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Our final topic for the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop this week is Homeschool Co-ops. This is something I have been wanting to blog about for a while, so I was excited to see this as one of the topics for the blog hop. I hope you have enjoyed reading all of these posts!
What is a homeschool co-op?
A homeschool co-op is a group of homeschooling families that work together to plan activities and share in the education of their children. It is something that the whole family participates in- you don’t just drop off your children. It can take on many different forms depending on the needs of the families. It can be a broad variety of topics, or a specialized one for sports, dance, legos, nature, etc… The one that I am participating has evolved a lot in the two years that I have been a part of it. Even the membership has changed a lot over this time. But, for the most part, it is a place to get to know other homeschooled families and work with them. It has been such a wonderful thing for my family because I have created some lasting friendships for myself and my children. I have learned so much from the other families that are a part of it. I also love having a regular outing that we all enjoy! It gives your kids a chance to learn in a group setting and explore new things that you may not teach them at homes.
How do you start or join a homeschool co-op?
We found our co-op group through local Yahoo chat groups. There are many homeschool groups on Yahoo. Check them out if you haven’t yet- they have been so helpful in my homeschooling journey. However, if you cannot find one in your area, or haven’t found one that fits your needs, just start one! Most homeschoolers have other families that they know in the are who also homeschool. Network with them and find other people that want to participate in similar activities.
Here is how ours is organized:
Each co-op is very different, but this is a description of how ours works. We meet weekly on Friday mornings for 2 hours. Each week we rotate between different activities including: hands-on art or science projects, field trips, service projects, book club meetings and family events- like spelling bees, a talent show, geography/history fairs, and holiday parties. We also have a monthly Mom’s-Night-Out where the moms can get together for planned activities. The year begins and ends with a family potluck or barbecue so we can get to know each other better. We continue meeting together throughout the summer with a rotating park schedule, a family camping trip, and occasional field trips.
Currently, there is a director and three board members who head up our co-op. I am on the board for our group right now. This just means that we organize the building rental, cleaning the facility, take dues (to help pay for supplies, and building rental), oversee membership and wait-list, plan the calendar, etc… The building that we rent only charges us $35/month so our dues for the year are $80. This helps cover rental costs and any supplies we may need. We have 15 families in our group now.
All of the moms participate in our co-op group by helping with teaching the different classes each week and taking turns cleaning the building. We meet in a small community center and pay a monthly fee to rent their facility. There is a park just outside the building, so most often the families stay to play and bring a lunch.
At the weekly meetings we have an opening time where everyone is together. During this time we have announcements, family spotlight, spiritual thought, pledge, a prayer and song. All of the families take turns being in charge of the opening time so that we get to know each family. Then we split into groups organized by age. The youngest group- nicknamed the “Littles” is birth through age 4. They have fun little activities, stories, play time, snacks, and a little craft of some sort. The next two age groups (5-7, 8-12) split up and rotate between 2 different classrooms where they participate in the different learning activities planned for that day. The oldest group- the teens have their own separate activities. They help organize and plan these on their own.
I am so glad we have found a homeschool co-op that we love. It has really enriched our homeschooling experience. If you are new to homeschooling, or have never joined a co-op maybe this will inspire you a little to see what may be available in your area- or to begin one of your own.
Today’s giveaway is a DVD called Indoctrination– Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America. This is a fascinating movie! A homeschooled family drives all around the U.S. learning about the state of the public schools. Click on the link above to learn a little more about it and see a trailer.
Also I am giving away a copy of Homeschool Family Fitness by Brice Whitney, Ph,D. This is a homeschool P.E. guide for preschool through 12th grade with all kids of ideas to teach fitness to your kids.
Remember that this is my 5th giveaway this week, so be sure to check out all of the other great things available! They will all be ending on Monday August 6th. Also, be sure to enter last week’s Jump Start giveaway, too ending August 4th. Good luck & thanks for stopping by!!