The Simple Way to Start a Homeschool Co-Op You Love
There’s no doubt that homeschooling your kids brings many benefits. But I bet that there are moments when you feel that you lack group support.
Have you ever wanted to have a homeschool co-op in your area, but you haven’t found one?
Have you ever wanted to start your own?
If this idea is new to you, I’m sure you have many questions in mind.
- What are the benefits?
- What are some of its challenges?
- Do I need legal status?
- Can I do it for free?
- How do I establish rules?
- Do I need to do it at my house?
We’ll cover the answers to the questions above in the rest of this article. Also, you’ll learn easy steps to start a homeschool co-op that you and your kids will love!
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What is a Homeschool Co-Op?
Co-op means “cooperative.” Easy, right?
Homeschool Co-Op: A homeschool co-op is a support group of homeschooling parents who meet regularly to provide better educational options for their children.
Homeschooling parents may look for a co-op to get help with academics, socialization, electives, or field trip activities.
Parents themselves or freelance teachers may teach these classes. In addition, the co-ops may meet at homes, parks, community centers, churches, parks, and even online.
They can be free or require formal monthly or annual fees.
The homeschool co-ops can operate daily, once a week, once a month, or at any frequency. The options are infinite, and there is something for each homeschooling family.
Pros and Cons of a Homeschool Co-Op
You undoubtedly know the benefits of homeschool vs public school. But what about the benefits of being part of a homeschooling co-op? And are there any disadvantages?
There are many pros to participating in a homeschool co-op.
Here are a few:
- More social activities for kids and parents
- Teachers that are experts in their subjects
- Different teaching styles
- Collaborative skills are developed
- New interests can be developed
- Parents have more personal time
But let’s be honest, there are some things you might not like that much.
- Have to commute
- Less control over the curriculum
- Less family-like environment
- Some co-ops may share different values from yours
So the definite plus is more socializing opportunities for all parties involved and a more diverse curriculum. By taking turns in teaching responsibilities, parents feel less overwhelmed.
However, you’re partly losing control over what your kid learns, how, and where. You can also feel overwhelmed if you decide to participate in too many activities and you need to commute from one place to another.
I still think that the pros outweigh the cons. Try it out—it might be the best option for your family!
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How to Start a Homeschool Co-Op in Easy-to-Follow Steps
What happens if there’s no homeschool co-op in your area or none you like?
Start your own!
Easy to say, you might be thinking—but, really it’s not that complicated! You can establish a small, local co-op without much hassle, and the steps are easy to follow for any homeschooling parent. You just need to have some things clear:
Why? Decide on your Purpose
It’s the most important thing and the first thing one has to decide. To attract families that share the same objectives, you need to know what you expect from a homeschool co-op.
- Do you just need your child to socialize?
- Do you want somebody to teach specific classes?
- Are you brilliant at explaining math but have no idea how to awaken an interest in Arts?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then a co-op might be for you.
Or maybe you just want a group for field trips?
Get it clear. As soon as you have your mission statement ready, you can spread the word and decide the other steps with the rest of the parents.
Where? Choose your Location
Location is important even if you’re planning on a small, local homeschool co-op.
Are you ready to offer your house, no matter the extra costs? Do you want to rotate with other parents? Maybe you want to meet in a park or a community center. Perhaps a local church will be eager to support your initiative at some cost. Ponder all the pros and cons of an inside or outside location.
Taking it out of your house can be good, but it might involve some costs or legal contracts.
When? Establish a Timetable
How often do you want to meet with other families?
Maybe you just want to dedicate one day to homeschool co-op activities, or maybe you want daily support. If your kid is still in preschool, you might opt for one afternoon to explore activities or simply socialize.
You might want to do it daily and have each family take control of one day of the week. Or you might look for once-a-month meetings for field trips and social gatherings.
Who? Appoint the Teachers
Although using other parents as teachers may be the cheapest and the easiest option, you might sometimes feel that you need an expert.
Many freelance teachers offer their services to homeschool co-ops, but it comes at a cost. You might also want to use online schools to teach language classes, for example, and use group discounts.
Handpicked for you:
How? Set the Rules
In the beginning, everybody is very enthusiastic. Naturally, however, with time, some questions and problems may arise.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to ask yourself a few questions. You must also establish transparent rules for all the homeschool co-op members.
- Who has the final say? Is there a leader or a board?
- Are students of all ages welcome?
- Who is in charge of the curriculum?
- What happens with the non-consumable materials when the lesson is finished?
- If any fees are involved, when are they due? Who receives and stores the money? Who decides on what and how it can be spent?
- How will you handle behavior issues?
You might need to establish many other guidelines according to your specific situation.
How much? Determine the Costs
It is possible to run a homeschooling co-op without any fees involved. For example, this is particularly feasible when only socializing is involved. However, if you want to hire other teachers or provide kids with materials, you’ll need money.
And financial transparency is crucial to avoid any future conflicts.
It might be easier to ask each parent to pay the hired teacher individually, but if they prefer one payment, you’ll have to consider other options. Let’s say you don’t have legal status or that your homeschool co-op is an informal, local initiative. Then you might want to choose one parent to collect the money and make the payments.
Don’t let this issue stop you! Just make sure you talk about it from the start with the other parents.
What About a Virtual Homeschool Co-op?
What happens if you’re purely interested in a virtual homeschool co-op?
You might be living in a remote area, or your kid has special health conditions that limit their social relationships. There’s not much difference in steps to follow. The only difference is that instead of thinking about a physical location, you should find an online platform that will meet your requirements.
In the beginning, you don’t need anything fancy.
A free Zoom account allows 40-minute long group meetings at no cost. Google Meet lets you talk for one hour. Google Classroom is easy to use and will allow you to store materials, assign work, and evaluate it. Nothing is stopping you!
Start Your Homeschool Co-Op Right Now!
What are you waiting for? Now you know what you need to start a homeschool co-op with people who care as much about their kids.
Set your purpose. Look for other homeschooling families on Facebook groups. You don’t risk much!
If you don’t like the experience, you can always go back to the regular homeschooling family environment. A homeschool co-op can be a wonderful way to enrich your child’s education in a community setting that aligns with your family values.
Learn more about Homeschool Spanish Academy and Our K-12 Spanish Programs!
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
“It’s a great way to learn Spanish, from native Spanish speakers in a 1-on-1 environment. It’s been fairly easy to schedule classes around my daughter’s other classes. The best value for us has been ordering multiple classes at a time. All the instructors have been great!”
– Cindy D, Parent of 3
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. I have appreciated the one on one interaction and teaching that my son gets from his teachers. He has gotten to know his teachers, which has increased his confidence in speaking Spanish. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Maple, Parent of 3
“My Son, Heath, is taking the classes. He’s been with Luisa the entire time and we absolutely love her. She is always patient and is a great teacher. Heath’s dad speaks Spanish so they get to have little conversations.”
– William R, Parent of 3
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