I have created and organised my own local homeschooling co-op after not having any luck finding the kind of ‘community’ I want and need as we start our homeschooling journey. We’ve been blessed to have the interest, help and support of 18 families now. Our co-operative is all about having a flexible, ongoing group which enriches our homeschooling experience by learning from and with one another.
What is a homeschool co-op?
A homeschool co-op is a group of families that home educate working together for a common goal. Parents are able share in the education of their children.
Homeschool co-ops typically involve parent participation. Parents teach classes, share ‘expertise’, facilitate activities, organise venues and ideas, help care for children, clean up and a variety of other tasks. Sometimes the co-ops go on field trips together, organise sporting events and/or share materials.
What are the benefits of forming or joining a co-op?
- Group learning – Children learn to work as a team, share, and collaborate.
- Sharing ideas – Both the parents and children can share their ideas and expertise.
- Sharing resources – Similarly, parents and children can share materials, books, toys, etc.
- Shared expenses – You can often get group discounts to museums, activities, exhibitions, etc. Also, some co-ops organise group purchases of materials for discounted prices.
- Support – Both for the parents and the children. Sometimes home educating can be lonely, having the support of a co-op, forming friendships and helping each other through the positive and negative aspects of homeschooling is so beneficial.
- Socialisation – Homeschooling co-operatives are yet another way that children can spend time with (and learn with and from) adults and children of all ages.
- Experiences and lessons that are easier to teach and learn as a group.
- It’s fun! The classes, play-dates, field trips, etc are exciting, enjoyable and perfect memory-making opportunities.
Top 10 tips for starting your own homeschool co-op:
- Use social media – to find like-minded parents, to join local groups and to find interest.
- Create a Facebook group – Facebook groups are a free, user-friendly way to organise homeschool co-ops. You can chat, organise events, share photos, write and share documents, and you can make it all secret if needed.
- Utilise Google docs – Google documents are yet another free resource which are brilliant for planning classes, field trips, events and ideas. The calendar templates available are perfect for recording and preparation.
- Share resources – find out what resources families have and are willing to share.
- Share expertise – parents often have unexpected talents that are great for group activities (i.e. sports knowledge, craft skills, etc)
- Be clear about desired outcomes.
- Ensure that people know that the co-op is are shared responsibility and effort.
- Create a masterlist of ideas. See my Ultimate List of Homeschool Co-op Ideas here!
- Consider hiring a community centre room or hall (if you have a need for space).
- Use the local free resources, activities and areas (libraries, art galleries, museums, parks, nature centres, botanical gardens, bush walks, etc)