5. Strong co-ops engage kids in meaningful activities. We encourage our moms to first design classes that cant easily be done at home. We want hands-on experiences and group work. Or we want to choose an activity that requires an audience, such as a play or a choir. Keep the seatwork and the lectures to a minimum. Here's what's on tap at our co-op for our older kids this year: rubber-stamping, cooking, space camp, forensic science (we nabbed a criminal lawyer-turned-home school mom), drama production, volleyball, basketball and hands-on geography. For our younger classes (3rd grade and younger) we rotate them through a 3-period gym, art and unit study schedule. And for the moms, we have a teachers lounge stocked with fresh perked coffee and sticky buns! (The cure-all for early symptoms of burnout.)

6. Strong co-ops deal with conflict biblically and immediately. Be on your guard. Personality conflicts and unresolved offenses will destroy a vibrant co-op faster than anything else will. Leaders should remind members regularly of the importance of dealing with inevitable offenses quickly and in private. If the situation cant be resolved, then someone on the leadership team should be involved for the purposes of mediating the situation. Don't exclude the kids from this practice either. They need to learn this critical exercise in humility early in life. If I could Id make Ken Sandes The Peacemaker mandatory reading for anyone involved in a co-op, especially leadership. Its the best book out there on biblical conflict-resolution.

7. Finally, strong co-ops build upon the bonds of friendship. Relational glue is what will keep your family invested in the effort even when the co-op doesn't completely meet your individual needs or vision. At the Learning Center, we have a moms lounge where we can relax together and share our lives during our free period. And we try to plan activities that foster friendships among the kids as well: overnight camping trips, picnics, open gym, etc. all these give kids informal time to get to know one another better. This more than anything is the reason were still going after twelve years.

Co-ops require time and energy from us, but the synergy that comes from pooling our resources sure makes that effort worthwhile for our kids.

In His Sovereign Grace,


Some Recommended Resources:

What You Do Best in the Body of Christ: Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, Personal Style and God-given Passions. Bruce Bugbee

The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber.
This classic work for entrepreneurs provides an excellent organizational model for anyone trying to build a team of people together to accomplish a purpose. Especially for leaders.

The Peacemaker, Ken Sande.
Biblical conflict-resolution

The Young Peacemaker, Corlette Sande
Peacemaking strategies for kids.

Coming Up:

Determining Your Child's Learning Style and Designing a Program to Match