I confess I had heard so many negative stories about homeschool co-ops that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join one. But I also knew that co-ops can vary widely based on the make-up of the group so we should probably give it a try. Most importantly we wanted Caroline to have lots of experiences with other children because she is an only child. Overall, giving co-op a try made sense.
I am very thankful to say that our co-op has been a huge blessing!
We moved to our present home just before Caroline started kindergarten and were fortunate to discover that there was a large, well-established Christian co-op in our new town with a variety of classes from preschool through twelfth grade. It is a drop-off co-op meaning that we are not required to teach to be a part of the co-op. It is also more expensive because of that, but the cost is worth it compared to everything that all three of us get out of it.
Here are 5 reasons why we love our homeschool co-op.
Experienced and Knowledgeable Instructors
The classes are taught by very well-qualified tutors. (They call them tutors, not teachers, as a recognition that the parents are the teachers. The tutors are there to assist the parents.) All of the tutors have degrees in the subjects they teach and many of them have advanced degrees.
The younger students have enrichment classes, but as they move into later elementary school and into junior high and high school, the classes are academic. I’m very thankful to know that Caroline can take classes in areas that aren’t necessarily my strength as she gets older and that she will be able to take them with well-qualified instructors just a few miles from our home!
Positive Mix of Families
The co-op is Christian and has a basic doctrinal statement. Beyond that, there is a lot of diversity in the families. For the most part it’s just a very regular group of people committed to home educating their children with a Christian world-view.
The co-op atmosphere feels like a safe place. By that I mean that it’s a safe place for Caroline to interact with lots of families from different denominations without feeling pressure to conform to certain extra-biblical requirements. I’ve never felt from any of the parents that there are unwritten rules to be a good parent or a good homeschooler. It’s pretty much live and let live as far as I can tell. I truly appreciate that.
Classroom and School-ish Experience
Because Caroline is an only child and has never been to school, we like that co-op gives her a taste of the classroom and school-ish experience. She has the opportunity to interact in a group with other children, learn how to negotiate peer relationships, and have experience in group learning. Because she’s only there for a couple of hours a week, the classroom time doesn’t become boring as it probably would for her in a traditional classroom.
It has been good for Caroline to learn to wait her turn in a group setting and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around her. It’s tricky being the parent of an only child. There are some life and relationship lessons that are just more challenging to teach when you only have one child. Co-op has given her situations that push her to grow in ways she might not get otherwise.
Break for Mom and Dad
We appreciate our drop-off co-op because it gives David and me a break! As a homeschooling, work-at-home family we spend a LOT of time together at home. A few hours each week when we get a break from parenting is really nice! And, in all honesty, it is a good break for Caroline from us as well.
Caroline has enrolled in two classes each year. It’s nice that I don’t have to plan for those subjects. This year Caroline is taking art and gym. I don’t have to think about those subjects all year if I don’t want to. It is nice to outsource some of our learning, freeing me up to do other things.
Overall, our homeschool co-op experience has been fantastic. If you don’t have a co-op like this where you live, it would truly be worth your time to try to get a group of parents together with a similar vision and see if you could accomplish something similar.
This post is part of iHN’s Dueling Blog Posts series.
To read the opposite opinion, please visit the lovely LaToya and read her take in Why Co-ops Don’t Work for Us.