|Me, wearing my very bright co-op shirt|
A recent conversation with my sister in law prompted me to write this post. She mentioned to me that she doesn't think that she will ever put her daughter (who is about the same age as Anna) in a homeschool co-op, the reason being that her local co-op (which meets three times a week) seems to have the same negative social dynamics between some of the girls, such as cliques, that you commonly see in public school. My sister-in-law is homeschooling to avoid this negative socialization, and rightly questions the need to join a co-op that has the same thing going on that she has chosen to avoid.
I am a part of a homeschool co-op that meets once a week, and although there are many aspects that I find beneficial for us, I regularly wonder "is it worth it". For me it's primarily a matter of time. Even though we only meet once a week, I teach two classes, and so a lot of time is spent every week planning for that, and it really takes it out of us on Friday. By the time we get home we are all exhausted, and nothing else gets done that day.
So I wonder, what makes a homeschool co-op worth it, and what aspects make it a bad investment of your time and money. For me personally, I would not want to be a part of a co-op that met multiple times a week. I think that would take away from what we are doing at home. I really enjoy teaching my children, and wouldn't like to farm that out. I might change my mind come middle school, but for right now that would be a deal breaker. I also would need it to be a positive social experience for my children. There is some "girl stuff" that I have seen in my co-op, but it is usually very mild and easily dealt with.
No co-op is worth putting yourself in a financial bind for, especially if it is only for extracurricular activities, and if a co-op is teaching core curriculum, make sure it's what you want taught. I think most importantly, you should never feel pressured to join or continue with a particular co-op if it isn't working for your family; even if the pressure is coming from your kids.
What are your co-op deal breakers, and what do you think makes a good co-op?