How to Find the Homeschool Group Perfect for Your Family
If you are on the hunt for a quality homeschool group to attend, know this—not all homeschool groups are equal. Trust me; this is a good thing. What works for one homeschooling family simply may not work for another, and that is okay. This is one of the main differences between public education and alternative methods of education (private schools, online options, homeschooling). As soon as you break out of the traditional mold of the public school system, you realize that you don’t have to be as cookie-cutter as they were. The fact of the matter is, as homeschoolers, we get to create our own molds.
This can be tricky when joining with other homeschoolers. No two moms are going to completely see eye-to-eye because every parent has chosen to homeschool for different reasons. Even if two moms say they are choosing to homeschool for religious reasons, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing. Even if both are Christian, one could be young-earth while one believes in evolution. One could celebrate Halloween while the other does not. These could certainly be deciding factors when choosing which group to join. If you are choosing to bring your child home to educate them because you are concerned about what is being taught behind closed doors, why would you join a co-op that teaches content that goes against your core beliefs?
First and foremost, find out what the group’s faith statement is. Some groups require you to sign a statement of faith to join. Some even require both parents to sign it, even if only one will be there. Others only require you to sign a statement if you are on the board or if you are teaching a class. Find out how strict the rules are and what the statement says. If you wholeheartedly agree with the statement and you are confident that all of the teachers are on the same page, then that is most likely the group for you.
What is the group’s purpose?
Know what you want and look around for a group that fits. Some groups are strictly educational. Others are purely designed to provide extracurricular opportunities and socialization. Both types of groups serve their purpose, just know what you are getting into before signing up.
Check the schedule and see if it fits your lifestyle. If you thrive on having a set activity every Friday and you find a group that meets weekly on Fridays, then that group may be for you! Many parents enjoy having a four-day homeschool week with one day set aside for co-op, errands, music lessons, etc. If that sounds like you, then you might want to consider a group that meets once a week. Other families prefer a bi-weekly or monthly option. All of these options have their pros and cons. See what best fits your schedule.
Look at the group size before you join.
Some groups, usually in large cities, can have hundreds of kids join. These groups are usually run like a well-oiled machine with a large planning board, dozens of dedicated volunteers, and a schedule that works well for teens all the way down to infants with childcare in place. Other groups may have a dozen or two with a laid-back schedule.
What are the field trip options? If field trips are important to you, ask and find out if the group you are looking at schedules them. Some groups only do field trips. They may charge a fee to receive their newsletter via email with the monthly list of field trip options. Other groups only have classes, and field trips aren’t a part of what they provide although they may be able to point you in the right direction.
Finally, look at the cost. Homeschool group costs vary. Some groups are free, some have a small fee, while others can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Look at the value of what you would be getting with the group you are looking at and see if it is worth the cost to you and your family. It might be worth spending a few hundred dollars if your children are able to take a ballet, violin, or cooking class that they wouldn’t be able to take otherwise. If you are only looking for an opportunity for your children to kick a soccer ball around with some kids their age, you might try to find a free or inexpensive option.
A homeschool group can be an excellent way to connect with other homeschoolers. There are a wide variety of options out there so know exactly what you are looking for in a group before making a commitment!