The Pros and Cons of Homeschool Co-ops «
One of the first questions one might have is what is exactly is a homeschool co-op. The answer to that might be difficult to define because it could be something different to each homeschool community.
A homeschool co-op is basically a group of homeschooling parents who join together to pool resources as well as talents. These resources and talents might cover a wide range of subjects. For example there might be one homeschooling parent who has a degree in chemistry, another who is an accomplished artist, and a third who is fluent in a foreign language. Since each family might not have all of those talents but does want their children to learn those things, sharing with other families is a way to make the teaching of those courses possible. A homeschool co-op is an educational cooperation.
Sometimes it is just a cooperative agreement between two families for example, if you agree to teach my child Spanish, I could teach your child Chemistry. Often word travels fast among homeschool groups. Another family will want their child to learn Spanish, and they may have another talent to add to the mix. This might be the most significant pro as far as co-ops are concerned, you child gets to learn a subject that you might not have expertise to teach.
Now the question becomes why you would want your homeschool child turned over to another teacher or placed in a classroom setting. It is possible that part of the reason you homeschool to begin with is because there was a failure of your child to thrive in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, the idea of putting a child back into a traditional classroom setting might be considered a significant con as far as participation in a co-op is
There is a difference between a co-op classroom and a traditional classroom setting. Part of that difference is parental involvement. Not only are the teachers in the co-op teachers, but they are also homeschooling parents. They will probably be more sensitive to the needs of individualized education that homeschooling offers. These parents also have their children in classes at the co-op. Each family has a vested interest in not only ensuring that their own children succeed but also in ensuring that other families succeed. The whole point is
cooperative education. Failure of one link could mean failure of the whole chain. This is a decided positive of homeschool co-ops.
This interdependency can also be considered a con where homeschool co-ops are concerned. Mainly
the negative aspect of co-op is in the scheduling and time commitment to others. Many homeschooling families
homeschool for the independence and flexibility of homeschooling. They do not want to be held responsible for
homework, projects, and assignments that are due to classes outside of the home. Additionally, time spent in co-op classes, as well as travel time to and from the classes can take a considerable chunk of time. This time commitment is even more significant if there are other children in the home who are not in co-op classes because it will be necessary to occupy them while the one child is having class.
Sometimes cons can also be pros depending on your point of view. While it is a con to have your child have to answer to the demands of a teacher outside of your home, it is also a positive. By learning to meet the
schedule and demands of an outside class your child will gain valuable study and time management skills before his or her college degree depends on it.
All in all, homeschool co-ops can be a wonderful way of allowing your child to learn from experts in a subject, learn valuable scheduling, study, and time management skills. Additionally, children will be placed in situations where they will need to successfully interact with other people, both in their own age group, and outside of it. They might be exposed to classes, subjects, and experiments that would be outside the abilities of their
primary teacher/parent. If you are interested in the possibilities of a co-op in your area check with your local
homeschooling support group, or cover school to see if other homeschooling families are interested.