Monday, February 22, 2010

Alternative Co-Oping: Parties and Shopping, Oh My!

The Blog Cruise question for this week is, "What do you think of co-ops?"  Co-ops can be a wonderful experience, I am sure.  While reading The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, I tried not to be jealous of the great co-ops the author and her children participated in.  I wish my high schoolers had that opportunity but it hasn't worked for us when available and hasn't been available when it would have worked for us.  So what am I going to ramble on about, with a topic I have no experience in?  Actually, I find it to be a good opportunity to share how we connect with a few other families for a little homeschool fun and a bunch of other families for great homeschool discounts.

I have never participated in a formal co-op, but I have had several seasons of my life where one or two or three other homeschooling families and I would get together monthly or every month or whatever.  It's actually amazed me how this cycles through.  Just when we start missing the get-togethers (we have moved, others have moved, people decide they no longer like us. . .you know, the normal way things end), we connect with a couple different families and someone mentions regular get-togethers and we smile and nod excitedly.  We have had three or four seasons like this, and they have been good experiences for the most part.   

Sometimes these get-togethers were just for "socialization", sometimes we would take turns leading some sort of activity for the kids, sometimes we would plan field trips.  We have had tea parties, built gingerbread houses, learned about horses (pony rides included!), beach days, Cranberry Thanksgiving parties (that's my specialty), gone to the zoo, browsed the Boston Museum of Art, gone to the theater, and the like.  This has been an easier way for us to connect with other families than participating in a formal class.  I realize this may not meet all the needs a co-op can, but it is what has worked for us so far.

I guess we're just homeschool partiers.  I'm okay with that.

I'm also a homeschool shopper.  And when I hear the word co-op, I now think of Homeschool Buyers Co-Op.  I've actually been meaning to share about the Buyers Co-Op with you all, so this is a great way to make me sit down and write it!  Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op is free to join and the more members they have, the more deals they can offer.  They work with companies that offer products of interest to homeschoolers, usually online subscriptions, software, e-books and the like, and provide discounts for bulk purchases.  We have purchased Descarte's Cove software, Pokemon Learning League (unfortunately discontinued), Explode the Code Online, and Click-N-Read Phonics through the co-op at greatly discounted rates.  Just to give you an idea, we saved 58% on the Explode the Code Online and 50% on Click-N-Read.  I always check the Co-Op before ordering any kind of online subscription.  It's been a great way to save on the computer learning that helps me out as a mom of many.

If you click on the Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op box in the left hand sidebar and sign up that way, I will receive Smartpoints which can be used towards some products.  But that's not why I'm sharing with you, so if you'd rather just click through yourself, no worries!  Here's the non-Smartpoints link; Buyers Co-Op.

It's a different take on co-ops, I know.  With ten years of homeschooling left (OH MY!), I may experience a co-op yet.  For now, these two versions of co-oping work well for us.  What about you?  Have you had great experiences? So-So? Survived the co-op from Hades?  This is a great question to get some feedback on from you, I love feedback!  Give me some comment love. :-D

Check out more answers to these questions at the TOS Crew Blog Cruise Hub.  
Links will be posted each Tuesday!


2 comments:

Berry Patch said...

LOVE Homeschool Buyers Co-op! I enjoyed reading your take on this Blog Cruise. Great job! And do you live near Boston!?!?! We are heading there this week for a couple field trips.

Lori said...

I do, we're about an hour from Boston. Our 12 passenger van never fits in the parking garages there though! I have to valet park at Children's Hospital cause I'm too chicken to try and squeeze into their garage. =:-O
We have never been to the Science Museum though! I have planned the trip 4 different times and EVERY TIME something happens and we can't go! I'm hoping maybe this year we'll actually make it there!

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