Pros and cons of a homeschool co-op

12 Pros and Cons of Joining a Homeschool Co-op

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Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin

Are you thinking of joining a homeschool co-op? Maybe you have questions and aren’t sure its the direction you really want to go for you family. Maybe you have friends joining a homeschool co-op and they want you to come too.

I’ve been part of several different groups over the past 15 years and led one for 6 years. During that time I encountered many families who loved the co-op and many who were miserable and quit. What led to them quitting? I believe it is because what the co-op offered didn’t line up with their goals and values at that time. If you want to have a successful co-op experience, keep reading!!

What is the purpose of a homeschool co-op?

The purpose of a homeschool co-op will vary by group. Some meet to provide opportunities for social interactions and others primarily for academic classes. Some do both. As a parent, it is important that you know WHY you want to join and WHAT you hope to gain. It will help you ask better questions before you join a co-op and will prevent a lot of frustration down the road.

Joining a co-op that does not line up with your goals for your family will be mentally draining and very frustrating, leaving you questioning whether co-ops are for you at all!!

joining a homeschool co-op

Is joining a homeschool co-op worth it?

There are basically 2 kinds of homeschool co-ops. The first kind is run by all or mostly volunteers and usually requires all parents to volunteer as part of the co-op. The second kind is one that uses paid teachers. For these, the parents don’t usually volunteer but they do pay a fee for the classes.

In order for either model to be “worth it” to you, know what you hope to gain. What do you hope to gain from it…accountability, social interactions, quality classes, more friends for your kids and you? Is that gain worth your time or money? If it is, then the co-op is definitely worth it.

Here is an example of a poor match. There is a mom I’ll call Mary who was looking for a local co-op primarily for social interactions for her kids. Its was late summer and she knew she had to figure something out for the fall. The co-op she found offered academic classes which was fine with Mary but what she wanted out of the experience was mostly social opportunities. What Mary didn’t really think about was that at this academic co-op, the homework was required and she was a more relaxed homeschooler. In her rush to find a co-op for her kids, she didn’t really think about stress of monitoring the co-op homework. So Mary and her kids paid the fees and joined the co-op. After only a few weeks, Mary realized that she might have made a mistake. Her kids bring homework home every week and then its a fight to get them to do it before the next co-op. Mary is tired. Her kids are cranky and this co-op is starting to feel like its more trouble than its worth. The reality is, this co-op wasn’t a good match for Mary’s needs and wants. But she thought she could make it work and signed up without allowing herself to honestly assess the situation.

In order for a co-op to be worth it to Mary, we could probably say that it needs to primarily be a social co-op where the expectations for the children and parents lined up with her own goals for her family. The social component in this case should not have been secondary. It should have been the main thing.

FREE Homeschool Co-op Checklist & Homeschool Hybrid Program Checklist

After 15 years of participating in co-ops and hybrid programs, I realized that there are a lot of questions families need to ask BEFORE they join to make sure it is a a great fit. Grab both of these if you are trying to make the best choice for your family.

Benefits of a homeschool co-op

  1. Regular schedule of academic or social activities
  2. Become part of a community of other homeschoolers
  3. Far less expensive than private school
  4. Provides structure and accountability (especially in academic groups)
  5. Has a definited beginning and ending to the school year
  6. Provides a way to experience some of the special things kids might get to do in school
  7. Friendships for the students and the parents

Disadvantages of a homeschool co-op

  1. The curriculum may not be something you like
  2. The overall goal may not line up with your goals
  3. If you start the year and then find out its not a great fit, you may lose your money you paid
  4. Its less flexible than regular homeschooling
  5. It costs money..and sometimes that is expensive.
joining a homeschool co-op

How to find homeschool co-ops

If you are looking for homeschool co-ops that fit with your big goals and values for your family, there are a few places you can look.

  1. Talk to local homeschool friends
  2. Join local homeschool Facebook groups and ask about co-ops there. Some keep up to date lists
  3. This website has a national directory that they try to keep updated.

How to find Homeschool Groups In Your Area

My Favorite Homeschool Books!

Finding a Co-op That Aligns With Your Values

Just as there are many kinds of co-ops, there are many different philosophies and belief systems under which groups are organized. Some co-ops want you to agree to a statement of faith. Others are organized as secular groups and choose not to include faith in their curriculum or classes. Some are very conservative and others are very liberal.

When you look for a co-op, be sure to look for one that aligns with your values and meets your goals for your family. And before joining a homeschool co-op, take time to stop and ask good questions from our Homeschool Co-op Checklist.

joining a homeschool co-op

Before You Join A Co-op, Take the Time To Honestly Assess

As a former co-op director, my biggest piece of advice is to not rush into your co-op decision. Ask good questions and consider your goals for your family in the current season. Many co-ops have non refundable fees so if you join and then decide it is not a great fit, you may lose your deposit or class fees.

It can be hard for kids to start a co-op year and then have mom pivot after a few weeks because its causing more stress than benefit. So doing research on the front end can prevent a lot of frustration and disappointment!

Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!

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