While public school parents are looking for learning pods to help them educate their children, homeschool parents are also wondering how to run their homeschool co-op this year.
Guest post by Heather Nelson. You can learn more about Heather and her new book in her bio at the end of the post.
As public-school parents rush to find “learning pods” in the wake of the Coronavirus, so too have homeschool families been stretched to find creative ways to fill that need for community, interaction, and socialization.
Homeschoolers were already a pretty flexible group, but none of us expected the
quarantines and shut-downs to last this long. As we reemerge into the 20/21 school year, we can now begin to dip our toes into regular activities.
Of course, now we are all wondering, HOW?
Pre-corona, homeschool co-ops were a staple to the homeschooling community. Kids could be engaged in new skills, experiences, field trips, and more as their parents banded together to create a support network. Now, co-ops have had to shift to meet the rising Covid concerns, but are still a very actionable part of any homeschooler’s toolbox.
Not sure a homeschool co-op is right for you?
Read my post – Are Homeschool Groups, Co-ops, and Classes a Waste of Time?
5 Easy Steps to Co-ops During Covid
Before we dive too deep, I want to take a moment to define what a co-op is for the rush of new homeschooling families stumbling into this lifestyle for the very first time.
At its core, a Co-op is a cooperative group of like-minded families who meet regularly and choose to collaborate towards similar educational goals for their children.
Other attributes of a well-organized co-op:
- Parents share the teaching load and typically take turns engaging the kids in unique ways.
- Co-ops are not a drop-off situation and are generally geared towards supplementing an educational plan, not replacing it.
- Co-ops offer the multimodal sensory learning opportunities kids need while providing a structured routine (that we’ve all been sorely missing).
With just a few easy steps, you can have a fun, safe, and engaging co-op that meets your family’s needs and still keeps health and safety at the forefront.
1. Start Small
Don’t feel pressured to invite the whole world. These are weird and wonky times. Start with a small, tight-knit group in your neighborhood. If you are isolated, use social media and search for a local community-based group.
Limit it to just 3 or 4 like-minded families so you feel comfortable, and can better adhere to recommendations by the CDC or your local Department of Health. A smaller group
can also help mitigate the risk of germ-spread.
2. Set Boundaries
Meet early and establish a set of simple rules with the other parents. Consider topics like overall group health and safety, the importance of hand-washing and/or mask-wearing, as well as child conduct and parental involvement.
Keep it simple…but clear.
Layout terms that all the families can agree to and understand. If compelled, print it out and have everyone sign it.
3. Set Goals
Despite the limitations that Covid has built-in, this should be fun so don’t be afraid to make some plans and set goals.
Some parent’s want academic help, while others might be more concerned about sports training, socialization, or enrichment opportunities.
Discuss what type of co-op you will be. Embrace the wide variety of options available from each family’s unique cultural backgrounds and make a plan to include them all!
4. Keep it Simple!
Whatever you do, leave room for kids to be silly and parents to be nervous. The early days of a new group dynamic can be exciting but also challenging…and that was before Covid. Let your first few meet-ups be enrichment activities, so everyone can get to know one another. Let the kids adjust to the schedule, routine, boundaries, and more.
Parents can feel more confident engaging in activities once the kids are more comfortable in their environment.
5. Try, Fall, Adjust, Keep Going!
Build these early foundational days with a heaping dose of grace. Stay fluid as you navigate the details and remember WHY you decided to meet to begin with. Leave room for grace and forgiveness and adjustments and always choose RELATIONSHIPS over ACADEMICS.
Covid is new, but the changes it has brought should be mostly temporary. The normal we return to might look different but there will be a normal once again.
Let the co-op you start today be the foundational ground you build from going forward.
Make THIS year the best homeschooling year yet!
Heather D. Nelson is a 4-time published author and homeschool mom to 3 rowdy boys. When not advocating for her son with Type 1 Diabetes, she can be found rummaging about looking for the instruction manual to life. Her latest book, 5 Easy Steps to Homeschooling, is available now on Amazon. 5 Easy Steps to Homeschooling offers a wealth of information in simple, easy-to-understand, terms. The pages are filled with tons of support and encouragement on topics like socialization, curriculum selection, and home education for special needs. You can find resources to help navigate individual U.S. state legal mandates, as well as tips on creating local connections to make the homeschool journey successful. Follow her for more encouragement on Facebook, Instagram or from her website at http://www.heatherdnelson.com