We tried a homeschool co-op. Now what? - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > We tried a homeschool co-op. Now what?
farmermomma's Avatar farmermomma 10:37 PM 01-25-2013
My 5 year old son and I tried the local one morning a week co-op and now I'm trying to process it and see if or how we should continue. I stayed with him to observe the whole time but don't think this would be an option long term. It was very structured and scheduled. There were 3 classes and a different teacher /parent for each class. The kids did have some freedoms like bathroom that isn't always the case in "school" but it was a lot of table work and very teacher/ lesson driven. There were 5 kids in the class. Now I don't think I'm the smartest momma on the block but I was concerned when teacher brought in music from Brazil and said that Brazil was a country far away where they speak Spanish. I was like hmmm really so looked it up yep thought so mostly Portuguese. But I'm sure I'm wrong sometimes too but to let my son alone here is like really? I really want the support and to meet other local homeschool families, I'd like the routine and to be able to tell all the neigh-sayers it's okay we're in a co-op. I don't want to have to do everything in the bigger city. I love the small town but argh. I think my son liked it all right, he had some ups and downs. He wasn't thrilled with it but we had to get up early for it so that didn't help. I don't want him to get attached if I decide it's not a good fit. Any thoughts or advice before I say yay or neigh or discuss with the coordinator?

starling&diesel's Avatar starling&diesel 10:51 PM 01-25-2013

That sounds awful.  I wouldn't go back.  Are there enough families in your town that you could start a less-structured co-op?  Even with just another couple of children?  

moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 11:18 PM 01-25-2013

That sort of co-op certainly wouldn't have been for us. See if you can set something up for yourself. It doesn't have to be a learning co-op: even just a regular play-date, sometimes combined with a craft or field trip, or afternoon at the park or the pool. Stuff like that tends to provide more social time, and more opportunity for casual parental support, than structured classes.



farmermomma's Avatar farmermomma 09:29 PM 01-26-2013
Thanks for the feedback. I'd love to have a close group with a few families. I'm just having trouble on how to meet them? I'm sure they are out there. That there is a need that the other co-op isn't providing for. We have had our needs mostly met through story time at bookstore and library and a mops group but we're starting to outgrow those. And we're looking for friendships that can grow with us through the next stages.
Red Pajama's Avatar Red Pajama 10:37 AM 01-27-2013

 You don't have to turn homeschooling into a group activity.  If you want to, the co-ops are a nice addition, but if they don't work for you, don't worry about it. If you want to run into other homeschooling people just to know some, I have good luck at the library during the day.  I'm always amazed at the new (to me) faces I see.


Personally, I'm much happier going my own way with homeschooling.

AAK's Avatar AAK 08:48 AM 01-28-2013

I wouldn't do that co-op either.  However, it is how most the co-ops around here are ran.  Additionally, there are lots of social groups too for homeschoolers in our area.  There is a yahoo group that people post on for meet ups and there are some regular eventst that started out on that group.  My dd goes to a regularly scheduled "bookclub" that is mostly a social gathering.  She LOVES it.  There are also park days each Wednesday.  Not everyone hits all those, but it did create a spin off for younger kids.  Also, someone started a "lego club".  The kids just gather to play/build with legos.  I hear it is going really well.  Now, many of the parents that attend these groups are also part of a co-op, but not all. 


Suggestions:  ask one of the mothers at the co-op if there are any gatherings that are open to the hs community in general (not just for co op members).  If yes, try that out.  If no, start one.  Send a flyer to the parents at the co op and start a facebook page or yahoo group for homeschoolers of your area.  Post at the library.  Go to the library during school hours and see who else is there with kids.  Ask the librarian, sometimes they know.  I wouldn't give up on the idea of homeschool simply because you haven't found a circle of people yet.  And as for the neighsayers, poo on them!  Instead of "yes we hs and we love our co op", just change to "yes we hs and we love it!".  If they raise concerns, remind them that he can enroll in school at any time and you are taking it a year at a time.  



mizzoh's Avatar mizzoh 09:35 AM 01-28-2013

Do you belong to a local homeschool listserv?  That is a great way to find out what other opportunities there are in your area and maybe meet other homeschooling families nearby.

