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Welcome to part 3 and my final post on Homeschool Co-ops.  You can read about Year-Round Open Co-ops in part 1 and Subject/Curriculum Specific Co-ops in Part 2.  This final type of co-op is by far the biggest and most involved co-op.

There are a lot of ways I’ve seen this kind of co-op done, some successful and some not.  To be honest, unless you are an amazing planner and organizer, and have a fairly vast group this co-op can be an epic failure.  I am more than happy to participate, but I do not envy the mastermind behind putting these types of co-ops together.

The homeschool group I belong to that is closest to me has a seasonal co-op of mass proportions that my friend Kristie puts together.  I honestly don’t know how she does it.

This co-op is one day a week for 5 weeks that occurs in the fall and in the spring.  The co-op lasts 3 hours with classes being 1 hour.  There are classes for age groups from preschool through high school.  Plus, there is a nursery.   This fall 2016 there were 28 classes offered.

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How does this work?

Parents and grandparents volunteer to teach a class or two or three.  They set the age range that best suits their class, limit the number of students if necessary, and set the cost (if any) to cover supplies necessary for the class.  Co-teachers either volunteer or are assigned so each class has at least 2 adults.

There is a registration period for kids to sign up for their desired courses and pay the necessary fees.  Kids whose parents volunteer to teach get first pick, group members get second pick, and then registration is opened up to the general public.  The fall 2016 co-op has about 150 students.

I’m not going to go into logistics of this whole co-op because honestly, I don’t know all of the details, but suffice it to say that whether you teach a class or not, you have a role to play.  Parents help clean up the building, get kids and stuff to and from classrooms, handle nametags… the list goes on.  Kristie spends innumerable hours preparing before co-op and detoxing after co-op.  It really is a big deal.

So, why do it?

WE LOVE IT!!!!

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My kids love the variety of classes and they certainly get the opportunity to learn things that I might never teach them either because of time constraints or because it’s just not something I would think to teach.  The Princess has made some great friends at co-op and each season she looks forward to spending class time with those friends.  Plus, the kids get to experience other teachers teaching in different ways.  I guess you could say, it’s like a “school” experience.

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I love getting to teach other kids.  I have taught some classes that interest me, but not necessarily my kids.  I love getting to know some of the other moms.  And even when school doesn’t happen for us on some weeks, I know we are going to get a good learning experience on those co-op days.

This is a big deal co-op, but it is so worth it.  I know of another area co-op that does a similar thing.  The difference is their co-op lasts an entire semester but not all of the classes last the full semester.  They have some classes (mostly the upper level classes) that last the full semester and some (mostly elementary and lower) that may only be a week or a few weeks, but not months long.  Another difference is that some of their classes are taught by private instructors and the class fees serve as an income to the instructors, not just covering materials.  We have not tried this co-op because it is currently too far for us to drive, but it seems to be quite a success.

Ultimately, homeschooling does not have to be an isolating experience for you or your kids.  The Co-op experience is a great opportunity to find the tribe you lost due to school.  You may have to create your own co-op opportunity, but remember that if you’re looking then chances are others are looking too.  Sometimes  you have to make opportunities for yourself so you can have the experience you want to have instead of waiting for someone else to give you that experience.  It’s worth it.  I promise you.

If you want information on any of the co-op topics and their activities mentioned above, feel free to contact me.  If you have ideas to share, please comment here.  Co-op topics are always much appreciated!