As I mentioned on my Facebook page, I signed up my 7th and 9th graders for a local co-op this year, mainly because they've never had the experience with one before. Our first day was this past Tuesday and it got me thinking a lot about co-ops in general, as well as other ones that we've been in before.
I think that if you are considering either joining or starting a co-op, you really need to ask yourself what it is that you want this co-op to accomplish. Make sure you know the answer to this question before you begin.
For example, we've been a part of weekly co-ops in the past that mainly offer enrichment classes (i.e. covering topics and subjects that you always want to get to but never seem to get to!). We would meet each week but, for the most part, each class and the corresponding work didn't carry over into the other school days. When we were in this type of co-op, we had our own curriculum that we did and home and then went to the co-op and covered things like art, music, Spanish, sewing, writing, drama, photography etc. Sometimes there would be homework, but it wasn't usually a lot.
We've also been a part of a co-op, when our kids were very little, that met only once a month. The kids were all broken up by age groups and a few moms would run each group. We'd do things like arts and crafts, Saint stories, songs, etc. This was when us ambitious moms were young and full of energy - and so were our kids!
This particular co-op that we're involved with now, at least for the 7-9th grade group, is one where we meet once a week and then each day after that has assignments related to what we did as a group. In other words, this is our curriculum. We're currently covering Tan's new books "The Story of Civilization" and "The New Testament", as well as volume I of the IEW Narnia books, Apologia Physical Science, beginning Latin and art. Every 4th week we will go on a field trip as a group.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to structure a co-op, and this doesn't even get in to how to assign helpers for the myriad of tasks that need to be done! That is another post altogether. You need to make sure that the co-op you are joining/starting meets the idea of what you want for your children. No matter what, a co-op should be a fun and engaging place for your kids to learn and one that you all look forward to going to!