View Full Version : An...um..."Different" kind of co-op...

05-11-2012, 12:41 PM
Hey all! I don't post much if you don't know I'm a wife and homeschooling mom of 6. We're pretty relaxed in our approach but not unschoolers.

Okay so I want the opinion of real homeschoolers. A woman here started a homeschool co-op with about 5 moms who said they wanted to homeschool. So each mom gets all the kids 1 day a week. So 4 days out of the week you get a "break" from your kids. Only 2 of the moms actually homeschooled before this co-op started. The rest were afraid to homeschool unless they had support. Which I understand. But, they also homeschool a few other moms children who have to work. I was asked if I was interested and I declined because it still seems pretty schooly to me. They've made up there own curriculum and everything. I do think it's nice that they all work together like that, but all the mom's call themselves homeschools moms, even the ones who work and don't help with co-op. It last from about 10a.m to 4p.m. daily. Also none of them have researched homeschooling. Not one of them knows about all the methods of homeschooling, different curriculums, homeschool conferences, nada.
Anyway, do you all consider this homeschooling?

05-11-2012, 01:10 PM
I'd be personally more inclined to think of this as "home" school if the kids weren't being "outsourced" so many days per week. One day out and four in would make more sense to me than the other way around. The way they have it, you'd only have your own kid one day per week, and you couldn't even focus on them because you'd have the entire group to deal with. That would defeat a lot of why I homeschool, so it definitely wouldn't be my cup of tea. I can see where the idea would appeal to some, though.

Also, I'd be leery of handing that much of my kid's education to women with such limited homeschooling background. Then again, my kid has LDs that require special attention. Maybe if she was more independent and doing great, I'd be happier to see her gone so much of the time. Hmm. Wait. No, not even then.

05-11-2012, 01:35 PM
It sounds like school out of a classroom for sure, but not like homeschooling to me. I wonder if it's all legal, actually? I guess if it works for them, great, but it sounds a little like a charter school without the charter. Interesting that they identify with calling themselves homeschoolers, and yet take no interest in what homeschooling is all about.

05-11-2012, 01:39 PM
I'm also wondering if its legal. Its sounds more like a cooperative day school run by people who dont know anything about teaching. what is this curriculum they are 'making'? What is the age range of the kids? it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, to me lol

05-11-2012, 02:11 PM
Well the woman who stared the co-op has actually taught in the school system before. Another woman who designed the curriculum has her Masters in something related to education. So I know some of them have degrees and know a thing or two about teaching, but nothing about actual homeschooling.

Legally speaking, I know that if a person has a bachelor's degree that person can homeschool another person's child. For those who don't then legally you can't homeschool another person's child. It seems though as if the women who work and don't teach anyone would get into more trouble than the so called homeschooled moms who just decided to share teaching responsibilities.

One of the reasons we homeschool is to be together. Not that I don't want to get away sometimes, but I love being the most influentual person in my children's life. I'm glad I get to be the one to see them go through all their different phases and learning their different needs as it relates to education.

If it were legal, would any of you be interested in a "homeschool co-op" like this one?

Oh yeah, the ages of the children are 4 and up, maybe 3.

05-11-2012, 02:12 PM
It definitely doesn't sound like my way of homeschooling...but I can't just dismiss it all together. We all..well...I started out knowing absolutely nothing about homeschooling, styles, curriculum..whathaveyou...but I still was a homeschooling mom. I work a lot of hours a week and I'm still a homeschooling mom.

It sounds like they have a set up that works for them at the moment. I highly doubt they are doing this without researching as they go along-who knows what their co-op will look like 6 months to a year down the road.

Now the legalities of it-I'm not really sure about...I only know my state's laws and it is definitely not legal here. We have to be the primary facilitators in Florida.

So...to answer the real question? No-it doesn't sound like homeschooling...but it also doesn't sound like public school. I guess it sounds like charter school but to be honest I only have a vague understanding of charter schools.

I guess what my wishy-washy post is trying to say is...I hope that they are able to evolve from this almost school-like atmosphere-and that I see the potential there. And maybe they could benefit from a little bit of advice from a veteran? Not saying that you should join the group but....invite one of them to a conference or maybe just over for the day to see how the other half lives?

