As a parent who is wanting to home school the socialization question is quick to pop up. I’m sure by now if you’ve chosen to home school your children some well intentioned person has said, “What about socialization?” My response is usually something similiar to laughing hysterically as I look at my calender crammed full of activity and gatherings (not always homeschool gatherings). Socialization!? Please! Follow me around for a week and that will not be an issue with you anymore.
In the beginning I was all for homeschool co-ops and still am now. Over the years I have gathered experience about what works and what doesn’t in a co-op and for my schedule. As far as your schedule is concerned I would caution you to not jump in with both feet and offer to teach more than one class. As a matter of fact I would suggest that you attend the first year/semester to get a feel for it before volunteering. I can not stress this enough especially if you are a new home schooling parent. Remember you’ll be preparing all your childrens material and then the material for your co-op class once a week or so. The first year of home schooling is like riding a bike with training wheels. One class can dominate your home school week placing a lot of strain on you.
Teaching others is a wonderful gift for all involved if the class is well behaved. I enjoyed teaching the classes tremendously and in the process discovered that I have natural born teaching tendencies. In a group of people, however, discipline is always an issue. When you look for a co-op make sure that they have good policies in place. A co-op with good policies will run smoothly and be a joy to all. What are some good policies? Policies that I would look for in a co-op would be a clear statement of what their goal is as a group, fair discipline issues established for students and teachers alike, a statement of faith if you are looking for one to be in agreement with your faith, and attendance requirements. Even loose establishments that just meet for play time need to have some simple policies to prevent hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
If you are homeschooling for religious reasons one of the biggest assumptions that I made was that everyone was homeschooling for the same reasons. Do not assume that everyone feels the same way as you. Be a careful guardian, fully ascertaining the atmosphere of your co-op. Attending a few times before deciding to join may be wise and most co-ops will have no problem with you doing so.
Co-op groups can certainly be a blessing to all involved, yet we need to remember that as home schoolers we are not without faults. This article is intended to be wise advice and not at all a discouragement from finding a co-op. When I started I wasn’t ready for issues that cropped up and it side-lined me for a while. Now that the dust has cleared I know what to expect and also more of what I’m looking for when it comes to a homeschool co-op.