For the majority of our homeschooling years, we have actively participated in a co-op, sometimes more than one.
Co-ops can be a huge blessing, especially for the opportunity to gather with other like-minded families.
Not to mention the added bonus of relatively free lessons granted on a barter system. Last year, I taught drawing while another mom taught dance. Those lessons, taken out of the house at a facility can cost a lot of money. It was relatively free at our co-op.
Co-ops vary in more than just locale. Generally speaking, a co-op's atmosphere and choices of activities are dependent on participants and the individual organization of the group. Of the two co-ops we have been part of, each was run a bit differently. Yet, both offered the types of classes which the participants wanted and could teach. This meant that one co-op was the 'extras' like art, music, and physical education, while the other co-op was academic classes like history, science, and literature.
However, there are times when a co-op may not be the best choice for a family.
Compiled below are several thoughts as to why it may be better to say no to the local co-op, even if it is filled with wonderful, like-minded families...
Your family wants to
- go at your own pace
- make your own schedule
- take detours and side trails not outlined in a specific curriculum
- choose its own level of rigor for your classes
- create your own book listing or curriculum
- decide what classes your children will take when
- combine several subjects into one unit class
It should also be noted that some co-ops take on the flavor of a school. There can be segregation of children based on grades/ages, time blocks for subjects, and adherence to a school year schedule, complete with holiday breaks. IF these items are not something you want, then that co-op may not be the best fit.
Most importantly, it is best to remember: Joining a co-op should be an individual family choice. Some years, you may join, and others you may not. Either way, you decide what is best for your family.