A homeschool cooperative can offer socialization opportunites and the teachers to teach those subjects that you don't want to teach.
Homeschool Cooperatives (or co-ops) can be great for teaching upper level courses to high schoolers. Families can get together and each parent can choose to teach a specific class where they are more knowedgeable. One parent takes on English Literature, another teaches Algebra or Chemistry. It can be a win win situation.
Another benefit is teaching topics that work better with a group. For instance, speech and debate.
Working in a group also adds a source of accountability and motivation for many teens. But a homeschool cooperative is great for all ages, not just the teens. It is a great way to get kids together to work on projects and have fun.
It can add life to your homeschool.
I'd consider one thing before you commit to a group like this. Do you really have the time? Consider all your at home schooling, plus any lessons like music or team sports, and then your regular mom duties, shopping, doctor appts, errands. Do you have the time to commit to being out of the house yet another day of the week?
I recall one year when my sons were young. We were involved in too many things. I was WAY too busy! Even though they were all GOOD things... I was not realizing that the best thing was left out. Family time, peace, no stress, relaxation. I realized that I did not have a single day where I did not go out of the house for something! Really, not a single day of the week where we were just at home. There was not enough home in my home school!
Be cautious with your family time... Treasure it and guard it.
With that said.... a homeschool cooperative might just work for your situation. It might fill in a gap where you need help. Working together with other families can be a helpful support... especially if you find a group that has similar values and goals.
Check at your local library. Homeschoolers tend to hang out there. :0) Also check with your local homeschool organization if there is one. If you are not sure check with your state organization. They will sometimes have the names of local people who have a small group that just doesn't advertise themselves very much but are out there.
If all else fails... start one! Ask of you can post a notice at your local library, put an ad in the paper. I'd suggest being careful with this. Use common sense. Meet in a public place. Don't commit to anything long term or formal until you know the people better. You never know you may find that thier values just don't seem to jive with yours. Or possibly your kids just don't get along. Keep things informal like a park day or a one time fun activity. Then go from there.
There are some large homeschool groups that have organized formal homeschool cooperatives. The will meet weekly or a couple of times a week. The co-op may meet for the entire day including a lunch break or maybe only a half day. They may offer specific classes, sometimes in age/grade segregated groups.
Teaching can be done either by parents themselves or teachers can be hired with specific skills. One helpful idea if you are having parents teach the classes is to have someone also be in charge of a nursery or play room for the youngsters of the parent-teachers during thier classes.
Fees may be in order, to pay for buildings, teachers, nursery workers. Rules of ettiquett may also apply, rules for attendance, attire, language, late fees, grading expectations.
Expectations of teachers and students should be well spelled out to avoid misunderstandings. I'd strongly suggest this be in writing.
This might be 2 - 5 families. This will be similar to the above groups but will more likely be parents themselves teaching. These groups may meet weekly. Organized classes teaching specific topics may be a part but on a smaller scale than the above. The group may decide to meet for an entire year or possibly only one semester or some other period of time.
This type of group may also be several families. This is what has worked for us the best. It is less formal and more flexible. The one caveate is that it is also more likley to get set aside. At least it is for us.
Remember my statement above where I found myself doing TOO much? The pendulum has swung the other way. I find that when we get together with others we really enjoy it but.... I personally tend to be a homebody and end up NOT getting out much. Don't miss oportunites that come along. This type of group is great for moral support. (Especially for the moms!)
If you are looking for this type of group here are some things to consider.
Monthly themes may be a fun idea. For instance have an India night, the kids can write reports on books they read about India at home, then read them for the rest of the group. Or display a project, poster or homemade video. Then have an India inspired meal. For extra fun have the kids dress up in Indian costumes.
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