Saying “No” to the Homeschool Group

Several months ago, the emails started circulating. First it was the pitches that described the different homeschool groups and co-ops in our area. Then the more urgent “spaces are filling up” emails. As last years groups and classes ended, group organizers and friends started asking me face to face if we were going to sign up for XYZ for next year. I normally just smiled and said I wasn’t sure yet.

Now I’m receiving those final rounds of emails and Facebook messages. The ones from a close friend. That friend close enough to me to feel comfortable asking me why I haven’t renewed our family’s membership.”It’s not like you’re still in a baby-year, you can do this.”

No, friend, I can not.

I can not join. I can not renew. I can not participate.

When saying no to the local homeschool group is the right thing to do. How do you handle it?


I’m sure at least one of my kids would enjoy the class. I’m sure it is a lot of fun.

I appreciate all my homeschool friends who stand with me and defend my right to decide what to do for my children. I find it strange to hear them turn and start pressuring me to join the group because it is something my kids need to do.

My kids do not need to do a co-op class. My kids do not need a mom who can’t stay on track with their daily school work because she is busy worried she will forget class or scrambling to pull together some lesson to teach at the last-minute. My little ones do not need to be sent to a nursery room with complete strangers for the sake of the oldest sibling sitting in a room most likely just chatting with a friend (she’s at that stage now).


Photo Credit: Gidget


Just as I did with choosing our curriculum, I took time to read all the information about all the groups and co-ops in our area. One, which we have been members of for two of the past three years, is great. It just can’t meet our family’s needs this year. The others, all wonderful co-ops, are just that – co-ops. That means I have to teach a class or volunteer in some other way. This year, I don’t have time. I may not have time next year. I’m more of a help-at-the-last-minute kind of gal anyway. I would be great as an idea generator, or the one who cuts out all the construction paper shapes before class, or the one who types up the newsletter. Since none of the groups need someone like me, I just chose to say no to joining anything.

I did get a few displeased glances. I did feel, for a minute, like a total slacker mom for not being willing to suck it up and agree to take us all out of the house once a week to learn about something. I did bite my tongue when that one mom implied I was letting my anxiety issues hinder my children.

Then I remembered, this homeschool is our school, not their school. I do know what is best for my children. We have friends that we visit often. We have American Heritage Girls. Our oldest attends Awana. I do not need to sign up to participate in the hottest new home school group on the block. Our children will prosper without them. They will learn without them. They will probably enjoy school more since I will be more focused on them and not on the group of kids I have to teach.

There may come a time, in a few years, when taking all four of my children out on a field trip (without the Mr.’s help), seems less terrifying. There may come a time, in a few years, when the activities and classes offered by all these groups offer a greater benefit than the cost associated with participating.

Until then, I will continue to just say no. I will say no, guilt-free, knowing that despite the propaganda and excitement in all those group emails, this year it is just not for us, and that is perfectly okay.



Lisa Baldwin (59 Posts)

Disciple of Christ, Wife, Mother of Four, Homeschooler, Crafter, Designer (Graphics and CSS/HTML), Blogger. I share too much, laugh at the wrong things, and fall on my backside regularly. Thank goodness Jesus ignores all of that and loves me anyway.

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  1. says

    Oh, thank you for this! I was just starting to feel guilty about being the last homeschool mom on the planet who actually keeps her kids, you know, home for school. Guess I’m not the last one after all!

    • Kris says

      This year my kids are in 4th, 5th, 8th, and 11th grade. We have never belonged to any homeschool groups and that suits us just fine. I keep our schedule flexible. When my younger two were little they stayed up fairly late at night while the older ones went to bed early. The older boys would get up in the morning and most days we would finish school before the little ones even woke up. Do what works for your family.

  2. Merry says

    Excellent post. While we belonged to Homeschool groups for most all of my dd’s school years we weren’t always able to take active roles. Thank God our groups were flexible enough to allow for that. Sometimes we didn’t go to co-op or even meetings. It’s OK Stick with your own decisions. That’s one reason for homeschooling in the 1st place.

  3. Jenna D. says

    You Go Girl! I keep thinking that people who have chosen to homeschool are somehow more enlightened. To me in the sense that they don’t push their ideals on others as others ideals have been pushed on us i.e. What is wrong with Public School?. But that is not always the case. I guess it would be the same as assuming that someone who goes to church each week has learnt to treat others decently, but we are all at different places in our journey and the best we can do is just respect that we each have different thoughts and feelings and to respect those thoughts and feelings.

  4. says

    Appreciate your post here, as this is my first year home schooling I too am seeing a lot of these. They claim it is essential & then say I need to give money & additional time. I am not seeing what exactly I would be gaining from it exactly. I am sure for many moms it is a wonderful thing, but I have too much on my plate already.

    • Carol says

      We were always a part of a home school group throughout our years of homeschooling (a group we did field trips w/and had monthly meetings) but we never joined a co-op until my after my daughter graduated leaving only my son. I found many of the co-ops had poorly behaved children & an unhealthy peer group mentality, resembling the dynamics of public school. I also didn’t feel that the classes were all that special. That said, we did organize a Spanish class with some other local students, we drove a long way for a biology co-op one year because the man that taught it was a biology major and had a super class. We did an advanced math class & even participated for 1 yr. in a co-op after my daughter graduated. It definitely was not my philosophy for schooling my children for the majority of their homeschool years. My children enjoyed the years we did school together, the read alouds, impromptu plays & musicals & learning together. We would have missed out on so much by being in co-ops for all those years. In referring to one group that my children participated in for a short time, they said “I felt my brain cells were being slowly sucked out of my head while I listened to the conversations around me.” I hope the beauty of home schooling family time won’t be lost in the pressure of co-ops.

