I’m still in a bit of shock as I write this.
Just this morning I sent an email to withdraw my kids from a homeschool co-op we have grown to love and depend on over the years.
I knew it was coming, but I just can’t believe that I am looking at starting this year without my right-hand homeschool resource.
Our classes and connections at this co-op have often been the highlight of our homeschool week.
So why am I pulling out? What made me pull the trigger?
Well, our local schools have decided to go all virtual, so we have decided to follow their lead and skip the in-person co-op.
Even if it leads us deeper into the frustrating and isolating land of social distancing.
Why Homeschool Co-Ops are So Essential
We are about to start our 4th year of homeschooling, and it didn’t take long for me to find out how crucial and enriching a quality homeschool co-op can be!
Here are just some of the benefits we have experienced:
Social time for my kids and opportunity for them to make friends
Chance for me to be in a community of like-minded parents to lean on for help and advice
Opportunity for my kids to learn from a different teaching style
We can take advantage of strengths other moms may have (i.e. art, music, foreign language)
Learn about things I may not otherwise have included in my curriculum (i.e. STEM, cooking)
Able to do group activities that are difficult to do in the typical homeschool setting (group P.E., public speaking, etc.)
A break for me during the week
So How Do We Replace Homeschool Co-ops During These Crazy Times?
In my opinion, there is no true replacement for the tight-knit family of an in-person homeschool co-op.
But that is not the world I am living in right now, so I have needed to adjust my mindset.
Blessedly, I have already found a number of options to replace my co-op this year and I am so excited to share them with you.
You don’t have to do this homeschool year alone!
6 Ways to Replace Your Homeschool Co-Op with Online Options
1. Bubble Co-Op
This first option is technically not online but may be appropriate for those living in places with less severe COVID restrictions and risk.
I have heard a lot of chatter about people having COVID bubbles. The idea is that they only let certain people into their “bubble” (people they interact with) in order to decrease their risk but still interact with some people.
Depending on your level of comfort with your current co-op or your friends who are also homeschooling, pick 1-2 families to be part of a homeschool co-op bubble.
You can decide what COVID precautions you feel comfortable with and what makes sense for your group. You can meet outside or in people’s homes, again that depends on your comfort level.
Set up a schedule with the other parents to take turns with planning art, science, P.E., purely social events, or other enrichment activities.
Also, consider planning monthly field trips to local parks, farms, or hiking areas where your kids can be together and learn, but still socially distance.
2. Zoom Classes and Games
If any in-person interaction is off the table for you, consider doing the same things as the bubble co-op, but through zoom meetings.
Have your co-op (or your homeschool friends) split into small groups and start meeting online! The zoom meetings are free and super simple to set up!
You can take turns with other parents teaching art, science, or other subjects. Google, Youtube, and Pinterest are overflowing with “pre-packaged” ideas, so no need to stress about what to teach.
It is also possible in Zoom meetings to just let the kids play games together! I loved this super fun post that has tons of ideas for kids to play simple games together over Zoom calls – genius!
Whatever you do, know that you can make your own schedule! Maybe your group can only handle a monthly meeting, bi-weekly, or weekly. That’s okay!
Your kids will flip for any interaction they can get with other kids their age and really appreciate the effort you put into making it happen for them!
3. Private Facebook Groups
How about something for the homeschool moms, right?!
You probably won’t get much from the Zoom calls, and trust me – you will need support as you go through the year.
Ask your co-op to set up an official Facebook group page that is private, so that moms can still pop on to share, vent, or ask for advice. It’s a great way to feel connected to the community while we are all separated.
If you’re not part of an established homeschool co-op, consider joining one of the many existing private homeschool Facebook groups.
These Facebook groups often have thousands of members and are a great place for encouragement.
During my first year of homeschooling, I was in a new city and felt very “wobbly” as a homeschool mom. Thankfully, I found tremendous support from the Christians Homeschool Families Facebook group.
I always received dozens of comments for every question I asked. I also remember posting about one of my children getting terrifyingly sick with the flu and I was flooded with prayer and kindness from the group. I was truly humbled.
As we go through these crazy times, I highly encourage you to get plugged in to a group of like-minded people.
You can search Facebook for homeschool groups, but here is a list you might consider checking out:
Christian Homeschool Families
Classical Conversations – Official
Classical / Charlotte Mason / Eclectic Homeschoolers Extraordinare
****Also search for any Facebook groups for your curriculum. I found it VERY helpful to be in a Facebook group of women who were all teaching the same curriculum I was teaching. We shared our successes, frustrations, and questions. Highly recommend!
Maybe you really want your kid to have the enrichment of co-op lessons…but you’re not really wanting to run a Zoom meeting for kids in order to contribute to the group??
This is for you!
OutSchool offers hundreds of different live online classes for ages 3-18. You can sign up for just one class that interests your kid or a series of classes.
Here are the kind of class options that you might find on the OutSchool website:
Flower Power! A Vincent Van Gogh Inspired Still-Life Drawing Lesson
African American History: The Brave Harriet Tubman
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Scratch Coding
Super Sleuth: Mystery Writing
Letter of the Week
Pretty cool, right?!
I was introduced to OutSchool by a friend at the beginning of all this COVID craziness. She invited me to sign up so that my daughter could join her daughter in a class about germs (very trendy at the moment)!
The class was taught by a professional teacher (all OutSchool classes are taught by professional teachers) and there were about 5 other kids that “attended.”
I really liked that:
I didn’t have to plan the lesson or control the “room”
My daughter had a chance to learn from another adult with a different teaching style
She had a social experience while interacting with her friend and other kids in the class.
She learned about something she was interested in but wasn’t necessarily in our curriculum this year
FYI, there is a cost for OutSchool. Most classes start at $11/1 hour class.
This may be something you want to do regularly or just for a fun treat every now and then depending on your budget.
Also, consider asking friends from your “homeschool co-op bubble” to join a class with your kid so that they can all learn together!
5. Recess and Results
I actually just found out about this super unique and exciting option yesterday!
It really took the sting out of quitting my co-op.
Recess and Results is a monthly online membership service that is run by certified fitness professionals.
Check out this screenshot from their website for everything they offer:
Sound like a dream come true as you’re navigating through the coronavirus forest of pain?!?!
This is a great option for homeschool families who are looking for social time, spiritual interaction, and physical activity!
I am a big fan and excited to start this membership with my kids this year!
If you want to learn more, check out the virtual recess club at Recess and Results!
FYI, there is a monthly cost for membership, but they do offer a chance to win a free month and there are refunds for the first month.
6. Virtual Homeschool Group
Virtual Homeschool Group is an established online homeschool co-op run by homeschoolers for homeschoolers.
It is free to join, but there is an opportunity to make a donation.
Classes include live and “at your own pace” (recorded) options for core or enrichment.
Many parents have and continue to volunteer their outstanding talents to make this possible and it is truly awesome to see!
Interest has been so high that the group has had to upgrade their server because they couldn’t keep up with demand!
I will definitely be checking out this option to see how it fits our homeschool needs.
Recap How to Replace Your Homeschool Co-Op During the Pandemic
I feel so much better. I hope you do too!
We do not have to navigate the homeschool year alone after all.
There are so many options for homeschool support online and I’m sure I have just barely scratched the surface here.
I strongly encourage you to seek out a community for you and your kids. It will make such a difference in your homeschool experience!
Did I miss anything? Have you found another solution to replace your homeschool co-op with an online option? I’d love to hear about it!
Just drop a comment below!
Want to save all these ideas for later? Got you covered! Just pin this to your favorite Pinterest Board and share it with your homeschool friends and followers!