13 Reasons Not To Join Our Co-op

My guest blogger today is Carren Joye, leader of the Academy Days Homeschool Co-op in Alabama. She shares a great article on when you are not ready to be part of a homeschool co-op.

13 Reasons Not To Join Our Co-op

Homeschool co-ops are not for every homeschooling family, and we certainly do not expect our co-op to necessarily be perfect for your family. As a matter of fact, we would rather you determine that our co-op is not a good “fit” before you make the commitment to participate for a full 14-week semester. The following 13 reasons why you may not want to join our co-op are based on feedback from former members for whom our co-op did not work out.

If you experience any of these situations, please, please, please do not join our co-op!

1. If you have a full time job or a busy extracurricular schedule and already have limited days for “book learning” at home, then you will find co-op way too time-consuming. Co-op takes a full day out of your week because you must be at co-op if your child is there. You certainly do not have to teach, but you can serve as a class helper or co-teacher or on the clean-up crew for part of the day. Our co-op is truly a “cooperative” effort, so we rely on everyone to make it work successfully, and we expect members to honor their commitment when they join. If you already don’t have time for co-op, don’t sign up!

2. If you are moving or will move this year, or if you have health problems or family obligations to help parents or other relatives, focus on those priorities first until this season of your life has passed. Do not add more stress to your life by committing your family’s precious time and energy to our co-op. If you and your children will not be able to meet your weekly obligations, you will let yourself, your family and the co-op down.

3. If you already know that you may miss three Thursdays per semester, please do not join our co-op as you and your children will already miss a full quarter of classes — and that’s before illnesses! Of course, we understand that illnesses and emergencies occur unexpectedly (and we do not want you to attend if you are sick), but we also respect the time and effort that facilitators put into their classes each week. They deserve the mutual respect of having students be in class and on time, barring unforeseen situations and illnesses. We ask parents to honor their commitment and make punctual attendance a priority.

4. If this is your first year homeschooling, you really need to take a year to adjust and find out what style works best for your family. Co-op is not a substitute or alternative to schooling at home. Indeed, jumping right into a co-op before adjusting to homeschooling may overwhelm you and your children.

5. Similarly, if you are joining co-op as a substitute for school or so you won’t have to teach your children at home, then co-op will not meet your needs. The parent is still the primary teacher for classes taught at co-op because the parent knows her children better than any teacher ever could. While our classes are designed to provide students with specialized instruction, co-op classes do not absolve parents from their responsibility for their children’s education. Parents still must ensure that their students keep up with homework, and they may need to assign supplemental coursework at home. Additionally, parents administer tests at home and determine final grades.

piccwhand6. If you homeschool because your child could not learn in a classroom environment or if your child does not do well in a group setting, you probably will not be pleased with our co-op. Although classes typically range between 4 and 10 students, as with the creative writing class pictured at right, we still group students by grade/age and expect “classroom manners” — although, since most are lifetime homeschoolers, they don’t always know to raise their hands! Also, whiteboards, tables and chairs make our classrooms very efficient for teaching a class, but give the classes a bit of a school-like feel — however, with homeschoolers as teachers, our class activities are usually more out-of-the-box! Additionally, with even a small group of families, we must rely on some rules and guidelines to maintain order and efficiency. If you unschool, you and your child may not feel comfortable even in our relaxed setting.

7. If you homeschool because you feel no one else can adequately teach your child what he needs to know in any given subject, you will not be satisfied with any parent who teaches a specialized co-op class. If you join our co-op, accept that others may not teach a subject the way you would and relinquish some control. At home, focus on subjects not taught at co-op to maximize your time. Alternatively, accept that you will be supplementing at home to a certain extent. If you’re not okay with either option, you should not join a co-op at all.

picscikatie8. If you are joining co-op for purely socialization reasons, you will likely find the classes too academic. All high school classes and most junior high classes require homework. Also, a few classes, such as the Apologia sciences pictured at right, require lessons at home during winter break in order to finish the course in one year. Even kindergarten and elementary classes have lessons incorporated into their activities and games. Also, while our children see each other at other homeschool events and clubs, our co-op does not schedule field trips or clubs. You would do better to join one of the many local homeschool support groups for socialization opportunities.

9. If you are joining co-op for rigorous, college-prep courses, you may find the classes not challenging enough. Unlike some co-ops, we do not administer tests nor do we assign grades. The parents remain the primary teachers of their own children. Kindergarten and elementary classes have neither homework nor lesson plans to follow at home. However, while most high school courses are college-prep, a weekly class for only 14 weeks cannot possibly cover all there is to know in a particular subject. Depending on the subject, you may want to supplement at home by assigning extra books or research.

10. If your junior high or high school students already have a full load of schoolwork at home or are members of another co-op, our classes may interfere with their ability to complete their schoolwork. Please focus on one co-op at a time.

11. If you have babies and toddlers in your family, you may want to wait until they are a little older. Although we do maintain a small nursery, the co-op may interrupt their feedings and nap schedule. Plus, little ones usually get sick more frequently than older children, which could cause your family to miss a lot more of co-op than you want.

12. If your child is undergoing obedience issues or social or behavioral problems, this is not a good time to join co-op.
Focus on the character growth of your child before putting him in a situation for which he may not be ready. This applies to all children, whether preschool, kindergarten, elementary, or high school!

13. If you are on a tight budget or live a good distance from our location, you may not want to make the financial investment. Class fees are minimal (between $1 and $15 for all 14 weeks) and cover supplies only, but fees do add up for a large family. Also, gas prices may be prohibitive if you live a considerable distance from Grace Community Church in Millbrook.

No co-op will fit every family. Before joining our co-op, or any homeschool co-op for that matter, you should consider what the Lord may have planned for your family this year. Ask yourself if participating in a co-op right now would enhance or exhaust your family at this season of your lives. Also, examine your reasons for joining a co-op. Consider what you expect from participating in this co-op, and ask other members if this co-op will likely meet those expectations. If not, don’t worry. You definitely do not need a co-op to homeschool successfully!
About the Author:
Carren W. Joye is the author of Homeschooling More Than One Child: A Practical Guide for Families (ISBN 0-595-34259-0), Alabama State History Curriculum for grades K-9, and A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Complete Guide to Playgroups (ISBN 0-595-14684-8). A homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded four successful playgroups, a homeschool support group, homeschool covering, and homeschool co-op. For more information on her books and state history curriculum, visit her web site at www.carrenjoye.com.

Comments

  1. Sally says:

    I was looking around for an article like this because I have also found that joining a homeschool coop may not necessarily be a good decision for every family. Our family has participated, and taught at a local coop for 3 years. One of the biggest problems is people pulling their weight. Sometimes while classes are running, other parents decide it is time to catch up with friends, write out their grocery lists or some have even dropped their children off (our coop has an enforced NO DROP OFF POLICY NOW). We opted out for finishing this year because we realized that it was actually taking time away from our studies here at home. They were also being rushed through subjects like science and even not completing the curriculum thoroughly. One thing to remember is that yes it is important to have and establish relationships with other families as well as seek encouragement from one another. However, you can do that informally. My husband tells me homeschoolign means SCHOOL AT HOME. If your homeschool coop seems very much like a school setting instead of what you were looking out I would definitely reconsider.
    I am thankful for the many moms whom have taught my children in the past. Subjects like public speaking were great! It gave my children opportunities to get up in front of an audience. However subjects like science, government, history, etc. really don’t have a plac ein coop. Subjects like this should not be rushed through since children do not learn at the same pace.

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