Posted by : Anita UnMuted September 12, 2014
I have home-educated my daughter since she was in kindergarten, and during that time, I have considered signing her up for a co-op. Why? Because it's one of those things many homeschool parents talk about. I sort of felt like it was one of those things I should, or was supposed to, do.
Co-ops are church-related and secular, and typically provide classes one to three times per week. In most cases, parents are required to remain on site during class hours, and many co-ops require parents to teach a class at least once per month on average. Some co-ops are completely staffed and do not require parents to teach.
When my daughter was in the 2nd grade, I started looking at various local co-ops-- asking a ton of questions and checking schedules, prices, curricula, rules, and other information. I must say here that, in my experience, generally, homeschool co-ops are extremely over-priced and over-rated.
Besides that, co-ops remind me of private schools, and regarding organization, public schools as well. Many were crowded. Children were separated by age or grade. Cliques were present, not only with the children, but also with the adults. That felt quite icky to me. I was completely uncomfortable, and sitting in on those classes just didn't feel right. And, what's up those ridiculous fees? And, what if I don't like the way another parent teaches a particular subject? What indeed. I began to think, "Why am I here? If I wanted my child in a typical organized school environment, I would have kept her in that type of system." (Yes, I tried public school for a couple of weeks during kindergarten, and couldn't stand it for longer than that. She then went to a Christian private school which gave me the time I needed to prepare to begin homeschooling my daughter at the start of her 2nd term of K.)
While checking out one of my Google Plus communities, +iHomeschool Network, I saw a comment from +Maidellyn Easey which really resonated with me (and sounded quite familiar): "A few years ago we tried joining a co-op. With the large amount of children present, it reminded me of a large private school. It had the age segregation, and I saw cliques taking place among the students and parents as well. What is your opinion about the environment in co-ops in comparison to that of a regular school?" She took the words right out of my mouth! I wonder if we checked out the same place. :)
Although I have thought about it from time to time, I never joined a co-op. One of the wonderful advantages of homeschooling is that WE get to do what we want to do when and how we want to do it. Our schedule is our own, and we control it. It's flexible. It's convenient. It isn't rushed, and specifics such as the schedule, the curricula, the pace, and days off aren't determined by someone outside our family. Even better, we get to study the bible as much as we want.
Homeschool co-ops may work for many home-educating parents, and I'm sure there may be many positive aspects; however, co-ops aren't for my family. To me, they seem to be too closely related to outside educational institutions, and that just doesn't work for us. We don't need a co-op for education, and we don't need it for "socialization". I don't have an objection to my daughter being exposed to different teaching styles, but that isn't enough to get me to put her in a co-op.
Home-education is about finding whatever works for your family. For us, co-ops don't fit the bill.
Do you homeschool? If so, do you belong to a co-op? What has your experience been like?
Thanks for reading, and your comments are appreciated!
#homeschool #coop #education