As the numbers of homeschoolers grow every year, new opportunities arise to assist in educating homeschooled children. Two great options are co-ops and enrichment programs. What most people do not realize is there is a HUGE difference between the two. So, what are the differences?
Co-ops were created by mothers who needed to teach a subject they were uncomfortable teaching and they wished to have someone else teach it, in exchange for teaching a subject that they enjoyed. The word co-op was shortened from co-operation, as it is truly a co-operation between the families involved. In a true co-op, each parent is responsible for teaching a subject. So, maybe parent A would teach math, parent B would teach science, parent C would teach history, and so forth. Sometimes parents would get together for “unit studies” like KONOs and they would rotate the teaching responsibility. So, in this set up, parent A would teach week 1, parent B would teach week 2, parent C would teach week 3, and so forth. Then they would just do the rotation all over again. In either scenario, the parents do not typically pay registration or monthly teaching fees. Families tend to either pay for the supplies (like copying fees) for each of the classes they teach (any books would be the responsibility of each family). Co-ops often meet once a week, with kids doing the rest of the work at home under their parent’s guidance. The curriculum utilized is typically chosen by all families involved during a planning session.
Enrichment programs, although often called co-ops, even by their creators, are very different. In an enrichment program, the parent is not necessarily involved in any of the classes. Each family must pay an enrollment fee, typically a supply fee, sometimes a monthly maintenance fee, AND they must pay for their classes. A few enrichment programs charge a flat fee for ½ a day and a different fee for an entire day of classes. Most charge a fee per class with the fee set by the class teacher. The teacher may charge a supply fee as well. In the enrichment programs, the parents have the option of just dropping their children off for classes (school) and return to pick them up when they are done. For some this is an entire day of “school”. Enrichment programs tend to meet at least twice a week and sometimes three times per week. The parents would then be responsible for insuring the children complete any assignments given between classes. Each teacher chooses the curriculum for their classes. The parent is NOT involved in the decision in any aspect. Now, some parents do teach in enrichment programs, but it is not required.
So, is one better than the other? No. It really comes down to what is best for your family. Just remember in either choice, ultimately it is the responsibility of the parents to insure their children receive a proper education. They will be responsible for meeting all state laws governing homeschooling. It will not fall back onto the co-op or enrichment program.
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Written by: Susan Harris
Homeschool.com News Editor