As parents, we encourage our children to read high quality literature at home, but another great way to boost interest in reading is through peer experiences such as a homeschool co-op. Through my own experiences in numerous local co-ops, I've discovered some helpful steps for forming a group and making it run smoothly.
1. Choose a Focus Group for Your Literature Co-op
Who do you want to include in your homeschool literature co-op? Just boys? Teens? Girls Only? All ages? Think about what you want out of the group and what age ranges you are going to include. Some factors to consider are the size of your meeting area and whether or not you have enough teachers to teach a wide variety of ages.
2. Choose a Book for Your Literature Co-op
Once you have your focus group chosen, you need to make a book selection. In our co-op we have focused on American Girl books and the Little House on the Prairie series. Other great book selections would be
- Chronicles of Narnia
- Anne of Green Gables
- Charlotte’s Web
- Sarah Plain and Tall
- Magic Tree House series
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Pretty much any title from your BookShark curriculum will work, too! When making the book selection, consider the age range of your participating families. Be sure the title serves as a good family read aloud if you are including younger children who won't be reading the book independently. Some series, such as Little House on the Prairie, have picture book versions that are good add-ons for families with younger children who are tagging along.
3. Choose Classes for Your Literature Co-op
Through the years our literature homeschool co-ops have included a wide variety of classes, all centered on the novel we were reading:
- Arts and Crafts
For example during our American Girl co-op meetings, we offered a ball room dancing class to go along with the Felicity book. During our Little House on the Prairie class, we learned how to churn butter and can vegetables. Our history focus in one co-op was on the Gold Rush and included mining for gold.
Make the classes fun and offer hands on learning to cement what the children have learned when reading the books.
4. Choose a Time Frame for for Your Homeschool Literature Co-op
Are your classes going to be weekly, biweekly all day or half day? Talk to the parents interested in your co-op and find out what works best for the majority of families. Take into consideration how often you will need to rent or use a facility, the ages of your children (younger kids may need half day), and how long families can commit to the literature co-op.
5. Choose a Price for Your Literature Co-op
Your co-op will cost money, so be sure to charge per student. This allows teachers to purchase supplies and allows you to rent a meeting space for your co-op. Prices can vary from $5-15 per student. Charge more your first co-op and adjust for other classes accordingly.You will also need to decide if you are going to offer a discount for multiple children and whether all parents are required to share the teaching burden.
Once you start your homeschool literature co-op you will learn what works and what doesn’t. You will be able to gauge things like cost, time, and class sizes to make changes for your next session.
If you are considering starting a homeschool literature co-op, I encourage you to start small. Make your first session just girls, or just boys, or limited to a small age range. These smaller groups help you get your feet wet and gain confidence.
Homeschool literature co-ops are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of fun! I have thoroughly enjoyed many of the books we have read, the friendships that have been made, and the lessons learned.
About the Author
Misty Bailey is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 5 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.