One of the best decisions I ever made when first starting out as a Newbie Homeschooler was to join together with a handful of other newbies every other week for a homespun preschool co-op. Our little bi-weekly get-together provided my children with a chance to interact with other kids, glean the wisdom of other mommas and their areas of expertise, and participate in large-group activities that would have otherwise been difficult to create with just one or two kids at home...like short theatrical plays and team games.
|Learning to make real maple syrup.|
Prior to joining our little group, I had put together a mental list of what I was looking for in a homeschool co-op. If memory serves, it looked something like this...
- I wanted the primary focus of the group to be PRESCHOOL activities...because I had preschoolers.
- I wanted a group that was organized but also flexible.
- I wanted a group that provided enrichment opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to create for just one or two children.
- I wanted a group that would welcome my input. Not one that was governed by an elite few.
While there were a few well-established co-ops with seasoned homeschooling families in our area, none of them seemed to be quite what I was looking for. For the most part, these larger groups did not offer much in the area of preschool. Their primary focus was elementary or high-school aged classes. And so, when I was approached by three homeschooling mom friends who had preschoolers and who had already been informally meeting together every month, I jumped at the opportunity to help formulate a co-op that would provide my preschooler with an enriching year of friendship and purposeful play.
Over the last seven years as our children have grown in age and number, our co-op has evolved and in many ways looks nothing like the group of that first preschool year. But while much has changed, the foundation has remained.
|A field trip to a dairy farm. Feeding a bottle to a baby calf.|
Admittedly, there is no perfect "How To" formula for creating a co-op from scratch. Every group will be as unique as its members. But after several great years of trial and error, I think our group has learned a few valuable lessons worth sharing.
I hope you will join me throughout the next five days of Starting a Preschool Homeschool Co-op. While my primary focus will be on starting PRESCHOOL-aged co-ops, as that is my frame of reference, I'm confident that the tips I hope to share will be applicable to starting co-ops of all ages.