a local co-op and you wonder if it's a good idea to join.

There are advantages and disadvantages to being a part of a homeschool co-op. Co-ops provide some extra fun for the kids and a chance for them to interact with other homeschoolers. At our co-op my kids get to learn things they might not do as much here- like being part of a play or doing pioneer crafts for ten whole weeks! The downside to participating in a co-op is they can make you too busy depending on how long it is and your role there at the co-op.They add to your homeschool expense (very important to consider if you have limited funds to work with as it is) and they take away time at home schooling which is a topic I will talk about soon!

As you think about whether a co-op is right for your homeschool, consider the following things. 
  • How long is the co-op? How much of the day will it cost you? How long per semester?
  • How much will the co-op cost? Overall and for individual classes?
  • What kinds of classes are taught there? Is it strongly academic or is it extra-curricular focused?
  • What is your level of commitment, as an adult, to the co-op once you join? Can you handle what is being asked of you?
  • Consider your homeschooling vision. Does this co-op line up with the things you value for your school?
I'm going to be talking about keeping things simple in a future post. As a new homeschooler, it is best to get to know your student before taking them out to a regular commitment. So, I would avoid any co-op that is longer than a couple of hours.

Consider the focus of the co-op. One of the things I love about our homeschooling co-op is that it truly is focused on the extracurricular stuff. Having too many hard core classes going on can begin to shift the home right out of the homeschool! Our chapter leader gently reminds us of that often. I want a co-op to offer my kids some fun along with getting to learn with others.

Co-ops are not a good way to keep things simple in your homeschool! Honestly, my recommendation to is to hold off on joining a co-op until you have a good command of your school.  It is difficult enough to get things going in the right direction consistently without adding in extra activities.

Our co-op is two hours long with a 20 minute recess. We meet once a week on Mondays for ten weeks each semester. On the last day we get to enjoy a Co-op Night and see performances and the class showcases. Here's a peek at ours from this past fall. We offer mostly extra-curricular type classes and the kids all have a great time. I'm not interested in a more formal, longer co-op. I find them unnecessary even though they are very popular.

Make sure what is happening at this co-op is worth your time and make sure it aligns with the vision for your school.

I did a post on our co-op within the last year. You can find out more about the specifics if you'd like.

See you next time!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

6 comments:

Kim said...

I know you said your co-op is two hours. Is that weekly or daily?

Heather said...

Sorry! I'll add this in. It's once a week for ten weeks each semester.

Lori said...

I like your thoughts on this. I did jump in to a co op right away and it was too much. For our second year of homeschooling, I made the commitment to a few regular events that did not add stress to our day (we did a once a month park day and a once a month skate day). This was a much better way to get settled in to a routine.

I have enjoyed your getting started posts.

T8ermomma said...

We didn't do co-op for the first 3 years. My kids were in 4th & 1st when we began homeschooling and I had to toddlers. Co-op would have been way too much for us then. BUT now that all 4 kids are doing school it offers us a great change not only from our norm, but also from each other! :) It gives us a chance to learn to interact with others, instead of just killing our siblings!! ;) We love co-op now!! Who know's what's coming for next year though!
Our co-op is 3 1-hour classes with lunch.

Patty:
www.homeschoolblogger.com/shiveracademy

Kisha said...

I would love to join a co-op but the timing was never right. We either lived in an area where there were very few homeschoolers or the boys were too young to even think about me doing any outside activities. I'll probably join one once we leave the states.

Heather said...

Patty I agree! When my kids were younger and we were just starting out it was just not necessary.

We all love it now, but it's a short break and a fun time. Much more than that, I'm not sure I would still go for it.

Kisha, I hope you find the right one when you return to the states!

Heather