Sunday, December 29, 2013

Co-ops, money matters and more!

Join me as I interview Carol Topp, CPA extraordinaire as we discuss the ins and outs of money matters in regard to co-ops and other issues that pertain to homeschoolers (such as fund raising)!  If you are like me, the thought of formalizing your co-op into a non-profit might not have entered your mind.  However, there are benefits to becoming a non-profit and, if you hire teachers you may find it quite beneficial. 

Carol Topp is a retired homeschooling mom who is also an author, speaker and consultant.  Check out the products and services she offers at her website:

The show will air on Wednesday, January 1, 2014, at 10:00 am, but will be archived and available via iTunes afterwards!

If there are other issues you would like to hear more about on future shows, let me know!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Co-oping in the Midst of Trials

Are you going through a rough time in your personal life?  Experiencing trials and tribulations in the midst of homeschooling sometimes requires thinking outside the box.  My recent interview with Charlotte provided insight for an additional reason to consider homeschooling, co-op style!

Content to homeschool at home (apart from co-ops) for years, Charlotte found herself in the midst of a divorce.  To say this trial wreaked havoc with her routine would be an understatement.  An invitation to visit a co-op changed her world and helped both Charlotte and her daughter in so many ways.

Whether you are going through trying times, or you know someone who is having a rough time, be encouraged that homeschooling co-op style may be the life-changing experience for such a situation.  Listen live on December 18, 2013 at 10:00 am EST or to an archived copy of the podcast afterwards.  The Ultimate Radio Network is the site for the live show, but the show will be available via iTunes as well!

January is usually a month for reflection, goal setting, and changes.  If you are not homeschooling co-op style, give it a try -- even if just for a short period.  You may be surprised and pleased with the many benefits co-oping has to offer!

Like our Facebook page in order to be up-to-date on recordings, events, and more!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Podcasts, co-ops, ministry and Medieval history . . .

For those of you wanting to know more about homeschooling co-op style, listen to the podcasts from the Ultimate Radio Network (they are archived and available on iTunes).  Today I am interviewing Felice Gerwitz, speaker, author and friend, and she has a lot to share about co-ops, homeschooling and more!  Felice and her daughter authored the Truth Seekers Mystery series that my children loved to read growing up!  Future podcasts include an accountant who will discuss the ins and outs of co-op bookkeeping and an interview with a friend who discovered co-ops in the midst of trying times.  A lot of variety and a lot of information!! 

Now that our American Girl co-op has ended I am researching and planning a Medieval history co-op that will begin in January.  We'll go from an all girl co-op to a co-ed co-op.  We are switching from meeting on Mondays to Thursdays so that parents will have Sundays free from being used as the day to finish co-op preparation!

For years I planned our co-ops to end before Thanksgiving and to resume mid-January.  By doing this our family had weeks free to enjoy the holidays!  One year we had a holiday specific co-op.  I'll write about that soon because it may be something you want to try, especially if you are desirous of incorporating meaningful ministry into the holidays! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting dads involved in co-ops!

The norm for most homeschool co-ops is to have the moms participate, often to the exclusion of dads.  This may simply be due to logistics (dad's at work), but when there is a desire to include men, there is a way to make it happen!  With intention and purpose men can become a part of your child's co-op and having men on hand to teach, lead, and show by example is very beneficial to the life of a child.

One year we had a ten week co-op with only teen boys on current events, persuasive writing and public speaking.  We purposefully met at night so that dads could attend, and many of them were able to join us.

Our co-ops often have guest speakers and many times the dads are the guest speakers.  Several of our co-ops have been blessed to have Ryan Sprague volunteer his time to speak into the lives of our teens.  Ryan is an author, athlete, dad, pastor, speaker, and friend.  I interviewed Ryan on my Homeschooing Co-op Style show and we talked about co-ops, footballs, dads participating in co-ops and more!  You can hear this interview here!  (Click on the MP3 button on the page.  It is also available in iTunes.)

Some of my friends have started a co-op for teens that is being taught by retired men who are training the students in skills such as small engine repair, computer programming, home improvements, and more!

Think outside the box, and invite the dads to be a part of your co-op!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Homeschooling Co-op Style Show has Launched!

Yesterday was the first Homeschooling Co-op Style show to play on the Ultimate Homeschool Network!  If you didn't hear the interview live, you can listen to the archived talk at any time!

During the first show I interviewed Suzanne who has organized a co-op for teens in Florida.  Her co-op includes such topics as worldviews, current events, the Constitution, economics, conflict resolution and more. Suzanne first joined one of my co-ops in 2010 when we studied the Scopes Trial.  The co-op was called Inherit the Truth and for those of you interested, here is a copy of the newsletter from that co-op!  (Click on the picture of the court house to see a copy of the newsletter.)

Next week on the show I will be interviewing Ryan Sprague.  Ryan is an athlete, an author, a speaker, a homeschool dad, a pastor and a friend.  Dads will appreciate what Ryan has to share to encourage them to listen in as well!   Ryan is currently one of the guest speakers at Suzanne's co-op.  Join us next week for the Homeschooling Co-op Style show on Wednesdays at 10:00 am!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

One of the main benefits to homeschooling, co-op style, is providing a safe and friendly environment for students to develop and hone public speaking skills. Research shows that people are more afraid of speaking in public than of dying!  The longer you wait to require your child to speak in front of a group, the harder it will be for that child to overcome the natural fear of speaking in public.  However, if you begin having your child give presentations in front of a group at a young age, that fear is quickly conquered!

