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Co-ops: Pros and Cons

Are you thinking about a homeschooling co-op? Frequently, in a co-op classes are taught that might not normally be covered at home. For example, classic languages (Greek, Latin), modern languages, advanced math, science, and art could be some of the subjects. The idea with a co-op is to get the children together on a regular basis, usually weekly, for classes. Gym time and a lunch break may be included. Parents with different areas of expertise may teach classes, or the co-op may hire "experts." The following discussion appeared on HomeschoolChristian.com's message boards.

Karla B.: The good: you can get teaching for your children that you aren't covering at home.

The bad: it's ALOT of work for the parents teaching. The cost can be prohibitive for families with multiple children.

The ugly: Kids that are at home all week don't want to go to another class. They want to play. Most times what subjects the kids would enjoy are not even considered.

I've been in two co-ops and dropped out both times. You have a few moms doing most of the work and as I said, the kids just want to play, not have more school away from home. What my kids really wanted was free time to just be with other homeschooled kids. It took a while for me to start listening to them. I was so caught up in being part of a group and trying to do everything educational, that I forgot I had two little boys that really just needed free social time.

Marcelyn: I was part of a coop exactly like the one you described. I stayed in it for a semester. I personally would never do it again. Although it sounded good, we'd get all those classes you want but just never get around to doing, it didn't end up that way. One day was not enough time to learn spanish and they were learning more at home from me than they did in the group.

The biggest problem though was that it turned into a mini-public school in the social aspect. It was amazing, the kids formed cliques, there were hurt feelings, the moms became very competitive etc. It was crazy. A friend of mine stayed in for two years and she said that several families decided to put their children back in public school because they learned through the co-op just how much their children missed "real school". I thought that was very sad.

Reality is that the lost day was a huge chunk out of my week and the learning that took place was much less than I would have wanted. It was a well organized co-op and the people teaching were doing a fine job, it was just too much like public school in attitude and atmosphere for me.

Melissa: There is good and bad in everything including co-ops. We have been a part of three different co-ops, two of which were not for us. The one we are involved in now is great, but it is not perfect.

For example, the co-op we are going to offers some really awesome classes. It is very well organized and for the most part runs smoothly. I don't like some of the personality "conflicts" I see going on with some of the mothers and the attitudes of SOME the kiddos. Isn't that like life though? Nothing is going to be "perfect", because we are human.

I will continue with our co-op because I think the good out-weighs the the bad. Our co-op now has about 400 students and will be splitting into 2 groups next year. If I had to pick 3 things that make a co-op successful I would say it would be: organization, ORGANIZATION and dedication.

Cathe: Our co-op is great! I'm grateful for it. We didn't bother when the boys were younger, but this year it's been a blessing for all of us. But while we have great classes and teachers, it isn't terribly expensive. Gym was $10 per semester for insurance and chemistry was $7 for the year. Sewing was $10 for the semester. Spanish was free, but we had to buy the book. We did the competitive speech and debate, too, and that was more expensive because of the books, tournaments, etc. We have about 75 teens in the classes, and I'm sure there are way more little kids, but they meet at another buiding and I never see them.

Jody: It is nice to have someone else my children need to listen too. I also like them to get certain subjects I couldn't do at home. I think it is nice to get with other children too. It also is a nice change of pace and see other moms doing the same thing.

Michelle T.: We started a new co-op this year. It has been a real blessing, but a lot of work. There were three moms who started it. We are working our way around the world with different countries. We focus on the country and cover, foods, demographics, geography. Usually one country per month. The kids have really enjoyed it. We started out with 7 kids (4 families) and now have 17 kids (8 families). We meet every week, which does get to be too much. I guess every other week would be better!

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