  5. Anita says

    I’m new to the whole “homeschool” game… I was honestly thinking of joining a co-op. I started looking at some of the prices of co-ops in the area we are moving to. I for one cannot afford the cost of the group and then, on top of that cost, there is a separate cost for classes! Maybe this is normal, but I about messed my self. In the state I’m moving to co-ops do not have to do national testing. That is the only pro in my book. I have 2 smaller children and personally don’t have the time to do a co-op after reading your post! Thank You!!

    • says

      Not every homeschool co-op is the same. I’m in one that is free and does not have “classes” – isn’t an academic co-op. We have mom’s meetings, teen fun nights, and do park days and field trip days only. We also plan a homeschool mom retreat weekend once a year, and usually have some sort of talent show or graduation ceremony. I wasn’t in my co-op in the past couple of years, though, because I was busy with two little babies and unable to participate. I’m re-joining this year. During those years when I was unable to be part of it, though, I did enjoy staying in contact with friends from the group – many of which came to bring me food and gifts after I had the baby. There are some good groups out there… and you can start your own if you don’t like the ones that you have in your area.

      • Carol says

        Yes, it’s a bit confusing to call them the same thing. We refer to our home school support group as a homeschool group, whereas a Co-Op is usually a group that has academic classes, some with paid teachers and others taught by volunteers. Our support group is run by volunteers, has monthly meetings that are usually social, craft oriented or academic in nature, i.e. spellings bees, reports, show and tell and nursing home visits. We also have parties for holidays, field trips, a graduation every year & the occasional play or talent show. My kids really enjoyed participating in a support group, just not in Co-Ops.

  6. Lisa B. says

    I have 2 young children, now ages 5 and 6 1/2. I participated last year in the only HS co-op offered within about a 25 mile radius of our home. I volunteered here/there (brought snacks/teaching ‘Pre-K’ a few times). This year, there is a required amount of time to volunteer for each child enrolled and based on number of classes they are enrolled in (verses no ‘requirement’/scheduled/assigned help). I already found it a hassle to show up each week (feeling obligated). Further, I put SO much time in preparing for snacks (so many restrictions/requirements here, too) and preparing for the class I was assigned occassionally (more time that I put into our own home studies for prep.)…I never considered any of the time my kids were there as part of their studies – just an outlet for them to hang out with some of their friends they already see around town and/or at other events like AWANA/Church, etc. and maybe an hour or 2 I could sneak in some reading of my own…I am glad I came across this article, for I also have been thinking I am better suited as being an ‘idea generator’ or someone who get things ‘prepared’ for someone else’s class – maybe even newsletter (in the comfort of my own home and on my own schedule). I was feeling a little guilty about REALLY not being exciting about the co-op and seriously considering letting it go…My kids have plenty of other opportunities available to hang out with their friends regularly and I am no so sure this is a good ‘fit’ for our family at this time…It’s nice to know I am not the only one unenthusiastic/on the fence about joining a co-op this year ;-).

  7. Jenni Gallegos says

    Cindy, you are NOT the only mom in the world who keeps her kids home too! 😉

    I have learned through various other life experiences, that a decision made based on guilt is a decision made based on fear (of what others will think, of what my children WON’T be experiencing, of making the wrong decision, etc.). And making a decision based on fear is a bad decision.

    This post was so well written. Thank you!

  8. Margo says

    I just want to say thank you!!! I felt a little guilty saying no to the home school groups, but I felt it was for the best. I pulled my kids out of a private school to home school, so I have had my share of fees, and volunteering, kids bad behavior. I just did not want to deal with other peoples kids anymore. I just want to be with my kids!!! Alot of home school kids are homeschooled from preschool, mine where not. So my kids new what an actually class with alot of other kids involved, and to be honest they wanted no part of it. We did it for a 6 weeks and the co-op was pricey, and very unorganized. And to be honest my kids complained that the kids seemed slow academically. So after our first six week experience I said no more!!:) To be honest it was the worst six weeks of our homeschooling experience.

    • says

      Not every family that homeschools does it for the same reason. You’ll find kids that are on every moral spectrum and every religious spectrum in homeschooling groups. There are co-ops that are INCLUSIVE and EXCLUSIVE. You have to do your research. Even inside those exclusive groups (Christian groups with statement of faith forms to sign) you will find a broad spectrum of behavior as well. It’s like life – and a “box of chocolates”. Never know what you’re gonna git. 😉

      • Margo says

        Unfortunatelly in our town I found only one co-op. I can drive 30 minutes to another co-op, but it just is not important for my kids. Like the book The Year Of Learning Dangerously says.”My kids have their own tribe already” They don’t have to hang out with other homeschooled kids to be social.

  9. Dominique says

    THANK YOU!! While I’d love to get together with other homeschool moms occasionally, I don’t feel peace about any of the groups around nor the costs required to be a part of the community. We have special needs that we will address at HOME. It can be hard enough to be confident that you’re doing everything you can to give the kids all they need without added pressure.

