7 Ways to Structure Your Homeschool Co-op


If you’re a homeschool parent and are considering forming a homeschool cooperative, you will quickly discover that there are dozens of ways you can structure your co-op to best serve its members.  Generally speaking, homeschool co-ops are made up of families who share a variety of common interests that might include:

  • Academic goals,
  • Religious beliefs,
  • Social behaviors, or
  • Moral structures.

Additionally, homeschool co-ops are often formed around a structure that can be based on a variety of organizational formats such as:

  • Parents and students come together to evaluate and share their approach to homeschooling;
  • Individual parent members teach workshops or classes based on their own academic background and skills;
  • A classroom co-op that combines the efforts of all the member parents where parents stay on site and take turns teaching lessons; and
  • Parents and students meet together for the purpose of providing socialization opportunities for students.

Once you have identified your reason for forming a homeschool co-op and have settled on an organizational format, it’s time to create a day-to-day structure for your group.  The following seven sample structures are meant to provide suggestions for your group:

1. Meeting Frequency: once per week during school year

Hours:  9AM to Noon, split into three one-hour sessions

Parental Involvement:  Required

Academic Focus:  anything a parent wishes to teach as long as it is in line with the co-op guidelines

Discipline Issues:  Common respect guidelines are followed, but issues are taken to the parent(s)

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

 

2. Meeting Frequency: once every other week at various licensed locations

Hours:  9:45AM – 1:30PM

Parental Involvement:  Required

Academic Focus:  Main office holds a private school license; each family teaches their own children at home using curriculum and methods of their choice

Discipline Issues:  Main office establishes guidelines for behavior, acceptable dress code as well as parent and student responsibilities

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

 

3. Meeting Frequency: Every Friday during the school year except for holiday breaks

Hours:  Same as public schools

Parental Involvement:  Each parent participates in creating weekly lesson plans and also teaches two class sessions during the school year

Academic Focus:  Parent members meet in the summer to plan subjects to be taught

Discipline Issues:  Method of dealing with issues determined by full parent group

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

 

4. Meeting Frequency: Daily during school year

Hours:  9AM to Noon

Parental Involvement:  Required

Academic Focus:  Day starts with a short general assembly and the rest of the morning is divided into three sections with rotating classes.  Day always includes a Physical Education class followed by two classes pre-determined by members.

Discipline Issues:  Each member family signs a contract outlining expected behavior and the consequences of bad choices

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

 

5. Meeting Frequency: Once per week during school year

Hours:  9:30AM – 2PM including one morning class and one afternoon class

Parental Involvement:  All parents are required to participate.  The co-op has a constitution and board of directors that changes yearly, so parents have the opportunity to participate as board members or organizers.

Academic Focus:  Format is based on the principles of Leadership Education also known as Thomas Jefferson Education Philosophy by Oliver DeMille.

Discipline Issues:  Students and parents sign a contract that outlines behavior expectations

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

 

6. Meeting Frequency: Two meetings per month plus two field trips per month (field trips are optional)

Hours:  9AM – 12:15PM

Parental Involvement:  Required

Academic Focus:  Classes are selected by members and teachers are hired to teach the classes.  Classes rotate by age so 1st-3rd graders are together, 4th-5th graders are together and 6th – 8th graders are together.  The Co-op also sponsors a high school group which is led by moms.  Moms stay for all co-op meetings.

Discipline Issues:  Handled by discussions of appropriate behavior led by member parents.

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

 

7. Meeting Frequency: Every Friday during school year

Hours:  9AM – Noon followed by a group lunch until about 1PM

Parental Involvement:  Parents are asked to teach, but are not required to do so.  Co-op is managed by a board of directors and parents have the opportunity to be board members.

Academic Focus:  Parents who want to teach submit proposals for a semester-long class.  Subjects vary each semester.  Generally, classes offered at the co-op are considered by parents to be “extra-curricular” and are used to supplement regular homeschool classes.

Discipline Issues:  The co-op has established guidelines and bylaws and the Board of Directors deals with any disciplinary issues that come up.

Safety:  Pre-established safety guidelines are followed

In closing, Homeschool Cooperatives can be a great way to supplement an ongoing homeschool curriculum or can be structured to include a full homeschool experience.  Co-ops can be an excellent opportunity for like-minded families to create a safe learning environment and to expand socialization opportunities for their children.  The idea that all parents have the opportunity or requirement to help out with co-op administration and activities serves to bond the group and open up learning experiences for homeschooled children.