What Is A Homeschool Co-Op?

What is a homeschool co-op? What can I expect from a homeschool co-op?

Hopefully this article provides a comprehensive look at homeschool coops and the pros and cons of attending one. But first, let's start with the basics. Plenty of people have never even heard of the term "co-op."

The definition of a Homeschool Co-op

Co-op, or coop, is short for "cooperative."

In a co-op for homeschoolers (a homeschool co-op), families come together and work in some type of cooperation towards a goal. Coops are usually ways for homeschool families to offer each other classes, resources, socialization, or simply support.

No two homeschooling co-ops are identical.

Because there are no governing bodies that regulate homeschool groups or structures, no two co-ops will ever be identical. And, as stated earlier, they can have many different functionalities. Nevertheless, the most common form of homeschool co-op offers some type of group learning as a supplement to home education.

The potential benefits of a co-op

  • They are great ways for your children to meet new friends and peers.
  • For some families, they add some needed or preferred structure to the week. (Co-ops generally meet at a scheduled time.)
  • Co-ops can often pool money to buy resources that would normally not be affordable to a single family.
  • Co-ops can often "group buy" a product, curriculum, or access pass at a discounted rate.
  • Lots of co-op groups go on field trips together.
  • Students get a chance to learn from someone other than their mother/father. Furthermore, co-op teachers are usually very knowledgeable and passionate about their subject and often teach unique angles or perspectives. Sometimes, even unique classes.
  • Co-op classes or instruction can help 'fill in the gaps' of your child's education.
  • Exposure to new ideas.
  • Some offer types of legal support.

The potential cons of a co-op

  • It can be difficult to take the first step to getting involved. Since they are not mandatory, a parent will need to take some type of initiative to become involved.
  • Commitment is required. In order for a co-op model to work well, everyone needs to be willing to be involved. At the bare minimum, everyone needs to commit to the scheduled meetings.
  • Co-ops will expose children to new ideas. For some people this is a pro, and for others it can be a con. An example of a con would be your child discovering that some children his age already own cellphones or get to watch TV whenever they want.
  • Almost all co-ops will be an additional cost/expense. Co-ops can save you a lot of money, but they are also a cost that is not necessarily required. For instance, the cost of doing a science dissection can be cut in 1/4 when four families are willing to share the same materials. However, the dissection experiment is not a mandatory cost.
  • Some co-ops are extremely based in a specific type of structure, method/philosophy, or religion.
  • A co-op means there is more outside structure.

Find answers to more frequently asked questions about homeschooling.

Last modified: March 20, 2017