Homeschool cooperatives, or groups, are a derivative of homeschooling where families join together to educate their children.
Cooperatives allow families to share the burden of teaching, which frees up time for parents who have other obligations such as a full- or part-time job.
Cooperative schooling, like homeschooling, is extremely low-cost and thus affordable for almost any family willing to take the initiative to find or form a group suitable for their children. It is not unusual for homeschool cooperatives to cost as little as $500 per student per year - less than what many public schools now charge in mandatory fees for schoolbus transportation, sports and books.
Homeschool cooperatives offer families a way to reap the benefits of homeschooling: high academic standards, low cost, a safe environment, and the ability to select the learning methods, values, and curriculum taught to their child.
Cooperatives also enhance the homeschool experience by involving children in a community of friends and families and exposing them to a variety of academic topics and activities. Most homeschool families particpate in some form of cooperative.
Like homeschooling, cooperatives take many forms, are highly flexible, and can change or evolve over time.
Some cooperatives are limited to specific activities such as sports teams, study of a particular subject, music ensembles, or field trips.
Others cooperatives involve more time and cover a broader array of activities. Typically each family takes on part of the teaching responsibility and/or financing of the group.
Within each group, families arrange their time and activities to suit individuals interests, availability, skills, and resources. For those not inclined to teach, they may contribute in other ways such as providing transportation or facilities, coaching sports, arranging field trips, or helping to fund the salary of a professional teacher.
Cooperatives may also receive free teaching services from retirees, interns, and adults of all ages. In fact, you may be someone who has a special skill or subject of interest that you would enjoy teaching to homeschool children. This needn't involve a major commitment. For example, volunteers can teach just one class a week or conduct an occasional seminar.
Larger homeschool cooperatives make it even easier for families to work their child's schooling into a busy lifestyle. Some cooperatives comprise over 100 families, creating a rich curriculum for students while minimizing the time commitment required of individual parents. For some families, both parents are able to maintain a full-time job.
Cooperative Homeschooling Resources
Homeschoolers can be found in virtually any town in the United States, and new families are joining the homeschool movement every day. Many areas have well-organized cooperatives already operating. Other areas may be waiting for someone like you to jump in and start forming a group with families in your area.
To find homeschool cooperatives or to network with other homeschool families in your area, simply search the Internet on the name of your area (town, district, or state) and the word "homeschool". Searching a larger area will yield more results. This will likely turn up a list of homeschool organizations that can help you get started.
You can also try perusing these links. But don't stop here because there are often more groups than any one list contains - and more forming all the time:
A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling - regional (select region, then scroll down to "Support Groups")
Homeschool World - homeschool groups
Jon's Homeschool Resources - support groups
Homeschool.com - groups by state