  10. Crissy says

    Your not alone! Our first “full” year of homeschooling I was overwhelmed by the groups, co-ops, and hundreds of extracurriculars that suddenly appeared. In the course of our public/private school journey I’d been the volunteer for everything Mom. My children & I rarely made it home before 6pm or later. During the first full year homeschooling I quickly learned in our area homeschooling families have every advantage of private/public schools. In fact the co-ops we do take are through a private school. However that first year I was the volunteer Mom again. Trying to be apart of everything, thinking its best for my children. Suddenly it was as if we never were home, again we were big into being on the go and again I was volunteering for everything but my own children buying into the socialization for homeschooling families is done through groups and co-ops. Well this year we cut out the state groups, the nationwide agendas, the 200 local extracurriculars, we are only keeping a handfull of things outside our home. This year we are not rushing through each day for socialization. We are getting that dog we never had time for. We are “home”schooling! We will finally be home to invite a friend over to our house. Mom will not be volunteering for every child but her own. Children will have a flexible schedule. No you’re not alone. I am sorry my children had to suffer my mistakes once again while I learned it is ok to actually “home”school at home. I learned saying NO to groups and extras is om too. I wish I’d known this when I started. I figured if I didn’t maintain an overachievers status somehow my children would suffer. Thanks for sharing your story! Newbie Homeschooling Families need to read your story! It could of saved me from my first year homeschooling not ever at home!!!

  11. says

    Love this post. It’s hard to believe there is such judgement among homeschoolers, but I know there is. You are so right – YOU know what’s best for your family. I’ve been gung-ho with our local homeschool co-op the past few years and I know the feeling of not being my best for MY kids because I’m worried about a class I’m teaching for someone else’s kids. This year I chose to teach a class that I want to teach MY OWN kids, so it will force me to stay on track with them! You’ve given me a lot of food for thought though, thanks.

  12. CJ says

    Thank you for being so bold to state what (at least 13) others of us feel. Hooray!!!
    I have not been pressured to join a co-op, but was pressured at the end of May to decide within a week if I wanted to join a co-op because their registration deadline was the first of June. I said, “no” and am glad. I have not yet seen a co-op teaching what I want my daughter to learn so I continue to do it on my own. We are, however, for the first time, participating in one weekly event–a homeschooler’s arts program in which my daughter will get instrumental and vocal music instruction in a group, as well as drama. These are the few things that she has heard about from her public school friends that she felt she was “missing”. So happy to have found a group of homeschoolers that are doing it. Stay strong one and all!

  13. Tracy says

    Bless you Lisa! Sometimes I feel like I’m the wierdo because I homeschool our daughter without co-ops and outside classes. It’s so nice to know there are others out there who are on the same wavelength.

  14. Dawn says

    Wow! Thank you! I just couldn’t put my feelings plainly…but you sure just did it for me. Thank you for making me realize that I am not completely crazy. And I am not the only one. It IS our homeschool and we do know what is best. Every year this time, I almost get sucked into one of these. Ha! I will stand strong.

  15. Anne B says

    Amen. And thank you. I feel firm in my decision, held up by others who feel similarly, and resolved that we will do this our way because this is our family.

  16. says

    This year we said “no” to the local science co-op. My husband teaches 8th grade physical science for the co-op, but I wanted to teach the kids our own science this year. Some of the other parents and teachers look at me like I’ve lost my mind, but I like science and I want to teach it to my kids. It is not a good time for me to teach a co-op class right now as I have enough on my plate and don’t think adding something else would be beneficial to our family. Maybe another year we’ll join again.

  17. says

    Great post. I am going to share this on my FB page. I agree with you 100%. I have had friends ask me about joining co-ops. Personally I feel its not worth the money right now for us. My kids are 5 and 6 they have short attention spans and most of the time don’t like to sit still. I also like you just don’t have the time. And I don’t like our schedule being constrained to a weekly co-op. We are a go with the flow family. We are in a homeschool group but its FREE to be member of it and its mostly just field trips, some monthly clubs and lots of socialization opportunities.

  18. says

    I agree also. It just has not been worth it to us to join any co-op. I don’t want to pay AND then have to donate a large portion of my time to something I’m not even sure my children would even enjoy. I have a chronic illness that sometimes controls my life. How can I commit to a weekly… anything? We just prefer to stay home… and be “home” schoolers. It works for us! =}

  19. Delaine says

    Honestly, there are times that a HS group will plan a field trip that peaks my interest, or a mom will offer a class (like drawing) in something I am not skilled in. BUT, if I wanted someone else to teach my child something, on THEIR time, THEIR curriculum, THEIR place across town, THEIR rules and homework assignments, etc…I would lose what I most value in homeschooling my kids.

  20. says

    We’ve been lucky to never feel pressured by the local groups to join – however, the weird thing is that other people (as in NOT homeschoolers) gasp and can’t understand how we could possibly not be part of a group.

    That being said, this year will be the first year that we are joining an Assoc and a co-op – and doing a class at the zoo …not to mention my daughter wants to take a dance class. Talk about jumping in with both feet, right?!? lol

    But, my kids are almost 14 and 11, and they came to me asking to join a goup. They are at the age where it is understandable that they want to start enlarging their circle of friends. That’s one of the things that I think is so awesome about big families – there are more people in the home, so it’s easier to not need that outside influence.

    I think it’s so important for every family to choose what is right for them. For that year. Because that truly is the beauty of homeschooling and no one should ever make you feel like you have to join this group or that one – it’s your family. Thank you for a great encouragement that it’s ok to go against the grain :)

  21. says

    Lisa, don’t drink the Kool-Aid! 😉 I totally understand where you’re coming from with the kids. We didn’t participate in anything for two years and it was a double blessing for us. I was more focused on them, and they weren’t constantly wondering what was next on the agenda (where do we have to go today?) Co-ops and activities are well and good but they are not NEEDED. They are a bonus. That being said, we did join a co-op last year and decided to continue with them this year… and I get to just be a floater because of my sons special needs, which is also a blessing because I do NOT want to teach a class! :) You’re doing fine.

