A homeschool co-op is a group of families who meet and work together to achieve common goals. Homeschool co-ops are usually organized around social time, extracurricular activities, and other non-academic class requirements that students need to graduate like art, physical education, and music. Activities and classes that are part of a homeschool co-op may be led by parents, or the parents pay for teachers and activity leaders. There may be as few as three families in a small co-op or as many as several hundred children in the largest co-ops.
Less formal co-ops are typically led by one or two main leaders who form the co-op with a specific vision, usually in support of goals for their own children. They usually plan meetings, arrange a meeting location, and strongly influence the schedule and offerings of the homeschool co-op. They’ll typically try to find other parents who share their vision and who are willing to work co-operatively on the details of activities. Most decisions are made by voting, with guidance from the leaders.
More formal and larger co-ops may have a board of directors and a designated administrator who takes care of and oversees all operations of the homeschool co-op. Decisions for these co-ops are usually governed by a vote by the directors, who are frequently parents of children participating in the co-op. Some co-ops may be ministries of churches, and therefore they fall under a church’s administration.
What’s The Difference Between a Homeschool Co-op and a Homeschool Group?
Local homeschool groups tend to be larger and more general purpose than homeschool co-ops. The purpose of homeschool groups help homeschooled students socialize by planning events like field trips, days in the park, parties, and clubs. Some homeschool groups may also create a homeschool co-op that is one of their activities. Other co-ops are completely independent of any larger homeschool group. Often, people meet at a homeschool group and spin off in their own smaller co-op. There is also a small version of a homeschool co-op that is sometimes called a club. These typically are arranged around one activity or academic subject area, and may meet less frequently like once a month.
What Are The Benefits of a Homeschool Co-op?
A homeschool co-op provides an opportunity for homeschooled students to experience learning in a group atmosphere without having to attend public school. A homeschool co-op can also make what might be a boring class at home alone a much more enjoyable endeavor. It’s a relief for students not to be the one expected to give all the answers and a learning experience to get the input and perspective of other students.
Some subjects require equipment or supplies that can be expensive for a family to purchase to teach the class effectively, such as a microscope and other lab equipment. A homeschool co-op allows the group to share the expense of equipment by all helping pay for it. Sometimes it’s necessary to hire an instructor for classes that parents feel unqualified to teach, such as a foreign language or a high level science course, this expense can also be shared among participating families making it possible to provide high quality classes.
The main thing to remember about participating in a co-op is that it is not a one way street. Parents need to work collaboratively to create something that all the families benefit from, and you and your child are expected not to just receive from the homeschool co-op, but also to give to the co-op.