Newer homeschool families seem to now outnumber those of us that have homeschooled for 10 years or more. That is a good trend.
What is the Offspring of Two Types of School?
However, there is another shift or trend that has gained momentum and that is hybrid homeschool co-ops, which are popping up and growing in popularity. Have homeschool co-ops turned private schools?
Using the term hybrid homeschool co-op reminds me of the fact that homeschool co-ops (if you can call them that now) are taking what has worked for homeschooling for years and morphing them into mini private schools.
Back 10 or more years ago, the line between a homeschool co-op and a mini private school was clearly defined.
Too, it is important that new homeschool families don’t bring with them their ideas of what they think homeschool co-ops should be.
Embracing homeschooling is about valuing the principles of education that have not just worked for years for homeschoolers, but that breeds creative and independent learners. That sets us apart from a public school robot like mentality.
Look at my article, The Great Homeschool Hoax – Public School At Home, which helps to separate the two very different educational approaches.
Are homeschool co-ops really changing because of the times or because more and more families do not understand the roots of homeschool co-ops? Are homeschool co-ops really not for some families because they have only experienced a hybrid homeschool co-op? I don’t know.
What I do know is that there are foundational pegs that are inextricably linked to homeschool co-ops and the successful co-ops may have a bit more guidelines because they can grow quicker, but co-ops never took the place of home.
There are fundamental facts, which are the live blood of any healthy co-op and they are important to understand as the homeschool movement should always improve without compromising the most sacred and essential elements.
Look at these 5 points that are worth taking note of when measuring your homeschool co-op.
1.Enrichment is Essential.
Homeschool co-ops have always been about enrichment, making friends and otherwise learning subjects that may not be easy to learn at home or that may have gotten monotonous. Enrichment looks different for each family.
For example, families that cover the basics or 3 r’s may look for ways to expand how they learn science, art, geography and history with others.
Other families have children that struggle with writing or math and a homeschool co-op class can shore up the weakness of a child.
2.Multi-level vs. Split level classes.
Another negative feature that has cropped up in the last ten years is only offering split level classes.
Not only do split level classes stress a family with multiple children who may want to attend co-op classes, which may be on different days, but it separates siblings.
Homeschool co-ops are flexible enough that as their core group of kids grow older, leaders adjust to suit the needs of teens like preparing them for adulthood, but it has never been the only criteria.
Are the ways of the one room school house to be abandoned now because homeschool co-ops want to group kids by grade level?
3.Model curriculum (or is that one size fits all).
Isn’t a model curriculum used by a homeschool co-op from year to year with the same age group the very reason most of us left a pubic or private school setting?
Why trade what we left behind for a smaller group setting?
Curriculum is suppose to help each child grow at their unique pace and not in sync with a one size fits all mentality.
Homeschool co-ops have been an extension of parenting and a community spirit has existed in homeschool co-ops.
They were not a way to add extra income or substitute for a one family income.
However, a lot of homeschool families are a one income family and keeping costs down, but the fun factor high has always been the standard for price setting.
While it can cost for a place to hold the co-op and materials fee exist, and members should rightly pay to cover those expenses, leaders of the past have tried to keep the classes affordable.
5.Small Group Can Equal More Wow.
The other way to measure a co-op is by how large it is. Homeschool co-ops normally grow fast if they are successful and the members’ needs are being met. Word spreads fast among eager homeschoolers.
However, in the beginning, homeschoolers of the past have also joined homeschool co-ops so that their children have friends. Keeping a homeschool co-op small allows kids to have time to make friends.
Parents wanted like-minded friends as well. So big does not necessarily mean better.
Is a co-op trying to grow “chain stores”, uhmmm I meant co-ops, or have parents united together to use their collective experiences to enrich their children?
What is the Purpose of Homeschooling?
When a homeschool co-op steps over to invade the time spent at home, and every class is taught by somebody else, then why are you homeschooling?
Though a small private school can be a fit for some families, a majority of the teaching is taken out of your hands and placed in the hands of a “professional”. That is very opposite of what is homeschooling
Homeschool co-ops should enhance and improve your homeschool journey, but when a homeschool co-op meets 3 and 4 times a week, time at home learning together is diminished.
And lastly, a homeschool co-op should fill a need you have and each co-op should be weighed against that.
If you want to get a bird’s eye view of the differences in how terms are used in the homeschool world look at Homeschool Co-ops, Support Groups and Regional Groups. How Does It All Fit?
Do you find that your homeschool co-op is taking over your homeschool journey and life or enhancing it?
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