Let’s face it, many homeschool families at one point or another hear the inevitable question: “but what about socialization?” For some homeschool families, the easy answer to this question can lie in joining a co-op, usually a group of parents who take turns teaching the children and alternating breaks, but getting the kids around other kids.
Socialization can also come in many other forms, such as joining scouts, taking classes outside the home, joining team sports, but co-op is the topic today and seems to be the most school-like of the options above, so I know whenever I would mention to people who asked about socialization that we were in a co-op, somehow that seemed to allay their worries.
There are pros and cons to joining a co-op, some of those I have experienced or heard about are mentioned below:
Socialization: your kids get to be around other people, both the grown up type and child type, and this seems to help with questions when inquiring friends, family, strangers, butt their noses in, all under the guise of concern for the children.
Friends: I know this could go under socialization, but since you can hang out with people and still not make friends, I felt this was an important part as well. When we were in co-op, not only did my children make friends, but so did I.
A break: This goes for both the moms and kids. For the moms, at least in the group I was in, we taught for one class, and then got to relax with other moms for another class while our children were still in their classes. For one whole hour we got to not have little children demanding our attention and to talk to individuals (at least in my case, older than in sixth grade). That was a break, though it always seemed so fleeting. And for the children as well, I am sure they see attending co-op as a break from the routine at home.
Time: Even though I would only need to teach for an hour, it always seemed to take so much time and effort both the day of and the day before getting my lessons ready. Even when I stepped down from teaching, it still involved making sure everyone knew where everything was, (somehow I think my children have mastered the not loosing your insert item here until it is time to go trait) and making sure everyone had a lunch packed.
Homeschool: While my kids thoroughly enjoyed getting to go to co-op, the problem was, they stopped cooperating at home and work stopped getting done here. Looking back at all of their years of homeschooling, their year in co-op they learned a ton in their classes, but they barely did anything in their books at home. We have just started a new year and they’re already slipping behind, so they definitely don’t have time for anything on the side, and I feel like I am having to break the bad habits learned last year.
However; my local homeschool co-op is a part of a larger homeschool ministry which we can still be a part of without having to do co-op thankfully, and that is the choice I have made for my family this year. This will allow us more time as a family to focus on what we need to focus on, while still maintaining the friendships we have already made through monthly outings.
What about you? Do you or have you done co-op? How does it work for your family?