12 Ways to Make the Most Out of Homeschool Cooperative {Do's & Do Not's}

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We have been members at our local Christian Classical Homeschool Cooperative (there's a mouthful) for going on four years now.  My kids take academic and enrichment classes in a classroom setting, while mom teaches classes.  I have worn many hats at our local cooperative, so I have the years of faltering and stumbling, rejoicing and learning that enable me to share the best do's and don'ts to helping your family thrive in the Homeschool Co-op community.

  • Do have a morning game plan & be certain everyone in your family has a job and understands their responsibility.  In our family, the kids are responsible for loading their buckets in the vehicle on the evening BEFORE co-op.  The more you can prepare the night before, the more room you have for the "unpredictables" in the morning.  Make morning devotional a priority for yourself, and for your kids.  I promise, the morning will go better if you wake early and take the time.

  • Do keep the lunches healthy & well stocked by making lunch for the kids (and yourself silly) the night before co-op too!  Get some great real-food lunch ideas on this contributing Pinterest board & I also recommend Mom-a-bles.
  • Do Not skip breakfast.  You need fuel for the morning and your kids need "brain power", so get them fed.  Protein + a good carbohydrate is best for the morning dash-off.  I, again, suggest preparing in advance for breakfast either by freezing cooking or make-a-head items.  Our favorites: Baked Oatmeal, Breakfast Burritos, Granola & Fruit, Omelet "Sandwich"  Please do not stress yourself with a five-course meal at breakfast, you'll thank me later . . . so, your welcome!
  • Do be certain that your children are organized and that they have a good working knowledge of how to record assignments, turn-in "homework" and to file graded "homework".  I prepare the kids one week before co-op begins by allowing them to make their own students planner & we complete a working plan for each child, so they can clearly understand and meet the expectations of a teacher besides mom.

  • Do set aside "homework time" as a consistent block that is set aside for the family (maybe even mom & dad) to get work completed with excellence.  Now the following are ONLY EXAMPLES, this may not work for your family: We do not allow television, movies or any gaming on homeschool co-op nights.  I have found this is a great way keep consistent with expectations and I am removing any distractions that may impend mine and my children's progress.  Communicate, in advance, when homework is expected to be completed, and stick to the plan.
  • Do help your child achieve excellence in their work. Check your child's homework for accuracy, while maintaining your integrity as a parent.  Do not allow you student to use the Teacher's manual without your direct supervision.  When reviewing homework, ask questions about whether they believe the problem or question was answered correctly.  Remind them to check their own work and to remember to use rough drafts for editing.

  • Do know your family's extra-curricular schedules & family commitments BEFORE signing up for co-op classes.  It is better for your child if they do not skip any co-op classes . . . believe me, it is a snowball effect that sets your child up for failure . . . you don't want that!  Communicate with your children and help them balance their schedules with their time constraints for homework, to ensure they are meeting homework responsibilities in a stress-free time frame.  Example: My family attends Wednesday night services.  In order to be free of homework, sometimes they must ask the teacher for their assignment a day in advance to alleviate their work load on Wednesday evenings.  

  • Do be grateful for the teachers and instructors & be considerate of their time outside of co-op.  If you have trained your child well to stay organized, communicate their homework assignments and take accountability for their own work & behavior; you will find that you, and your child, have less questions and confusions with the classroom instructor.  Most teachers have families, and kids in co-op too, so keep that in mind when contacting them outside co-op hours.

  • Do make Family Dinner Time a top priority!  Family Dinner Time is essential at all times, but especially when co-op has made your time constraints more demanding.  Have a meal plan for dinner during the week, and prepare as much as you can in advance.  This will keep you less stressed and make family dinner the enjoyable gathering it should be.

  • Do teach your child to communicate effectively on how their day went at co-op.  Help them to label their day clearly.  We ask the kids how their day was, but tell them to give it a number from #1 (being terrible) to #10 (being terrific, super awesome, fabulous).  This helps us know how they really viewed their day, and then we ask them to explain why they gave the day that specific number.  Let's face it, children perspectives are a far cry from adult perspectives, make sure that you are speaking the same language as your children.

  • Do make co-op a family team effort. When prayer-fully considering whether Homeschool cooperative is right for you and your family (yes, I said prayerful), it is best to discuss how these new time constraints and responsibilities will effect life inside the family community.  Mom cannot be the only one making efforts to make cooperative classes a great fit for your family.  Draw on one another's talents and strengths to help; Let older children help with younger children; Redistribute responsibilities and chores to help lighten the load on mom (especially if she is teaching); Let Dad have his area of teaching and mentoring . . . he will do it differently than mom, but that is a good thing too.  Repeat after me ladies, "Dad's way is not wrong, just different".  Good job . . . keep saying it!
  • Do Not Compare!  Do give grace & receive grace.  Homeschool cooperative is a safe ground to prepare our children for life outside our homes.  There are also "real people" there, with real issues too!  We are to be the hands and feet of Christ, even at homeschool cooperative.  Jesus' own hands and feet were pierced for our transgressions.  As His disciples, we may have to sacrifice in order to give grace.  We may also need to swallow pride in order to receive grace from others.  Show, by example, how to give and receive grace, giving your children an opportunity to practice living out a life of faith, within a safe and loving environment.
A few more: 

  • Do get the kids to bed early . . . mom too! 
  • Do give rewards for good grades and consistently good efforts.
  • Do pray for kids, the teachers and families at your co-op.
  • Do take vitamins & supplements that will help with daily energy levels and special needs.  
  • Do set your kids up for success by staying consistent. 
Remember to be positive, and help your kids to see all the good that can come from stretching themselves outside their "comfort zones".  Isn't that when God does major work on our lives, when we step out in faith outside of our own personal comfort?

"For I know the thoughts, that I have thought towards you, saith the Lord, even the thoughts of peace, and not of trouble, to give you an end, and your hope."  Jeremiah 29:11 (Geneva Bible)

I know that co-op can be tough at times, and that growing and learning is something that we continually do alongside our children.  Don't give up girl.  Fight the good fight. Finish the race.  Here is a quote I brought home from Winter Summit that has really resonated with me:

"Homeschooling is hard!  I would rather live with doing hard, than to live easy and miss doing God's will." ~ Roxanne Parks

Let's stick in this together . . . let's do hard!

Do you attend cooperative?  What are some of your strengths and struggles at homeschool cooperative?

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

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  1. These are fantastic suggestions! I've been teaching at our co-op for 14 years, and I cannot emphasize how important these are--particularly all the ones about being committed, making this a family effort, etc. So many times, parents turn everything over to co-op teachers without bothering to keep up with what their kids are doing. This is great!

    1. I agree Sarah. I believe that home educators have an issue "perceiving" cooperative correctly, at times. Home educating parents would do better when viewing cooperative as a partnership rather than a "school". We must realize that at the end of the day, we are still the one responsible for our child's education. Thanks for your comment.


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