05-11-2012, 02:27 PM
Hey Marmalade, I know that a woman can work and still be a homeschooling mom. I'm saying that you can't work and have someone else teaching your kids and you're calling yourself a homeschooling mom. I guess one could say my kids are homeschooled by (whomever), but not, "I homeschool my kids."

And it's true, they really haven't researched homeschooling. But they do all believe their children would learn best outside of school. I've tried to talk to some, but since we're so relaxed in our approach, they can't understand how children can learn without doing school work for at least 5hrs. a day, and have very set schedules. I just love freedom! But, I have given the woman who started it quite a few ideas based on what we've tried and she introduced it to the group. I mean things like educational resources.
I don't think it's a horrible idea, I just don't think it's actually homeschooling.

05-11-2012, 02:59 PM
Hey Marmalade, I know that a woman can work and still be a homeschooling mom. I'm saying that you can't work and have someone else teaching your kids and you're calling yourself a homeschooling mom. I guess one could say my kids are homeschooled by (whomever), but not, "I homeschool my kids."

Very good point. That's not how I read your original post but I see that's how you mean it. You are right-they really can't say that they homeschool their kids when they absolutely don't.

05-11-2012, 03:14 PM
Well.. that's weird.

I guess I wouldn't be interested at ALL. Sure, the day to day grind of homeschooling can be.. well, grinding. But that's WHY I do it. I'm intimately involved in the curriculum. I know what my kids are learning, I know what they struggle with. I'm here to cheerlead when they need it, push when they need it, and to rein it back when they need it. The relationship we have built over homeschooling (including my stupid jokes that they laugh at and then pretend aren't funny ;) ) are so much a part of this whole adventure.

idk.. I can't see outsourcing the education of my kids at this point- if I really wanted to, I wouldn't have pulled them out in the first place. I don't want to judge anyone's options here.. maybe it'll work great. But those 'homeschooling' moms are really missing out.

05-11-2012, 03:20 PM
"If it were legal, would any of you be interested in a "homeschool co-op" like this one?" No.

I don't do co-ops.
1. They are rarely to the academic standard that we have in our homeschool.
2. Meeting my kids (individually) where they are is the reason we homeschool. Not just so I can put them in another group.
3. Waste of time when ds could be doing a project of his own design/interest area or playing with his friends.

Naming just a few reasons...


05-11-2012, 03:29 PM
My kids needed to not be in a school setting with other kids and other pols expectations. I really think its more of an alternative school and they are trying to get around the law by calling it homeschooling. Otoh, you don't legally need to be I school until you are 5, so it's no biggie for the little ones . . . IMO

05-11-2012, 04:30 PM
It's different, but it doesn't bother me a bit. In some states, it would be a problem, but in most it should be fine. The key legal requirement for homeschooling is usually that you yourself are overseeing it. You could argue that these parents are, even if they're not doing the on the ground teaching every day.

As it is, I wouldn't do it. However, if my life circumstance was different and I had to work or work part time, then I could see myself actually being interested in that if I knew and trusted the other moms. It reminds me of the free schools of the 60's or maybe a little of a one room schoolhouse, which is an education model that actually interests me greatly. I'll bet John Holt would have kinda liked it.

I don't find it overly troublesome that they haven't researched homeschooling methods. You don't have to be able to talk fluently about Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, The Well-Trained Mind, and conceptual vs. algorithmic math in order to really care about education or teach well. Speaking as someone coming from a professional education background, I can say that none of the educational debates or influential thinkers past and present in the homeschooling movement are especially well-known in mainstream educational thinking. I think if you're coming from that paradigm and are rejecting it completely, there's a sense that you have to either go all the way back to John Dewey and the roots of progressive education or simply start anew. It wasn't until I came to homeschooling that I really got the variety of educational thought out there or how incredibly useful curricula can be. "Curricula" in most b&m schools is a complete waste of paper (among other things). I would say that they are likely wasting time reinventing the wheel, but sometimes you learn a lot doing that and it will keep education process oriented. It certainly worked for me for many years. ;)

The way you describe it, I admit it does seem potentially... well... half-a**ed. And there are very few groups of people I know who I think could make this work. But I'm not there and I can imagine it could actually be a very worthwhile way to homeschool for some people.

