Every year we have the great debate. Will we participate in a homeschool coop this year or not? I sometimes tease that for every year we participate, I need two years off to recover. This is the biggest drawback to a coop – participating is a lot of extra work. In the end, the value of each coop is based on how well the coop is organized and how well the mom’s are organized. They are not universally successful. So, we have had a variety of experiences with coops, both positive and negative.
Positive Results of a Homeschool Cooperative
Friendships. Homeschool Cooperatives are a great place for your children to practice friendships with other children. You can form friendships with entire families and enjoy wonderful fellowship for children and moms alike.
Gap Fillers. I don’t know about you, but in our home it seems to hardly ever get around to doing art. We have many priorities and we just don’t have enough hours in a day. So when I find a Homeschool Cooperative with an art elective we are blessed. Quite often, I choose to teach art at the cooperative just so that my children can take my class.
Social Structures. Sometimes homeschooled students are not good citizens in their early years. They don’t know how to stand in line, sit in chairs quietly, or listen and learn in a classroom setting. I have actually known homeschooled children who got kicked out of Sunday School class because they couldn’t or wouldn’t “follow the rules.” While I don’t think “the rules” are necessary all the time, I do think it is good for our children to be exposed to norms and understand how to act in this type of social setting.
Negative Results of a Homeschool Cooperative
Extra Work. There is just no way around it, participating in a cooperative is going to be extra work. You might have to get up earlier then normal, you will all have to be dressed and ready to go at a specific time, and Mom is usually required to teach at least one class to several students besides her own. These things require preparation to be donw with excellence. Preparation means work.
Quality Control. Some cooperatives struggle with issues of quality control. Some moms are less prepared and are not able to teach in a classroom setting effectively. These moms can cause discord within the cooperative, especially if an imbalance is perceived. I usually try to set the bar high and challenge the other moms to step up to the plate. This is where good leadership comes in as well. \
Lack of Leadership. Speaking of leadership, it is possible to find a cooperative with a complete lack of leadership. This is frustrating and ineffective. Without direction, members within a cooperative don’t know what they should be doing and instead stand still OR everyone takes initiative and work ends up being duplicative, but still not productive.
With these positives and negatives in mind, share your coop stories with me! Highs and Lows, love or hate…
–This post originally included a homeschool giveaway.–