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Co-Ops or Groups?

Posted by on Mar. 7, 2013 at 9:17 AM
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DD is really upset that she doesn't have any other friends who are homeschooled. She will be 5 this year, and all her friends are either in school or going into school this year. We were looking into putting her in a co-op one day a week, just so she can meet some other homeschooled friends, but I don't like that they pick her academics. They do a lot of worksheets, and while it might spark her interest in a topic she hadn't thought of before, I just don't know what to think.

We also looked into a group that has weekly get togethers, not-back to school picnics, Valentines Day Parties, all the fun stuff, plus groups and clubs for when she gets older.

Do any of you belong to a co-op or group? Or both? Which do you think is better? And why or why do you not like one or the other?

Thanks, ladies!

I am an all natural, attachment parenting, co-bathing, co-sleeping, kiss on the lips, unschooling, lead by example, know my place as a woman, go to church, get involved, stay at home kind of Mom. I am married to my highschool sweetheart, have one Super Cool Preschooler and one Little Angel In Heaven. Her name is Lucy.

http://immahomeschoolingmama.blogspot.com/

http://brittanyhomemaker.blogspot.com/

http://lovemylifeasamommyandawife.blogspot.com/

ttckissing

by on Mar. 7, 2013 at 9:17 AM
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Replies (1-10):
jessradtke
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 8:47 AM
1 mom liked this

We have belonged to both and the socializing groups win hands down over co-ops any day. Co-ops come and go every few years around here because everyone seems to want something different out of them. You get some parents who just want a break from their kids for a couple of hours, some parents who want serious academic enrichment, others who just want to help their kids find friends, and lots of variations in between. All of those different reasons for being in the co-op can cause a lot of friction within groups like that and, quite frankly, I'm allergic to that much drama. The ones that have a more structured, academic focus seem to last the longest because they are very clear about what they offer and tend to attract parents with similar goals. They are way too much like schools for my family though. We've got the "academic" parts covered. It's having the time to make and maintain friendships that we want, so that's where we put our time and energy. Our long-running group sounds a lot like the group you described. It is very informal and focuses on support for the parents and lots of opportunities for socialization (holiday parties, park days, playdates, some fun field trips, a few clubs) rather than academics.

diospira
by New Member on Mar. 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM


We belonged to an awesome group when we lived in CA. We limit media, love nature, and avoid processed foods and our group shared these values.

They had seasonal celebrations and held a variety of spiritual beliefs but were very respectful and open. 

The kids played outside at the park where we met weekly and played capture the flag, baseball, etc, in a fun, non-competitive environment. We went camping and on field trips and I made some great mom friends there.

Our group was Waldorf-inspired and worked for us. "Like a family", dd described it.

It was one of the best parts of home-schooling there and dd met friends of all ages. I highly recommend looking for a group that fits your family.





Peace

MommyMays
by Member on Mar. 8, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Thank you for your reply! It is a very structured group that has been around for quite a long time. It is located at a church which has an area specifically set up just for the co-op. My best friend was homeschooled and attended that co-op when she was little, but it is very focused on academics, and that is not what I am in it for.

I guess I am just afraid that it will be hard to get involved in the group activities as a new person. Have you ever had a problem with that or was everybody pretty welcoming of newcomers?

Quoting jessradtke:

We have belonged to both and the socializing groups win hands down over co-ops any day. Co-ops come and go every few years around here because everyone seems to want something different out of them. You get some parents who just want a break from their kids for a couple of hours, some parents who want serious academic enrichment, others who just want to help their kids find friends, and lots of variations in between. All of those different reasons for being in the co-op can cause a lot of friction within groups like that and, quite frankly, I'm allergic to that much drama. The ones that have a more structured, academic focus seem to last the longest because they are very clear about what they offer and tend to attract parents with similar goals. They are way too much like schools for my family though. We've got the "academic" parts covered. It's having the time to make and maintain friendships that we want, so that's where we put our time and energy. Our long-running group sounds a lot like the group you described. It is very informal and focuses on support for the parents and lots of opportunities for socialization (holiday parties, park days, playdates, some fun field trips, a few clubs) rather than academics.


MommyMays
by Member on Mar. 8, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Thank you for your reply too. You ladies are very helpful. :) It sounds like you found the perfect group. That is so great! There must be many to choose from where you are! When I read that they do weekly get togethers, I wondered what they did during them, but I guess sports and other play would make sense. I hope that we can find a group that we have that much in common with. :)

Quoting diospira:


We belonged to an awesome group when we lived in CA. We limit media, love nature, and avoid processed foods and our group shared these values.

They had seasonal celebrations and held a variety of spiritual beliefs but were very respectful and open. 

The kids played outside at the park where we met weekly and played capture the flag, baseball, etc, in a fun, non-competitive environment. We went camping and on field trips and I made some great mom friends there.

Our group was Waldorf-inspired and worked for us. "Like a family", dd described it.

It was one of the best parts of home-schooling there and dd met friends of all ages. I highly recommend looking for a group that fits your family.





Peace


jen2150
by Member on Mar. 9, 2013 at 12:32 PM
1 mom liked this

Yes, we belong to two co-ops.  One of them I coordinate.  Every co-op is different.  If you don't find one you like you can always start one.  There are probably other moms with the same needs.  We meet at our local library.  My kids love them.  They pick what classes they want to take.  I would find a co-op that is more flexible.  I would not pick one that chooses the academics.  I think co-ops are great when done correctly.   

LindaClement
by Group Owner on Mar. 9, 2013 at 7:34 PM
1 mom liked this

We didn't... 