  22. Christina Hewitt says

    I say, good for you. You stud up for your family. I wish more people would do that more. I had to stand up for my family just to homeschool them. I have learned to say no to people in the last two years. I am a person who likes to please people so saying no was hard at first ,but not any more.

  23. says

    I look at our local Christian support group in a very different way. I have been an active member since 1995 (yes, I’m an old homeschool mom), and while our KIDS haven’t always participated a lot, it’s meant a lot to MOM. That was particularly true during the pre-Internet years, but continues to be so now. In addition to setting up parents’ meetings, family picnics, and kids’ activities (lots of people participate in those, just not our family so much), and maintaining a resource library that’s available at the parents’ meetings, our local group hosts an annual day-long conference for about a thousand people. Without all the group members volunteering their time and energy–even those who can only help out on conference day–that just wouldn’t happen. During the year, it’s the same thing: we appreciate so many gifts of time, whether it’s sitting on a panel for a tough topic, volunteering in the lbrary, or just talking to a first-timer.

    So perhaps you will consider that just more propaganda or kool-aid, but as a group leader, I’m like that guy on TV commercials who used to say “I’m also a customer.” Nobody’s forcing anybody to join a homeschool group, and you have to make your own decision. But some of us do need our groups; and some of our groups need us.

    • says

      I can attest to really getting a lot out of the mom-socialization of our homeschool co-op! 😉 But I found that even in the years that I stopped participating, they were still my friends and I could go see them. Sometimes the groups are great for being in for the kids, and other times, they seem to distract from the academics at home and just provide social opportunities. With my kids being teens and in high school now, we are being much more careful about what we allow to derail us – even as fun as it may sound.

  24. says

    Lisa, I am SO with you on this! We’re heading into our fourth year and I feel like I haven’t really taken advantage of being HOME for homeschool yet. It’s so easy to get caught up in groups, co-ops, field trips, and so forth. This year I find God whispering “Be still” in my ear. We’ve turned down email invite after email invite, and I have to say it feels great! I’m focusing on the kids and our lessons and leaving it at that this year! Great post. :)

  25. says

    Absolutely spot on! I’m almost through my homeschool journey – one in college, one a senior this year – and this is exactly what I did when my children were younger. It was the perfect decision for us. When they grew older (high school) and a group offered “a greater benefit than the cost associated with participating” (love that phrase, Lisa!) we joined up. Seems strange that so many moms protect their children from the power of peer pressure, but can’t give it up themselves. Enjoy your children! And enjoying being home! :-)

  26. Claire says

    Bravo! We do not co-op either. I have always wondered if he co-op movement was based on the misnomer that homeschooled children need socialization outlets outside of the normal family routine and contacts. I am not a hater… I don’t think that co-ops are all bad and don’t have a place, but the bigger question for me has been ‘why?’

  27. says

    I read an article today that was about the link between productivity and QUIET. One thing any homeschool co-op ISN’T is quiet. 😉 There are also some great quotes about being quiet and being left alone more often – and being with your family at home – in Clay and Sally Clarkson’s ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’. I love that book – the quotes in the margins are a must have for any homeschooling parent who needs a pat on the back or clarity. Many of them were from books written about raising children in the 1800’s. I often remind my kids about the “Pioneer Days”. They didn’t have as much chance to socialize when they were on the prairie and they did fine and created a bunch of intelligent, well-adjusted people who aren’t afraid of hard work.

  28. says

    Thank you for laying it all out there. I feel the same way. We participated in co-op last year and it was a miserable experience for ME. The kids all liked it well enough. It just affirmed my reasons for keeping the kids homeschooled. The parents were crazy. I “coordinated” several classes and all parents were supposed to rotate, but it was often a nightmare. No one felt any sense of responsibility and many quit the entire co-op or didn’t come to class and left me in the lurch. We were attacked for our beliefs that were not as conservative as others felt they should be. It was just stressful and a day out of every week that I felt was just wasted.

  29. Tia says

    I know this blog entry was written a week ago, but I am so glad to have read it this morning! I have been going back and forth mentally about my family’s decision to opt out of our co-op this year, and the anxiety is driving me nuts.

  30. Holly says

    Such a refreshing post! I quit my co-op (as a limited member, i.e. I didn’t participate in classes) because the other moms were constantly doing not only the classes together but also a ton of other activities during the week. Being pregnant and sick most of the time I just couldn’t participate and also I wanted time to, um, educate my child. When the co-op leader mentioned in a post she wished she’d been able to get to know the “limited” members better that was the straw that broke the camels back! I already felt guilty for not being able to participate more. I now just joined 3 co-ops which are field trip or “groups” oriented but even now I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to participate with a 5 month old baby. I feel guilty all the time because my daughter does not have anyone to play with in the neighborhood. We rarely go to church because our church does not offer things for her age group to do (6) and we just haven’t found a new church yet. Guilt or not I am just considering quitting the groups until we move or the baby gets older! I’m just so glad to hear others have these issues with co-ops as well. And speaking of opinionated…when I posted a link of another article about co-ops not working for everyone one of my former co-op peers got mad at me!! Even though the article was referring to a completely different type of co-op environment. Ug.

  31. Erica says

    This is such an awesome piece. I just started homeschooling my daughter this year and joined a Christian co-op primarily because of “socialization” fears. As the months passed, I found myself thinking, “This is kinda dull…there’s no enthusiasm, no zing, no zest, and oddly enough, I’ve yet to hear a reference to anything out of the Bible get used during class!” I mean, if it’s a “Christian” co-op, I’d have thought there’d be biblical tie-ins/mentions to the lessons on some level, you know? For example, the other day at home I linked Joseph’s situation to Squanto’s, as both were in bad situations that turned out to be for the better. Stuff like that.

