A co-op is a cooperative community in which people come together to supply goods and/or services to each other for the good of all. Many different types of co-ops exist for many reasons, such as farming co-ops, service co-ops, and even educational co-ops. In the homeschooling community, it is possible to find homeschool co-ops that exist for a variety of purposes.
- Religious Community
- Interest-based Community
- Elective Subject Co-op
- Core Subject Co-op
- Professionally Led Co-ops
In all homeschool co-ops, the main goal is to allow children to learn in a community, building collaborative skills, while parents/guardians share the responsibility of offering instruction in the concepts being presented. Homeschool co-ops may also offer instruction from professionals paid jointly by the parents/guardians of the students involved in the co-op. These co-ops can be found through internet or social media searches or by asking other homeschooling parents.
Read on to learn more about each type of co-op.
Some people who homeschool do so to maintain freedom over the choice of material presented to their children. Often, these families enjoy spending time with other parents and families who have similar beliefs and a desire to teach their children using curricula that honor their beliefs. Thus, co-ops formed around a religious community can offer classes or activities in any subject, but may be open only to other members of the religious community represented by the co-op. It is possible to find homeschool co-ops designed for any religious community.
Some children have extreme interests that take a great deal of time and energy. For example, elite gymnasts must spend the majority of their time training even when they are school-aged. Homeschool co-ops have been developed to bring together children that share a common interest and allow these children to continue to progress in their chosen interest paths while continuing their education.
Parents in such a co-op might design a program to allow practice time between presented subject material times, working at a venue that is used for both instruction and practice. Having a group of people together that all have the same pulls and responsibilities can assist everyone with the stress of getting it all done.
While many parents feel confident to present the main subjects required in a typical school program, they may not feel adequately prepared to instruct in electives. Classes like woodworking, art, foreign languages, orchestra, theater, debate, and physical education (sport) are beneficial to students, but not every parent feels able to present these types of classes to students. Additionally, many of these classes are best presented to groups of students instead of single children learning alone.
Homeschool co-ops that focus on elective classes allow parents to instruct a small group of students in an elective subject that the parent understands, while also giving their child the ability to work with others while learning.
Core Subject Co-op
Like the elective-based co-op, the core subject co-op is designed to support parents/guardians in presenting core subjects to students. Some adults may not feel strong enough in their math skills to teach their own high school students Algebra, but may feel very confident in teaching a literature class. In this case, one parent may offer to teach a literature class and another parent may teach Algebra to a set of students. Science classes often require lab work, which entails materials that are expensive to purchase individually. However, in a co-op community, one set of lab materials can be purchased for use by all the children involved in the co-op.
Core subject co-ops allow students to get practice collaborating with others to solve problems and practice presentations while learning.
Professionally Led Co-op
Homeschool co-ops are normally led by the parents or guardians of the children involved in the co-ops, but they can be led by professionals. In some cases, the members of the co-op will agree that the best course of action is to hire a professional to present the material to the children. In these cases, the professional is hired as a teacher and the children attend the class at the co-op venue with parents either in attendance or not, as stated in the rules of the co-op.
It is possible to find professionally led classes being offered in every type of co-op. Sometimes the professional is hired to offer ongoing lessons in a single subject (like high school science) and sometimes the professional may be hired to present a single lesson on a single topic (like an incursion on animals delivered by a local zoo representative).
Finding More Information
The amazing contributors at Study.com have compiled lots of information on homeschooling and homeschooling within the confines of a homeschool co-op. Check out the following pages for more information: