My son turned 5 a couple months ago and I have pretty much decided we are going to homeschool, at least for kindergarten and see how we like it from there. We already have quite a few homeschooling friends. Our area has one homeschool co-op, but very unfortunately for us it is on Fridays. It is quite large and they do quite a few things from it, sports, plays, parties, graduations, plus all the classes for learning. Most of my friends do belong, and I always thought that it would be so beneficial that if we did homeschool, we should join. However, one of the things we like about homeschooling is going with my husband on his frequent trips for the reserves that always occurs over Fridays. Therefore, we would either have to give up traveling with my husband, or miss several co-op days. I guess each co-op is only an 8 week session and it isn't free - but also the co-op obviously wants each parent to contribute. So I have pretty much decided we just cannot do the co-op.
Will we be ok without a co-op? To me, it doesn't seem very common to homeschool without being involved in a co-op.
One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexibility it gives your family. Reserves is one weekend a month, correct? Why not just do that and join the co-op when you can. I'm sure not every family participates in the co-op every week. I also have a 5 year old, and we don't participate in any co-ops, partly because I like teaching my kid what I can. What I can't, like horse back riding, tennis, etc...we take classes. For socializing, we do lots of meetups (meetup dot com) for homeschoolers and we're also part of a local homeschooling group, and we pick and choose what we do with them.
As someone who has so far not found a co-op that suits us, I would have to say yes, it's possible. My girls are 6 and 8.
We find swimming, gym, riding lessons, 4-H, girl scouts, and other events on our own. 4-H and scouts lead us to other events and opportunities we have begun to enjoy. There is an online HS group that shares information on events, but I rarely look at it any more, though I have gotten good leads from it. There is also an informal unschooling group that meets for various events, but I am far away from them and rarely ever see those folks, but their FB page still brings me some leads. I also "like" several pages by non-profits that notify us of volunteer opportunities if we are interested, and events.
So, the groups haven't worked out for me, co-ops often have requirements I am not interested in, or seem more like school than is my preference. Smaller communities, especially ones not crawling with homeschoolers or within a reasonable drive to larger town, might not have the volume of choices that we have where I live, so I give this advice understanding that in a sense our family is incredibly lucky to have so many possibilities available to us.
ETA: I am responding to your question in your post,
not the title of the thread, to which the answer would be "no", you do not *need* the co-op.
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
As far as involvement wanted by the co-op, ask the organizers before deciding they would not be open to your involvement. Make your decision based on information, not conjecture.
Can you homeschool without the co-op? Sure! Families do it all the time, for a variety of reasons. There is no single right way to homeschool. Once you realize that, you will see more possibilies than appear at first.
Edited to correct the "with" to "without"! Totally messed up my point, there! Co-ops can be nice, but are not necessary. Hopefully, those who already read this got the point, even with the error. Sorry, folks.
We don't belong to a co-op, I don't plan on joining one anytime soon and I've met a lot of homeschooling families that aren't part of one either. A big part of homeschooling for me is getting away from activities and obligations that don't interest me and/or my child. I prefer to do things on our own. Right now, we aren't in any homeschooling activities but have tons to do. Gymnastics and yoga and story time at the library, etc.
It sounds like you already have a group of friends and things to do. I see no need to add to it if it conflicts with something you enjoy.
mama to three little ladies
I don't think you NEED it, but it might be fun for both of you. I'd have a chat with the organizers and find out a bit more detailed info before deciding. It might be possible to just tag along once in a while if they plan a field trip, or for every other 8 week session or whatever might work for you. Lots of people do without and still really enjoy home learning. We belong to a co-op type program but the majority of homelearners I hang out with are not a part of it.