What is a co-op?

What is a co-op?

by Daad

So you want to homeschool your child but you're worried about them not having friends, and being lonely. You'd like them to work and learn with other kids, participate in group work, practice cooperation and team work but your child might be an only child or his siblings are at a different level where group work is not always possible. So what do you do?

Your first option is to find a "school"/class which offers group tutoring for homeschooled kids, and there are many around. However, these classes can be at the wrong time and/or location, too expensive or as was our experience a few years ago, not to your liking in terms of what is taught or how it is taught. Often they are simply going through the workbooks but you'd like there to be hands on activities, more stimulating activities, integration across subjects or incorporating Islamic concepts into each subject where possible, and importantly meeting your child's learning needs. To be fair, some could work well for your child especially if there is open communication and discussion about needs/expectations.

So how can you do all of the above plus give your child the opportunity to learn with others?

Set up your own co-op class!

What's a co-op class?

It's a class run from your own home (or chosen location) with a group of children, yours and other homeschooled children of similar age/grade/stage.

During these classes, you can choose the subjects you'll cover, how you'll teach and the resources to be used. You can set a timetable and routine to suit you and the other mothers. You can choose to do it weekly, fortnightly or as often as all those involved can manage.

Each co-op will be different depending on the kids and your purpose for it.

For example, in one of our weekly co-ops (one class for each of my sons) we covered science, history/geography, PDH and PE, and creative arts including drama and visual arts. My boys could participate in each other's "fun" subjects like creative arts and PE but did not do the other subjects as they are 3 grades apart.

Our other co-op was a more "fun" mixed age group where the kids enjoyed creative arts, PE/games, and cooking.

There are also one off get togethers where we learn about/do activities around special occasions such as Ramadan, Hajj and Eid.

You may even pick one topic and work on that for a number of weeks or the term. The possibilities are endless.

Who will teach what? What are the roles of each mother?

Well really there are no set rules, the mothers involved can decide what role they will take; one mother can teach all the subjects whilst the other may prepare activities, buy resources, or supply the food for example. Or each mother can choose a topic/subject they want to teach and be in charge of its preparation and execution. You decide what will work for everyone involved.

Where do you find kids for the co-ops?

First place is in your immediate circle of homeschooling friends and their kids. If they have similar aged kids, approach them with the idea of a co-op. If not reach out in your homeschooling group, that's what I did for my eldest. It's a great way to meet new friends and kids, and set up a co-op that could bring so much benefit and make teaching easier and more enjoyable. Often we also make more effort as we are also responsible for other people's children and really want to teach them well.

Through these co-ops I've met some beautiful sisters who are dear friends to me now, which has made homeschooling less isolating than it can be sometimes. My sons also have a group of wonderful friends that they enjoy spending time and learning with.