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Are You Ready for a Co-Op?

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homeschool co-op

 

Like any good welcoming committee, seasoned homeschoolers are usually excited to advise newbies in this home-educating lifestyle. From curriculum to school rooms to housekeeping tips, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to explore no matter what your specific circumstances. “Have you joined a co-op?” can be one of the first things you hear. A big reason homeschooling is becoming such a modern option is the prevalence of co-ops in our communities. With worries about socialization on our mind or maybe just a need to see how other families do it, for some new homeschoolers, joining the local co-op is the first stop on their journey. But should it be? Like the many other decisions you have to make in determining what is right for your family, there are some things to consider before committing your family to a co-op.

Do you have room in your schedule? In some areas, there may only be one or two choices for a co-op and a long drive might be required. When I was just beginning to homeschool, I was trying to manage teaching piano, writing, and a toddler too. Forcing us to add another commitment in, especially one farther away, would have caused strife and potentially diminished my effectiveness in other areas.

Can You Afford It? Every co-op is different and that includes the varying price tag. For some co-ops to function they have to pay rent for a facility and employ teachers for their classes. The more the co-op offers, the more it may cost. If your budget allows for it and the class selection is suitable, paying more may very well be worth it, but that isn’t always the case when you are first starting out.

Do you agree with their worldview? Sometimes it might be as simple as Christian or Secular. In bigger communities where there are a lot of options, some groups are very specific with what they believe and ask that you agree with upon membership. I initially found a couple of co-ops that I considered, but their required beliefs weren’t something I could agree with 100%.

Does it meet your needs? You don’t want to join a co-op just because you think you have to. Can you get along with the other families? Are the classes useful for your children? Does the community uplift you or frustrate you? If it doesn’t support the needs of your family in some way, it is not a good fit.

Being the introvert that I am, the push I felt to join a co-op in the beginning was quite overwhelming. People mean well, of course, because we all need a community of people who can understand what we’re experiencing. But, perhaps like finding a mate, not just anyone will necessarily do. My children are now 8, 5 and 1 and I only recently found a great co-op that I feel good about. I used to feel guilty about not committing to one earlier, but now that I’ve found one that matches all of my family’s criteria, I realize that anything else would have been an obligation rather than a blessing.

 

Amy Butler is a disciple of Christ, the wife of an engineer, mother of three, part time piano teacher and a lover of nature. Writing is where all of her passions come together as she struggles to find the WRITE Balance.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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