A homeschool co-op can broaden the reach of your homeschool education, improving socialization and introducing creative new ways to learn.
If you’re lucky, a suitable homeschool co-op will be running in your area. Get in contact and see if you can join.
But if there isn’t a homeschool co-op near you, or it doesn’t meet your goals, you can always start your own! Begin with a clear purpose for the co-op, before organizing the logistics of the shared schooling experience.
Ready to start a homeschool co-op? Learn how with this guide.
1. Decide On A Purpose
Before you start your homeschool co-op, you want to be clear about just what kind of organization you’re creating. Making these decisions upfront will ease the process when you start looking for families to join your co-op.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve by starting a co-op. Do you want more time to socialize with other parents and children?
Do you want help teaching subjects you aren’t knowledgeable about? Do you want to discover new teaching styles?
These decisions aren’t set in stone. As your co-op develops, your needs can change. But starting with a good idea of what you’re looking to create will guide your process.
For the most part, homeschoolers are allowed to hire private teachers and educate several households.
However, at some point, homeschooling can become private schooling, which has a completely different set of requirements.
Before you start a homeschool co-op, check out your state laws regarding homeschooling and private schooling. A few minutes of research can prevent serious trouble in the future.
3. Reach Out To Parents
Speak to parents you know who are interested in joining a co-op and who might be beneficial during the planning stage. If you find a like-minded parent, they can shoulder some of the logistical burden!
4. Consider The Format
How many classes will be available? How frequently will you meet? Will the focus be education, or will socialization play a key role?
As you already know your purpose, these questions should be easy to answer. Homeschool isn’t like public school, so you have freedom with scheduling and classes.
Really think about what you want to get from the co-op, and how the format will help you toward that aim.
5. Decide On Classes
One popular reason for starting a homeschool co-op is to get help with subjects you’re less confident in. For example, if you’re fantastic at math but terrible at geography, a co-op can help your child get a rounded education.
Your co-op can cover several different classes, or have a concentrated focus. You aren’t limited to standard curriculums, so spend time researching the possibilities.
If you want STEM subjects, you could try zoology or paleontology! Art classes could focus on photography, or try a language like Latin.
6. Find Teachers
You might get lucky and find homeschool parents with complementary skill sets and plenty of experience. It’s unlikely to be quite that easy, but the homeschoolers in your area are still fantastic resources.
However, it might be necessary to hire a freelance teacher. They can take control of the classes you aren’t comfortable leading, and are particularly useful at higher skill levels.
The downside of hiring teachers is the expense and availability.
7. Consider The Logistics (Meeting Area, Schedule, Price, Etc.)
First, the location. Where will your homeschool co-op meet? In someone’s home is the obvious option, but not always feasible.
For a larger class, you may need to rent a public space. Churches are popular! If you do hire a space, check for any usage restrictions and regulations that might affect schooling.
Second, the schedule. If you know your lessons, teacher availability, and format, the schedule should come together relatively quickly.
Set a schedule for at least one semester at a time. This can reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
Third, the price. Each member of the co-op will need to pay a fee to cover the location, insurance, supplies, and teachers. Tally up the total costs, roughly divide by the number of students, and set the price.
Other logistics to consider include any insurance needed, transport ideas, and contact details.
8. Set Rules
Walk through each day in the co-op and consider problems that might arise. What will the cancellation policy be?
Will you offer any refunds? Do parents need to stick around once classes have started? Who is in charge of discipline in each class?
9. Fine Tune The Details
This is the moment to notice any gaps in your planning and sort them out before they can cause problems.
10. Find Members Of The Community To Join The Co-op
Throughout the planning stage, you’ve been in contact with parents in the area, so you should have some idea of the interest level. Now is the time to turn that interest into membership!
Don’t limit yourself to people you already know. The internet is an incredible tool, allowing you to advertise to homeschoolers you might not be aware of. Be clear about what the co-op is, its purpose, and its focus.
A homeschool co-op is a fantastic way to enrich the educational experience.
It seems like a lot of planning and can be logistically difficult, but once your co-op is up and running it can really enhance homeschooling for you and your child.
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