You Can Homeschool Without a Co-op

 

Did you read the title of this post?

I want to make sure you read it again…

 

You can homeschool without a co-op.

 

Yes, you read that right.

You can ignore all the co-ops, groups, and even online co-ops with all of their wonderful class options.

 

You can homeschool your child without all of those resources. There is nothing wrong with you or your homeschool if you choose to educate without a co-op.

 

Let me share a little bit of my background with co-ops…

 

I was an enthusiastic homeschool mom with several young kids when I first considered a co-op.

Everyone I knew was talking about one co-op or another. I thought that joining a co-op was simply the thing to do.

 

So, I joined a co-op when my oldest was only in Kindergarten.

 

I was relegated to working in the nursery area with the toddlers since I had a 1 year old as well.

I spent several weeks hating my very existence as I became glorified babysitter while my oldest child learned to count and recognize letters (which she could already do) and my preschooler son made messy cut and paste craft projects.

After a few months I was simply done! I didn’t want to pack up my children with snacks and diapers and half of my house to spend an entire afternoon at a co-op while I entertained my crying 1 year old. It was misery!!

In addition, one of the other moms in the nursery refused to respect my daughter’s food allergies and brought a dairy-based yogurt to the classroom every week. My daughter had an allergic reaction and we spent the rest of the that day at the fire station with EMT’s who monitored her oxygen levels.

I quit the co-op shortly thereafter.

 

I avoided co-ops for several years despite all the peer pressure to jump into one of the many options. We moved across the state and then moved to a new state a few years later.

Now that my kids were older and we were in a brand new state, I thought I would try a new co-op so that we could meet people and become connected in our new homeschool community.

I was placed in the 11-12 year old classroom as a helper. Then I was moved to the 5-6 year old classroom after another mom left the co-op after 2 weeks. I loved working with my co-teacher, but we quickly found that the kids in this age group had widely varied abilities. I mean, there was a Grand Canyon-sized gulf between some of their skills. This is pretty typical of this young age group, but it made planning activities and teaching virtually impossible. It was hard to plan anything that engaged all of the kids and instead we spent three long hours controlling the chaos.

My oldest child was in a class learning very basic Spanish (which she already knew) and doing literature studies on books that she had already read (she’s my precocious reader). My son’s age group was a room of mostly boys and they had quite a few activities that required sitting, cutting, and pasting. You can imagine the crazy that was happening in that room! My younger girls were together in a preschool room where they did lots of crafts.

I spent lots of outside time trying to think of activities for our class and I used all of my extra energy to drag my kids to our Monday morning co-op. I returned home that afternoon so exhausted that I had to rest (being newly pregnant did not help at all). Then I felt like I struggled through the rest of my week because our Mondays were so exhausting.

 

My kids didn’t look forward to co-op. I asked them what they would choose to do and they all said they would rather stay home and do school and then have play time.

I listened to my kids and I quit this co-op after a few months. It simply wasn’t a good fit for our family.

 

I was recently tempted by another homeschool co-op – this time it was an online co-op.

After sitting through one of the sample classes to get an idea of the co-op’s style and structure, I decided that our time could be better spent on other pursuits. The class was very long and listening to each student use the microphone to answer questions took absolutely forever. The pace of the class was incredibly slow and I was bored just listening to the discussion and watching the slides.

I could homeschool more efficiently without the time spent on the computer for the co-op. In addition, I felt overwhelmed when thinking about the planning and prep work that I would need to do to prepare for the times when I lead the co-op discussions (not to mention figuring out all of the technology).

So, I walked away from this co-op just before I signed all the papers to join.

 

Thankfully this time I figured out the co-op was not a good fit for us before we were members.

 

But what is wrong with me? Why am I drawn to a co-op?

I actually feel guilty that we’re not in a homeschool co-op.

 

Yes, that’s exactly it.

I feel guilty that I’m not taking part in a co-op and that feeling of guilt has caused me to jump into co-ops that weren’t the best fit for my family.

 

Our homeschool works best when I’m doing most of the teaching and when we have more freedom and flexibility in our week for field trips or even just free play.

Your homeschool might function best without the added pressure and busyness that a co-op brings.

 

Shake off the feelings of self-doubt and guilt because you can definitely homeschool without a co-op!

 

Come back next week and I’m going to outline the reasons why homeschooling works just as well without a co-op (and maybe even better)!

 

Further Reading

Confession: Why We Quit our Homeschool Co-op

Why I Decided Against a Co-op

The 10 Homeschool Traps

Your Kids Will Complain about Homeschool

Taking a Homeschool Review Year

 

8 thoughts on “You Can Homeschool Without a Co-op

  1. I’ve never belonged to a co-op. For years, we were the only homeschoolers, but even now that homeschooling is a norm in our area, there are no co-ops. I think that’s mostly because most are unschoolers around here. So I have zero experience with these. I do, however, belong to plenty of homeschool groups. While most do this because they want their kids to form lifelong friendships, I’m in it for the discounts on all the cool field trips. 😉

    1. Field trip groups are fun! I enjoy getting together with other homeschoolers and watching my kids make new friends. But I found that it works best in a less formal environment – outside the structure (and drama) of a co-op.