05-11-2012, 04:31 PM
If it were legal, would any of you be interested in a "homeschool co-op" like this one?

Oh yeah, the ages of the children are 4 and up, maybe 3.

No, I would not be interested in something like this. One reason why I homeschool my kids is because I can have control over the curriculum and make it individualized for each one of them. My children get an education that is custom designed for them. I can't see a way that a co-op like this one would be able to do that. My kids have participated in co-ops for additional learning, and I teach a writing class for homeschoolers. The co-ops are not their main academics; it's extra and lasts maybe an hour or two a week.

05-11-2012, 04:55 PM
opheliag, yeah I thought that's what a homeschool co-op was, something in addition to what you're already doing with your children. I've read about them but I've never been a member of one. Do people drop their children off at some homeschool co-ops? A few require that you stay the duration of the class. I know different parents do volunteer to teach a subject of their interest.

05-11-2012, 06:13 PM
NO. IMO the main benefit of homeschooling is that since I teach my own child, I know what is going on, what is a problem, what he needs extra help on, etc. If someone else is doing the teaching 4 days a week, and the one day per week that I do it, I also have a bunch of extra kids....no child is going to get focused 1:1 attention from a parent/teacher who works with him/her daily and can adjust everything to that child's individual needs.

Stella M
05-11-2012, 06:18 PM
No way.

Why would I hand over my child's education to some other mama ?

I see potential for many problems with this down the road.

I've been in a 'teaching' co-op before and it was hopeless. Pulls kids down to the lowest common denominator.

I'd choose school over this.

05-11-2012, 06:37 PM
No, I wouldn't get involved in something like this. I see too many potential problems.
It seems that you would lose the flow of learning from one day to the next that happens naturally when you hs. The days would feel disjointed.
The moms would have to be constantly communicating with each other about who is going to teach what and when. The planning logistics alone are mind-boggling to me.
Besides, I want to see my kids everday.

05-11-2012, 06:54 PM
Yeah, I want to see my kids everyday too. The woman who started it is big on getting breaks.

05-11-2012, 07:02 PM
Breaks? Why is she *homeschooling*?
Her attitude reminds me of some of my friends whose kids are in public school. They dread summer vacation and every school break, and can't wait for school to resume in the fall.
They are the ones who think I'm crazy for wanting to hs. :D

05-11-2012, 07:16 PM
thats why i said its more of a cooperative school. they dont want to teach their own kids, they just dont want their kids in the local schools

05-11-2012, 07:40 PM
I have to say, homeschoolers scorning the need for a break from your kids is one of my pet homeschooler peeves. I need breaks from my kids. I happily drop them off at co-op and classes and thank goodness I have those things. I gladly close and lock the door to them during the day sometimes. I guess the assumption that people homeschool because they love spending all day with their kids is just something that rings really false to me, personally. I'm glad I do get to spend so much time with them, but I actually want other people to have a hand in their education.

Like I said, this isn't something I'd do right now - I much prefer the way we have it... but it seems like some people here are kind of looking down their noses at it and I don't get why at all.

Stella M
05-11-2012, 07:46 PM
I get breaks from my kids without handing their basic education over to a bunch of other mom's though. Dance, their Dad, friends, relations...and now as they get older, community classes and work. I find I don't need 4 days break every week though. And it isn't because we're rich and privileged and "don't need to work.'

I am cynical about this particular co-op idea. For me. It would only come close to working for me if I trusted the other moms 100% ANd we were on the same page regarding educational approaches, parenting apporaches, academic expectations....and how likely is that ?

At least with school - MY short and personal experience with school - there is a level of accountability I would have a snowball's chance in hell of getting with a group of h/s mom's.

You know, the OP's friends should set up a school - sure - but why bother calling it homeschooling ? Or wanting to call it that ?

Call it private education and check that it's legal.

My kids get plenty of 'other' educational input without handing it over like that.

05-11-2012, 08:02 PM
Coming from working in a private school... I have to say, there's not really any accountability here. I mean, it's an institution, so you could more easily sue it if things went totally awry. And the longer the institution has been around, and the more money and history they have, then there's more trust there... but it's just a group of people teaching.