    In co-op, Shakespeare and poetry get read and there’s painting while music from notable composers plays. It just struck me that my daughter gets the exact same thing here at home on a considerably grander, more varied, and much more interesting scale, PLUS I get the biblical instruction and tie-ins I want. So really, what do I need the co-op for?

    I’m not re-upping next year, and it feels good knowing that such a choice is made in OUR best interests, and not of those in the co-op. As my mother used to say, “If they ain’t paying your rent, who cares what they think?” 😉

  32. Christine says

    Thank you!!!! I’ve been fighting this for over a year since we starting homeschooling and am now able to confidently accept that these are not a match for any of us. I just get further and further behind and am developing a bad attitude toward these commitments. We all dislike them & have yet to benefit from them. We’re dropping them.

  33. Candace says

    Thanks so much for this post!!! I really needed it right now. I am planning to take my daughter out of public school after this year finishes and am doing lots of research right now. I will be homeschooling her and her younger brother. I haven’t even shared with my close family that I plan to homeschool yet because I know exactly what I am going to hear from them. My mother says the only way I should ever homeschool is if I join a group. I am not a “group” person. I do not like the pressure for not participating or being there for every activity. I joined a play group and was given dirty looks and eventually ousted because I didn’t show up to two activities in a row. I want my children to have the best education they can as for the reason we will be homeschooling. I don’t want to just socialize them. I want them to explore activities outside the home that they are interested in and meet friends with similar interests. Thanks for making me feel ok with my decision!

  34. says

    There are seasons. I think homeschool groups and co-ops are especially beneficial for new homeschoolers – knowing you’re not alone and getting support is crucial. From the beginning, we were in a co-op for four years and a homeschool group for six years (that I led for four), but last year (after a year of trying CC), we didn’t do a co-op, and I finally got that breathing room that was always out of my grasp. This summer we quit our homeschool group (essentially going to park days) because it no longer was the right fit for our family. Now I will be outsourcing my younger two in homeschool classes one day a week where they do hands-on things (my weak area, being the bookish sort), while my oldest is starting a pilot hybrid homeschool / online school / classical private school program. It’s interesting because looking at all of that, the common thread that made the groups work for us was pioneering them from the ground up. Once communities are established and/or they shift in their identities, it seems like God moves us out into a new season…

  35. kim says

    While we are participating in a bi-weekly co-op again this year, I have to say: “Shame on us homeschool families making ANYONE feel guilty for not going along with the crowd…no matter what crowd it is!”. Seems a bit hypocritical to me that “we” would behave this way. Glad you’re standing up for what is best for your kids and your family right now. Isn’t that why we homeschool in the first place? Love your blog!

  36. Renee says

    This is my first full year homeschooling and I was looking forward to joining a co-op but after looking into it I found one there were only two available anywhere near me, one a half hour one way, the other a half hour the other way. The first didn’t have any openings and it didn’t sound like there was much hope for there to be any in the near future so I turned to the other only to find that I was required to teach a class and that we didn’t have any choice in the classes our children could take. Of the three classes my 5th grade daughter was assigned two were PE and cooking. (The 3rd wasn’t much better sadly) I decided maybe co-op wasn’t what we were looking for after all. Pretty disappointing. Home is where we’ll be doing our schooling.

  37. Julie says

    Good for you! We didn’t join a co-op until my oldest was 12 (and youngest was 5 and I led the class my youngest was in – but didn’t have to teach or prep – just show up!). Like one of the other commenters (or more?) said – I believe in HOME schooling. And we take our involvement in the co-op like I’ve heard many approach homeschooling – “one year at a time.” Mommy’s sanity is indeed very important! And we don’t need to do stuff just because everyone else is (funny how even homeschoolers fall prey to this too!).

  38. ChrisO says

    Through the years, I’ve been on-again-off-again with our homeschool co-op…and never felt pressure from others to have my kids in class. I guess I’ve been lucky. There is a lot of respect in our group, and I’ve made some very dear friends, who have helped me through many ups and downs. If fact, in the years that I chose not to do co-op, my friends affirmed my decision, and encouraged me to do what was best for my family.

    Currently, I’m doing what one of the commenters said…teaching classes that I want my children to do anyway. Last year, I facilitated a Physical Science class and this year I will run a Biology lab class. Teaching helps me to keep us on track because we are meeting with and accountable to others…especially with labs that I can be tempted to put off until “tomorrow”…and tomorrow never comes.

    Today, our homeschool group did it our annual picnic/graduation celebration. My dear friend is getting out of homeschooling because her daughter graduated…and now I am the mom who has been in our group for the longest time…13 years. One of the young ladies mentioned that she looks to me for inspiration and guidance (her oldest is in kindergarten). It impressed me that as an “old-timer”, I have the joy of mentoring younger moms. I don’t necessarily NEED a group these days, but I can see that I have a great opportunity to help others like more experienced moms helped me.

  39. Ginger says

    Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe. I couldn’t agree more on this post and with many, many of the commenters, as well. It is encouraging to read that I am not alone, weird, or wrong for choosing to not participate in these co-ops. I have seen the gamut from overly agressive academic moms that push busy work on the children as hard as they push for you to join (WHAT is that all about?!?), to moms that teach just plain craziness…and many of the kids do not APPEAR to have that certain spark in their eye let alone are most often not kind. So, I too, just politely say no thank you when I’m asked and I try, try, try to put it out of my mind and move on down the road.

