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Experience starting a coop?

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Any one done this?


I am sitting here contemplating doing just that. This January, my girls started going to a co-op, dd9 absolutely loves it. She repeatedly tells me she wishes there was a second day. I don't worry about the missed school day, because, really it's not lost at all, as she studies French there, does science experiments, art, drama, and phys Ed. I have tried the various groups to increase her social interaction, and it's never the same kids in attendance, it's hard to form solid friendships.


I did find another co-op, but I wasn't comfortable with some if it. And that's all I can find in this area. We have a pretty large homeschool population here, but they are quite unschool-y, some are awesome, but most I've met I haven't found it a good fit being more of that Classical learning style.


So the thought is what if I started a co-op? A once a week, 1/2 day co-op. I don't know what facility costs might be yet, but could a coop be kept really small? 6 kids? At least initially. Then that would solve facility issues for now. Science, art, grammar, public speaking skills, math, finishing up with a social time, both for parents and kids. It would be done in 30-40 minute blocks.


That is a very loose idea at this point, and I have a lot of thinking, pondering and debating with myself to do for this.


I figured, this was the place to get the information. :)


What are important factors to consider? What have you learned since starting? What do you wish you'd known from the beginning? What would you do differently?




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I've taught two classes in my house this year (NME and ELE prep) and in talking to some of the moms, I'm thinking we might turn this into a weekly co-op next year-where we have an NME class, an art class, a music class, etc. Probably with a handful of kids. All of us actually currently participate in a pretty large co-op, and are thinking that something smaller and more academic would be an improvement.


Based on the classes, my suggestions are


1) CHARGE. Parents value things more that they pay for, and even if you're paying for your child to take other classes and it costs you as much as you make, it just feels better to be able to spend the GROUP'S money on supplies/materials instead of your own. It also tends to avoid some of the dropping out problems. You could probably carry credits on the books for parents who teach-but there should be an acknowledgement that everyone either teaches, pays, or contributes in-kind and to try to keep the contributions equivalent.


Having hosted classes and taught in a co-op in a church, I have to say I prefer hosting, but there are significant costs. Things like making sure I have enough crayons/markers for all the kids do do a project at once. Paper plates/cups for snacks (or having to do an extra load of dishes if I don't use disposables). PROVIDING snacks-because if you don't have it nailed down for people to bring them, chances are high that you're going to end up pulling out what's in your cabinets if you're the host. Computer print-outs. Having your house reasonably clean each week. Having your DC's stuff played with by multiple kids, with the possibility of things being broken or lost. I really do think it's worth it, but honestly, hosting is probably as difficult to manage as actually teaching the class.


2) No, or minimal, drop-off. When co-ops turn into a majority of the kids just being dropped off and the parents running, it often gets really, really hard, IME, to hold the kids together for the activity, at least in the elementary ages. It quickly becomes more like running a daycare center than a class-and that's not a lot of fun for the adults. Even if parents don't stay in the same room, just knowing they're on site makes it easier to hold the kids together. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule, but I just took the NME class off my homeschool group's schedule for March in large part because it's turned from a true co-op to parents dropping off the kids with me for a couple of hours while mom runs errands, and I have to deal with whiny kids who would rather be outside, except that it's been very rainy and wet and cold and yucky outside, and who, when they are finally released for social time, end up basically running around and being silly and crazy.


So, I'm giving the exam to the kids who are actually taking it, with the parents staying in the area because the exam only takes about 30 minutes-and then I'm done. I'm willing to teach, not babysit. And if I do a similar class next year, parents will not be allowed to drop and run. Period. If that means it knocks out families who have younger children, I'm sorry.

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I was thinking no drop, parents stay. The possibility of some of them teaching, but all stay to assist, in some capacity.


I do child care already, I am not about to take on more of that. I also know that this age group can be difficult, so mom or dad nearby is a great motivator for good behavior.


I do plan on charging. I am not sure what would be better, yearly or monthly. It woul. Be nice to have the budget up front. That way I can catch sales, etc, and be prepared, without household funds.


I am really leaning towards doing it. I am trying to dot all my i's and cross all my t's


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