Jump to content

Menu

The BEST Homeschool Co-ops you know of....


Recommended Posts

So within 30 minutes of my home, there are a few homeschool co-ops that are just outstanding. Because of this, everyone wants to be apart of them. Also because of this... I cannot seem to get involved because the groups are ALWAYS full for years.

My son is entering 9th grade next year. We moved to a small town and since 2019 he hasn't really hung out with any other kids because he doesn't know anyone and every one is hiding away anyhow. I really feel he needs #1 friends #2 accountability and challenge in his academics. 

I am considering starting my own AMAZING co-op in a neighboring town. The ones that are currently operating near me don't really give too many details about the secrets to their success. Do they pay their teachers? Do they hire outside teachers? How do they organize their classes? What makes it so appealing to so many?

I WOULD LOVE if you could share as many details as possible about successful co-ops that you know of. Websites would be even better. If I am going to do this, I want it to be strong from the start. Not loosy-goosey. Not a free-for-all. But a structured and successful co-op. OH and fees... I want to know about that too. 

Basically ANY and ALL information would be hugely appreciated!

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've now been involved in 6 different co-op/tutorial situations over the years with my kids, in two different cities.  I think the ones that were most excellent were ones that paid their teachers/tutors more than a token amount, hired outside teachers where necessary (perhaps first offering positions to parents in the group, if they have skill/expertise), and had a clear focus.  

When I was a part of three groups (for one year each) that relied on parent volunteers to each lead something a different week or month or semester, quality was sketchy and parents would often not put a ton of effort into what they were teaching.  These groups were not serious academic co-ops, which was fine.  My kids were young when we participated in these groups and I wasn't expecting a full-on academic class.  But sometimes it seemed like it would have been a better use of time to just call it a social group and not even try on the classes. When my kids were 0-7 a homeschool playgroup might have been the best thing ever, but I had a hard time finding anything like that in my area - most moms wanted "classes" even for littles and living in a cold climate meant park days were only an option a couple months of the school year. 

The co-op I was a part of that had more organized classes for all ages and paid teachers something that amounted to a "token" amount was better.   The price was great when I had 4 kids to pay for in co-op, but having been one of those teachers paid a "token" amount I always ended the year feeling exhausted for the amount of work I did and what I was paid.  Everyone took classes assigned by grade rather than picking individual classes (i.e., all 1st-6th graders had gym and science, all 7-8th graders had art and science, etc).  That idea seemed ok to me at first, but then when one of my kids was just not jiving with a particular class, it caused a lot of problems and in the end caused us not to continue with that group because a-la-carte was not an option.

The two organizations I thought were best organized, and were certainly the most "popular" were/are drop off tutorial-style co-ops for older kids (one was 6th and up, one for 7th and up).  Both groups paid outside teachers, had academic classes, required minimal parent participation or help, and provided an excellent academic environment.  They seem "the best" to me now, but they would have been no use to me when my kids were all elementary age, KWIM? So in some ways the "best" co-ops are in the eye of the beholder based on what people are looking for.  I can afford $250/class (per year) now with only a couple kids signing up for one or two classes each, but I wouldn't have been able to afford that x4 when all my kids were looking to be in class and my budget was a lot tighter.

 

Edited by kirstenhill
  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

We attend a co-op that offers a nursery as well as classes for preschool - 8th grade. There are usually one or two high school classes, too. The way it’s structured, kids in grades 2-8 are divided into upper and lower tracks, and there are usually 3 classes to choose from for each class period. There are 3 class periods in total. Classes are increasingly academic at the upper track level, but more enrichment at the lower track. 

I teach lower track classes currently and I do wish classes would be divided even more narrowly by age. I have some 2nd graders who can barely read and write and some 5th graders who are capable of doing middle school-level work, all in the same class. It is hard to come up with lesson plans that engage such a wide age range. Some teachers are recruited to teach from outside the group and paid accordingly. I attended with my kids before I started teaching this year and I’m teaching within my academic area of expertise. My kids have enjoyed their classes and they definitely benefit from having teachers whose areas of expertise are different than mine. 

Edited by Gobblygook
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

The best teen homeschooling thing I've seen is a support group, with a student council where the teens plan and execute the 1-2x/month teen activity and the 1x/month teen volunteering option.