Getting licensed to operate as a school is onerous. But there are plenty of co-ops here that don't have to do that - and some of them are practically schools too, they just exist under the auspices of churches, mostly.

I'm also dubious that this would work very well without a group of moms that I completely trusted, but I don't feel judgmental towards it... they've just chosen a different educational path and I respect that - the same as I want people who don't "get" my homeschooling to respect it.

Stella M
05-11-2012, 08:11 PM
Well, I got lucky because at my daughter's school there is an awesome principal and she makes sure the school does remain accountable to parents. And it's been a far more constructive relationship than any I've had with homeschool 'group leaders'.

I guess I'm old fashioned, but I do respect parents who put the time in on homeschooling. As in, do the teaching.

I don't disrespect full-time outsourcers - I'm now one of them! - but I do have a particular kind of respect for people who take on the responsibility - if not 100% - something close to.

And you know, if it works for those moms to have 4 days off a week, good luck to them, but I don't have to think equally highly of it.

Stella M
05-11-2012, 08:21 PM
Unless they were a group of single moms banding together to try to make an alternative education possible for their kids or something. But the OP didn't make it sound that way.

05-11-2012, 08:28 PM
I don't scorn the need for homeschoolers to need a break. Of course we all need breaks from our kids! But wanting a four-day-a-week break is something else altogether.

05-11-2012, 08:33 PM
A cooperative school sounds about right. I guess if it's under the "homeschool" title no one is going to look into it.

@farrarwilliams-I was wondering if you all would call this homeschooling. I wasn't saying it was the worst idea in the world. And yes lots people like breaks. People can get breaks and still hs their own children. I know of lots of sahm who send their kids to school because they say they want a break. If someone wants a daily break from their kids for 6+ hrs. then homeschooling isn't the way to go.

05-11-2012, 08:44 PM
opheliag, yeah I thought that's what a homeschool co-op was, something in addition to what you're already doing with your children. I've read about them but I've never been a member of one. Do people drop their children off at some homeschool co-ops? A few require that you stay the duration of the class. I know different parents do volunteer to teach a subject of their interest.

Different co-ops are run different ways. Some require moms to stay and help in some way, maybe teach a class or watch younger siblings. Some are more drop off type things but are usually just one day. My oldest son attended one that was art, science and a flight class. I stayed and helped with the younger siblings while the mom taught the science and flight classes. Some of the other moms stayed too to help with the class. Other moms just dropped off and left. For the writing classes that I teach, there really isn't anything for the moms to do, so they will often sit in another room and chat or just leave and run errands. The younger siblings play upstairs really well together which helps. This is the only co-op I've been involved with, and it took me a while to get in a groove with it. The other moms have similar educational styles to mine, and everyone is very respectful of each other.

05-11-2012, 10:06 PM
A "break" is a few hours here and there. This coop is offering what amounts to more than a half-time reprieve. Those who need 6 hours a day, four days a week away from the kids may not be in the ideal mental zone for homeschooling their child--in which case, I can see the allure of this co-op idea.

I personally don't judge folks who need a lot of "me" time, but on the flip side, I'm tired of being judged because I don't dump my kid off at every opportunity. I often get wide-eyed looks because people can't fathom why I'd want to hang around my own child. It's a sad commentary, really.

05-11-2012, 10:34 PM
I can see a group like that soon having the same problems that the schools have--teaching to the middle, so the lower and higher level students are lost, or teaching to the lowest, so the middle and higher level students are bored and getting into things. With that much change day to day, there would be little consistancy in dicipline or even rules, which could lead to all sorts of problems. And after what I have been through this year before I pulled my daughter out, I am really frightened about the potential for bullying because of the lack of consistancy in adult presence.

Saying all that, my neighbor is pulling her daughter and homeschooling next year--she has had a bad year with the same bad teachers I pulled my daughter away from. We are planning on doing some lessons together, and planning on teaching each others child while the adults go to Dr appointments and things like that. We are also talking about once ever couple weeks giving each other a "Mom's Day Off" and keep the other child overnight, school them the next day, and send them home in time for dinner. Knowing both of our girls, they are going to be more focused and more motivated when they have each other to work with.

