This post may contain affiliate links.
This post may contain affiliate links
When we first began homeschooling I was a huge control freak. We had a bad public school experience that sucked the joy out of my sweet little girl. I could see the sadness in her eyes and it about crushed me. After that, I wanted to keep her all to myself. I didn’t want to share the teaching responsibility with anyone. I wanted nothing to do with joining a co-op! If a ‘qualified’ teacher could cause harm, what would happen if someone without a degree tried to teach her?
We are now in our 6th year of homeschooling and, honestly, I still am a control freak, just to a lesser degree. We slowly dipped our toes into the co-op world. Now I see the benefits of joining a co-op and can’t imagine homeschooling without one.
My top 4 benefits of joining a co-op:
I know. Homeschoolers everywhere are tired of hearing about socialization. I get it. I really do. A lot of homeschoolers naturally socialize (aka spend time with other children) through park days, playing with neighborhood kids, and joining extracurricular activities. Co-ops are just one more way to hang out with other homeschool families. Also, if anyone in your personal life is giving you a hard time about homeschooling, joining a co-op will likely quiet them down because socialization seems to be one of the biggest concerns.
Takes the burden off of parents to teach everything
I love to teach. Sometimes though, I bite off more than I can chew. I see amazing lesson ideas on Pinterest and I want to recreate them ALL. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day and there is only so much I can do by myself.
Co-op classes can teach things that are labor intensive, so I don’t have to. Hannah is currently taking a Taste the World Through Geography class. Each week they learn about the location and culture of a particular country. Then they cook several traditional recipes. I am happy to let someone else plan the lessons, shop for the ingredients, teach the children, and deal with clean up. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest benefits of joining a co-op. Outsourcing this class frees up multiple hours for me each week!
Co-op teachers can teach things that I don’t know. Ben is learning to play the recorder this year. I knew how to play…in fourth grade. As an adult, I have zero musical ability. Honestly, I probably had zero musical ability even in fourth grade. It would be a disaster if I tried to teach him because I would likely teach him an incorrect technique. Instead, he is learning to play the recorder from a music teacher who not only understands music, but has a passion for it as well.
It can provide a support system for parents
Co-ops can be a place for parents to make friends or have homeschool questions answered. It is a place to bounce ideas off of your peers. One of the things I love about being in co-ops is that it gives me an opportunity to chat with parents of older kids. I can get a glimpse into the future and can soak up their expertise.
If you come across a co-op that has ‘mean girl’ parents, move on. Real adults do not treat other people that way and there is no reason to put up with it. Most towns have more than one homeschool co-op so I recommend trying a different one. I have heard a few horror stories about mean homeschool environments and it always breaks my heart.
Learn skills hard to learn at home
In our first week of co-op this year the kids learned two things that I hadn’t even realized they didn’t know.
1) My backpack is my responsibility, not mom’s.
2) I need to turn in my homework, not just tell the teacher that I did it.
It was shocking to me that these skills seemed to be totally new information! I think they are pretty responsible at home, but for some reason, it just didn’t translate to behavior outside of the home.
Some lessons are best understood when taught by other trustworthy adults. The teachers involved in these particular lessons gave grace and consequences. I think the lessons were finally learned.
Co-op classes let my kids take classes that I don’t have a big enough family to teach. My family of two children is considered small in many homeschool communities. Hannah is in a business class this year. She is working with a group of other kids to start a small business. One child is the President, another is VP, another is in charge of manufacturing, and another is in charge of design. I don’t have enough children to fill all of those spots, but I think it is awesome the way they are learning to collaborate.
So now that I have convinced you of the benefits of joining a co-op, you might be wondering where to find one. You have a few options:
- Google. Try searching for (your city) + homeschool co-op or (your city) + homeschool group.
- Ask other homeschool families. If you know other homeschoolers, you probably know how much we love to talk about it. Just reach out and ask for co-op recommendations.
- Check with homeschool organizations in your state. They will often have a list of co-ops available to members.
- Start your own! When we first began experimenting with co-ops, I asked a few like-minded moms to team teach subjects like art and geography.
Do you have any additional benefits of joining a co-op I should add to my list?
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