The homeschool support group also has a weekly PE/Park Day for all ages, so teens can shoot hoops or play Ultimate Frisbee or do other organized sport activities while younger siblings are doing sport activities with their age peers, and moms can socialize/support one another.

The homeschool support group also has a 1-2x/month girls activity and a separate guys activity --

The homeschool support group also has a lady who coordinates several field trips a month -- some are for all ages, some are for Youngers, some are for teens.

The homeschool support group also offers several special once-a-year events such as: careers day for the teens (bring in speakers); geography fair for families (all ages); historic ball (all ages -- families come as a family, dressed in historic costumes); etc.

Some years the homeschool support group has a co-op with a wide range of classes, for the different grade levels -- some are enrichment only like Yearbook or Sewing or other. Some are credit-worthy, such as the science labs for high school students doing a particular Science program, or Art, or Writing, or Computer Programming etc.

Notice that the repeating thread is that it is all coming out of the homeschool support group, which has a variety of moms spearheading different special events or "programs", and that teens have many different ways of connecting and interacting -- not just through co-op classes. Our homeschool support group has been running for about 30 years.

 

If just wanting a co-op... good luck! There are so many issues.

Leadership is going to be the biggest issue. You do not want to run it all by yourself, but you really need several like-minded women who will each oversee an aspect of the co-op so you don't have to do it all by yourself. And if Christian, you WILL run into problems with statement of faith or none; allow everyone or only Christians; open to all or just to specially selected like-minded families...

Location is a big one -- churches often have the space, but often need to charge too much to make it possible to do it. Most churches require that your group have insurance, so that's another cost to consider. Also: cleaning the facility each week. Who will be responsible for that? And will the facility have enough rooms, tables, chairs, etc. for your needs? And will they allow you to use their whiteboards, AV, and other equipment if you have any classes that need that?

Classes -- if you want a good number of families to come, then you need to offer classes for all ages at each time slot -- and a choice of 2 classes at each time slot helps even more. The longest-running co-ops that I've seen in our area are ones that have a mix of free parent-led classes (+ the semester fee per family to pay for the facility costs), AND a "track" of classes with someone from the community who charges a fee that parents pay directly to the instructor. Usually this is someone who is a "retired" homeschooler, or someone known to the homeschoolers, or that the co-op leaders approach and who will offer somewhat discounted fees because they are teaching a regular gig to a group.

Just a few things to get you started researching...

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

The super popular homeschool option by us is basically a one-day-a-week school.  Kids are grouped by ages (K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12--I think) and have set classes.  Teachers are hired from the community, and they're often former teachers or business owners (art school, martial arts program).  They run classes like Spanish, art, PE, science, drama, music, financial literacy--things that often require special knowledge, special materials, or are best done with a group.  Because it's a drop-off program with outside teachers, it's not inexpensive.  However, many, many people rave about the program.  In fact, they had such long waiting lists and people driving from so far away that they ultimately opened up five different campuses around the region, each one running on a different day of the week.  The campuses utilized different combinations of teachers/classes, so some parents actually enrolled their kids more than one day each week.  Honestly, I think the biggest appeal to this system is the break it offers to parents--and maybe the consistent social time for the kids.  We tried it for one semester and found it to be pretty lousy academically (only got through about half of their stated academic goals for the semester) and not all that engaging (lots of lecture, worksheets, and YouTube videos, when they advertised it as hands-on/interactive--this was at the elementary level).

The group I'm part of is a little more like Lori D. describes.  One mom started organizing weekly park days and occasional field trips and created a Facebook page to let others know.  She started with about five families she knew, but the Facebook page had over 100 members within a year.  As it grew, more of us pitched in to plan things that interested us.  Different parents would organize field trips, host clubs, and plan events for tweens or teens.  (I say this all in past tense, since the whole thing has been on hold for the past year.)  The nice part of this system is that no one person is responsible for everything. 

Due to all the complications of starting a co-op, you may want to start simple first: go on your local homeschool FB page and see if you can find other highschoolers (or, rather, their parents) looking for something like you are considering.  Maybe pick one particular subject that you can teach well or that you know a teacher you can hire, and see if you can gather a group based on that one subject.  Who knows, maybe other parents will follow your lead and soon you'll have a whole co-op for your son.

