5 Benefits of Joining a Homeschool Co-op
There are many benefits of being a part of a homeschool co-op. I have been a member of a homeschool co-op for seven years and my most valued benefits have been the friends that I have made and their support of my homeschooling efforts. I enjoy being with like-minded people once a week. It helps me to remember that I am not alone or isolated in my homeschooling experience.
The most apparent benefit of a homeschool co-op is socialization. For years, the homeschool movement has been criticized for the lack of opportunity to socialize. There are homeschoolers who are concerned about social interaction, and they seek out opportunities for their children to be a part of group activities. Thus we see the growth of homeschool sports leagues, classes, clubs, and homeschool co-ops. These group activities balance the time spent learning alone or with the family. Most co-ops meet once or twice a week, therefore giving students a “taste” of group learning without being overwhelming.
2. Learning from Another Adult
The other parents who volunteer as teachers and helpers in a co-op serve as role models, mentors and teachers. I think it is very healthy for children to have adults they respect outside their own family. Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders serve this role, and so can co-op teachers. I realize that I am not my children’s only teacher. My children will learn from college professors and they will be exposed to trainers in the workplace someday. I want them to appreciate the different personalities that teachers possess. I also want my children to understand that they can learn from different types of people.
3. Group Interaction
When my daughter approached high school, she wanted to discuss literature with someone other than me. She was right; it is awfully difficult to have group discussions without a decent-sized gathering! Co-ops provide a wonderful opportunity for your student to engage in group discussions and other classes. Our co-op has held several classes that work best in a group setting including literature discussion, public speaking, gym games, and choir. These types of learning opportunities cannot be done as well in a home setting, but they work beautifully in a homeschool co-op.
4. Encouragement to Continue Homeschooling
One co-op director that I know believes that if a co-op helps even one mother to continue homeschooling, then all the work has been worthwhile. Specifically, she tries to support parents of high school students, many of whom drop out of homeschooling because the subject material grows more difficult at the high school level. Our co-op tries to help these families by offering high school classes in foreign language, upper math and advanced lab science. Other co-ops in our area offer fun subjects such as photography, yearbook, drama and art to keep kids interested.
5. Mothers Sharing Burdens
Of course, it is not just parents of high school students that need support; parents of younger children need assistance also. Emulating another homeschool co-op, my co-op offers a room for mothers to “Chew and Chat,” where we can eat and talk. More importantly, we share each other’s burdens there. Although we sometimes offer suggestions and new ideas, we often are just a sounding board. Mothers feel free to share their homeschooling struggles in our Chew and Chat room, because this group understands them without condemnation.