  2. Thank you for this article, I’ve thought about and been approached about joining a co-op, but I’ve never taken the plunge. Afterwards I’ve known I made the right choice, but still felt like my kids were missing out on opportunities to meet other homeschool kids. What always deterred me was the cost. The co-ops in my area are incredibly expensive! They want a fee to join, then pay per class, on top of extra fees to buy supplies when you teach, or to be put on the list to be informed about field trips, then even more to cover expenses of said field trip. You could easily spend $200-300 per child (if not more). Who can afford that?
    For me, I never wanted a co-op that was academic. I’m very happy with my curriculum and feel like anymore would be too much (or, they would be incredibly bored, like you mentioned). I wanted a co-op where my kids could play with other kids, maybe do a sport, music, dance, art (not little crafty projects we could do at home), and possibly science experiments. I found a couple like this, but as mentioned before the fees were just too much!! I felt like I was buying a mattress, seems like a great price until they hit you with all the added fees.
    My question, and I realize this is a delicate issue, but I’m asking as a homeschool mom looking for help, not someone trying to criticize; how do your kids meet other homeschoolers, have play dates, join a sports team or go on field trips without breaking the bank (we’ve done a few field trips on our own)? We have a few homeschool families that we are friends with, but most of my attempts at socializing my kids have failed miserably.

    1. There are several ways – in my area there are groups that do park days and group field trips so it’s a great place to meet other homeschoolers. I’m a member of several FB groups of local moms. I network with them and find some moms that have kids around the ages of mine and then I plan something. I’ve learned that I really have to be proactive sometimes. I reach out and make plans with homeschoolers so we can connect.
      I also look for community events as well. Our library offers homeschool classes and they are not super expensive so that is one option for me. I also look for clubs like American Heritage Girls or 4-H or any type of other club. Those are not quite as expensive as a sport or music lessons.
      But my kids also do sports – golf and swim team and they’ve met friends that way.
      So I find that I just have to search for opportunities. There are lots of other homeschool moms out there who feel just like me – I just have to go out and find them.
      However, if my kids were in school they would get to spend some time with kids their age but it doesn’t give them time to build relationships and really deepen friendships. If they wanted to cultivate friendships with kids in their class then I would have to be proactive to find ways to get together with those kids and those families. So, it’s really not that different from what I’m doing now.
      I hope that helps! I don’t think it’s necessary to have a ton of social engagements all the time. We do get together with friends and we do a few outside activities, but I don’t stress about socialization. My kids get enough interaction through the few things that we do and we try to host families at our house for dinners or for fun evenings together. And I feel that’s enough for us.

  3. First, thank you for typing “co-op” and not “coop”! The latter drives me NUTS! It reads as though we are a bunch of hens in a hen house! LOL
    Second, I totally agree with you! I am not a co-op momma. I don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of other people’s children while mine are being guided by strangers in subjects they 1. already know, or 2. who knows what???
    I have several friends who have discussed the feeling as though they seem “anti-social’ or whatever, not being involved in a co-op. Funny thing about that is, we mommas who choose not to roost in a co-op, are the VERY social mommas. We are quite the extroverts. I shall take a poll, and I’ll bet will guess my results will prove that we all sat in the back of the classrooms, when we attended school. LOL
    Blessings! <

    1. I so agree! I don’t enjoy teaching other people’s children – I’m worn out from just teaching my own. And I feel I can do just as good of a job as another tired mama when it comes to teaching the various subjects.
      We have lots of other ways to get out and meet people without being in a co-op. Plus, the flexibility is wonderful to have time for field trips or other activities and not be tied down to a co-op schedule (and having to prepare for the classes).

  4. We don’the even ha e co-ops here. I saw this post on pinterest and I had to come read it.

    If we wanted to join a co-op, we would have to drive 40 minutes. No thanks! We, too, belong to a couple of homeschooling groups where we do field trips together. I love those.

    Yet, the entire point of us homeschooling g was to do it at the pace of my kids and to allow them one on one time. Co-Ops negate the very reasons we chose homeschool! No way would we join one. (I am sure there are families that have different needs and a co-op suits them fine, please don’t read into what I wrote as mean ingredient they are bad.)

    So, nope. No co-ops for us. I am not even tempted. Haha

    1. Yes! I found co-ops completely negate one of the main reasons we chose to homeschool – so my kids could learn at their pace and follow their interests. I quickly found that co-ops force kids to each fall behind or to be bored because they are more advanced. And as a co-op teacher it’s nearly impossible to find activities to engage everyone in your co-op room. It was a total waste of time for us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge