4 Tips for a Successful Co-op ExperienceJanelle Knutson
You have taken the time to weigh the pros and cons of a homeschool co-op. You’ve decided it would be a good option for your family. What things can you do to ensure a successful co-op experience?
Evaluate Your Schedule
If your schedule is already full, adding in co-op classes could create more stress than enjoyment for you and your kids. Take time to evaluate your weekly commitments. Do you have time to add in another activity? It might be wise to remove one or two activities from your schedule before adding in co-op.
You will want to consider your homeschool schedule as well. Think about how much school work you have at home to complete.
- Will adding in additional classes hinder you from completing the work you want to do at home? Take a look at your curriculum. Are there things that overlap with a class your child will be taking? Perhaps you can eliminate or lessen those subjects at home.
- Does the co-op offer classes that can alleviate some of your workload? A science lab or literature discussion group that goes along with what your kids are learning about at home can take a task off your plate.
- Would you be able to switch to a four day school week at home? This would allow you to dedicate the 5th day to co-op classes. You and your kids will enjoy co-op a lot more if you aren’t trying to squeeze in regular school work alongside co-op classes.
Research Before You Join
Each homeschool co-op has its own requirements for participation in the group. Make sure you understand what those requirements are and whether or not you can fulfill them. You won’t enjoy the co-op experience if you’re continually frustrated with abiding by the groups rules.
Look to see if the values and beliefs of the co-op are in line with your own. Remember that other parents will be teaching your kids. Choosing a group that shares your values can make the experience more pleasant for everyone.
Taking time to research the group before you join can prevent a year of co-op frustration. Try to find a group that you and your kids will feel comfortable participating in.
Teach Kids Co-op Etiquette
You probably started homeschooling because you didn’t want your kids in a classroom all day. However, most co-ops operate like mini-schools. Your children will need to know the rules for being in a group setting when learning is taking place.
- Every co-op runs a little differently but here are a few general co-op etiquette rules to get you started.
- Raise your hand when you want to talk.
- Use the restroom before class starts.
- Do not talk to friends when the teacher is talking.
- Show respect to the teacher.
- Keep your hands to yourself.
- Respect others opinions, insight and questions.
These might seem like common sense to you but your kids may not be aware of these basic courtesies. It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with any other policies the group may have such as a dress code or the procedure for dealing with conflict among children in the group.
Knowing what is required of them will help your children enjoy the co-op experience a lot more.
Prepare the Night Before
The excitement for co-op day is quickly squelched when everyone is running behind. Nobody likes feeling rushed, especially kids.
Spend some time preparing for co-op the night before. This will alleviate some stress and will ensure that you don’t forget anything in the mad rush out the door. Here are some things you can do to prepare for co-op classes the night before.
- Prepare snacks and lunches.
- Choose the outfits you and your kids will be wearing to co-op. Set the entire outfit out including socks, shoes and jackets.
- Load backpacks and bags with everything you need for co-op. Make sure your kids have all their assignments, books and supplies packed up and ready to go.
- Fill up the gas tank in your car. The day before co-op, check the gas level in your car and make a trip to the gas station if you need to fill up. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you don’t have to swing by the gas station on your way to classes.
Many homeschool families are blessed to be a part of a co-op. Hopefully these tips will get you off on the right foot and help you to have a successful co-op experience.