As schools begin, many new homeschoolers are wondering what to do about friends for both parents and children.
In our agricultural world, a co-op has always been a place to get livestock feed and supplies. Cooperatives of farmers joined together to have greater purchasing power.
In the homeschooling world, co-ops serve a similar purpose. It is a group of parents pooling their knowledge for greater educational opportunities for their children.
Our group met today to organize our year. Traditionally we have met once weekly for the first 3 weeks of each month for classes, then scheduled a field trip the 4th week.
We began meeting several years ago at our local library. We quickly outgrew the meeting rooms and moved to a church building that could accommodate us.
This year, due to the potential issues, we are only meeting the 1st and 3rd week of each month. We meet one day a week from 8:30-12.
We have a morning assembly where we say the pledge and pray together. Then we break off into classes. We have 3 classes for each age group.
This year we will have a nursery (3 and under), a 4-6 yr old class, a 7-10 yr old class, an 11-12 yr old class, and then a 13 and up class.
We are planning crafts, music, and story time for the youngest ones. We are planning science, letter writing, art, marine science, language classes and spelling for the other classes.
We do incorporate community service projects as well. Nursing home visits, animal shelter visits, collecting supplies for missionaries, and more.
Each parent volunteers to teach where they are comfortable. I love both language and science, so I always teach in those areas. We have moms who love history and teach there. We have musically trained parents, health advocates, artists, reading coaches, and more. We make the most of the talents each parent brings to the group.
We celebrate holidays together, have pumpkin carving contests, make Christmas ornaments and crafts, celebrate Easter and Thanksgiving, and have an end of the year party. We even make yearbooks some years.
Co-ops are great places to allow your children the “school experience” of being in a group with a different teacher. But it’s only once a week, and you are still in control of your children and aware of everything that is happening.
It’s also a place where I have made some very special friendships. We have a “moms night out” occasionally, we trade curriculum, we discuss behavior and education and struggles.
We are bonded in our quest to provide our children with an amazing education.
Co-op is also a great place for those giant, messy projects that you don’t want in your home.
If you are looking for a place to belong as a homeschooling family, explore your local co-ops.
Each one will have a different “feel” and a different goal. Find one that fits your family. Some won’t and that’s ok. Don’t swear them all off. Your tribe is out there. And they are waiting for you!