Then again, maybe you've already considered all the complications and are full of ideas and energy, and an awesome co-op is about to be born.  Whatever direction you decide to take, good luck!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

In our co-op, teachers are paid directly by the parents (because  we are not a school, we are a tutoring service, for regulatory purposes).  The co-op facilitates this by collecting checks or managing online payments.  Families choose their classes, and take anywhere from 1 to 7 for each student.  We only do enrichment for elementary students, so there is no required homework but lots of hands-on time in classes.  Middle and high are a mix of academic and enrichment.  Some kids take most of their academic classes there, and others take a handful or just 1-2.  I've used it for English and foreign language and to fill other requirements like fine arts that are more fun in a group setting.  But, I teach science.  Some people come for a year or 2, but others are long-haulers.  We started when my oldest was in K, and we're in our 10th year, with this being my 9th year of teaching.  We have some not-paid-what-they-are-worth staff who work as 'principal', volunteer cooridnator, and $/tech guru.  Decisions are made by a board of 9-11 people, depending on the year.  Teachers are hired from our families when possible, and if we can't do it ourselves we look for personal recommendations - friends, family, former teachers, etc.  It is a Christian co-op, but requires no statement of faith from students or teachers - the Christian part has more to do with organization and handling of conflict.  Some teachers teach from a somewhat Christian perspective and there are sometimes classes like 'Old Testament' offered, but most use secular materials, and, at any rate, people know what will be used in classes before they choose them.  

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a FB group called "I am a homeschool group leader" run by Carol Topp. I recommend you join it and ask questions about running a co-op there. You will get lots of good input on how to run a co-op.

We're in a weird position because we were in a co-op for eight years, and then dropped because of the pandemic and lack of class choices we wanted. I found that as the kids got older it was harder that we had more academic "needs", whereas when they were younger, I was a lot more flexible. Now that they are in 8th and 9th, I have very specific things I am trying to outsource. The co-op I was in had classes almost entirely taught by moms. We were not paid--but we did receive a tuition discount for teaching (something like $100/year. Pennies really).  Two years ago I taught my first high school class, and it was really a lot. I made it but was exhausted by the year's end.  The other thing I noticed was that the co-op was losing the high school and junior high students to other larger co-ops, the UM school, private schools, etc. It's increased over recent years as people put their kids in dual enrollment or just pull them to do online classes, etc. 

Ideally, for high school, there would be a tutorial type thing here like others have mentioned upthread. We do have a UM school but with fees, it is about as pricey per class as an online class. There is another group, not a UM, but they have such a high amount of teacher turnover I am not sure what is going on there, and I am hesitant to try it.  There is a third option--all a la carte--but it would be over $1000 a class and that's insane for us.  All the other options I know about are co-ops that require parents to teach. 

Edited by cintinative
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Lori D. said:

The best teen homeschooling thing I've seen is a support group, with a student council where the teens plan and execute the 1-2x/month teen activity and the 1x/month teen volunteering option.

The homeschool support group also has a weekly PE/Park Day for all ages, so teens can shoot hoops or play Ultimate Frisbee or do other organized sport activities while younger siblings are doing sport activities with their age peers, and moms can socialize/support one another.

The homeschool support group also has a 1-2x/month girls activity and a separate guys activity --

The homeschool support group also has a lady who coordinates several field trips a month -- some are for all ages, some are for Youngers, some are for teens.

The homeschool support group also offers several special once-a-year events such as: careers day for the teens (bring in speakers); geography fair for families (all ages); historic ball (all ages -- families come as a family, dressed in historic costumes); etc.

Some years the homeschool support group has a co-op with a wide range of classes, for the different grade levels -- some are enrichment only like Yearbook or Sewing or other. Some are credit-worthy, such as the science labs for high school students doing a particular Science program, or Art, or Writing, or Computer Programming etc.

Notice that the repeating thread is that it is all coming out of the homeschool support group, which has a variety of moms spearheading different special events or "programs", and that teens have many different ways of connecting and interacting -- not just through co-op classes. Our homeschool support group has been running for about 30 years.

 

If just wanting a co-op... good luck! There are so many issues.

