5 reasons why you shouldn’t join a homeschool co-op

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Welcome to our Back to {Home} School series! Read the entire series here.

Socialization is an issue every homeschooler is asked about. For some odd reason, everyone worries about those poor, unsocialized homeschool kids. And many times, the solution given is to “join a co-op!”

Co-ops can be fabulous… for the right person.

Image of joyful friends having fun on playground outdoors

Five reasons why you shouldn’t join a homeschool co-op

1. You don’t plan on giving your time

Co-ops are set up for team players. By its nature, you are going to have to do something to help. Please don’t join a co-op if you are looking for a group where you can drop off your child and run (unless it’s one of the rare programs where you pay for that privilege). Before you sign up, think of what you can offer the group. Is there a subject you are comfortable teaching to a small group? Can you offer administrative skills? Are you a good hall monitor or can you work in the nursery while other parents teach?

Co-ops are a “participate to play” system. Make sure you are ready to pull your family’s weight when you join.

2. Your week is already too packed

If you are already feeling busy and overwhelmed, a co-op is not going to help you. For me, co-op day is pretty much a “gone” day. Even if it’s only a half-day program, by the time I get all of the kids ready to go (with all their papers and bags and lunches), teach a class, socialize with the other parents when I am not teaching, and get home, I am wiped out. Call it an introvert problem if you will, but I need time to unwind.

3. It doesn’t meet your needs

If you join a co-op, make sure the program is going to meet your needs. Do you need help teaching math? Make sure the program you signed up for is actually teaching math, using a program you like. Don’t join a co-op just because you think you should, and send your child to crafting class when you can totally handle that at home, but need help with math… if you do, you’ll still need help with math and you’ll have significantly less time in the week to teach it.

Sign up for a co-op that is exactly what you need it to be- and nothing less. If you are in it for the social aspect, don’t take on a rigorous, academic co-op that will add to your workload. Join scouts or a sport instead. Don’t join a “just for fun” social co-op if you need academics.

4. You want to control the curriculum

When you join a co-op, and you send your child to class, you have handed over the instruction for that class. The teacher will choose the curriculum and put their own spin on it. Most of the time, you can see the programs the teacher will use up front, but you never can tell the teacher’s particular brand of crazy (unless you already know the teacher well). Granted, there are tons of wonderfully sane people out there, but you need to be ready to explain discrepancies to your child, and deal with whatever comes your way.

 5. You can’t be yourself

This is the biggest one, and this is something I have struggled with. I know you want community. Everyone does. But make sure that you can be yourself in that community. There are inclusive co-ops, there are co-ops for Christian homeschoolers, and Catholic homeschoolers, and Purple People Eater homeschoolers. When you join a group, ask if they have a statement of faith. If you can’t sign it and feel good about it, walk away. Ask what families participate in the program. Ask who is involved, and who is left out. Don’t try and be someone you are not. Don’t hope to change the group. Just find a group where you fit in, just as you are…. or start your own.

Kids on swing

You don’t need a homeschool co-op

You should join a co-op if it fits your academic, social and spiritual needs. You should join a co-op if it is close to home, and a convenient time, and will not interfere with the work of homeschooling your children. You should join a co-op if you fit in comfortably, and you trust the people and curriculum teaching your children.

If you can’t find a co-op that fits you and your family…. that’s okay. You really will be okay without it. If you need help teaching, there are online classes and tutors for just about every grade and subject. You can join community sports, scouting, youth groups, 4H, after school clubs… there are millions of ways to socialize.

Do you participate in Co-Ops? Why or why not?

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  1. Good Article and good points! Homeschooling is enough of a challenge. It helps to be circumspect when choosing a co-op because the commitment is real and the addition of a co-op should be a blessing not a burden.

  2. Those are some great reasons for someone to not join a co-op! Fortunately for me, my co-op is amazing and I couldn’t see myself not being in it! We let the parents decide what curriculums to use that way everyone has a say in how their children are taught.

