Starting a homeschool co-op can be as simple as a few moms meeting together and teaching various skills to your own children. Or, it can be as organized as meeting in a church on a certain day every week for an entire semester and having parent volunteers teach elective classes. If you are thinking of starting a co-op, here are some things to consider. Do you have enough parents willing to teach or serve as assistant teachers? Do you have enough parents willing to serve as nursery workers for the younger siblings of the teachers? Take it slow and you may be surprised at how your co-op begins to grow. Our local co-op began with just a few classes and now offers classes for children aged 2 all the way through high school age.
The first step in deciding to start a homeschool co-op is to find a place to meet. Many churches are happy to allow homeschoolers to use their Sunday School classrooms one day per week. The next step would be to determine which day of the week your co-op will meet and the times you will arrive and dismiss. A good place to start would be to have two classes back to back. Our local co-op offers two, one-hours classes. The first one begins at 9:45, and the second starts at 11:00. There is a 15 minute break in between the two. Some grade levels are combined and each group of students remain in the same classroom , whereas a new teacher comes into the room for the second class. Larger co-ops offer a list of classes and allow parents to pick and choose which classes their children are interested in attending.
Often co-ops have a set fee for parents to pay which helps with the costs of snacks, insurance, t-shirts, and so forth. Other co-ops simply have each student pay the individual teacher directly, much like you would pay a tutor. This provides an extra income for the parent volunteer. However you decide to set up your local co-op, please know that it is worth the effort and can be a blessing and joy for everyone involved.
Some of the classes that your co-op may choose to offer include electives such as Art, P.E., Typing, Manners, Character Education, Legos, Science Experiments, Geography, State Study, First Aid, American Girls, Math Games, Astronomy, Excellence in Writing, Movie Making, etc. There are so many possibilities. The rewards far outreach simply the knowledge that your children will gain. Giving your children the opportunity to be around like-minded children will facilitate the building of friendships that may continue for many years to come.
In addition, our homeschool co-op is equally beneficial for the parents whose children attend. We have a parent break room set up for those who aren’t serving as teachers or assistants. This adult fellowship time is a great time for parents to encourage each other and even share prayer needs. You will be surprised at how parents even continue to cultivate the relationships they have formed beyond the weekly co-op meeting.
If you are thinking of teaching classes for your local homeschool co-op, please check out these titles written specifically for the homeschool co-op setting: Learning Across the USA, Science for Homeschool Co-op or for Fun at Home, Manners, and Movie Making Basics.