Leadership is going to be the biggest issue. You do not want to run it all by yourself, but you really need several like-minded women who will each oversee an aspect of the co-op so you don't have to do it all by yourself. And if Christian, you WILL run into problems with statement of faith or none; allow everyone or only Christians; open to all or just to specially selected like-minded families...

Location is a big one -- churches often have the space, but often need to charge too much to make it possible to do it. Most churches require that your group have insurance, so that's another cost to consider. Also: cleaning the facility each week. Who will be responsible for that? And will the facility have enough rooms, tables, chairs, etc. for your needs? And will they allow you to use their whiteboards, AV, and other equipment if you have any classes that need that?

Classes -- if you want a good number of families to come, then you need to offer classes for all ages at each time slot -- and a choice of 2 classes at each time slot helps even more. The longest-running co-ops that I've seen in our area are ones that have a mix of free parent-led classes (+ the semester fee per family to pay for the facility costs), AND a "track" of classes with someone from the community who charges a fee that parents pay directly to the instructor. Usually this is someone who is a "retired" homeschooler, or someone known to the homeschoolers, or that the co-op leaders approach and who will offer somewhat discounted fees because they are teaching a regular gig to a group.

Just a few things to get you started researching...

There are some fantastic ideas here! Thank you! Really makes me think. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll also add that our area has a big homeschool support group and several smaller ones. I've never participated other than my kids being involved in some of their activities and helping with that.  But,  depending on the kids and what's available, you might consider doing some of the things that our group offers for middle/high - Science Olympiad, spelling bee, a Scholars Bowl (quiz bowl) team, etc.  Our co-op teens group plans monthly activities like game night or movie night.  There's a lot of overlap between our co-op and the academic competitions.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I started our co-op 9 years ago. We don't have a shareable website because we use a private Facebook Group. This is my last year since ds is a senior, so the board already had another person take over directing this year so I'm there to answer her questions. I'm going to miss it so much! 

We currently have 35 families and 82 students with a waiting list every year. We meet every other Friday, 8 sessions per semester. Most of our families like not having a weekly commitment. We have several moms who work part-time (nurses, physical therapists, etc.), and they like time for field trips with another support group we are all in. We've had a couple families push to go weekly, but the board always shuts that down. We are here to support families and provide a social outlet as well as classroom experience for the students, not to be the primary teachers. 

We are a volunteer co-op, so we don't charge tuition. We collect supply fees, require purchases of certain curriculum, and we give a donation to the church each semester. 

For middle and high school, we offer science and Literature/writing with assigned homework, but the parents give the final grade. We always offer the high school science credits needed along with labs and review of the content. Teachers make themselves available for questions in between co-ops, such as through email or Google classroom. The lit/writing teachers offer to evaluate writing as well. We offer fun electives that aren't for credit such as art. Because we all volunteer, we offer whatever parents are willing to teach. 

For elementary, we usually have at least a writing class with homework around 3rd grade and up. Science varies. We've had classes with assigned homework and textbooks or classes that explored topics with hands-on projects, and then parents are free to pursue the topics further at home. We usually have PE, art classes, math games, etc. It varies from year to year because of people volunteering to teach. 

I think a lot of people are amazed that this model has been so successful. We don't advertise to the public and only invite families we know. That might be hard for you in a new place.

It has been a wonderful experience to direct the group, watch it grow, and know that it will continue on after I've left. 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been a member of homeschool groups and support groups with co-ops for almost all of our homeschool years.  The best to me are the ones that are flexible, parent run, and affordable.  That way, if the parents of the current students want to do a very strict curriculum for certain classes with labs and grades and accountability they can discuss it and plan it and do it, but if the majority wants more enrichment (even for high school,) and prefers to leave the stricter accountability to the parents at home, that works too.  Groups that have holiday parties and field trips alongside co-op have been better, because if the families are only going to and from classes, there isn't time to get to know one another and make connections.  Mom nights are good too. 

I do not prefer paid teacher co-ops, though I am sure some do.  In high school, if I am going to pay for a tough class I would like to go ahead and do concurrent enrollment or a class that is preparing for an AP or SAT subject test or something. 