05-12-2012, 03:24 AM
I wouldn't do it. It sounds like an alternative school, and there is a reason why my kids aren't at school.

If it was homeschooling with one or even two days of the week where they did something like this, that would be fine, but otherwise, you only teach your own child one day a week, and the rest of the time they are being schooled by someone else. This isn't really homeschooling per se, but an alternative school.

Part of why I homeschool is to give my children a personally-tailored education, which any setting with more than a few kids will be less able to. Also I just enjoy being involved with my children's lives. If you said to me that instead of normal school, there was an alternative where 4 days a week my kids went to school in a small class at another parent's house, and one day a week I taught them all, I would decline. Because that's what this is, from the parent's persepctive. 4 days a week school, and 1 day a week semi-homeschool.

That said, I can see this working for a lot of people. I know of people who homeschool purely because of problems which are specific to public schools, so a setting like this would suit them fine. However, it isn't actually homeschooling because the parent isn't involved in the majority (or even half) of the teaching.

The fact that they don't know a lot of homeschooling theory doesn't bother me. A lot of people also don't when they start homeschooling. And much of the theory would be irrelevant because the setting is much more similar to school than homeschooling anyway. But as others have said, it would be interesting to see how this evolves over the next year or so.

05-12-2012, 09:58 AM
I predict that they'll probably end up getting a building and having all their classes there everyday. You know a "school" building. If so, I wonder if they'll still call themselves homeschoolers...

I have learned on my homeschooling journey that people come into homeschooling for different reasons. I absolutely love the freedom of homeschooling. I love making my own schedule and doing what's best for my family based on us and not on someone elses rules or standards. I also love homeschooling for the same reasons you all have mentioned in this thread. I know some people may just want their kids home with them so an on-line school would work for them. And still others are just not satisfied with the school's curriculum so an option like this co-op works for them. And some families homeschool 1 child and the other goes to school.

To answer someone's question, No, they're not a group of single moms banding together. Some are married, some not. They pretty much are women who wanted to homeschool but were afraid to go it alone and didn't know where to start. Questions about socalization, what do I teach, etc. all get taken care of with this co-op. So it's not so much pressure and there's lots of support. I get it. This co-op provides a comfortable school like set up that everyone is familiar with. You know I guess it's kinda like the families who start out doing a strict school at home method because thats all they know. I know that works for some people, and I also know people tend to lighten up a bit as time goes on. But in my opinion, if I were to do the co-op, I may as well put my children in school. I see no difference except a different classroom and teacher everyday. There's still a set curriculum, set times, lots of children, oh and did I mention fees to pay?

The reason it was weird to me that no one had researched homeschooling is because when my daughter was 4 (now 11) I read every book I could on homeschooling. I absorbed myself with information because this is what I wanted to do. I just figured all parents who opted to homeschool started out the same way. But thanks to some of you, I now know that isn't true.

Everything I've posted comes from a sincere place. Nothing that I've said is meant to offend anyone. I'm interested in peaceful on-line communications. I guess that was a disclaimer...lol!

05-12-2012, 11:25 AM
From what you describe it sound like they are merely setting up an alternative private school or daycare with a different parent teaching/supervising each day.
If it works for them as an alternative to putting their kids in a traditional school then that is awesome! I think there could be very good things about it vs. traditional school. I wouldn't call it homeschooling though- especially for the parents who don't teach at all.

I wouldn't participate. It doesn't interest me to drop my dd off with someone else for 4 days a week for 6 hours. It doesn't interest me to supervise/teach a room full of other people's kids for 6 hours 1 day a week either. I like working one on one with dd. I like that our curriculum is individually chosen and flexible.

