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)!