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Homeschool: To Co-Op or not to Co-Op

October 10, 2011

Homeschool co-ops can enrich your school year.  I am talking about parent driven, organized, and taught co-ops. This is the type of co-op that we have been involved in. I can not give a blanket opinion on the type where you pay a fee for a teacher to teach one or two days a week and follow their program in your home the rest of the week. There are some good ones, but you will have to look closely at them to evaluate if they meet the standards for your homeschool.

The biggest disadvantage is that you lose one of your own school days. Planning a four-day week works so much better.  Most of your subjects can easily be broken into 150 lessons and this is roughly what 36 weeks of four days will give you. It will take the pressure off to have to complete your own lessons on the days you participate at the co-op.

There are many advantages too being part of a co-op. Here are just a few:

Group classes for band, choir, drama productions, speech, and biology labs. Having group discussions in a literature or apologetics class can be invigorating too. Some home economics classes, like sewing, cooking, and hand crafting work well in a group situation. And foreign languages are actually learned better in a group.

Student government opportunities abound. If you have class officers, you can participate in campaigning and then you can learn parliamentary procedure in your meetings. Opportunities like this will allow your children to learn to participate in a group in an organized fashion. They will learn to compromise to reach agreements and how to stand up for beliefs that can’t be compromised.

Class trips, like field trips or even a senior trip that are organized and funded by the students and carefully supervised by trustworthy parents build memories that last a lifetime. Sometimes as homeschooling parents we don’t recognize the importance of celebrating achievements in this way. It is hard to take vacation time from the family to honor your graduates in this special way.

Service opportunities, like visiting a nursing home with a song program or cooking meals for shut-ins, can be a regular part of your co-op classes. After all, in every subject area, we are teaching more than just a skill, we are modeling how we use those skills to glorify God.

Parents,  this is a chance for you to minister to another mother (or father) in an area where she (or he) might not have the expertise or confidence to tackle a subject. There may be some retirees in your own church family who would love to be involved with students. We had a gentleman come to our co-op and teach an archery class for years. What a blessing! Maybe someone would want to teach how to rebuild small engines or business communications.

When our children were in their elementary years we did not have a co-op available, but our homeschool group provided evenings where the children could present their projects or perform and we had regular field trips. This met our needs at the time.

When we moved to Denver, our church had a Friday School where we became involved. At the time, our oldest children were in the junior high years. I feel that the upper elementary years through high school are the most beneficial times to be involved in a co-op.

Due to some changes we are about 25 miles away from our co-op right now. The first year we didn’t participate, I have to admit. I LOVED having that extra flex day in our schedule, but now I miss being involved and I realize how we benefited from being there. I am looking forward to being there again soon.

I had a pastor who used to say that his opinion and 50 cents would get you a can of pop (yes, in the Dark Ages a can of soda only cost 50 cents). This is an opinion. Granted, it is an educated and heartfelt one, but still just an opinion.

Any good thing can be corrupted and as a parent we need to evaluate each activity our children are involved in and continue to make sure that these activities are moving toward the goals we have set out to accomplish.

What are some of your opinions and experiences with co-ops?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Cheryl permalink
    October 10, 2011 3:47 pm

    Convincing write -up. Gave me a few different avenues to pray about for the coming years with our Friday School. 🙂 Cheryl

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