onatightrope's Avatar onatightrope 10:11 AM 01-28-2013

I agree with the suggestions that you should try to find opportunities to just get together and play with other homeschoolers, but while you're doing that, I would be very careful not to complain/criticize the coop to anyone local. It will get back to the organizers if you do, and it will not make your life better.  

farmermomma's Avatar farmermomma 03:47 AM 01-29-2013
Don't worry. It won't keep us from homeschooling. Love the Lego club idea. Hope the kids let me play. I've also been thinking about a book club. I joined my first a couple of years ago and love it. DS and I have been getting into some longer books. First one was charolettes web, just finished black beauty, now we're on little house series. I know that's a very popular book in that group. I think I'll be fine with the organizer. She said if she only had younger kids she wouldn't do the classes. I'll just ask her if they do any other meetups as well and see if she is open to some of these great ideas. Thanks everyone for your input.
heket's Avatar heket 01:52 AM 01-31-2013
Originally Posted by Red Pajama View Post

 You don't have to turn homeschooling into a group activity.  If you want to, the co-ops are a nice addition, but if they don't work for you, don't worry about it. If you want to run into other homeschooling people just to know some, I have good luck at the library during the day.  I'm always amazed at the new (to me) faces I see.

Personally, I'm much happier going my own way with homeschooling.

Exactly. We tried a coop for a year. At the time, I had to only pay for dd, ds was free and toddler monkey was no where on the radar. Teaching, from what I was a able to witness, wasn't as awful as you described. But it was too much like "school" for the one day per week we were there. Plus, I'm an introvert. I don't mind pitching in behind the scenes to help or assisting with a class, but I wound up assuming an early elementary science class (k-2) because the original mom wound up moving about half way through it. I hate science and there were no real lesson plans for me to just pick up and go with at that point. I wound u having to plan the rest of the semster and personally, an hour of dircte activities for a non exprinced classroom teacher is asking a lot. Add in the monkeys hated leaving early in the morning from home and the 5 hours expected of each family was too much for my then k and gr. 2 students. So we didn't go back. Instead, we found a local park day that some of the same families of the coop attended! It's been a great fit. More relaxed, kids can decide if they don't want to go (with the coop I felt we had to be there unless there wa an illness, at lest until I wound up teaching), and the kids still get to see friends. It's been a much better fit for us.
OTMomma's Avatar OTMomma 05:52 AM 01-31-2013

This fall I worked with another mom in my area to start our own co-op, and the preschool class is mostly play, and the kindergarten class has a lesson, but also has free play time.  I needed a co-op that worked for me, I have 3 kids at 3 different ages, and I wanted a group I could afford and we could all attend.  So I helped create it.  That said- when I only had a 5 year old and a baby, I found a couple of homeschool friends and set up a very simple co-op, which was really a play date with 2 short 15 minute lessons taught by me and another mom, she did music and I did simple Spanish lessons, we also did our own holiday parties.  


So if your area has homeschool park days or anything where you can meet another mom- it isn't that hard to create what you want.



JFhomeschoolMom's Avatar JFhomeschoolMom 08:32 PM 02-04-2013

I find that finding co-ops with like-minded families is challenging and I live in the burbs of a big city! We have 2 homeschool social groups that we occassionally attend. We enroll the kids in lots of classes in the evenings and weekends that they like. This way, they (a) have social time with peers, (b) have fun in a slightly structured to very structured environment, and (c) are meeting kids that often share the same interests, like art, ballet, soccer or karate.


It can get expensive but it works better for us than trying to do a co-op (recreates the class, too structured, we're secular and most co-ops aren't).


Don't give up on starting your own social group. One of the social groups we belong to started with a homeschool mom who went to the local park every Friday at 11:00AM and told other homeschool families (through Yahoo group, twitter, etc) that this was her "group" and join her if you want. After about 6 months, it caught on and now it's the biggest homeschool social group in the arear. Very inclusive and very unstructured. Just lots of play time most Fridays at the park!


Good luck!

Tags: Homeschooling