Currently we are in a half day co-op that has classes from preschool to high school plus a theater group putting on a play at the end of the year.  This is perfect for us.  PE for all grades, plus two more classes each. My high schooler has one class that does enough for a credit.  But the rest are enrichment, with a few projects and assignments that are valuable (including public speaking and group projects,) that pretty much need a co-op in order to do, plus some research and papers and powerpoint types, but not enough to be overwhelming on top of our at home credits.  This is what I have enjoyed most in co-ops.  I want them educational, not super time consuming, and not dictating our curriculum.  Not that we have never done a co-op class for a demanding subject.  My odd did almost all of her high school lab science classes at co-op, completely doing textbook, quizzes, tests, homework, all dictated by the teacher.  It worked for us at the time.  But I have much preferred a more laid back approach.  We do labs now with members from our old co-op, but we don't all do the same curriculum.  It works better for me now.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been part of a completely volunteer co-op for six or seven years now, and I love it.  One reason for our success that hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread is that the teachers all teach what they love.  That really reduces burnout.  I teach a subject that I am passionate about, and I put in many hours in preparation for each class, but it's all fun time for me because I get to share my love of the subject with all the kids I've grown so fond of over the years.  My dream job would be to continue teaching my subject to homeschoolers for as long as I have the health to do it!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone mentioned to me about having in homes vs. at churches or other outside locations. I was thinking about that. I only have one kid who is still homeschooled and I have a large home on a dead end with 1/2 acre of land, a river about 2 blocks away, a basketball court and a ball diamond 3 blocks away. Anyhow, I was thinking about keeping it easier and making it a small group of 8th-12th graders only, a drop off program, and paid teachers for the classes. I want to have a sports skills and fitness class, science, writing, pop-culture class and maybe a drama class. My oldest daughter has an English degree and could teach writing and drama. My 4th daughter, who is sporty could facilitate the pop-culture and sports class. I would teach science as I am a nurse. What do you think?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Michelle My Bell said:

Someone mentioned to me about having in homes vs. at churches or other outside locations. I was thinking about that. I only have one kid who is still homeschooled and I have a large home on a dead end with 1/2 acre of land, a river about 2 blocks away, a basketball court and a ball diamond 3 blocks away. Anyhow, I was thinking about keeping it easier and making it a small group of 8th-12th graders only, a drop off program, and paid teachers for the classes. I want to have a sports skills and fitness class, science, writing, pop-culture class and maybe a drama class. My oldest daughter has an English degree and could teach writing and drama. My 4th daughter, who is sporty could facilitate the pop-culture and sports class. I would teach science as I am a nurse. What do you think?

It sounds like the lovely kind of homeschooling group of the 1980s/1990s where a small group of families gathered and spent one afternoon a week co-op-ing together, with each parent leading something that they were good at, and all the kids working on learning together, or making projects together, and socializing. 😄 

BUT, back then, it wasn't a drop-off situation, and every parent participated in some way to share the burden amongst all the parents. 

Simultaneously working, homeschooling, organizing a weekly co-op, prepping your home to host week after week, AND teaching a class sounds like a fast track to burn out for YOU. That is a LOT of time needed for each one of those jobs... Would you have parents rotate through the semester to help share the burden? And to be on-site to assist and be the responsible party at the activities up to 2-3 blocks away from the drop-off site (your house)??

And finally, I hate to be a wet blanket, but in our current culture of suing at the drop of the hat, this is potentially leaving you WIDE open for someone to sue you for any physical injury of a teen while in your drop-off care, or for an abuse to happen, or a false accusation of an abuse. To protect yourself from an unexpected law suit and to avoid teens doing things they shouldn't (like bullying, cliques and drama, or inappropriate physical contact), you would need parents to sign waivers AND most importantly, have a 2-deep policy -- 2 adults in every room/space/place where teens are. You might also consider looking into taking out a special "event" insurance policy to protect your home against damage done by those coming into your home or to cover potential injury to someone while on your property.

Possibly none of these are issues of concern for your area. I only bring them up because these are questions I have had to deal with when I was running a solo class out of a church facility, and one year out of my home, and had to consider. My DH requested that we NOT do an in-home class again, because even though the students were ALL respectfully and careful, it was a lot of extra wear-and-tear on furniture and the house itself, and he was considered about the insurance implications if a student were to trip and get hurt on the way in or out.