  40. Kay says

    I love our teen co-op and my kids do many outside classes and activities. It works well for us. That said, not in a million years would I use a co-op that required parents to teach. I want expert teachers thank you very much. I tried a co-op when my kids were younger, and although it was nice, half the kids didn’t want to be there and it was heavy in classroom management issues. The teen one (actually 10+/mostly 12+) is MUCH better. Kids want to be there are are engaged. The only volunteer requirement is to be a hall monitor 1-2X a semester. Otherwise kids can generally be dropped off for class.

  41. says

    This was a great reminder that different things work (well) for different families! :) At the inception of our co-op we determined that we would only meet for 2 hours (then lunch/play), we would keep it smallish, and our focus would be on enrichment. We don’t want anyone to teach a class unless they are passionate about the topic. I have enjoyed watching children grow over the past 10 years, and I LOVE the gift of pouring into their lives. I also LOVE watching other friends of mine who teach pour into the lives of my boys. I believe we have something very unique.

    Anyway, your post gave me a perspective: not everyone has something like I have and not everyone wants or needs a co-op. And that is perfectly perfect for them! :)

  42. Beth says

    Well said. I’m going on my 10th year homeschooling, I have a son in college, a daughter in her senior year and another daughter entering high school. We did co-op ONCE. ONCE. Not only was it not a good fit, my kids didn’t enjoy it. We are also a secular family and most of the co-ops around here demand a statement of faith before even applying. The whole experience left me stressed and unable to feel in control of my kids’ education. Plus, what is the point of homeschooling if 50% or more of what they learn comes from a classroom setting? That’s not HOMEschool. Good job for saying no. For standing your ground. For doing what was best for YOU!

  43. Autumn says

    We tried the co-op thing, and it was okay until we moved, and then I had too many kids for the co-ops in the new place. We were subsequently put on a waiting list…..forever (they were very faithful about sending a rejection email out every year, however). Then we tried joining one geared strictly for socialization, but they declined to accept us because some of our children have medical issues that may make attending impossible some days. So we are co-opless for the foreseeable future. Its nice to read an article that makes me feel a little less guilty about it.

  44. Rocky says

    Our experience in co ops has been pretty horrendous. Many of the kids do not do their work, many of the mothers are there just to socialize with other moms, many of the kids are as clique-ish if not worse that public school, and many display unhealthy aggression. That being said, we are a very social family and enjoy learning with other kids. We have now left homeschooling to join a charter school where there is accountability, and where there are consequences for physical aggression.

    I find sinners in every circle – public school, private school, homeschool and charter school. I don’t think the school or the group is the problem. I think it is the sin nature of every parent and every child.

  45. Jame says

    I am glad that you have found your voice and are saying “no” to things which do not fit in to your life. As a CoOp organizer, I certainly do not want Moms there who feel like my program is a “burden” or “obligation”. That is NOT the spirit of our CoOp…we want parents to participate because it adds value to their child(ren)’s educational experience(s).

    The very nature of the CoOp that I help run is: “everyone does a small part and we end up with something wonderful for our kids”. That means there is work to be done and everyone does a part. If you want CoOp for your kiddo, you need to do part of the work. If the work takes too much away from your own homeschool or is just not what you want to do, I think it is the best decision you could make to refrain from committing yourself.

  46. Morgan says

    Thank for writing this! My family was part of a co-op a year ago & it was too much like a clique for my liking. My oldest loved it but my younger strongly disliked it because she was just in the nursery all day. About halfway through the year, I started worrying about whether or not the other women liked me, etc. It was calling up all my insecurities as a woman & mom. Not good. We are not a part of it & won’t join another one again. Groups aren’t for me. Hearing you say the same thing is validating. Thank you!

  47. Liz G says

    I’m already “saying no” and my kids are only 1 & 3! I just know it’s not for us. At least for several years. I’m finally getting to the point in which I’m confident in my own philosophy, even if that conflicts with someone else’s.

  48. Anna says

    Thank you for this post. I felt almost pushed and obligated to put my kids in a co-op and then was looked at like I was denying them something when I declined.
    They are thriving being at home to be homeschooled, as you stated in the article the focus is on them.
    Thank you again!

  49. Laura says

    So glad I read this! Our family joined a support group for homeschoolers…it is a lot different than co-op. We have park days, field trips, moms night out, or whatever else we feel the urge to do. My family doesn’t sign up for everything and it’s not a problem for us…I’ve often been given the whole socialization speech for not signing up for co-op. However, we have church, a large family of cousins, many neighborhood friends, & the support group to socialize with! To me, co-op gives the feeling of going to school…and too stressful!

  50. DeeDee says

    I have to say Bravo to you. All of us Moms need to say No to anything we are doing based on fear or guilt or unnecessary obligation. However, I belong to and help lead our local homeschool group and it has been such a blessing. I was so lonely in my homeschooling before joining a group. My kids were getting socialized through church, neighbor kids and other homeschooled friends, but I didn’t have anyone who understood me and my struggles. I felt all alone. Since joining a group I have found encouragement and help when I didn’t know what to do to help my kids with educational struggles. All I’m saying is you might not need a group at this time, but when you do find one that fits you and gives you the encouragement you need and that needs you to encourage others. We’re all in this together. Best of luck in your homeschool year.

  51. Sherri says

    Yep! Do what you know is right for your family! Speaking as a mom who homeschooled our girls all the way through, we were pressured by others to join a co op when they were elementary aged. It was the worst choice I could have made. I was miserable and my kids were miserable. For us, the co-op was short lived, due the fact it was terribly unorganized, unpredictable and several of the children were uncontrollable! Years later, we made the decision to try another co-op for a year. I knew this group better, knew the people in charge of it, knew their kids and loved them. It was a wonderful experience. Homeschool moms, do what you know is right for you and your kids. We loved homeschooling our kids and our kids loved homeschooling.

