Several years ago, the homeschool mothers in my area sensed a need to spend more time together; but none of us had much time to spare. If we were going to form a group, it would have to compliment our homeschooling efforts without hindering them. It could not consume a large portion of our time, and it would have to accommodate a broad range of ages. After several months of brainstorming and planning, our homeschool co-op was born. The basic plan is so simple it can be adapted to just about any group.
A low-key co-op meets once a month and follows the same format each time. The co-op is designed to allow each family the freedom to choose its own curriculum. The co-op should provide an educational experience we cannot create at home, classes should require a group or require an audience.
When we started our co-op in 2007 we offered musical theater and a group learning activity, followed with a playdate at the park. Our musical moms would lead the students in musical theater and the students would give their musical theater presentation in May. The group learning activity is the key to the program’s flexibility and academic value. The academic focus of each month is different, but is consistent from year to year. Public speaking is an important part of the program. When the children give presentations, they are free to choose topics that complement their home studies. Group learning activities include history presentations, speech day, talent show, science projects, and world culture exhibits. After the students finish their presentations, the group would gather at the local park for lunch and while the students play the moms would have a mom’s meeting to evaluate the program and plan the schedule for the next year.
To start a low-key co-op, you’ll need willing moms, eager students, a place to meet, and a coordinator to oversee and organize each month. A low-key co-op is adaptable and flexible, and does not require hours of planning an organization. The co-op program enriches home studies, strengthens friendships, and keeps are children motivated and excited about learning.
Our co-op has grown throughout the years and currently offers musical theater, Service Scouts, homeschool track, homeschool bowling league, and a monthly field trip; but all activities are still based upon our original guidelines – to provide an educational experience we cannot create at home.