It’s OK Not to Do a Co-Op Moms, I Promise

I’ve been a stay at home mom since my oldest was born nearly 14 years ago, when I consider our “homeschool” began. Homeschooling wasn’t as popular or accepted as it is today. It was sometimes scary to have your six year old at the store with you during school hours, or let your kids play outside before the buses got home.

Most of the more experienced mamas I knew would say, “all you need is a Bible, math curriculum, a library card, a ton of love, and your child will get a great education.”

We were encouraged to keep things simple. Desks and formal schooling areas weren’t necessary. The all so often socialization fear was met with “your kids are socialized when interacting with the plumber, they’ll be fine.” These hippie homeschool moms assured me that my kids didn’t need to be with 30 other kids their own age all day to become well rounded individuals.

Most of us moms loved Carole Joy Seid, and Charlotte Mason; nature walks and read alouds; interest led schooling on the couch in the morning and Little House On the Prairie in the afternoon. Ah, the good old days of homeschool.

 

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Over the past several years, the culture among us has changed. Influential dominionist homeschool leaders have been called to task and taken out of the arena (hurrah!). New curricula publishers pop up every day. Mommy blogs (like this one) are everywhere. The choices for a homeschool family are overwhelmingly abundant. In our area we have an endless pick of co-ops. Families can choose co-ops for select classes; all required classes; field trips; groups where moms teach kids and encourage one another; groups where moms drop kids for entire days and kids are taught material and assigned homework the rest of the week. On-line schools exist. Special groups for fine arts abound. Phy-Ed classes are provided. Some co-ops provide year books, proms, student council, study hall. A family could easily spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on various classes, groups, and activities.

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I’m not here to judge any family for making choices to participate in any of these groups. Sometimes, it is absolutely the right thing to do for your family. It may be the right thing for my family down the road as well. I’m not picking on you if you’re called to a co-op.

I do want to say however, the hippie homeschooler’s advice is still legitimate. While homeschooling is becoming more and more accepted, we are still constantly asked, “How can you teach every subject?” or “How will your children be properly socialized?” and now the popular, “But, you’re in a co-op, right?” The pressure to give in to other people’s views of schooling can be strong. When I’m asked these questions, I confidently say, “There are plenty of lovely co-ops available. We choose not to participate. We are thriving.”

You CAN homeschool WITHOUT all of the available options today.

It’s still true that your children don’t NEED be socialized by same aged peers. Rich, living books, God’s word, and a math curriculum is still a legitimate education. Starting late, rather than early, is still a legitimate theory in educating. Working hard at keeping your home from becoming “school at home” is still an acceptable value. If you want to stay at home with your kids, and teach them all by yourself, it is OK!

I know you all don’t need my permission. But, maybe you need to hear that other moms are still trying to hang on to the legacy of the families who went before us? I recently walked with a friend through her process of feeling that she SHOULD do a co-op, even though she didn’t want to. God wasn’t calling her and her kids to one in this season of life and it was a relief for her to know she wasn’t alone. No matter how much the culture of homeschool changes, the simple values which started the homeschool movement do remain the same.

10 thoughts on “It’s OK Not to Do a Co-Op Moms, I Promise

  • July 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm
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    A simple – Thank you. ❤

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  • July 12, 2017 at 8:08 pm
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    THANK YOU! I get that question all the time…you belong to a co-op right? We’ve tried a couple and just didn’t fit in. We even tried 4-H and it wasn’t for us. My son has autism and it’s a struggle to fit into a co-op when the other parents are not sure what to do with a child like mine during co-op time. I was always having to be right next to him the whole time to calm their fears of a meltdown (which was not often). We have been co-op free for 3 years after 6 months each at 2 different co-ops. My kids are thriving and even my son is the most social person I know. He thrives on talking to others EVERYWHERE! Thank you for writing this.

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  • July 14, 2017 at 12:59 am
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    Fantastic encouragement. Even though right, my daughter belongs to a homeschool group, our future may change. And if it does, I’ll definitely revisit this posting. Thank you.

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  • July 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm
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    I agree 100%! We will be in a Co-op this year because both of my kids really wanted to join, and that’s okay.
    I personally love the flexibility and freedom of traditional homeschooling, but we will try it out and see how it goes.

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  • July 21, 2017 at 1:40 pm
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    Thank you. I read all the time about having to be in a co-op if you’re a homeschool parent. I just don’t have time for it. I work and my 7-year old participates in a sport that lasts 12 hours a week. I have a do my work schedule around her schedule, so we have something going on Monday-Friday. And the weekend is family time. I’m so glad to finally hear someone say that it’s just not necessary. I’ve only been homeschooling for 2 years, but my kids are thriving, even without a co-op. I was asked to join one with our church, where we kind of pick a subject and teach each other’s kids, and I had to decline. I don’t want someone else to teach my kids. I want to. That’s why I homeschool anyway. I personally didn’t feel the co-op was necessary because we are doing just fine without one, but I’m so glad to finally read other parents validate my thoughts. They may be great for some families, they just won’t work for us!

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  • July 22, 2017 at 1:01 am
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    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!! Thank you so much!

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  • July 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm
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    Thank you! We are new to homeschooling. The homeschoolers I’ve met in our area seem very consumed by the curriculum. I’ve read several blogs that when homeschooling after being in school, you should de-school first and not to buy expensive curriculum that you may hate, don’t recreate school at home, etc. One mom was trying to convince me to join her co-op and was bragging about all the facts they memorize. I immediately cringed inside. I don’t really want my kids to simply know a bunch of facts, I want them to embrace knowledge and a love of learning. I’m starting with free resources I find online and seeing where that gets us. My first goal is to convince my 6th grade son that learning is fun, not just a bunch of facts you need to pass a test.

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  • July 24, 2017 at 11:04 pm
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    Could you explain your reasoning behind this post? I was homeschooled my entire life, exactly in the way you are recommending. We were read to in the mornings, we did our curriculums for math and science, and read book after book. I enjoyed my childhood, and I have good memories. However, as soon as I graduated high school, I started working in retail and going to college. My struggle with anxiety and depression has been horrific; as I have tried to cope with social situations and how different the world was from the sheltered one I experienced for eighteen years. I will never homeschool my kids as a result of my experience. I do believe every child is different, so I’m sure it could work for some families, but BE CAREFUL. Let your kids socialize often, and not just with kids that look just like yours. It’s SO important.

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    • July 25, 2017 at 2:56 am
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      Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry for your experience. It sounds painful. Do you think co-op would have been a good solution for you?
      My kid’s social calendars are full and rarely do I think the kids they see look just like themselves. We do need to learn how to be in the world, don’t we? Thanks for your feedback.

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  • July 26, 2017 at 10:22 pm
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    I felt over-scheduled during my public school years and had trouble managing my own time in college. I think that contributed to depression. I also felt socially awkward all through school (college included) even though I was around tons of other kids from pre-school up.

    When I began homeschooling 6 years ago, homeschooling was a lot less overwhelming that it is today. Now it is all about co-ops and extra-curricular activities. I’m trying to give my kids a well-balanced life. Not over-scheduled, but not isolated, either.

    I’m glad to hear that are still others out there like me who enjoy the freedom of not being attached to any organized group. We still have tons of friends, many who don’t homeschool, and stay active in the community. But I also need my kids to learn how to manage free time spent at home. I am still learning this as an adult. I hope I’m giving them a head start in real life.

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