A question I often get from people who want to homeschool is whether or not they should join a homeschool co-op. My answer is simply, you must agree as a family whether a co-op is right for you or not. At this point in our stage of homeschooling, we have decided to opt-out of the co-op situation. We are not completely against them, but my husband feels it is not right for our family to join one at this time. I am trusting his wisdom as he was homeschooled before and a part of a homeschool co-op, but was much older than our children are by the time he was a part of one. Therefore, I am going to use this post to give you some pros and cons of homeschool co-ops based on my observations as well as what my husband, his mother, and other homeschool mothers have told me.
- What is a Homeschool Co-Op?
There are actually two different types of co-ops.
- There is a co-op where it is the best of both worlds and the children go two-three days a week with teachers at a school. The parents are given assignments to make sure the children complete on the off days. If the parents are not teaching at the school, they are usually required to participate somehow throughout the week at the school. Many parents like this type of co-op. However, it is not recognized as being legal in many states for various reasons. Therefore, in this post, I will not be discussing this type of co-op. I encourage you to do your own research within your state and county.
- The second type of co-op usually meets one day per week. These co-ops usually offer classes which the children’s parents more than likely cannot teach adequately. Classes may include but are not limited to Math (Algebra, Calculus, etc.), Science (Chemistry, Biology, etc.), Art, Music, Choir, Gym Class, Hebrew Dance, Foreign Language, and many more classes.
- These co-ops can be a great benefit to parents whose children have interests which they cannot teach themselves! They are especially beneficial for high school age children!
- They are usually very affordable and have discounts for multiple children.
- Typically, you can be a part of the co-op without living in the same county.
- It is a great chance for your children to fellowship with other children as well as moms/dads to fellowship with other parents.
There are also some negatives.
- Be prepared for fees for each class your child takes. The fees vary depending on the teacher and the class and it can get expensive depending on the classes taken, the number of children you have, and the co-op itself.
- Do not expect all of the homeschooling families to be of like mind. One of my earliest misconceptions of homeschool families was they were all the same and held the same values. I was VERY WRONG! One of the reasons we do not want to have our children in public school is the exposure to certain humanistic mentalities as well as anti-God mentalities. Unfortunately, these mindsets exist in the homeschool world as well especially since there are more and more people who are homeschooling and not just because of Religious convictions! I am sure it is not in every homeschool, but it is one of the downsides I have heard from many homeschooling mothers. Many co-ops turn out to be a mini-public school which would defeat most homeschool Christians purpose in homeschooling.
- Another problem several mothers have mentioned to me is the fact their children no longer want to be friends with each other. For instance, older brother now has a new friend who thinks younger brother is a baby. New friend insists older brother no longer spend time with younger brother especially when new friend is around. I know it sounds silly, but it DOES happen. I KNOW at least five families who have nearly been divided because of the division and hostility between siblings due to experiences with other children at homeschool co-ops!
- Another disadvantage, be prepared to devote time to the co-op. They are not for you to drop your child/children off once a week so you can have a free day!
- Many children do not want to go somewhere else for class. They want to have time to play or pursue other interests! Having a more “formal” school somewhere else may result in tension, rebellion, or discouragement in your child.
- Many families are also divided because one parent is for the co-op, the other is not. The one parent for will go ahead and enroll the children or vice versa which causes tension among the parents and in the household.
I encourage you to pray about your decision to join a co-op. It needs to be a joint agreement with you and your husband. You should also check out the classes offered and teachers teaching them to make sure they are worth your time!