Should I Join a Homeschool Co-Op?
My wife Jody and I have debated this. I argue that co-ops are technically not homeschooling, because they include other teachers, other kids in a class, etc. Jody says, “Yeah, but you’re doing all the schoolwork at home.” Well, that’s fair. And yet, I think that’s what school was thirty, forty, fifty years ago; you go to school, you get taught something, you go home and do homework. That’s not really in the purview of common education these days. Students basically get all the work done at school so they can do extracurricular activities or what-have-you.
When I look at this question, I think there are three elements that you really want to consider to help decide if it’s worth being in a co-op. So I’m going to go pro co-op for a moment, and if you don’t do these things, you need to integrate them into your homeschool anyway.
The first is the social element. That’s one of the nice things about a co-op. It does create a social context for your students, your kids, to interact with other kids. I like that, I think you’re going to need that some way or another, and co-ops instantly do that for you.
The second thing is that in co-ops, there are certain children who thrive academically. They perform a little better in a competitive environment, I know that it’s not politically correct to do anything intensively, but even so, the nature of human beings is that some people step up to the plate and do better when they have other people to interact and keep up with.
The third thing is accountability. One of the nice things about a cooperative context is that there’s some accountability going on where you need to have assignments completed by the next meeting. Or other people might point some things out to your student or you, blind spots where you’ve fallen behind.
If you want to not socialize, not have any competition, and want no accountability, co-ops are a bad idea. I’m a fan of learning, so if these things resonate with you and would help you out—I’d say, “Go for it.”
-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
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