The Co-op Question: Yeah or Nay?

This week on the Homeschool Help Series, we are discussing the Co-op question --
Yeah or Nay? And Why?

Co-ops! Most either love them or hate them! What should you consider when deciding if a co-op is right for you?

Truth is, a co-op really can take on many different forms.

There are the co-ops that take place one or more days a week.

There are co-ops where multiple subject areas are taught, or others where there is one subject at a time.
There are year long, semester, or shorter time commitments.

By definition, a co-op is when homeschoolers combine and share resources with other homeschoolers. Many find that they enjoy co-ops for "extras" like drama, art, music, or PE, but prefer to teach core subjects at home. Others seek out co-ops for those core subjects, especially those subjects they would rather not have to teach themselves! Depending on the nature of the co-op, it can replace the homeschool subject area or supplement it.

We have had friends participate in co-ops such as Classical Conversations, or weekly writing or science co-ops, or shorter co-ops like art or speech. Co-ops really come in all shapes and sizes.

Some have had wonderful experiences in one co-op only to try another and have it fail miserably.

There are benefits and drawbacks to co-ops and it will not only be an individual family decision, but probably one which will have to be revisited often. Some families thrive in belonging to a co-op, whereas others flounder or feel overwhelmed.

When deciding if a homeschooling co-op is right for you, here are a few things to consider:

Benefits of Co-ops:
  • Teach a subject(s) mom does not feel comfortable teaching

  • Allow your child to be taught/receive instruction by someone other than mom
  • Allows children to be taught by someone that may have more passion or experience than mom does in that particular subject.
  • Allow homeschoolers a classroom experience
  • Homeschoolers can learn alongside non sibling peers
  • Moms have opportunities to share their gifts and ideas with others in the homeschool community, and all the kids benefit
  • Shared mess or expense (especially with something like science or art)

  • Drawbacks of Co-ops:
    • Cost of the co-op itself

  • Time away from other academic pursuits
  • Cost of travel
  • Travel time
  • What to do with other siblings not involved in the co-op during that time
  • Subjects taught are not applicable to your family at this time (perhaps you are on a science or history cycle, and don't want to deviate for a co-op)
  • How long is your list of other outside activities?

  • I think it is important to evaluate why you might do a co-op and continually evaluate your participation to ensure it is benefiting your family more than it is costing.

    Evaluating questions to ask yourself?
    • How will we benefit from this opportunity?

  • What will it cost us? (time away from home, travel time, cost [both in the co-op and travel], other opportunities)
  • Do the benefits outweigh the cost?
  • Does this co-op line up with our academic and family goals at this time?

  • Our Experience:

    Our family does not participate in an official "co-op", but our homeschool group has had several co-op like classes that we have participated in. When it comes to "extras" we love to participate! I love doing art with our friends, or putting on a play or other performance. We did a Spanish class the last two years where our friends gathered twice a month for a Spanish Immersion Experience. We played games and interacted in Spanish. It was a great time, my kids learned so much, and I think our friends did as well! We have also done some group art classes, and my kids loved the two semesters of Lego Engineering classes they participated in this year!

    Since we are mostly classical homeschoolers, (and I have control issues), we prefer to teach core subjects at home. Though if I am honest, I would be first in line to an awesome inexpensive science co-op if I could find one! We teach science and history on a cycle, and in general have very specific expectations and ways of doing things.

    We also have to keep in balance how much time we already spend outside of the home. My 6 year old plays Upward basketball, and my 7 yo spends about 8 hours a week in gymnastics. Add piano lessons, music and gymnastics for my little one, and church and there really isn't a whole lot of room for extras. (Unless I can find that science class!) ;)

    At this time, a regular weekly co-op that would take away a day or even a morning is not for us...but we will continue evaluating and seeking what is best for our family at all times. Since our goal is the best we can for our children, constant evaluation is necessary as children and family needs change.

    Don't forget to check out the other homeschool help series bloggers to get their unique perspective!
    Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses-- Together Everyone Achieves More: When we share the load we move forward in strength.

    Hwee @ The Tiger Chronicle-- Our Co-op Experience: Sharing our afterthoughts about joining a co-op.
    Erin @ Seven Little Australians-- Co-ops are not common in Australia, Erin shares how she fosters synergy.
    Bernadette Barefoot Hippie Girl-- Beneficial Co-op(eration)-- Why I look forward to organizing or joining a co-op in the next few years.
    Julie Highhill Homeschool-- How does homeschool co-op work? Three different ways to run a co-op.
    Savannah @ HammockTracks-- The Ins and Outs of Co-Ops: Why are you participating?
    Lucinda @ Navigating By Joy

    Title: The Pros and Cons of Joining a Homeschool Co-op
    How to get the benefits of being in a co-op even if joining one isn't right for your family


    1. See, the time thing is what I find a challenge too. All this stuff that requires a morning or a day. Is it worth it? At the current age of my kids, not yet. Maybe when they are older.

    2. I agree there are definitely times and seasons for co-ops and informal ones are easier on time commitment.

      I love the flexibility we have as home educators to constantly evaluate where our families are at and whether or not a co-op will suit for that season. :)

    3. I love the way you write, Nicole - you make me giggle! A Lego engineering co-op sounds fun - I want to find one of those! Lucinda

    4. I really like the sound of co-op like classes.

    5. I never wanted to join a co-op, but we ended up participating in one this year and we loved it. Never say never, I guess! My kids really learned a lot from great teachers and enjoyed making new friends. It was a great experience. ;)


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