Have you ever wished you could homeschool with a friend, but not with all the challenges of a larger co-op? Then today’s post is for you!
Several times while homeschooling, I have found myself homeschooling together with one good friend. Interestingly, the times this has been most appealing are in the early years (when my kids were under 8) and when they were teenagers. At both of those ages, the appeal of having some help homeschooling brought me to do things a bit differently.
When my oldest was a kindergartner and for a few years after, we homeschooled with 1-2 families. We got together at the home of one, and the moms each agreed to teach something for 20 or 30 minutes. Our lessons were fun and game-based. The kids also had time for a snack and to free play together. Just playing is vital to child development at this age.
Among the things we taught were basic Spanish, music lessons, art projects, and physical games. We left things like math and reading to one-on-one work. These small group lessons were designed to be fun and low-stress. Each mom who taught chose things she felt she could teach. There was no pressure to do something outside your comfort zone.
This small social circle and style of homeschooling not only benefited the kids but the parents too. It can be hard to feel like you have to teach everything, no matter how old your child is. This system allowed us to each build on our own strengths and let our kids have some valuable social time. It also gave us moms some excellent social time while they played.
High school is a time to figure out if you know anyone who is an expert in things you don’t know, and if they would teach your child.
Do your friends remember the language they took in high school? That might be handy for when your child asks to learn that one instead of the one you sort of remember. Or maybe they have a passion for biology and will do the dissection classes for your kids in trade for tutoring in computer coding.
We get together with our kids and just trade kids for a while. I teach hers while she teaches mine. It means we each have fewer of our own surly teenagers to teach. It also means our kids are having a more diverse learning experience as they learn from someone who isn’t their mother.
Keeping It Simple
Unlike a larger co-op, we can float what day of the week we meet to match our own schedules. We also don’t have to be stressed about conflicts, sick days, or vacations. We flex around each other. This reduces stress for both of us compared to participating in a larger co-op.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think co-ops can be great, but not all kids do well in larger classes and not all families have access to co-ops that teach things they want for their kids. In our case, we are teaching what our kids want to learn, just trading off based on who has more expertise or interest in teaching that subject.
What is your experience? Have you tried homeschooling with another family? How was it?
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.