This week we have been talking about all the facets of homeschool cooperatives. We have talked about the definition of a co-op, the benefits of a co-op, and things to consider before joining a co-op. Today I want to give you some tips on starting your own co-op. I have participated and helped to plan some activities in our local co-op, but I have never started a cooperative myself. I am sharing the things I have learned from experience and research.
Start with a Statement of Purpose
This may seem unimportant, but clarifying what the group will be about is very helpful in the long run when growing the group or explaining the group to new members. Have the start up group brainstorm and agree on a simple, direct statement such as,
We will strive to educate kids from preschool to middle school in a Christian environment where parents lead by example and every member contributes
This simple statement lets others know that this group is Christian, and doesn’t offer high school classes. It also eludes to the fact that parents must participate. Make the statement clear and concise.
Consider a Code of Conduct
This is another item that may seem unnecessary. If you take the time to have these policies in place at the beginning, you have some tools available to help mediate conflict down the road. If part of your code of conduct states that no profanity will be used on the premises and you have each family sign a statement agreeing to abide by the code of conduct, you will have a way to back up your policies if a situation arises where a family is in violation of that code.
Have a Clear Explanation of Fees Upfront
If there is a registration fee, a fee per student, a supply fee for copies and ink, required curriculum purchases or a donation to the church, etc, make sure it is disclosed initially so a family is aware of the cost involved in joining the group. Hidden fees can be frustrating for families on a tight budget.
Smaller co-ops are easier to manage and as things progress and you get your feet wet, you can grow the group. Start with a group of committed moms who are willing to do their share of the work. A successful co-op is one where everyone participates. In a small group, you need every member to contribute for success. You don’t want your co-op to turn into a babysitting service. If parents are uneasy about teaching, pair up moms to teach in teams and that can ease some of the stress of newer members or moms who lack confidence in the beginning. Consider teaming moms with a more experienced teacher so they can learn from each other.
Have Clear Leadership
Set up a director and depending on the size of the group, you may need a secretary to handle finances. You may want an activities director a photographer if you plan to do a yearbook, a supplies coordinator, etc. Depending on the size of the group, you could also have someone over the different age groups if your group is large (i.e. nursery, preschool, elementary, middle, high school).
Don’t forget to register to win the book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol Topp. The giveaway ends Friday!
This post has been linked to a special five day blog hop from the TOS Review Crew. There are a plethora of topics to peruse if you simply click the graphic below. Grab a cup of coffee or some chocolate and enjoy some great reading!
Here is a list of some of my bloggy friends who are participating in this week’s blog hop and the topics they will be covering. Please take a minute to support them and check out what they have to say about homeschooling.
Michelle @ Faith, Family, and Fridays ~ Clearing Out the Clutter in our Homeschool
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Educational Apps
Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos ~ Celebrating Lent
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling ~ Spring Field Trips
Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog ~ Christ-Centered Character Training – fear
Brittney @ Mom’s Heart ~ Relaxed Homeschooling – Just Another Day
Lisa @ A Rup Life ~ Our Favorite Books – Day 4 Adult Self Help