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Alternatives to a Traditional Homeschool Co-op When a Co-op Isn’t An Option

Today’s guest post about “Alternatives to a Traditional Homeschool Co-op” is from long-time veteran homeschooler Kate Woods!
I felt led to put together a quick message to encourage, and possibly guide, those with young families who are first-time homeschoolers looking for a co-op. Since so many co-ops are canceled (or closed to additional members) this year, I want you to know that there are alternatives to a traditional homeschool co-op!
Alternatives to Homeschool Co-op
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Alternatives to a Traditional Homeschool Co-op

Might I suggest that you consider finding just a small group of like-minded families of similar aged children with whom you could do a smaller, more age-level appropriate group?
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Here’s why:

Parent Commitment

Most co-ops are designed with older students in mind and can require a substantial commitment of either time or money. I dearly, dearly love the K-12 co-op I used to help lead. However, like most co-ops, we did require all parents to serve in exchange for the privilege of being in the group, as well as contribute financially. This often requires an investment of time and money that is based on providing more than what’s really necessary for homeschool families of only young ones.

Establish Your Own Homeschool First

This may just be my personal insight, but many co-op leaders agree, in your first year of homeschooling with a younger one, you really need to invest more time in getting your feet wet, establishing your own family rhythms and routines, finding out what works best for you and your unique situation.

As one mom told me when I began, it is a lifestyle, not just a school choice. Spend the time figuring out what works for you and your child before becoming deeply involved with others outside your home.

Alternatives to Homeschool Co-op

Young Child’s Needs

Most young children do not need a large group for social interactions until later, and that is when a larger co-op is most beneficial. In a larger co-op, they will be at the lower end of the age range and it can sometimes, depending on the child, be a bit intimidating. And, while this is generally not an issue with most homeschoolers, the more older children involved, the wider the range of behaviors, attitudes, and phone apps.

Bond with Other Families

While great friendships can still form in a large co-op, it’s also easier to get lost and not completely connect. Homeschooling is a wonderful way of life, but it can also be stressful at times. Having a smaller group of families to connect with is simpler in many ways, and can also provide a deeper level of support.

Alternatives to Homeschool Co-op

Our Experiences

I have followed this approach; we began our home educating journey with six other families, and are still connected with them (except one who moved away after the first couple months).
I also was involved in a larger co-op when my children were younger and can tell you the small group of age-close younger families was far more beneficial to my own family’s needs.
The next year, we successfully joined a larger co-op and it was great. Yet those we met with for the first year still are very close confidantes and support. Some of those also joined the same group.
Alternatives to Homeschool Co-op

Book Ideas

We based many of our ideas on a book called Playful Learning: An Alternate Approach to Preschool by Anne Engelhardt. I found this book through La Leche League. It may help guide you in setting up a smaller group that would be more appropriate to your needs.
Another book I would recommend in general for new homeschoolers is called Love the Journey: Homeschooling Principles to Practices by Marcia Somerville. This was written by a Christian woman who wrote her own homeschool curriculum, and is helpful for anyone, regardless of curriculum choice. This can help you set the course for your homeschool years ahead.


It’s my hope that this will help take some of the stress off those who are just getting started. I’m happy to answer any questions related to how we set up our small beginner’s co-op. It’s been about 25 years ago now, but the basic concepts have not changed. I have sweet memories and would love to share the experience!!! Just post a comment below.
Guest contributor Kate Woods is a mom of 4 homeschooled, now adult, children.

Back to Gena~

I just had a reader post this in my Facebook group: “While I love this model and we have been successful at it a few times, I struggle with how you find those “few, like-minded families” when there are no homeschool activities at which to meet them. We’ve been homeschooling for 10 years and while there are a lot of homeschoolers in our area most seem to be too busy doing their own thing. At home. By themselves. Often “school at home”. To make time for anything social or extracurricular that “doesn’t count” (their words). So, yes, I would love to have the close group of friends but I would really love to have the large, established homeschool community where there are far too many co-ops and activities to choose from but everyone is welcome.”
I immediately thought, “She needs the Sisterhood!

What is The Homeschool Sisterhood?

Designed by veteran homeschool mom and homeschool mentor to thousands of moms who desire to turn their stressful homeschools into restful homeschools, Ana Willis.  She *gets it.*

Homeschool Sisterhood is an incredible membership site that will take you from stressed to blessed, from confused to confident, and from overwhelmed to rested. 

This membership is for moms who want to ditch busy, find clarity, and homeschool with confidence, peace, and joy. 

Every month Homeschool Sisterhood will focus on a specific topic and you will have access to:

  • Habit Training
  • Masterclasses
  • Homeschool Experts Interviews
  • Book Clubs for Moms, Teen, and Kids
  • Family workshops in a variety of subjects from writing to arts, cooking, foreign languages, etc.

All strategically designed to help you follow a homeschool success path.

You will also have access to special discounts for all future resources and events.

The Homeschool Sisterhood will give you the content, the community, and the accountability you need to homeschool successfully from a place of rest and confidence.

All outside social media, so you can redeem your precious time and invest in the most important people in your life – your family.

I’m so grateful for Ana’s vision for the homeschool community in the Homeschool Sisterhood and hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity, too!

Will I see you in the Homeschool Sisterhood

The Homeschool Sisterhood

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  1. Homeschool Parenting Summit 2.0 October 16-21, 2023
  2. Deanna Parsons says:

    For the co-op we were part of for 5 years, it was the opposite. The younger age groups were double the size of our teen group and because of that it was harder to get classes for them (parents of younger kids thought teens were scary).

    1. We experienced something similar. I love teaching teens!

  3. Thank you for this. My husband and I chose not to do a traditional homeschool coop when we start homeschooling our oldest I Kindergarten four years ago. We felt it would take too much time out of the home and cause too much chaos for our three younger children. We have however had the small group of like-minded friends and starting last year The Homeschool Sisterhood. What a blessing the Sisterhood is with encouragement for me, interaction for my kids, and helpful information all the time.

    1. Oh, Amy, thanks for sharing this! I am thrilled to know what The Homeschool Sisterhood has done for you! 🙂

  4. Corrie E David says:

    I recently found out about the Homeschool Sisterhood and decided to join. It has been great! My kids have not participated in much yet, but it has been worth every penny just for me as a mom and teacher. My local support group/co-op had to cancel everything feom March on. We are going to be getting started up again this month, but the Homeschool Sisterhood perfectly compliments our in-person group and I get tjebbest of both worlds!

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