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Our First Co-Op Experience

IT WAS AWESOME

Six years in to homeschooling and we have joined our first co-op this week. I wasn’t sure what a home school co-op entailed. I had been invited to a few along the way. To be honest, it begins to feel like the more activities we do the less time we have to roll up our sleeves and hit the books. We are blessed with an abundance of home school opportunities in our area and it is hard to decide which to choose.

Further, it is important to note that co-ops can be organized in many different ways. And some might or might not work out for your schedule, your goals or your child, and let’s face it, it might not work out for you. Below is a list of questions I have compiled to help decide if a co- op is the right fit for your family.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN JOINING A CO-OP

IS THERE A FINANCIAL OBLIGATION? Some co-ops charge an annual fee to participate. This usually pays for supplies, materials, fees and snacks. Others that may not have fees to join may still have a financial obligation through snacks, materials or lessons planned?

Is the fee weekly based on participation? Is the fee annually? Is the fee based on the activity; each family pays for each activity?

HOW OFTEN DO YOU MEET? Some co-ops meet monthly, bi monthly and weekly.

IS THERE AN AGREEMENT TO SIGN? Some co-ops require a signed agreement. This can include participation, fees due, along with behavior.

IS THERE A FOCUS TO THE CO-OP? Some co-ops are based on educational theory such as Charlotte Mason or Waldorf. Some co-ops focus on topics such as nature or science.

IS THERE A RELIGIOUS ELEMENT TO THE CO-OP? You may want to make sure that if it is a faith based co-op that it meets your standards or beliefs.

WHAT IS THE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT? Find out what is expected of you. Will you be expected to teach a lesson, organize an outing, provide a snack or help clean up?

IS THERE A SPECIFIC PLACE TO MEET OR IS IT ARRANGED BY ACTIVITY? Some co-ops are literally all over the map meeting here and there depending on the agenda. Others meet at the same place and same time each meeting.

IS THERE AN ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENT OR RSVP REQUIREMENT? This is a big one. Some co-ops want to make sure you attend. A lot of work goes into preparing for a co-op outing or lesson and it isn’t really fair if no one shows up.

IS THERE SNACK PROVIDED AND WHO PROVIDES THE SNACK? Will you need to bring snacks for 30 kids? Are there allergies? Will others mind your or your child’s allergies?

Before joining a co-op make sure you know what obligations (costs and time) and what benefits are expected. Ask if you can sit in on a meeting to see if it is a good fit for your family.

MORE ABOUT OUR FIRST CO-OP EXPERIENCE

So we attended our first co-op meeting and it was AWESOME. Our leader is organized and has a theme for the year. HANDS ON SCIENCE This looks like it is going to be a great fit for our family. Based on the answers to the questions above and the theme of the year we are in!

There were so many “makers” opportunities at our co-op. I loved them all. I wondered as our leader explained the different stations which my son would pick. They were all so GREAT. He picked the Mid Level Robotics. You can see some of his work in the video below.

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Happily Homeschooling~ Bridget

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