If you’ve been around a group of homeschoolers, you may have heard the term homeschool co-op being thrown around here and there. And, especially if you’re new to the homeschooling community, you may be wondering, “What is a homeschool co-op?” (Or, “What happens in a homeschool co-op?”)
Homeschool Co-op Definition
You may already know, but co-op is short for cooperative. And, it’s not a term that is exclusive to the homeschooling community. It is a word that simply means a group working together for a common goal.
For homeschooling, co-ops are generally organized by a group of homeschooling parents for a variety of reasons: to offer classes, to organize field trips, to participate in group arts and crafts, to provide social time for homeschoolers, to create a homeschool buyers co-op to get the benefits of group discounts, and more.
Although one of the most popular type of homeschool co-ops are the class type of co-ops, you can see that there are many types of co ops available for homeschooling families.
How Do Homeschool Co-ops Work?
How homeschool co-ops work will depend on the type of co-op it is.
Most co-ops are academic, focusing on offering classes on different topics. If you have a homeschool co-op that offers classes, the group will either need to hire a teacher, pay “tuition” to a center or organization that offers this type of co-op, or each parent in the co-op must sign up to teach a topic of choice or an assigned topic.
The group will also need to decide how often they meet. Some homeschool co-ops meet weekly or even several times a week, while others meet monthly (or a couple of times each month).
A popular homeschool co-op is Classical Conversations. It is a “nation-wide program that helps train and equip parents to provide their children with a Christian classical education.” It is heavy with parent involvement (with parents required to attend the classes and often acting as tutors) and usually meets for an extended period once or twice each week.
However, Classical Conversations is just one example of a homeschool co-op.
If you join a homeschool co-op that focuses on field trips, you will meet up with a group for different field trips and play dates around your area.
Homeschool Buyers’ Co-op
Another co-op you may hear about frequently is a homeschool buyers’ co-op.
In this type of cooperative, homeschoolers join with a group of other homeschoolers to receive volume discounts for curricula, books, lessons, and other educational resources.
Generally, homeschoolers join a homeschool buyers’ co-op for free or a low membership price. The more people that are in a homeschool buyers’ co-op, the bigger the potential savings that are passed on to the members because the co-op can buy a large amount of products at a deeply discounted price.
Should I Join a Co-op? | Homeschool Co-op Pros and Cons
You may be wondering if a co-op is the right fit for you?
It really depends on what you are looking for as an addition to your homeschooling. Just like anything in life, there are pros and cons to homeschool co-ops, too.
If you’re looking for more regimented, scheduled classes to supplement your homeschool, then an academic co-op may be a good choice for you. But, you need to remember that most academic homeschool co-ops take a great deal of commitment, time, and involvement (and sometimes costs). This can be a big con for homeschool families who enjoy a more relaxed method of homeschooling. So, it’s something to keep in mind.
If you’re just looking to supplement homeschooling with some social meet-ups or field trips, then check out local Facebook homeschool groups or other ideas where you can find a more relaxed schedule and you can interact and join when your schedule allows (both online and in person).
How Do I Find a Homeschool Co-op Near Me?
The best place to find a homeschool co-op near you is to search online for a “homeschool co-op near me” or in your city and state.
Also, be sure to join homeschool Facebook groups for your local area. These homeschooling families are a wealth of information and will provide valuable feedback on homeschool co-ops in your area.
Are you part of a homeschool co-cop? What are the best parts for you? Share it in the comments and help others make a decision on homeschool co ops!
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