To co-op or not co-op?

Has anyone here joined a co-op or do you plan to?

We joined one last fall, although we aren't participating in the co-op classes at this point.  Our involvement is limited to the phys ed offerings and social activities, like a Valentine's Day party this week. 

I'm starting to think the whole co-op thing isn't for me.  First, if we were to get more involved, we would be having activities outside of our house at least once a week with this group, sometimes more.  That is a lot of time taken away from our home studies.  And then if you add in things like music lessons or other activities, you start to feel like you're spending more time learning outside of the home, when the reason you wanted to homeschool was to be HOME.

Secondly, I'm having a hard time fitting in with the other co-op moms.  I'm a pretty conservative Christian, however, the ladies in this group make me seem liberal.  Many do not allow any type of secular influence into their homes.  We, on the other hand, do allow pre-approved movies and video games and stuff like that.  These other families think all music is evil - stuff like that.  I don't really care what they believe, but it's making me feel like I have to always second-guess myself around these people.  Ironically, one of the reasons I wanted to homeschool my kids was so that they wouldn't feel pressured to conform to group-think in school and to be free to be who they are.  Now I find myself feeling pressure to hide certain parts of who I am and who my kids are in order to "fit in" with this group.  (There is only one other group in our area, which is also religious, but less conservative.  They are not an option because their activities are based nearly an hour away.  This group is closer.)

Also, after meeting some of these mothers and reading a lot of what they have written in the group newsletter, I'm not completely convinced that they should be teaching my children anything.  One of the reasons I would want to do a co-op is so my kids could be learning something from someone else more qualified than I am to teach it.  I'm not convinced these ladies could do a better job with any of the subjects than I could.  Now, when we hit high school level science courses, perhaps I will need to outsource the lessons, but these ladies wouldn't be able to handle those subjects either.  I'm sure we'll be looking into classes at local colleges for that help.

The only reason we would stay in the group is for social opportunities for the kids.  But I also think that eventually, as they become older and are involved in more activities, the co-op will be less necessary for "socialization".  And, as I meet more homeschooling families in my area, we can set up playdates and activities outside of the co-op for the kids to have fun together.

I'm just curious about what other people are planning to do.  Do you think co-ops are worth the time away from home and all of the effort to pack the whole family up to get there?

Re: To co-op or not co-op?

  • I like the idea of a co-op, but it sounds like that particular one might not be a good fit for you. 
    We have a few local homeschool facebook groups that are great. Anyone is free to plan activities, and many people do. It's usually more field trip type things, unstructured activities, or even just last minute trips to the beach or park. But it gives the kids a chance to get to know each other and have a community. You might consider starting something like that. One you invite a few people, word spreads pretty fast. 
    Married 07.07.07. Mom to 3: Ruby 11/08 and Oliver & Austin 12/11
  • I just joined a co-op, but ours really doesn't "teach" anything.  We organize fieldtrips and anyone can rsvp on meetup.  Basically a place to head to fun places together and learn side by side.  I just joined two weeks ago, so I'm fairly new.  But one of the "organizers" really took me under her wing and even had us over for a playdate this week.  We really hit it off.

    Honestly, most in the group are always talking about church, which I don't attend but I do believe in God.  Everyone is very accepting, and I don't try to pretend to be something I'm not.  There are over 50 families in the co-op and it's a $5 fee a year to take care of the meetup costs and the extra money is donated to facilities that help accommodate with things like V-day parties, etc.

    I say go and just be yourself!  Either they will be accepting of you or they won't.  And don't feel like you have to go to everything, it can be overwhelming.  They have about 3 meet ups a week, I go to swim & gym at our Y, and then maybe a field trip (last week a maple farm).  
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