Finding the Right Co-ops and Courses for Your Child
By Crystal Gammon
Homeschooling can be a challenging (but advantageous) endeavor for any family. When you have multiple children, every child learns different things at different times. Some of the challenges are different at home than at a public or private school. If you’re worried about socialization or feeling isolated while homeschooling then a co-op might just be the answer you’ve been searching for.
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Homeschooling co-ops are a great way of meeting your child’s social, emotional, and educational needs without draining you or your wallet. It’s also a great way for parents to find support. Students, families, and teachers come together to form a social and support group that can be a huge asset to a homeschooling family.
So, where do you start? Well congratulations, you’re in the perfect place. You can search for co-ops right in your area at Anything Academic. There are many of them, which is why we help you find the best ones by sorting them based on your criteria, worldview, teaching style, special needs, and other details. We’re happy to help you find your people!
Religious or Secular?
Families choose to homeschool for many reasons. You may have chosen to homeschool because you were not happy with the quality of education offered in your community. You may have chosen to homeschool so that you can teach your religious values to your children. Perhaps you wanted a more challenging education for your gifted child.
When looking for the right homeschooling co-op, consider whether you want a religious or secular program. Even if you are religious, choosing a program that offers the religious teachings you agree with can be hard to find. However, it can be equally challenging to find a truly secular co-op that meets your needs.
You need to look for mentors and peers to guide your children to make good choices. You must be intentional in your search.
How Strict is the Schedule?
Will you need to adhere to a strict schedule when you enroll? If sticking to a schedule is difficult for your family, consider programs with shorter courses or less rigid scheduling. If you rely on a schedule, choose a co-op that meets on specific days at specific times.
Homeschooling co-ops will vary in cost. The cost will cover paying teachers, the cost of facilities, and the cost for materials. Lower cost co-ops may ask that you volunteer more of your time or provide your materials.
How to Spot a Good Co-Op
Clear Communication: Does the co-op respond to your emails and messages? Do they answer your questions with satisfaction? A good homeschooling co-op may have a strong social media presence or staff to answer emails or phone calls. Strong communication will be essential well after you enroll.
Well-Established: When was the co-op founded? It is not always necessary to find long-established programs, but a well-established co-op is a good sign that the program will endure. You want to be careful not to choose a program that might close while your children are enrolled or before your children are ready to move on.
Clear Goals or Purpose Statement: A good homeschooling co-op will have clear goals for their students and a purpose statement that will help you get a good picture of what your family will experience if you join. What are their goals for the students? How will they support your children while enrolled?
Transparency: Transparency is perhaps the most important thing to look for in a homeschool co-op. How are the teachers and families vetted? You will be trusting the teachers and other members with your children. Ask for background checks and educational qualifications.
Encourages Parent Participation: Does the program encourage you to participate? Will you need to volunteer a set number of hours or days to the co-op in some way? What time commitment will you need to make to the co-op?
Experienced or Highly Qualified Educators: While the teachers don’t need to have educational degrees, they must be qualified to teach the courses they will be teaching. What qualifications do the teachers have to teach the courses they teach?
Reviews: Does the co-op have any reviews from past or current members? What are the members saying?
Choosing Courses to Add to Your Schedule
What courses do you feel most unqualified to teach? Determining what you are least qualified to teach is an excellent place to start choosing a course to add to your schedule. Get your child involved. What are their future goals? Which courses would be most helpful in helping your child reach their long-term goals? Some children really want to learn chemistry, or biology, with in-depth lab work and scientific exploration. This subject can be difficult to teach at home without proper scientific equipment.
Make a list of your child’s interests before exploring the homeschooling co-op catalog. Once you have a list of interests, look over the catalog with your child and find courses that most closely relates to their interests.
Consider the courses’ cost, the materials you will need to buy, and how demanding attending the course will be to your schedule. If you have considered these things and still see the courses’ value, it may be time to register.
What if You Cannot Find a Good Co-Op?
Library Book Clubs: Many public library systems will have groups and clubs that cater to homeschooling families. Check with your local library and see what programs they offer to homeschool families.
Community Centers: Another free or cheap option would be to contact your local community center and see what programs, groups, or clubs they offer to homeschool families.
Church or Religious Groups: If you wish to find a religious homeschool program to get involved in, contact your local church or religious organization, and find out what they offer to homeschool families in your community.
Community College Courses: Community colleges often offer courses to unenrolled students. You can check with your local community college and see if they are offering courses to homeschool students.
Start Your Own Co-Op: If you cannot find a program or alternative, look into creating your own homeschool co-op. Join online homeschooling groups and see how many families would be interested in starting a homeschool co-op. You will likely find that there are plenty of other families ready to get involved.
Choosing the right homeschool co-op can be a difficult decision. There are many things to consider before registering. The right homeschooling co-op can enhance your children’s learning experiences and create long-lasting friendships and bonds for the whole family.