What are Homeschool Co-ops?

Instructor: Kristin Fromal

Kristin is a school counselor and has a Master's degree in Social Work.

Participation in a homeschool co-op is a way for families to collectively join together to offer academic, enrichment, socialization, and curricular support for children who are homeschooled. Read on to discover what opportunities might be available at a local homeschool co-op.

Overview of Homeschool Co-ops

Homeschool co-ops are a way for like-minded families to join together to provide a range of educational programming for their children. Families are partners in running the co-ops and often have a say in such issues as what classes or socialization activities will be pursued. Unlike a traditional school, members are usually required to volunteer, whether by teaching courses, running meetings of the co-op, or performing other tasks dedicated to its success. At some co-ops, parents are asked to stay on-site while their children participate in classes and activities.

It's important to contact your local program directly to discover more about days of the week that programs are held or what expectations are held for members, as they may differ widely between groups. Often, a co-op meets one or two days per week, with home instruction expected on the other days.

Homeschool Co-Ops Provide Instruction in Specialized Subjects

Homeschool co-ops can provide students with opportunities to learn about specialized subjects that may require more expertise or instruction than a parent can provide.

Academic Instruction

Elementary school children might pursue subjects such as art history or oceanography within a co-op setting. High school students may have the opportunity to delve into higher-level courses in such areas as math, foreign languages, and lab sciences. If a student chooses to apply to college, the co-op instructors in these types of courses may be a great place to seek letters of recommendation.

Instruction in the Arts

In addition, some homeschool students may express an interest in creative pursuits. Homeschool co-ops can help provide instruction in different artistic genres, such as violin or watercolor. Some homeschool co-ops even bring students together to develop a choir or theater program.

Life Skills Training

For students who want to pursue practical as well as purely academic skills, homeschool co-ops may provide the chance to develop specific life skills. Some potential courses might be driver's education, sewing, personal finance, and orienteering or other types of outdoor education activities.

Homeschool Co-Ops Provide Socialization Opportunities

Another benefit to homeschool co-ops is the chance for children to meet like-minded peers. Students can engage in classroom discussions in many of the classes discussed above. In addition, many co-op programs offer field trips to educational sites, such as planetariums, as well as group journeys to fun locations like indoor rock climbing gyms and parks. Some co-ops also offer social events like high school dances and family picnics or club activities, such as a yearbook production team.

Homeschool Co-Ops Provide Religious Fellowship Opportunities

Some homeschool co-ops are organized around opportunities for religious development and fellowship of both students and parents. In these programs, participants may be asked to sign a statement of faith before participating. Activities such as a Bible study or religious education program may be a critical part of these homeschool co-op programs.

Homeschool Co-Ops Can Help Participants Choose a Curriculum

During the time spent at a co-op, members might review or discuss the specific homeschool curriculum they are using and provide support for other parents in picking or utilizing course materials. In addition, co-ops can sometimes join together to purchase curricula at a discount.

Parents weighing their course options might want to check out this Online Homeschool Curriculum. These courses allow students to work at their own pace and cover subjects ranging from geometry and U.S. government to physical science and precalculus. Students can also take quizzes and practice tests at the end of each lesson or course to track their progress.

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