View Full Version : Co-op issues

03-28-2011, 02:49 AM
Fiveish years ago I helped start our local co-op and as the years have gone on, we've worked pretty hard to make it grow and mold it into something workable for all of us. Co-op was important to me mostly for social reasons but l also liked that we were able to get some core subjects in.
This past fall we added some new members with younger kids and suddenly, much to my dismay, my family decided that we'd take this year off co-op. My odd is the oldest kid and between weekly park days and girl scout meetings on Friday mornings, I couldn't "lose" Mondays as far ad schoolwork goes, if you know what I mean.
My ydd really needs the social interaction though so my plan was to go back next fall. They've begun talking about what next years subject will be and it looks like they're looking at Art and Art History. While this subject is fine it's not what I'm looking for, as far as a co-op activity. However, I don't really feel like I have a say in it since I didn't participate this past year and am possibly still carrying some butthurt feelers over the whole thing. Should I push the subject? I really want to do it but Art history isn't going to work for me at all. I don't want to be pushy, though.

Stella M
03-28-2011, 03:14 AM
Could you just be polite and upfront:
"We're so glad we're able to make it to co-op this year. Dd is really looking forward to the social time. I see you've been thinking of doing art history - I was wondering what everyone might think about doing x ?" It might help if you're happy to teach whatever x is :)

Of course, they may be offended anyway, no matter how polite you are. Sounds like your only other choice is to go 'just' for the social aspect and not worry too much about what the subject is. Or start a new co-op!

Well, I hope someone else suggests something more helpful...I have a love/hate r'ship with co-ops.

Oh, could your younger dd join in for the art and social time and you do some work with your other dd that morning in a quiet corner somewhere ? Or would you need to be hands-on with your younger ? it's tricky juggling the needs of older/younger, isn't it ?

03-28-2011, 07:58 AM
Yeah, I would just tell them much as you've said to us... you've been involved in the past and would really like to be involved again - you understand that they've started making their plans and you weren't there to help plan, don't want to put down the work they've done, etc. BUT the subjects for next year just aren't really for you and your family and is there a possibility of adding, changing, etc. I think as long as you're respectful that *they* clearly think it's a great subject for a co-op and aren't trying to be manipulative, then it's fine to put your opinion and arguments out there with the understanding that maybe it will change their minds and maybe not. And then you just have to decide whether it's worth it to go for the community if the subject is one you don't think it worth the time.

03-28-2011, 09:30 AM
Let me play devil's advocate here. I have been the head of our co-op for the last four years because no one else will step up when "elections" roll around every year. This past fall, we changed from having classes that were really random and not connected to having a "theme" and vertically aligning our classes. Last fall, it was Renaissance and this semester it is America.
It has been a lot of fun and almost everyone is completely positive about the change. The kids love going from one class to the next and have it all be connected in some way. The parents love that the kids are connecting dots that were not there in the past.
I can always count on the fact though, that as soon as we meet multiple times, invite everyone to join us and finally come out with a schedule that there will be a couple of people who will have something negative to say. "Why do we have to have a theme, anyway?" "I don't like the offerings for my child." or whatever.

My suggestion would be to offer to get in on the planning for next fall as soon as possible. It is still early in the planning stages and if you offer to help plan and then offer to teach a class, then you are much more likely to get the changes you want.

All that said, I think that Art History is a great offering, personally. You could use it at home to expand on the history (whether that is World, European, American, etc.). Art and Art History are always offerings at our co-op.

My view of co-op is that it is a social opportunity, a chance to take classes that probably would not be offered at home and a chance to take "fluff" stuff. So, my view is very different than yours. By making all of our offerings around a theme, though, we have turned our fluff classes into a viable course. For example, the kids this semester are taking things like American Tall Tales, Icons and Images, American Cooking, American Technology, American Dance, Guitar and American Wars.

03-28-2011, 09:42 AM
So there is only one class offered for the whole group? The co-op we are involved in offers dozens of choices covering all or most of the subjects, I thought that's how they all were. If you feel up to it, maybe offer to teach a class of your choice. Or like someone else pointed out, take your youngest for the social interaction. Maybe she'll like Art History?

03-28-2011, 05:15 PM
Jeni, "co-op" in the homeschool world can mean anything from a three or four families who get together in each other's homes to share teaching once a week for free to huge organizations with hundreds of kids, a permanent location, dozens of classes and a hefty fee. And everything in between.

Teri, I totally agree with you. Not sure why art history isn't a good offering, but we also see our co-ops as primarily a social opportunity. Of course, with a really good group, it's more than just some mere "social" opportunity, it's a community that supports you and your kids in a million little ways. But I know that just like there are a lot of different kinds of co-ops, there's also a lot of different ways that people view them - for many people, it's a way to have a sort of school for a subject and take it off the plate of the homeschooling parent.

Stella M
03-28-2011, 05:29 PM
Maybe you could cherry pick the moms and just invite the nicest ones with littlies similar ages to yours over for playdates and just skip the co-op altogether ?

03-28-2011, 06:16 PM
Jeni, "co-op" in the homeschool world can mean anything from a three or four families who get together in each other's homes to share teaching once a week for free to huge organizations with hundreds of kids, a permanent location, dozens of classes and a hefty fee. And everything in between.

Yep, we're the second option there. And the hefty fee is the number one reason we only do one semester a year.

03-28-2011, 07:32 PM
Would it be okay (or within co-op rules) for you to organize a class you are interested in? The co-op we belong to has new classes starting all the time when parents decide they want to start a class covering a certain topic but I know not all co-ops are this relaxed.

03-28-2011, 07:40 PM
Yep, we're the second option there. And the hefty fee is the number one reason we only do one semester a year.

And we only do the first option. But then you've got to have really good people. There are a couple of in-between co-ops that I know of around here - modest fee, rented space, a few dozen families and I would consider doing that. I wouldn't consider doing the big, oversized sort - at least not until high school, when it's possible that we might want to take advantage of things like pre-calc classes or something like that. But that's just me. I'm glad they exist for the people who do want them.

03-28-2011, 11:31 PM
I helped organize this past years co-op, and was psyched to do it. Unfortunately, scheduling didn't work out for me, so I wasn't able to do it, but I did help come up with the theme, schedule and materials.
Our co-op is set up so that there is an "older kid" group---who are learning a particular theme, and a "little kid" group who are doing preschoolish activities. It's not several classes going on at once, and several years ago, we decided a theme for the older kids was necessary. Under my previous circumstances, I did expect it to just be fluff, however, my schedule being what it is, I can't afford to lose another day to "fluff". I am aware this is not their problem, however, most of them have the same scheduling issues. Several of them have also said they need that time to be something that is "core" rather than "fluff" but there are several newcomers who are louder and have somehow gained a big say in what goes on.
I don't think there is anything wrong with Art History per se. It's just that at a sixth grade level, I have other things that take more of a priority in our learning time. It's not something I can devote an entire day to.
I do see what you are saying, though. It's hard with such a range in ages, to do what works for both of them.
Thanks for the input :)

03-29-2011, 11:08 AM
If your co-op works in a way where you can leave or be uninvolved during the actual co-op (or can have a co-op job that doesn't mean that you're supervising during - such as a clean up after job or something) could you enroll your ydd and use that time for schooling for your odd? You could find a quiet unused space or go down the street to a coffeeshop with her to do math or something. Or not. Just throwing out a thought...