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Creating a Homeschool Co-op...Any tips??

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So recently I was rejected from joining a local Christian co-op because of our religion. It was a huge let-down,as we were really looking forward to the potential friendships and the enhancement of my kids learning, but I would still like to give my pre-k and kindergartener the opportunity to learn a subject area outside of our core learning and it is so fun to get together with other families. So, I was thinking of putting together my small co-op with just a handful of families, maybe 5 at most...but I have no idea where to start. The only co-ops that I have seen are huge...does anyone have any experience with a smaller group? I know that I would like us to meet once a week and maybe 2-3 hours in the morning...but that's as far as I've gotten:) I'm just not sure what the format would be...Help please!!!

post #2 of 7

Do you belong to any local yahoo homeschooling group?  I would start by doing that and then posting a message on one of the listservs. 

post #3 of 7

I can't tell from your original post if you weren't accepted into the Christian group because you aren't christian or because of differences in your specific religion....but if you do attend some type of church are there any other homeschooling moms there?  I would also check yahoo groups or even this board to see if there is anyone in your area looking to get together.  I have a friend from church who is homeschooling her kids and they are fairly close in age to my kids.  Our meetings started out just as playdates, but after a while we turned it into art class because my friend is an art teacher.  Now she teaches art to all the kids while I cook dinner!  I could see down the road inviting other families to attend the art session or branching out into other topics or just making it a support group.  I say start small with one or two other moms and then just invite as you meet people in the community.   I have found that I come across other homeschooling moms just by going to kid places during school hours.  Anytime I see a kid at the library at noon or at the Y or wherever, they are probably homeschoolers!

 

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by katielin317 View Post

So recently I was rejected from joining a local Christian co-op because of our religion. It was a huge let-down,as we were really looking forward to the potential friendships and the enhancement of my kids learning, but I would still like to give my pre-k and kindergartener the opportunity to learn a subject area outside of our core learning and it is so fun to get together with other families. So, I was thinking of putting together my small co-op with just a handful of families, maybe 5 at most...but I have no idea where to start. The only co-ops that I have seen are huge...does anyone have any experience with a smaller group? I know that I would like us to meet once a week and maybe 2-3 hours in the morning...but that's as far as I've gotten:) I'm just not sure what the format would be...Help please!!!

It sucks that people will actually go so far as to exclude someone based on religion.  Our children will deal with ALL sorts of people in their lives, I just can't see the point in trying to act like they don't exist.   I'm not Christian, but I go to a co-op that has a lot of Christian families... they are secure enough in their beliefs to not be bothered that I don't agree with them.  

 

I would suggest checking to see if the library has a community noticeboard or something similar, and post a card that you are looking for a few home schooling families that are interested in a weekly non faith based activity and see what sort of replies you get :)  Hopefully you'll be surprised!  Format could be anything from starting off with a book read aloud and then doing other activities that tie in with the story, to actual 'formal' class times.    Hopefully someone here has experience getting one off the ground!

 

 

post #5 of 7

One thing I suggest is rules. The co-op to which we belong has no rules, and it drives me a little crazy. I love our co-op, but this lack of any structure makes me view the co-op as purely social and entertaining. Children run around, parents sit and chat.

 

Some good rules: parents must stay to supervise their child, no sick children or parents...

 

These are not necessarily rules I would need, just some guidelines.

 

Splendiferous

post #6 of 7

We had a small co-op here for a while, which I started with one other mom. While it's important to be open to ideas and flexible about how you accommodate them, I think it's also important to reach a consensus early on about expectations and purpose. It's fine if those expectations are adapted and re-focused over time according to the needs of the group, but I think it's important to have them. And I say this even as a very unschooly mom, knowing that organizing homeschoolers can be like herding cats.

 

Some suggestions:

 

Have a clear start time, and begin with something structured so that people know they'll miss out if they're late. Free play / social time is great, but I'd suggest ending with that rather than starting with it, or else you'll end up with people drifting in an hour and a half late.

 

If you're going to have some structured activities and teaching, divide up the responsibility for that according to the number of children each parent has actively participating -- and stick to it even if families are missing weeks. So if there are six kids and one mom has two kids, and misses four sessions, she's still responsible for two of every six activities. Obviously there will be glitches, and people should feel free to trade weeks or whatever. But I think you'd want to avoid the situation where one family attends periodically and avoids taking any organizational responsibility.

 

Use a Google Group or other email loop service to keep people in touch with each other about illnesses, absences, changes, etc.

 

Agree on behavioural expectations -- for kids and parents. No "drop the kids off," take responsibility for any necessary discipline for your own children and defer discipline of other parents' children to them. No exclusionary play: "You can't say you can't play." No physical aggression or physical discipline. That sort of thing. 

 

Decide how you'll handle the cost of any supplies or snacks. We just rotated according to whoever was leading the day's activities, and assumed it would even out which it tended to do. This worked well because often we were able to use surplus supplies from our own family's stocks, stuff that we didn't have receipts or costs associated with. (Snap peas from the garden, left-over foam sheets from a bulk order we'd done in the past, etc.) Sometimes groups ask everyone to contribute $3/child/session or some such amount and put it in a jar, then reimburse parents for whatever costs they incur. Make sure you have a discussion about the costs beforehand.

 

If your numbers are under about 12-14, you can probably meet in people's homes rather than having to incur the cost of facility rental. If you have to rent a facility, you may get into issues of liability insurance coverage. Consider the legal and financial implications of all this before thinking too big.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Miranda

post #7 of 7

We've been part of a few casual coops.  What has worked well for us, has been to meet a couple times a month, with a theme for the year, and a different book each month.  The mothers take turns running the meetings, which are sometimes craft/discussion and other times are field trips.  Given the age of your kids, you could use Five in a Row as a spine, and maybe do a different book for each meeting?  

 

FWIW, 2-3 hours a week every week would be more than I would want to commit to.  For my family, meeting twice a month for formal learning, perhaps with social gatherings on the "off" weeks would be a better fit.  

 

Another thought-- there is a group some of my friends are in that has weekly meetings, but does a different subject each week (1st Monday is Art, 2nd Monday is Science, etc...) with a different parent in charge of each subject, and families are allowed to pick and choose their subjects.  That group seems to be going strong.  

 

Still another successful model I've seen: if you have a subject area that you excel at, you could start a club for that subject, and invite families to join you for monthly meetings.

 

Best of luck!

 

 

 

 

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