The 2-deep policy is really one to think long and hard about -- I volunteer at a 24/7 week-long summer camp for foster kids, and we MUST abide by state requirements of a 2-deep policy for the safety of the children, but also for OUR safety so we do not get falsely accused of anything. It also is just a really solid policy whenever you're working with a group of kids, because if there is any sort of medical issue, you need to have more than one adult in the class so one can directly be responsible for the child with the medical issue while the other manages the class.

 

Hopefully none of these are big concerns for your situation or area. Just bringing up these potential concerns in case you do need to think through any of them. And how kind and generous of you to want to pour your time and energies into homeschooling families with teens! BEST of luck in finding the best way of meeting DS's social needs. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

To second @Lori D., our co-op definitely has insurance, both for the replacement value of our stuff (microscopes, sports equipment, etc) and also liability.  We meet in a church in rented space - the church actually hosts at least 3 co-ops on different days.  I think it depends on what you're planning - something small with friends could easily be in a home.  Our co-op is drop-off, although families are required to work, or pay somebody else to work, 16 hours each semester.  Some help in little kid classrooms, some keep the nursery, some help supervise in hallways or breakrooms, some come each week for 1 hr to set up or break down.  Most of the kids are great, but we do have issues sometimes - a kid lost it and threw a chair, kids make messes with art or science supplies, some classes like music are noisy - and it would be hard to have all of that in a home.  But, we have some spaces with easily cleaned floors, spaces that are more isolated or soundproofed, etc.  It also depends on what you have in mind for scale.  At any time, we have 6-12 classes running simultaneously - they try to have at least 2 classes per age group at each time slot (ages are, loosely, K-2, 3-5th, 6-8, and 9-12).  We also have a breakroom for kids who don't have something to take in a particular hour (there are rules around this, because some parents came to see this as free babysitting), a gym for days when PE needs to be inside, and a place for 80 kids to eat lunch at the same time (we have 3 lunch sessions, elementary, middle, and high).  

I don't know which of these things might fall into what you are considering, but I wanted to mention them.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

So we were in a co-op that had a great space and was large.  At one point the host church would no longer host a co-op, and we found a smaller church with less than great space that we used for a year and a half.  We were not thriving there (shared space for all classes, one giant room did not work well for a co-op with different classes. ) We did not have a new space at that time.  So we kept up the support group side of our group- field trip once a month, kids day once a month (topic for the year that kids days and field trips centered around meant that kids day had a short lesson, craft and activity and snack for the topics once a month and holiday parties instead on valentine's day and Christmas.) and a mom's night out once a month.  That way we only needed the church for the one kids day a month.  

Since we couldn't continue co-op, I opened my home up to three like minded families.  We did not do drop off, but for a year, we met at my house for science, latin, and some art for those interested.  Little siblings played with toys and did crafts in my youngest's room with a mom.  The middle school and high schoolers worked together on the other subjects as needed.   it was a nice group for the year, and no stress on me, as Latin was my subject to teach in co-op anyway.  The science teacher did all science.  And I did art, but it was what I was planning on doing with my teens that year anyway. 

The next year, we had another church to meet at, and now we have joined another co-op that fits our current needs.  But working together with just a couple other families who wanted to continue working together on a few subjects was perfect for a year.  I just wouldn't have known those families if I hadn't co-oped/support grouped with them for year prior to that, enough to know we had similar goals in a couple of subjects. 

So it can work out.  I wouldn't have opened my home to just anybodyfor drop offs.  Other things I have done in my home are study group for Latin for National Latin Exams.  But that was only with kids who were serious about Latin and exams from my co-op classes.  We needed additional study time outside of regular classtime.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just FYI RE; Insurance---

Our insurance agent said that we could get a rider on our homeowner's policy for these kinds of activities. For our insurance, it was no additional cost; YMMV

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

Just FYI RE; Insurance---

Our insurance agent said that we could get a rider on our homeowner's policy for these kinds of activities. For our insurance, it was no additional cost; YMMV

What kinds fall under that, do you know? I’ve been thinking about starting a co-op myself.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Our co-op is great but it works primarily, I think, because it is run by the church it meets at. One of the pastors started it many years ago for his own kids and it's evolved over time. We know have something like 120 families (on a non-Covid year) and classes for kids from nursery to 12th grade. There are no paid teachers so the fees are very low. It is not a drop-off co-op. Everyone has to teach two classes and the third period of the day there is a parent support group. It's a lot of work to run and the pastor who started it does most of that work. There are downsides to that as well (like we have to abide by policies of the church that we may or may not personally agree with) but overall it's a good thing and takes the burden off parents. And it gets rid of a lot of the issues mentioned previously about insurance and legality, etc. 

