I frequently ask homeschool leaders, “Is your homeschool group a co-op or a support group?”
It’s a basic questions that will influence how I advise them. It should be easy to answer, but more often I hear “Both” or “Well…I’m not sure” or even “We’re sort of a school for homeschoolers.”
The world of homeschooling is changing and it’s getting harder to define our groups. Support groups morph into co-ops. Co-ops add many support activities. Some co-ops grown into school-like programs.
Here’s my attempt to define each type of homeschool group. It’s incomplete and will probably change over time as creative homeschoolers start new types of groups to meet the needs of future homeschooling families..
Support Group: a gathering of homeschool parents or those interested in homeschooling for information and support. Typically hold monthly meetings for parents and may organize field trips or social events for children and families.
Homeschool Co-op: A gathering of homeschool parents and students who cooperate together in sharing teaching responsibilities for their homeschooled students. Usually meets once a week and frequently all-volunteer.
Homeschool Educational Program (also called “hybrids”): Academic and enrichment classes for homeschooled students. May hire qualified teachers to conduct the program. Usually more expensive than an all volunteer co-op.
These groups are sometimes called hybrid programs meaning they a mix of homeschooling and more formal education. They are usually academically focused with paid, well-qualified instructors and meet one to three days a week.
Homeschool Sport/Music/Art Program: Similar to a homeschool program , but focuses on sports, music, or art.
Homeschool Club (Lego, Speech/Debate, Yearbook, etc): A club focusing on a specific topic for homeschooled students. Frequently organized under a homeschool support group, but clubs can be stand-alone as well.
Homeschool Business: a for-profit business offering services to homeschooling families. Can be tutors, book sellers, and even my, business HomeschoolCPA offering accounting and tax advice to homeschool organizations.
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Carol Topp, CPA