How To Cooperate: Homeschool Co-ops

homeschool co-op

We often say “Work together!” in our house in one form or another.

Sometimes I am sending a little helper with a big sister or trying to get my similarly aged children to tackle a chore together. Often chores and tasks just work better with two, three, or more people working together.

This lesson of many hands make light work, while perhaps a childhood lesson, has resonated as we pursue the best way for our family to tackle educating and raising our kiddos.

The great dichotomy is that we are home educating. We chose to tackle the chore of schooling our children, but there are areas where I need help.

I think a common misconception exists that the homeschool parent is a lone wolf.

We can see this idea that it is all on your shoulders in questions like, “Are you going to school them through High School?”

That implies that it seems too hard to be the expert teacher in Calculus, Language Arts, Biology, Chemistry, Home Ec, Art, and other subjects at the same time.

Maybe you are coming up on those hurdles now. The question is, how do I teach subjects I didn’t like, or worse yet, subjects I did poorly at in high school and college?

The first line of assistance is often the community of homeschoolers you are a part of. More and more families are pursuing home education, and we are all unique, but we are also all on a similar path.

Don’t neglect the relationships with the people around you who understand what it is like to be a preschool art teacher/algebra 1 teacher/lunch lady while trying to figure out how to also be a school administrator.

Others are slinging sandwiches between subjects and shifting gears to make it all work, and we can lean on and learn from each other.

In the most informal groups and co-ops, families get together to bolster one another in their efforts.

In the age of social media, groups and pages are also a resource, as well as a more formal group that has memberships.

These are not mutually exclusive, and in fact they often work best in conjunction. In these groups you can ask questions, find resources, and get encouragement and support.

If you have never looked into co-ops, you will want to consider some basics.

1) When and where the homeschool co-ops meet.

It is always nice to have someplace close, but as this will be a requirement of your time and attendance, proximity may very well rule some out.

2) What they will offer my students.

There are several styles, from well-rounded basic subject focuses to less traditional or more elective-based co-ops.

Are you looking for help with the core studies, or are you seeking more of an enrichment program?

Understanding what you need help with or what in particular you are seeking for your student is the first step towards finding the right place for you.

You will also be pitching in with these folks, so finding a like-minded group is going to make the whole process feel easier to pull your weight.

That brings up a great question:

3) What does it look like to pull my weight? (especially when I am seeking co-ops to help fill the gaps where I do not particularly excel)

Well, the good news is there is likely a spot where you are needed!

From administration to teaching and even cleaning up, you’ll find plenty to do to keep all the wheels moving.

Some co-ops with higher fees can use more hired staff, reducing or eliminating the weight on you.

Whether you are teaching one of the courses or dropping off and picking up, understanding the requirements on parents and guardians will be an important piece of the puzzle to see which one fits your needs best.

Finding the right place where you can work together can be a huge help in your educating journey.

Just like clubs, groups, churches, and other groups, you’ll find a variety to choose from. (See our homeschool enrichment/athletics page for some starting points.)

There are different missions and styles, but finding the one that is right for you may just be the help you need to avoid the downfalls of over-isolation.

It is something where parent educators have a chance to broaden the support base for each of their students and work alongside each other.

Whether organized co-ops are right for you or you just informally get together with a few people regularly, you’ll find a joy from working together.

The times that you will need a little help, and when you will be a little help to others, is important. So as you consider your options, lean on those in your circles, and if you are new and need some guidance, reach out and ask.

We are in this together!

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