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Homeschool Co-ops Review by Ruth Hoskins

How to start them, run them, and not burn out
Carol Topp
Aventine Press

For those of you, who may not be familiar with the term co-op, it is not the same as a homeschool group. Where as groups meet for a variety of reasons, co-ops are designed with the focus being shared education. If you are thinking about starting a homeschool co-op or even joining an existing one, this book is certainly worth your time to read.

Topp begins the book by discussing that co-ops come in many shapes and sizes, and the advantages or disadvantages of some of them. Although there are only two chapters devoted to this topic, I am glad she included this as a foundation. I appreciated being reminded that co-ops are not one size fits all.

The bulk of the book, as the title states, has to do with the nuts and bolts of starting and running a co-op. There is a lot of information in this book, but she discusses it in a way that I found easy to follow. She encourages you to think through every step of running a co-op, beginning with the size of co-op you would like, what to call yourselves, where to meet, what the bylaws will be, having officers, a statement of faith, defining your mission, and looking into you tax statues. There are many worksheet in the book that will help you thoroughly think through these areas. The book is designed to help you work, not just read. It is interactive.

I am familiar with co-ops, so I found my favorite part of the book to be the section on co-op offerings. Here she lists what other homeschool co-op have offered in the past. It is broken down into curriculum based classes or grade based classes. There are also ideas for parent classes.

The last part of the book deals with paying teachers, recruiting volunteers, collecting fees, and what to do if you want to become an official tax exempt business. She is a CPA so the information she gives regarding taxes is from her expert knowledge.

There are a few pages devoted to not burning out as a co-op leader. These are helpful, but they are things that you might already be aware of, for example, don't try to do it all yourself , pray, stay focused, etc. . .

This book is not a step by step approach to beginning a group. It is more of a guide to help you get started. I would recommend it to anyone looking to begin a homeschool co-op. It is also helpful for homeschool co-op volunteers and participants.

Product Review by Ruth Hoskins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2008