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?