If you are considering starting a homeschool co-op there are certainly a lot of things to consider. I have been the director of our homeschool co-op for the past 4 years and although I didn’t build this co-op from the ground up, I did see it through a lot of changes, and learned a lot of things over the past few year. If you are at the beginning stages I am doing a 6 week series on How to Start a Homeschool Co-op. There are a few things you might want to consider.
1. First thing you need to know, you can’t do it alone. Don’t even try. You will end up being exhausted and burned out before the first year is even over. Find at least one other person who is willing to come along side of you and help you plan and implement your ideas. Depending on the size of the group you want to start, you should consider whether you need a whole leadership team. At our co-op our leadership team consists of: Director, Assistant Director, Substitute Coordinator, Early Childhood Coordinator, Facility Director, Treasurer, and Special Events Coordinator. You may not need as many on your team as we have, but you will need to consider the needs of your group and what you want to eventually accomplish. I will say it again, You can’t do it all alone.
2. Sit down with your team and decide on your bylaws, statement of faith or rules that will govern your group. We have a handbook for our co-op that gives more detail about our students and teacher responsibilities.
3. Decide on what kind of group you are going to be. Will you meet every week? For how many weeks? Are you a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Group, a Science oriented co-op? Will you hire teachers, or will all your teachers be parents in the group? Are you a faith-based group, a secular group? Are you inclusive or exclusive? These are all things that you need to decide up front and make clear in all your information.
4. Will families need to apply to be part of your group or will you accept anyone at any time? Will you have a limit to the number of families you allow participate?
5. Where will you meet? Will you meet at a church, a recreation center, the park, someone’s home? Will you need to pay to rent the facility?
6. Decide on how you will choose classes. Will the director or leadership team choose the classes and find the teachers, or will the parents choose what classes they want to teach?
7. Will you charge for classes? Who decides on the fee? Does the money go straight to the teacher or will they get paid after they turn in receipts?
8. What system will you use for registering students for classes? Will it be paper and pencil or will you use a program?
9. How many students will you allow in each classroom? Who will decide that number, the teacher or the director?
10.What requirements will you have of the teachers? The Parents? The Students? Will there be expectations for parents not teaching?
These are all important questions to ask yourself as you are setting up a new group. Every week over the next seven weeks, I will be breaking down these questions and sharing how we handle each one in our group, along with sharing the resources and paperwork files we keep. If you are not already part of my email family take a moment to sign up, so that you don’t miss a post and so that I can send you these files to help you get started.
Week 1: 10 Things to Consider when Starting a Homeschool Group
Week 6: Registration and other Necessary Paperwork
Week 7: Wrap up with Q &A
As I’m working through this series, I would love to know if you have any questions about Starting a co-op, or share your own experience.
Check out my Pinterest board on Homeschool Co-ops
You may also want to check out 10 Somewhat Snarky but real reasons to Join a Co-op