In Homeschool Co-Ops 101, I covered the basics of what a homeschool co-op is and what it isn’t and the advantages or disadvantages of participating in a co-op. In this post, we are going to look at the various types of co-ops and discuss what each has to offer you and your family.
An academic co-op is usually set up to cover subjects that home educators find challenging to teach, such as math, science, English, foreign languages, geography, history, and government. You will often find that the parents in an academic co-op are former teachers, native foreign language speakers, history buffs, or grammar nerds (like me). Many academic co-ops focus on junior high and high school age students. Academic co-ops offer these students valuable experience in time management, how to learn from different instructors, and how to interact in a classroom setting. If you aren’t comfortable teaching tough academic subjects, there are usually other roles available to you so that your student can enjoy the benefits of this type of co-op.
Field Trip Co-op
A field trip co-op expects that each family will lead at least one field trip for the group. Field trip co-ops may be stand alone co-ops or a component of another co-op. Most field trip co-ops have a big planning meeting before the new school year begins in the fall. The members of the co-op decide on price and distance limits for field trips, if they will have group shirts, and more. The biggest advantage of a field trip co-op is more affordable group pricing.
There are some things that are just easier to teach to a group. Some parents are hesitant to homeschool their children because their family is into sports and they are concerned that they will have to give up sports to homeschool. And unless you have ten children in your family, it’s pretty challenging to teach basketball, volleyball, soccer, football, or other team sports at home. A homeschool sports co-op will rotate through various sports much in the same way that public schools teach team sports in their physical education classes. Kids gain familiarity with the basics of the most common sports and learn the principles of good sportsmanship, how to be a team player, and many find a lifelong passion for sports. Homeschooling has come so far that there is an official group for homeschool sports called the Home School Athletic Association.
Perhaps you feel comfortable teaching math, science, and English but the thought of teaching fine arts (music, dance, art, and drama), family and consumer sciences (home economics), or mechanical skills (shop) leaves you quaking in your shoes. An extra-curricular co-op will calm your nerves and allow you to give your students a well-rounded education. Extra-curricular courses help your student to stand out on their college applications.
Specific Focus Co-op
If you are a Charlotte Mason mom, love the Montessori method, are a Classical homeschooler, or are wowed by Waldorf Education principles, then a co-op with a specific focus on a particular way of teaching would benefit you and your students. These type of co-ops give both you and your children a peer group that strengthens your commitment and determination in your chosen homeschooling approach.
The five homeschool co-ops that I highlighted in this post are by no means an exhaustive list of all of the types of co-ops that you may encounter, but they are some of the most common. If one of these co-ops isn’t available in your area, or none of these are your cup of tea, you may want to create your own co-op. Stay tuned for the third and final segment of this series, when I’ll discuss how to create your own homeschool co-op.