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Do I Need a Co-Op?

ORGANIZED UNDER: Getting Support // Homeschool 101

What is a Co-Op?

The word “co-op” is a catch-all word to describe a group of homeschoolers who get together for a purpose. In practice, co-ops are as varied as the homeschoolers who put them together. Some co-ops meet occasionally and irregularly just for field trips or special activities. Others meet at least weekly for elective or core courses. Some function similarly to a school, while others are very fluid. In some regions, these variations go by different names. For instance, the word “association” may be used in place of co-op in some regions to refer to the more fluid groups, distinguishing co-ops as definitively academic.

It is not necessary for your family to join a co-op to successfully homeschool. If you would prefer help with some subjects, would like the social interaction of a homeschool group, or just want to change things up a bit, a co-op might be just the thing for you.

Points to Ponder

Are you interested in exploring or joining a co-op? Here is some information that might help in your search.

Finding a Co-op

Unless you live in a rural area, there is likely to already be a co-op near you. You can usually find one by contacting your state home education group or asking at your local library.

Creating a Co-op

If you don’t have a co-op in your area, you might be able to find another homeschool family or two that would be interested in taking trips or getting together for activities.

Extracurricular

Urban areas often have large, well-organized homeschool groups. Some even have their own sports, speech or debate teams, or other organized extracurricular activities.

Commitment

Organized co-ops that offer classes generally ask you to sign up for the year (or at least the semester) ahead of time and may charge a fee to join.

Co-Op Structure

You will want to be aware of the rules before you join a co-op. Some allow students to be dropped off, which others expect parents to remain on the premises at all times. A co-op may require parents to teach or assist with classes.

A Few More Thoughts

Before joining a co-op, you will want to carefully consider your current season of life and determine whether the benefits of joining a co-op, such as fellowship and specialized classes, outweigh the work required. Committing to a weekly co-op requires more time and energy than belonging to a fluid, field trips-only group. Families with many other outside activities and responsibilities may not need the interaction of a homeschool co-op. While a co-op may not be necessary for your family, it can be a fun way to make connections with other homeschoolers in your area, connections that will become more important over your homeschooling years.

At age eight, Stephenie McBride developed a life-long interest in teaching others. She taught English as a Second Language and Kindergarten in a public school for six years. Stephenie and her husband, Ben, adopted their two children from Kolkata, India, in 2000 and 2004. She has been an at-home parent and home educator since 2001. They use an eclectic mix of materials and approaches, with a strong emphasis on Charlotte Mason. Stephenie is the Assistant Editor of Publications for Home Educating Family Magazine. She also created and writes for Crestview Heights Academy Homeschool Curriculum. You can read more about Stephenie and her eclectic homeschooling adventures at crestviewheights.wordpress.com.

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