There are several other co-ops in our area that are drop-off with paid teachers. One that I have been very interested in has classes that you sign up for by the quarter (so no yearly commitment) and is secular. It is very popular and I've seen it explode in numbers over the past 8 years or so. It's definitely filling a need. The main reason we haven't done it is that the classes are VERY expensive. I'm sure they are worth it in that they are paid professionals teaching, and with the drop-off set-up it's more of a once a week school than a true co-op. But it hasn't been in our budget. 

One thing I would think about is what YOU want out of a co-op. Is it mostly social? Academic? Those are two very different things, in my opinion. One of the things I like about our co-op is that it offers both kinds of classes. I think it can do that well because it's large. With a smaller group you could run into trouble if you are offering academic classes but some people se it as social or vice versa. We have used ours  primarily for social reasons. My kids take things like sewing and drama and book club and games class and art. Some people use it primarily for academic reasons, especially for science classes that they aren't comfortable teaching to high schoolers.

One thing you might want to do is to a very focused "co-op or even just a drop-off class. Like a Science co-op which always seems to be a need in high school. You could offer one class with lab Parents could drop-off but to keep the two-deep leadership, you could ask one parent a week to stay on a rotating basis. You could offer some kind of social time after class....lunch followed by sports for example. Other ideas that would work well for that kind of thing for high schoolers would be something like a book club or a movie club or a book/move discussion club. Again, maybe paired with lunch and some kind of activity after. Or anything where a group setting is better than individual, so meeting a need for homeschoolers. A drama class would work. I did a book club in our house for a few years for my daughter and friends. They were younger but we did a combo of discussing books, art and an activity. It met a need as far as social time. Another Mom took it over the next year and they called it "Girl's Fun Day" and they did games, drama, crafts, etc.  There was a woman in this area that taught a class using the Omnibus curriculum out of her home. It was very popular and met once a week at her house. I knew some kids who did it and I think it was as much social as it was academic. 

If you tried the one class method, you could see how it goes and how much work it is and it might help you figure out some of the things you need to know to maybe expand it. 

 

 

Edited by Alice
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

What kinds fall under that, do you know? I’ve been thinking about starting a co-op myself.

Well, I can only speak to my experience.

I taught a Homeschool Drama class at a church where I am not a member, they were just nice enough to let us use their space. The rider had my name and the church's name on it. The church got a copy for their files and I got one too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was involved in a wonderful once a week co-op where I used to live.   They kept it mostly free though sometimes there was a supply fee, and people would pay their own way for field trips and such.   We never turned a parent away...and we could do that because we required their involvement.   Kids needed to be accompanied by a family member or another adult such as a baby sitter.   It wasn't required that you teach a class but it was required that you help with one.  We encouraged people to try teaching by offering a slot for smaller 1-5 day classes.   I believe we were able to use facilities at a local non-profit for free.   I wasn't there when that was arranged but that helped keep us from having to charge. 

But, it had some flaws too.   Not requiring everyone to teach sort of left too few people with that burden and that caused problems.   Granted, the people that taught could have just taken on fewer classes...the co-op would have survived with less class offerings and there would have been less burden on them. 

I don't know that requiring everyone to teach a class  would have been the answer or not. 

There was a second day of the week some families did Story of the World together, and I liked how this was done.   In stead of one parent teaching the class, every parent was assigned a certain number of chapters to cover, so the work was spit evenly.  

I think a good set up might be to allow people to volunteer to teach full classes if they want to (sometimes it just works better with one teacher) but also decide at the beginning of each season on a seasonal class that will be co-taught, with each parent taking a separate section.   New parents to the class would have a grace period before they had to teach, but could be assigned days to help out.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...