7. Leadership

Strong leadership is an essential element of any organization. Wonderful ideas and grandiose dreams are good, paramount even, but without someone to follow through on the more mundane aspects of a co-op, those ideas are useless. To direct the group, you will need at least two people, which lessens the pressure and helps promote fairness. A good leader should always be looking to mentor others.

8. Flexibility

A co-op is a mosaic of families with different needs and desires. Even with a shared purpose of educating children there always will be unique factors to consider as you are trying to accommodate everyone’s needs. Consider families with many children. Does the co-op have enough options for older students? Perhaps they can be youth helpers in the nursery, or perhaps they could use a study room for independent work projects. Will you bend the rules for sick children? How about doctors’ appointments? Determine the hard lines and soften the others.

9. Resources

Take the time to build up a library of homeschool resource books, educational textbooks, Christian novels, and fun games. There are many different ways to do this. Some reading programs offer credits toward new books. Save up credits and buy wisely. Libraries often give away older books. Provide a donation box for parents to share what they no longer need. Have a fundraiser and use the profits to purchase curriculum.

10. Excitement/Fun

Do not take things too seriously. Doing so may sabotage the project before it can begin to thrive. Celebrate the end of a semester with a party. Have Christmas cookie exchanges and talent shows. Encourage the children to brainstorm as they compose a group song that they sing each week. Encourage teachers to use creative motivational teaching methods such as “building” an ice cream sundae with completed homework.

Excitement is contagious. Demonstrate sincere interest in, and gratefulness for, the classes and in what is being taught. Infusing the group with enthusiasm is easy if the leaders have genuine affection for learning and a passion to inspire others to join the party.

Co-ops are as unique and diverse as the families who join them. They are a rich source of information and a launching pad for great thoughts and ideas. There is strength in community, and co-ops are a foundation for thriving, Christ-centered fellowship.

Joy Kita is a mother of four and is the blessed wife of Stan. She has been homeschooling for seven years and is currently the director of a thriving co-op with more than eighty children. She is a fiction author for children, specializing in adventures for boys. She tries to stay motivated by her all-consuming love for the Father.

Creative Classes 

Make your own tie blankets (easy enough for 7- and 8-year-olds)
King Arthur’s Quest—medieval journey
Sing your heart out—praise and worship for kids
Drama—skits and speeches
Electricity—build your own electric car with simple circuits
Writing 101—practical writing skills, such as the five-paragraph essay
Creative writing
Book making
Wildlife management
Survivor Class
Baking basic bread
Make your own soup
Dissect owl pellets
Paper purses
Nature crafts
Simple science experiments for 5- and 6-year-olds
Movie making/editing

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com  or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Publication date: March 1, 2012