  3. We started out using a co op in 1st grade for our first child. As time went on and our other 2 children went to co op we noticed we spent alot of time on the co op curriculum and It was rushed. Rushed because they started in August took December off and then ended in March. So 2 years ago the leader of the co op group decided to move the co op to a smaller location and for various reasons safety was an issue. So much so the co op had to start paying for security guards. So we decided to go out on our own and do pure homeschooling. This was the best decision out of all of our decisions during homeschooling. We start in August and go until we are done usually late May. But the kids are more relaxed (maybe because we are). And they are learning so much faster than during the rushed co op days.

  4. Thank you for this article! I hadn’t thought of this particular aspect of the co-op experience and I also thought it was something I really needed to do. You’re right, I’m really looking for help with specific topics and some kind of group or teacher that I can just drop off to.

  5. Thanks for this. I was googling hs co-ops and came across your article. I love your statement ‘you should join a hs co-op if it doesn’t interfere with the work of hsing your children’. More and more I am seeing the trend of putting “homeschooled” kids into full-time 4 day co-ops. It doesn’t seem like homeschooling anymore but co-op schooling. I understand the benefit of the smaller group and more hands on activities-but as a homeschooler I treasure the time with my kids, learning with them. It seems like the word is becoming watered down to not mean that anymore.

  6. Thank you so much for this insight I was feeling after joining a co-op for the first time ahd homescooling for 6 years now I thought we would try it . Kiddos are 15,12 and 2. I took a job as the PE teacher ( big mistake ) what they did not tell me was that they have a board that decides things like when parents aren’t happy for any reason it seems . The statement of faith for this co-op is a joke ! They do not live that way at all I have only been treated with disrespect and treated like the hired help since starting . Beware if you join and think taking a paid position is a good idea ! This Co-op was a nightmare at least for me ( a parent / homeschooler ).

    1. Thanks I was about to join one and same thing was starting to happen so I told them I didn’t wish to continue. They were acting worse then a job I get paid doing.

  7. This was the most helpful and balanced article I have found on this subject after about 2 hours of reading and searching on youtube.
    Michelle gold
    Gospel singer and homeschool mom

  8. I have been part of a coop but everything feels wrong initially. But a year after of praying and adjusting, i finally find the rhythm and acknowledge the fact that it can work if i let it. Im an introvert mom so it was hard for me. But now, i am so thankful because i did went out of my shell and gave it a try. The coop is like a family to us now.

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. We used to be apart of a homeschool program that we loved but we had to move and I’ve been unable to find one where I feel comfortable with it . Your words of wisdom seriously put this pregnant Momma’s mind and heart at ease.

  10. I’m so glad I found this article. We joined a co- op 30 to 40 minutes away and, aside from the fact that I have to drag all my kids out of bed before sunrise to make it, it just doesn’t feel like a good fit. Sure, the people are nice but I just don’t feel like we’re in the right place, mostly do to a difference in beliefs.

  11. I totally argee. My homeschool group we don’t do a lot of co op teaching at the moment the group is growing. What we mostly do is the extra things like we went to a fish hatchery, we also just had a thing at my local library where someone came in and talked about how deal with missing persons and when someone is found dead. Some of the kids loved it and others not so much. One parent is doing an art class. They mostly do learning activities some are social. My town, mostly the churches, have activities going on for all kids in the afternoons which I’m so thankful for that. Some of the kids really need that.

  12. We can’t find a co-op that doesn’t require a statement of faith within reasonable commuting distance from us, so we don’t co-op. Plus I already feel rushed to get things done every week. Thank you for this post because it is nice to know that we are not the only ones who are not in a co-op.

  13. This is our first year homeschooling but we looked at the various coops in our area. We have found one that we like a lot. They offer both academics and enrichment classes. My son has loved it . We are so thankful we found a great group.

  14. No co-op for us. Partly because we cannot afford it right now. Partly because I honestly am not comfortable teaching a class to other people’s kids and I wouldn’t be much help in the nursery since my 4 month old wants to nurse a lot still. I’m hoping, when the kids are all a little older, we’ll be able to join one or get them involved in some extracurricular activities. Right now, though, the social aspect is handled through play dates, play groups, and going to the playground and pool. 🙂 My oldest is only 7 so she is perfectly content with that and she is still a social butterfly. 🙂

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