05-12-2012, 03:27 PM
there is a drop-off type coop near me (well, within a half hour drive, anyways), but you pay by the class, so your kids are only there when their classes meet. there is, or at least was, a nearly-full-time high school program there. I'm pretty sure this was started by a mom who wanted more kids around her son, and over time it grew to the point where most of the classes are taught by licensed teachers. It works for a lot of ppl and really, if it goes that way, i'm sure a lot of ppl will be happy about it. The ppl i know (well, none that i know well) who use this 'coop' feel great about the education their kids get and about the individualized attention of a smaller class, and the kids have a very tight social group. Its definitely a successful venture that adds to the community.

on a different note - can you imagine having 10-20 kids in your house to teach, one day a week? thats what really baffles me. The one coop i tried to help start (failed due to personality issues, imo), the moms were splitting the kids up in to 2 groups by age and team-teaching. But the founder made it clear she did NOT want any kids 'dropped off'.

i keep thinking of a few limited coop type things I want to do but havent gotten up the nerve - i want to do some math get-togethers based on these free downloads (http://actuarialfoundation.org/programs/youth/math_academy.shtml)and a teen writing coop based on this (very not free) game-based writing curriculum (http://www.creative-writing-solutions.com/fun-creative-writing-activities.html)

Stella M
05-12-2012, 06:05 PM

I don't know. Co-operative means to me exactly that...parents co-operating together to provide a group experience, not paying a teacher to do it for them 4 days a week! For a class or workshop, sure...but the majority of the week ?!

I don't really care what people set up - alternative schools - awesome! - but it's not home education.

And that is the only thing that bugs. Just call it what it is and don't use 'homeschooling' to get out of the hoops you need to jump to set up an alternative school, especially if someone is making a profit out of it. If you are paying someone else to educate your child it's called private school.

I'm sorry to sound cynical but it really does sound as if someone - the teacher ? - sees a money making opportunity that relies on the insecurity of new-to-homeschooling parents.

05-12-2012, 06:31 PM
It sounds like they like the title of 'homeschoolers' but not the responsibility.
It would be cool if every Friday one mom or two together could watch all of the kids so each mother had a Friday break except during their turn. I would be down for that. We homeschool and have no family around to give us a break. But, after having some of the homecshooled families at our house and seeing home crazy and misbehaved most of them are I wouldn't want my kids around that.

05-13-2012, 06:20 PM

So right now, my youngest is in a cooperative preschool 3 mornings a week. In the 70s, they started out where each parent took one day a month to be the teacher. And another day a month to be the assistant teacher I believe. Roughly 12 kids, 12 days a month, you teach for 2 of them; and 10 days that you drop them off instead. Now they've slowly moved to having a paid teacher and assistant teacher; and each parent does one day a month as the "parent of the day," helping out in the classroom. The teacher sets the curriculum now, but there's input from parents, more in some years, less in others, via monthly coop meetings. Everything else is run by parents--admissions, registration, tuition/accounting, cleaning, buying supplies, pet care... I really do like this structure, but I wouldn't consider it homeschooling.

My older child is homeschooling, and she attends a "homeschool supplement class" one day a week, 30 days per year. It is full day, drop off, and I have no input into the curriculum, nor responsibilities toward the school or class, and the rest of the school is a full time private school. I do actually like it, and am trying to drum up enough interest to turn it into a two day a week program instead of one. I'm still homeschooling, both legally (here you can do anything you like as long as 51% or more of your counted homeschool hours are taught by parents), and morally IMO, because the supplement is more extracurricular-focused with music, physical activity, foreign language, art... and we do so much learning outside of that supplemental class. Two days/week would make it 60 days out of 180 required "school days" per year. And realistically, we always far surpass that 180 days anyway.

My younger child next year will be attending what we are calling a "cottage school" modeled on the RAD School (http://www.radschool.org/), again part time. It will be less than 49% of his school hours (and he'll be too young for me to submit homeschool paperwork anyway). I'll have more input into curriculum and what's being taught there, than in either of the other two situations. I could stick around, but I'll probably drop off most of the time and just stick around 1-2 times a month. If it were 4-5 days/week, though, I don't think I'd consider us to be homeschoolers. I like the "cottage school" or "one-room schoolhouse" concept for this kind of thing.

For me, it has several benefits, the biggest of which is them learning and playing creatively with other kids while I'm working, rather than hanging out with a nanny/sitter during those times. Less formal situations are much more energy-intensive in my experience, setting up playdates or park days or field trips.

I could see working moms using a group situation essentially as daycare, even if they do learning activities there, and doing their "real curriculum" separately when the parents are home/weekends/evenings.