Are you a part of a homeschool co-op and it just doesn’t feel right? Do you come back from it every week exhausted, disappointed, and wondering if you should try something else?
Even if it seems like joining a homeschool co-op is the “thing to do,” you don’t have to be a part of one! Flexibility and uniqueness define homeschooling and if a co-op doesn’t fit into your family’s equation, you haven’t failed as a homeschool parent.
We’ve talked about the benefits of joining a homeschool co-op. But there are just as many reasons why a homeschool co-op may not be right for your family:
- A busy schedule – Co-op can be another event to add to an already full calendar. If your family is going in a million different directions, co-op just adds more. Joining up or continuing with it may lead you down the bumpy road towards burnout, and nobody wants to go there.
- It doesn’t fit with your homeschooling style – Your family homeschools in its own unique way and if you’re going to a homeschool co-op that doesn’t match that style, don’t try to conform. Homeschooling is all about pursuing what works best for you, not what everyone else is doing.
- Your children are struggling to fit in – Homeschoolers are a diverse group of people who come from different backgrounds and places. If you are a part of a co-op or join one and see your kids struggling to make friends, it may not be right for you. On the other hand, sometimes the best relationships happen when you allow yourself to bridge the gap between different mindsets and backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to introduce your family to different situations; just keep a watchful eye and determine whether your kids are thriving or struggling in those situations.
- Peer pressure – Being in a homeschool co-op allows you to cross paths with lots of other homeschoolers. This can put a lot of pressure on you to “keep up with the Joneses.” But you’re homeschooling in your own unique way, and something that worked for someone else may not work for you. If you feel yourself being pressured in an unhealthy way to make choices that don’t seem right for your children, maybe go a different route.
- You want to get away from school – If you started homeschooling to get away from everything remotely like public school, a traditional co-op may not be good for your family. It’s there to give homeschoolers a more school-like experience and that can be the exact opposite of what you want.
- You’re juggling too many responsibilities – For a co-op to work, everybody has to pull their weight. Co-ops only work if parents come together and partner to create a better experience for their children. If you find this level of investment overwhelming on top of everything else you’re juggling, you may need to consider something different.
While homeschool co-ops can be a wonderful option, you’ll want to keep in mind what is best for your children (and yourself, too). Your kids are special, unique, and wonderful and deserve the best you have to give them, so don’t be afraid to go against the grain.
What has your co-op experience been like? What is your advice for parents wondering if they should go forward or step back?