If you are intrigued by the idea of a homeschool co-op but can’t find one that meets your needs or one at all why not consider starting one up yourself? With help from your like minded homeschool mom friends and new friends you can have a thriving and fun group that gives a lot to kids and moms. From socialization (ugh I know) to learning new skills, good conversation, and cultivating new interests co-ops are a great addition to your homeschool program.
Steps to Starting a Homeschool Co-op
Co-ops don’t have to include classes, they can just be meeting up for field trips and other activities but that is much easier to plan so here is some information that will help you establish a more involved meet-up with classes.
Have a brainstorm session
The first thing you need to do is sit down and brainstorm what kind of homeschool co-op it will be. If you are starting it with other people you want to have an initial brainstorming session with everyone.
Gather ideas and create a mission statement.
Here are some questions to get you started as you flesh out your new co-op…
Will your co-op be classes only?
Will everyone rotate teaching?
Will organized field trips be included?
Will you have t shirts ?
Will you charge dues monthly or yearly? How much?
Who will be in charge of funds?
What is the best name for your co-op
How large do you want your co-op to be? Small intimate groups or the more the merrier?
Are there rules for your group? What are they?
What day and time will you meet?
Find new members
Listing on Facebook community sites, church, small local curriculum sales , and good old word of mouth all are great places to reach out to potential new members. Setting up some loose guidelines for joining, maybe for attendance, tardiness, parent volunteers, and other similar expectations will help make sure that you get parents that are truly committed to the group.
Find a location
Scout out community centers, empty Sunday school rooms in churches, and oftentimes libraries have extra rooms that are open for free public use. Perhaps you will meet at someone’s house, or if weather is nice at the local park. If you have to rent a space be sure you figure that into your member dues. As your co-op grows you will find your needs change and you may have to make other arrangements.
Create a schedule
Figure out meet up times, when your classes/events will take place. You will want to do this AFTER you find a location because you will usually need to work around their schedule. If you are having it at someone’s home or a park you will have much more flexibility. By now you should have decide who is leading what class/activity
Having each child bring basic supplies like paper, glue, scissors, crayons, etc… is a good idea and they also love having their own things to carry but you will need to invest some of your co-op funds into other supplies for the group. Large plastic bins are a great way to transport and store supplies for classes- art items, books, pencils, science projects, etc. Give each teacher one to keep items organized, include sub plans in the box and have a plan in place for the sub to grab the ready to go box.
Have your first meet up
Keep your expectations a little low, there are going to be some bumps and likely not everything will run perfectly smooth on the first for the first few go rounds. This is a great time to make notes and adjust for what works and what doesn’t.
Enjoy the time with the new group as you and your children begin to cultivate new skills and even more importantly new relationships!
:: Bright Ideas Press offers discounts to homeschool co-ops and will continue to provide resources to help make your teaching easy and fun.