  52. says

    Wow. Coming from a small town and now living on the road full-time, we have not had the luxury of such groups. But I can see where they can become less desirable. As it is, we keep plenty busy with friends we meet and experiences we have along the way.

  53. Terri says

    Great article. I think co-ops are wonderful for those who want or need them. That said, I just finished my 25th year of homeschooling (only 12 more to go!) and we’ve never done co-op. I chose to homeschool so I could teach my children and give them the individualized attention they wouldn’t get in school. I couldn’t ever see how a co-op fit into that plan. I now belong to one group; the homeschool support group I was asked to start for moms. We only meet once a month because that’s all the time I feel I can spare. The rest is done via a private Facebook group. I see too many parents running themselves ragged going from group to group. I have also scratched my head at parents who have proclaimed that they needed co-ops because their children need to be taught by others or by professionals. I can’t help but wonder why on earth they are homeschooling.

  54. Kim C says

    No Co-ops for us! Never have and never plan to. (notice I said never PLAN to) someday in the future I might totally change and decide that’s exactly what we need. I can’t see that ever happening though. I’m very happy teaching my own little chickens at our own pace and truthfully like lots of flexibility in our schedule. I also like to be the one to teach them all by myself. Sorry, but that’s the way I can know exactly what’s going on and feel like I’m on track. I make no apologies. I’m happy with things just like they are and every day brings us something new and exciting! My kids are learning and I’m (mostly) sane! 😀

  55. Kristal says

    I have eight kids, six of which are currently being homeschooled , grades 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th. We are part of a homeschool group that meets at best a handful of times per year, but other then that we have never joined a co-op, my kids are not into sports and other then their church activities we very rarely participate in an activity with anyone else but ourselves. We are quite happy. I never say never, but I do not see this changing for us anytime soon and I am A-okay with that. Call us a bunch of artsy introverts:)

  56. Jackie says

    I needed to come across this post! Thank you so much for writing it and sharing it with the world. I am a homeschool mom of 1..I feel like because I only have the one that I should have her in co-ops and activities constantly–but then I feel worn down and ragged and our schooling suffers–which makes me wonder why on earth did I sign up for all this? This year I am saying no–and I feel so guilty but I honestly believe we will be better off for it. Thank you!

  57. Karen MacKenzie says

    Unless of course you love to be a part of a co op group, your kids love it and it’s worthwhile to you, even if it means extra work or sacrifice in other areas. Thats the beauty of each family charting their own course.

    No one should feel pressured to join things, but if you want to join up, then do it! Co ops and activities have been a tonne of fun, learning and building friendships for me and my kiddos.

  58. Julie says

    Great arrival! Thank you for posting it. This is my 3rd year homeschooling my daughter. She’s in 3rd grade. I also have 2 boys in PS in 8th grade. I’ve never joined a co-op and always feel guilty about it. We someone asks I explain away all the reasons feeling like I have to defend my choice yet leaving the conversation feeling guilty and questioning my decision. Each year I spend hours looking at the same co-ops again thinking maybe I can make myself join this year.
    It just doesn’t work for us!!! I pulled my daughter from PS for a reason and it wasn’t to put her back in a similar situation. She has several learning disabilities yet is gifted. Her biggest challenge is her sever dyslexia. She sees a dyslexia tutor 2 days a week for 1.5 hours and we drive 30 minutes each way to see her. This takes up a huge amount of time! Then there is her other challenges. I’ve learned to teach to her way of learning and it takes more time than than others. We do a full day of school, meaning 9-3:30 each day to teach the way she learns. Then there’s the time factor of me. I don’t have time to help in a co-op. Doing that would take away from helping her. Yet each year I continue to question myself. She has plenty of socialization with church activities, sports, and neighborhood friends. I’m giving this over to God right now and freeing myself of this guilt! It’s ok that we sent in a co op!
    I feel so much better after reading the post and all the responses. Non-co-opers are out there !☺️

  59. Lisa P says

    I am a leader of a homeschool support group and the high school science co-op instructor. Don’t talk down to those who use co-op as a tool. It can be a great asset when you might not be great at a subject. My kids loved doing science lab with a group of kids their age. Not many families like doing dissections and more advance science in their homes as well. We have a fabulous Spanish teacher and some great art instructors. It also gives the kids a different teacher and deadlines for assignments. I feel our high school co-op helps get the kids ready for taking college classes. Many of our kids take clep exams after taking the classes to get college credit. I find the people who have the hardest time are those who don’t use lesson plans and schedules at home. We also have met some wonderful people. Yes there is always going to be rose that miss behave…. You find that no matter where you go but this is where your training is put to the test. How do your kids respond to the inappropriate situations. Have they learned to redirect a conversation when it isn’t edifying. Co-op is not for all families and you have to choose what works best for your family but don’t look down on or speak poorly of those who do use it. I love our group and have made some life long friends!

  60. Jen says

    Having been homeschooled myself I say, please put your kids into SOMETHING. You know, it IS hard and stressful to get out and do these things but our children are SO worth it. I can’t imagine anything being more worth the stress. I come from a big homeschooling family. -Cousins were all homeschooled. Not a SINGLE child (now adults) hold deep, painful grudges to their mothers for keeping them so locked up. Kids deserve life and experiences outside of their home. I was so lonely as a teenager and hurt very deeply that other kids my age had so many great experiences in life and I was stuck at home with my mother. While I love my mother very much, I wanted so badly to just be around other kids like me. She just refused to do any of the co-ops or anything. It was so difficult. Anyway, this really spoke to my heart and upset me to read. It brought back many painful memories of what my own mother and aunts would say.

