More than ever before I have seen a surge in parents homeschooling for the first time. According to this article from HSLDA, the number of parents choosing to educate their children entirely at home has doubled in the past year from 3.2 million to nearly 6 million nationwide.
I can’t speak for co-ops in other localities, but our co-op is bursting at the seams! We experienced a larger than average influx of students last year due to COVID, but this year we had to close our registration at the end of April because we had so many applicants. For two years in a row, our co-op has grown by more than a third of our size! Additionally, we have 10 families on our waiting list and this registry continues to expand.
It is SO hard to turn away families who are looking for support, HOWEVER, it can easily change the environment of a co-op to grow too quickly and this is what we want to avoid.
This is what I have wanted to tell so many of the applicants on our waiting list.
Consider meeting up with other parents to start your own group. This is exactly how many homeschool co-ops have started.
Most new homeschoolers understandably feel more comfortable finding a community that is already established. While there are many benefits to joining a co-op that is organized, it may be hard to find exactly what you are looking for in your area or, like our co-op, they might have a waiting list.
Starting a group with a couple of other parents can be just as good! In fact, you might like it better. One important benefit to starting a co-op with a few other parents is that it enables you to influence the direction of the group.
Our co-op started with five families eleven years ago. In the beginning, we were just a couple of moms stepping out of our comfort zones, not necessarily committing to anything long term. We loved the possibilities of homeschooling and wanted better options for our kids.
Because we were small, we were able to tailor our activities, field trips, and classes to the interests of our group.
We made personal connections. We were often in each other’s homes. We spent our summers creek-stomping and picnicking. We were a tight-knit family with our children’s future as our driving purpose.
And that community grew.
It is still growing.
We had our first day of co-op yesterday.
When I walked into our new facility, I could feel the energy. This is an exciting place to be!
Seeing my kids meet up with their friends. Hearing the chatter of excited voices finding their new classes. Walking by the art room observing the creative hands at work. Seeing the action on the soccer field. Watching my three year old in his Kindermusik class. Connecting with moms during break. Walking into the youth room and joining with the middle and high school kids as they led the worship time. They were loud. It was vibrant!
It all warmed my heart.
Seeing all the classes that we, the parents chose, based on the desires of our group and the interests of our kids…Charcoal and Graphite Mixed Media Drawing, Church History, Card-making, Black American Literature, Science Experiments, Soccer, Cultures and Geography, Drama, Theatrical Design, Future Nurses, Science in the Garden…
This. is. good.
The freedom, the excitement, the community.
You know how this all started? It started with just a few parents who wanted something better for their kids. We were unsure. We were hesitant. It would have been so much easier not to step out…to choose the safer, default option.
But we took the risk. And I’m so glad we did.
Having trouble finding a homeschool community that fits? Consider meeting up with other parents to start your own group! Does this sound too daunting? Homeschooling in itself is a huge learning curve for any parent, but you may be surprised to find that the support you get from your small circle of purposeful parents outweighs your feelings of inadequacy. It might not be as hard as you think and it might just be a huge blessing to you and your family.