Whether rules for homeschool co-ops are essential or excessive shouldn’t depend on whether you are the hard working homeschool leader or the appreciative homeschooling attendee.
Unfortunately, this can be the case when you have a structured homeschool co-op.
There are several things that can affect whether a homeschool co-op has rules that literally fill up a booklet or they have informal guidelines.
One thing that can affect rules, which are hotly debated go to the very root of parenting style.
Understanding why rules are in place always helped my family to not let it sour us about attending homeschool co-ops.
Not only do some leaders have rules in place because a tragic incident may have happened before, but when you rent a room, normally the establishment has rules in place too.
For example, one place we rented had a very busy parking lot. With cars backing up and constantly going back and forth, we had to have rules in place for the kids’ safety.
Though none of the girls serving on the board of the homeschool co-op I led were helicopter parents, we would never want any harm to come to any child. We had to make rules, like a child could not go alone to the bathroom or wander around alone at the building.
Middle and high school kids did not have to be accompanied but you would be surprised at how many parents thought it was okay for a younger children to go accompanied because they felt their child was old enough to watch for traffic. Maybe so or maybe not.
Too, our group was responsible for cleaning the bathrooms after the co-op. Many moms expressed their gratefulness for cleaning a bathroom where young kids were not left unattended. Enough said.
Another rule we were adamant about that would sometimes bristle the hair of new families attending our co-op is that our co-op was not a drop and run place.
We required the parents to be there for the co-op. We were not a babysitting service, the disciplining police or teen dating chaperones.
Some co-ops are very large and have parents assigned for those roles. However, because we chose to run our co-op informally and not a mini version of public school, we required parent attendance.
As the homeschool leaders we went to great lengths to treat every child like our own when they were misbehaving. Kindness and love is always the way to treat every child at the homeschool co-op.
What Keeps Your Homeschool Co-op From Getting Better?
However, when that didn’t work, mom and dad know their child best. Discipline has to be applied in the right measure with each child and because kid’s feelings can be very tender, it is a role for the parent.
Being reasonable is also a must for every homeschool leader. When needed we made reasonable exceptions to our rules.
For example, we had one family that was expecting another child and mom couldn’t attend one of our biggest co-ops of the year. She asked another family to be responsible for her kids who didn’t want to miss out on the fun.
We were more than glad to accommodate this family because all of their kids were so well behaved and supportive of the co-op.
The very basic rule for any of our excursions or co-ops was that children were well-behaved and showed up ready to learn.
Of course for toddlers, it was always okay for them to toddle around instead of mom having to fight and hold them all the time in her lap.
When our older children were still, whether standing or sitting, our toddlers eventually modeled the example of our older children as they grew older.
It is very normal in a lot of co-ops for toddlers to move around and we expect our older kids to learn the same way they do when they are home, which is to tolerate the little ones and learn to listen even if the toddler is a bit distracting.
It is different if a toddler is loud and crying, then our moms would address their needs. However, toddlers can learn early on that when we come together, it is for the purpose of learning together and it starts by letting them see what is going on.
Our toddlers were not in danger of being ran over because older kids did not rough house. We simply did not have to put up with kids that couldn’t behave.
Having a few, but meaningful rules was essential in our homeschool co-op. We always appreciated it when parents would ask the thinking behind the rules because we didn’t make them needlessly.
When the formal part of the homeschool co-op was going on, we expected the same behavior as if they were at home doing school. When the co-op was over and it was time to have fun and socialize, our group still followed the rules.
We were blessed to have a great group of moms and dads who cared about all the kids’ safety and understood that rules were in place as a protection.
How about you? Do you attend a homeschool co-op where you feel that some rules are meaningless?
Hugs and love ya,