  61. Ruthie says

    Wow. Thank you. I’m the leader of our local Hs group and we did the co-op thing last year and I was constantly hurried. This year I said NO. Yes, I did get some looks and inquiries about why someone in leadership didn’t want to participate. The truth is, I love co-op but I have other more important responsibilities that outweigh co-op.This year I have taken on homeschooling my teenage brother and getting him ready for the GED and college. Yes, it’s a HUGE task, but not one without its rewards. So this year, it has been necessary to turn down co-op and free myself of any guilt attached to it and it feels good. Thank you for your post!

  62. Cathy says

    I looked at a co-op in our area. It was too much like school. If I wanted that, I would have sent him to public school. I also use to be in a homeschool group. We use to do fun things on Friday’s. After awhile, they started the “classroom” stuff. A few of us broke away and continued doing fun things.

  63. says

    I differ w opinion w this article. First I wish the author would of explained the different types of coops, academic and enrichment. In academic a parent is provided a resource in an area of weaknesses. For example, you reach out for a human anatomy or geometry teacher because you lack exp in the area. In an enrichment co op you reach out to fund a class like karate or ballroom dancing for your child to have fun in an area of interest and provide your child like minded kids to socialize with. The word co-op doesnt mean your a bad parent, that you are lazy, that you can’t teach it all, but means you are open to using resources in your area to provide yiur child the best education possible. Many kids learn differently and you have to recognize classes that can help. I think this article is lacking in educating the public on types of co-ops, pros and cons…but instead portrays it in a negative light which will prevent many from looking at co-ops at all. We need to always be open to researching areas that can help our children flourish.

  64. Annie says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!!! I have had my family w i th two different CO-OPs and we went because of guilt. I have finally broke free and it feels great.

  65. Crystal says

    Good for you! I really like the idea of a co-op, but there are so many reasons I chose not to join. Sometimes homeschool groups just aren’t the thing you need for your family. When something good has the potential to cause so much trouble, it’s better to opt out. The trouble for us is the amount of things we’d have to give up, the cost, and the amount of my time I’d have to give up in order to participate in the co-op. It’s an option I keep in the back of my mind for next year, or the year after…maybe.

  66. Ashli says

    THANK YOU!! I am just so glad I read this today. This is my first year homeschooling and it has been interesting to say the least. I love it, and I feel my 6-year-old loves it too, but the idea of joining a homeschool group has been weighing on my mind. I am a very shy, quiet person and the thought of having to co-op or teach other kids besides my own is, to be honest, terrifying. I’m not against it by any means for others, and I do like the idea of having my son join in activities with other children, but the co-op that is offered in our area just seems so very demanding. Its not free for one thing, which is a problem, but it would also be a huge demand on our time together at home. I also have a 3 yr old who wouldn’t be able to be involved in any of the activities offered…so what would I do with her? I just have been feeling so guilty for not signing up for it, like I was keeping my kid from something he really needed, but now I don’t feel so bad about it. Thank you for helping me with that…

  67. Yvonne says

    I am in the exact opposite situation. I sought out a co-op for next year because I loathe teaching science, and I am ready to trade my enthusiasm for teaching subjects I like in order for someone else to reach my kids the dreaded science. And, my youngest will be on 1st grade, so no diaper bags or nurseries to worry about. This particular co-op really does fill up quickly and has a waiting list, so I was relieved we were able to get in. So, for those of you who are NOT in the place where a co-op is beneficial, you can look at it as a benefit to those who really want to be there.

  68. says


    I really like your article. As a mother of 7 children under 10, I have to say that finding time is already difficult enough. I have to force myself to sit down and take a break without feeling guilty let alone participate in a co-op. My oldest is a part of an orchestral music program he attends with public school kids. He plays the cello and sits in the first chair (so proud of him), that means traveling 3 times a week to the next county of my state. We’re also a part of Saints P.E. which is great for them and great for me because I connect with a few good friends and get to breathe and speak to adults for a change. So, all in all, life is busy. I just wrote a fictional (kid’s) book about a home school family called: Holme Days: Bitter Bites, which shows the real deal about home school life!

  69. Jaimee says

    I was searching for encouraging articles on this subject since I quit our co-op and was feeling guilty. Thank you so much! I know better too since I’ve been homeschooling for more that 16 years but I still needed reassurance haha! I taught ballet at our co-op for a year and was on the leadership team. I felt like it was benefitting other families but not mine. We have a lot going on and a lot on our plate without the co-op. But the guilt is there haha. Thanks again!!!

  70. Leanne says

    Ugh!!!! You have no idea how much I wished I would have read this 2 months ago! Now I’m knee deep in remorse, regret, and stress after joining a co-op only to be thrown into the preschool room to entertain with not a single toy to speak of…thank you for your thoughts and I’m SO glad I’m not alone in them. At least I’ll know better for next year ????

  71. Nikki says

    Thank you for this!!! I began homeschooling my eight year old son this year and have been thinking about joining a homeschool meet up or other homeschool groups in my area for the sake of my son getting to be around other homeschool kids… but ugh, I don’t want to! I feel a sense of obligation but my son doesn’t seem to mind not having friends. We do lots of outdoor activities as a family and I take him and my daughter to the park every other day or so and he plays with kids there sometimes, and I feel like this is all he (and my daughter) really needs as far as social interaction. We’re all homebodies and very quiet people and having a bunch of social activities for my kids just doesn’t fit our family. I feel better knowing there are other families who feel the same way!


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