One of the primary decisions every parent must make is how to educate their children. What a blessing to have so many wonderful options for education in today’s world! In fact, there are SO many options, parents may feel a bit overwhelmed and unsure of which model is best for their family and how the model will encourage them in raising their kids to know, love, and follow the Lord.
Over the next several months, I will be sharing wisdom from seasoned moms, experienced with specific educational models, to find out the advantages and disadvantages of each model.
In this article, we will look at homeschooling with co-ops to learn more about this approach to homeschooling and to help you know whether this approach is a good fit for your family.
It was my pleasure to interview Angie, a mom with five kids, ages 16, 14, 11, 9, and 6. Her family has homeschooled while attending a co-op for the past four years. She enjoys homeschooling and says that while it has its ups and downs, she believes it is the greatest job and highest privilege she can think of. I asked her some questions to help us learn more about this great privilege of homeschooling with co-ops.
How did you decide to homeschool your children, and what benefits have you seen in homeschooling?
God put some families in our life when our oldest child was preschool age. We were able to learn from them and observe homeschooling in action and could see that it wasn’t “weird” or mysterious, but a viable alternative to public school. We really felt God calling us to educate our children from a Christian perspective with a Biblical worldview.
What is a “co-op?”
A co-op is a cooperative education model, where a group of families join together and agree to share the workload by educating each others’ kids. In our co-op, each mom is responsible for lead teaching at least one class and assisting in another.
How did you discover a co-op, and how has yours benefited your homeschooling process?
We started homeschooling when our oldest started kindergarten, and I taught them at home until she finished 6th grade. By that point in time it was a bit overwhelming with so many kids at all different levels. I was feeling burned out and began praying about how to balance the workload. A friend invited us to come check out her co-op. With my oldest getting ready to enter 7th grade, I was open to the idea for the first time. I had been asked to join the same co-op by a different friend a few years prior, but I wasn’t prepared to jump in and plan and teach classes at that time. This time around, God made it clear that this was the right fit for our family. Our kids took to it immediately. They enjoyed making new friends and the interactive aspects of their classes. It was nice to not be responsible for every subject anymore!
What co-op did you join, and what level of support does the co-op give you as a homeschool mom?
Delight Homeschool Cooperative is the only co-op we’ve ever belonged to. It’s been a tremendous support to our family. I have a community of like-minded moms that I get to hang out with. It’s so much fun to get to know each other’s kids really well and see the deep friendships that have formed between all the kids.
What do you feel are the advantages of co-ops?
It’s nice to see how other moms approach homeschooling, particularly with different subjects and at different age/grade levels. We do a lot together as families, both formally and informally, such as pool parties, holidays, field trips, enrichment activities, etc. Being part of a community is wonderful – we pray for one another and really get to know each other.
What drawbacks do you see in co-ops, if any?
While we have input on classes offered and what the schedule looks like, with 20+ families involved, everyone can’t always have everything they want. Co-ops are a commitment and a lot of work. Initially I was intimidated by the role of teaching a class, but it quickly disappeared once I got started.
How has homeschooling with co-ops helped you to raise kids who know, love, and follow the Lord?
We begin each year with an assembly and corporate prayer. We have a devotion each week, sometimes student-led. All classes and topics are approached with Jesus in mind. Kids are often asked to bring their Bibles to co-op. Scripture memory and recitation is often incorporated into the syllabus, and kids share prayer requests in class and pray for each other.
What have been some of your favorite curriculums that are part of your co-op that your children have enjoyed?
Progeny Press: https://stores.progenypress.com
Tapestry of Grace: http://www.tapestryofgrace.com/index.php
Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org
Bob Jones: https://www.bjupress.com/page/Home
Institute for Excellence in Writing: https://www.iew.com
What resources would you suggest for parents wanting to get more information on joining a co-op for homeschooling?
Ask your friends! If your friends have a co-op they are a part of that they love, let them tell you about it. Google “Christian Homeschool Co-ops” in your area, make a list, and check their websites. Email or call to arrange a preview, tour, or interview. Ask people in other homeschool organizations that you belong to (sports, dance, theater, etc) if they can recommend a co-op.
To a parent wanting to try homeschooling with co-ops, what would be your biggest piece of advice?
You can do it! It’s so rewarding to invest in a community for moms and for kids. Reflect on what you are good at and what you have to offer, and jump in. Don’t be intimidated by the role of teaching.
Thank you, Angie, for sharing about co-ops and what it looks like to homeschool and be a part of a co-op. What useful information you have given us! I know these resources and the wisdom you have shared will be encouraging to parents who are considering joining a co-op through the homeschooling process.