... but I currently live within 6 blocks of where I grew up. My friends (and their kids) and most of my family still live here... so when the kids were little, we hung out at the library during the day, the local elementary school playground at recess or lunch from time to time (amazingly inattentive supervisors on those properties: we were never NOTICED much less asked to leave...) and visited friends or family with and without kids.

We spent time with my grandmother, visiting my parents where they worked, friends with much younger and much older kids, and some of the volunteer work we did. Then there were the neighbourhood kids who were around after school and on weekends and during breaks...

Of course, when they were a bit older they took classes during the day that were set up for homeschoolers: choir, gymnastics, arts, gym time, museum and factory tours...

My kids never noticed that they didn't have many homeschooled friends, because it never really came up.

jessradtke
by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 9:44 AM

 Sorry...I don't spend much time of cafemom anymore so I didn't see this until now. I can't say whether the informal group is easy or difficult to join in because I was one of the people who started it all those years ago. I've asked people who joined later and they basically said it's never easy to just walk up and join in a conversation with people you don't really know, but once they connect with one or two people they feel more comfortable. We try to be mindful of that and encourage people to introduce their families on our email list first so they can find a couple of people they have things in common with before they just show up to an event. At park days we try not to sit in little clumps, which can make new people uncomfortable. Most of us try to sit in big circles with lots of space around us so that new people can physically join the group without feeling like they are breaking into a private conversation. But there's a down side to that too. Our informal ways make people who need structure and order quite uncomfortable. People who come looking for a group that has an agenda, handouts, and discussion topics usually don't last more than one or two get togethers.

I personally find it difficult to join in at more structured groups and co-ops, but I think that's just because that's not my personality and not because the people aren't welcoming. I always feel like the odd woman out and I have difficulty even joining conversations because they almost all revolve around two main themes: curriculum choices or how to get kids to do all the things they don't want to do. When they try to include me by asking my opinion and I say something like, "We don't use a curriculum" or "We're here because my son WANTED to take the science class" the conversation usually comes to a dead stop for a few seconds and then they move on like I didn't even say anything. It's so bizarre. 

When I'm in a group like that, I usually take my knitting or a book and avoid conversations. I used to feel kind of rude for doing that but not anymore. I realized that I'm not there for me or for the other moms. I don't go to those groups so that I can make friends, be comfortable, or meet my own needs. (If I do make friends that's a bonus, but it's not my main purpose for being there.) I go to those groups because there is something there that MY CHILD wants to get from it. I chose to be a stay at home, unschooling mom so that I could be available to support their interests and help them meet their needs, so if one of my kids wants a more structured class in a co-op for a while, then that's what I do FOR THEM. It's not about me. As long as they are getting what they need I can find a way to be okay with being there. (As soon as a group no longer meets my kid's needs we are outa' there though! LOL)

My kids, on the other hand, never seem to have any trouble finding other kids they like at any of the groups we've been to. (Though they definitely prefer the more informal "fun" groups overall.) So, the only issues we've had with "fitting in" as newcomers were on my end. And I found a way to deal with that when necessary.

Quoting MommyMays:

Thank you for your reply! It is a very structured group that has been around for quite a long time. It is located at a church which has an area specifically set up just for the co-op. My best friend was homeschooled and attended that co-op when she was little, but it is very focused on academics, and that is not what I am in it for.

I guess I am just afraid that it will be hard to get involved in the group activities as a new person. Have you ever had a problem with that or was everybody pretty welcoming of newcomers?

Quoting jessradtke:

We have belonged to both and the socializing groups win hands down over co-ops any day. Co-ops come and go every few years around here because everyone seems to want something different out of them. You get some parents who just want a break from their kids for a couple of hours, some parents who want serious academic enrichment, others who just want to help their kids find friends, and lots of variations in between. All of those different reasons for being in the co-op can cause a lot of friction within groups like that and, quite frankly, I'm allergic to that much drama. The ones that have a more structured, academic focus seem to last the longest because they are very clear about what they offer and tend to attract parents with similar goals. They are way too much like schools for my family though. We've got the "academic" parts covered. It's having the time to make and maintain friendships that we want, so that's where we put our time and energy. Our long-running group sounds a lot like the group you described. It is very informal and focuses on support for the parents and lots of opportunities for socialization (holiday parties, park days, playdates, some fun field trips, a few clubs) rather than academics.



 

CaitsCookies
by Member on Apr. 18, 2013 at 1:14 AM
I've done both. If there was a relaxed co-op local to me, I'd think about joining with my stepson and baby. The one I was part of years ago with my 23yo was set up so that we asked the kids what they wanted to learn, asked parents to teach, and kids only took the classes they were interested in.

Now we're in a homeschool group that meets weekly for park/swim days, bi-weekly for teen night, monthly for Library Club, monthly for Kids Co-op (each month, 2 kids volunteer to teach something their interested in), monthly volunteering at a local community garden, and monthly bowling, plus other activities. It's working well for us.
Ecoseem
by Member on Apr. 18, 2013 at 6:39 PM

We don't as of yet because it's so difficult to find groups open to more relaxed learning styles around here.  I don't want to sit around and discuss each kids supposed progress, ya know?  I think we will be getting into some community sports that are offered this year, however.

CaitsCookies
by Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Quoting Ecoseem:

We don't as of yet because it's so difficult to find groups open to more relaxed learning styles around here.  I don't want to sit around and discuss each kids supposed progress, ya know?  I think we will be getting into some community sports that are offered this year, however.


I love the group we're in. They are sooo accepting of everyone's differences and very supportive. They make sure to compliment Malcome on the progress he's made in being able to deal with people. We have all ages and have a variety of needs (gifted, ADHD, ASD, PTSD, etc).
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