This fall I am orchestrating an American Girls co-op that my grand daughter, Karis (age 7) attends with 7 of her friends.  I have heard from two parents that their children were terrified of giving a presentation to the group.  If the parent hadn't told me that I never would have guessed that was the case because the girls did such a great job!  As the weeks go by the girls are becoming more and more comfortable with giving a presentation.  Some totally memorize their report while others use note cards.  One of the students has used power point several times and has even included video!  Several of the students have come to co-op dressed as the American girl we are studying that particular week.

It has been amusing to note that several times a few of the girls do not want to share some of the information in their presentation because they are embarrassed by the subject so they have their moms share that particular part with the group.  Karis will share embarrassing information (i.e. dye was sometimes made from duck poop), but then she will giggle.  It's adorable.  Younger siblings have participated as well, often holding a picture up during the report.

Whether you organize a co-op that becomes the center of your academic study, or you plan one that is simply to provide a safe and friendly audience for public speaking opportunities, I encourage you to give homeschooling, co-op style a try!  Some things are just better together!

Our "Homeschooling Co-op Style" show will begin on October 9th, so mark your calendars!  (There's a video on this page with a short introduction to the show.)

And, if you haven't entered our drawing for a free iPad mini, the contest is about to end so add a comment to the blog in order to enter!!!   Happy co-oping!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Upcoming Radio Show

As you may have noticed, we've launched the Ultimate Radio Show and to celebrate we are giving away an iPad mini!  If you haven't entered, leave a comment here and you will be entered!!  But, WAIT, don't leave without clicking the second picture in the blog so you can see the promo video for the show!!!

Although the shows will be audio only, and archived (and playable on iTunes) and FREE, I added slides to my promo video and you can see that here!

Feel free to share the news of this site with others.  There are many shows with a wide variety of topics.

I am passionate about homeschooling co-op style and I hope to share this vision with all of you.  If you have anything in particular you would like me to cover regarding co-ops on my show, leave a comment.

I will be interviewing guests now and then and am excited that our first show should be up and running by Wednesday, October 2, from 10 to 11 am!!  Thanks for all the kind comments so far.  I appreciate your support.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

FREE iPad mini

How exciting would it be to win a free iPad mini?  I have entered so many contests in the past and most of the time I wonder if the contests are even legitimate!  This contest is legitimate.  I can not share all of the details with you just yet, but I will soon.  The contest is going to be linked to the grand revealing of a brand new homeschool podcast site called The Ultimate Radio Show!   Boy, do
I wish we had something like this 28 years ago when I began homeschooling!   As soon as this site is launched you will have access to podcasts on a variety of subjects and you do not have to listen online (although you can) because you will be able to download the talks to itunes!!!  How cool is that?

I am also excited that I have been asked to do a weekly show on homeschooling co-op style and I already have several guests lined up to interview for future shows.

So, if you want to win an ipad mini, stay tuned!
If you want to know more about the Ultimate Radio Show, stay tuned!
If you have questions regarding co-oping that you would like answered, send them in!!
If you blog and you want to share the contest with your readers, let me know!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hear ye! Hear ye! Co-ops should include newsletters!!

Although publishing a newsletter is not a requirement to enjoying a successful co-op, it certainly adds to the co-op in many ways.  Here are a few benefits of publishing a co-op newsletter:

  • The newsletter can be inserted into the portfolio to show the student's work
  • Sharing the newsletter with family and friends is an easy way to keep others up-to-date with your child's school work!
  • Keeping the newsletters to pull out and look at later stirs up fond memories of fun times!
  • If the newsletter includes the student's published reports then they will be motivated to make sure their written presentation is presentable!
  • By including pictures and summations of presentations (or the reports in full), one no longer needs to keep additional photographs and written work on hand.
There are various ways to share the newsletters with co-op members.  Some co-ops have chosen to print out all of the newsletter after the co-op has ended in order to have all of the newsletters bound together with a spiral binding.  Others have chosen to share a digital copy of the newsletter weekly, allowing the receiver to decide whether or not to print the newsletter and/or to print the newsletter in color or in black and white. 

The publishing program I prefer to use, Microsoft Publisher, has templates that easily set up a newsletter format.  Regardless of the program used, the main idea is to publish a newsletter that documents the co-op. Below is a copy of the front page of the American Girl co-op that just started yesterday.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bring in the Speakers!

Homeschooling parents often feel inadequate to teach certain subjects and, fortunately, there are resources at our disposal that include tutors, videos, specialized classes, and more!  When our children become teenagers the co-ops we organize include subjects that are more challenging than the basic reading, writing and arithmetic of earlier years.   In order for our teens to begin thinking more critically about the world in which we live, it is good to include subjects such as current events, philosophy, world religions and worldviews, apologetics, logic, and debate.  Meeting together as a group enhances the information presented.  Co-ops also provide a great opportunity for the students to hone their public speaking skills.

In order to address these subjects adequately we use curriculum and Philosophy Adventure, mentioned in another blog, is a great example of a useful publication.   We also use resources found on the internet (presentations, videos, and more), but one of the most effective additions to a co-op is the inclusion of guest speakers!  This is especially true when the subject matters are unique or when they are too difficult to understand (much less teach).

In Dayton, Tennessee this fall there is a co-op for teenage boys that will teach the students basic skills such as small engine repair, toilet repair, ipod screen replacement, and more.  Most of the fathers of the boys in the co-op work during the day and cannot participate in the co-op  Most of the moms are willing to do what they can, but few have the skills necessary to teach these classes.  The common sense solution is to utilize retired men who are willing to teach these subjects!  This particular co-op has found enough men to help and the co-op will begin soon.

In Tallahassee, Florida there is a co-op that is focusing on theology, character, and the Constitution.  What joins these subjects together?  Glad you asked!  Ben Carson's newest book, American the Beautiful, is perfect for this co-op!  That is just one of several books the students have been assigned to read.  In addition to meeting together once a week to discuss the books, current events, character, and more, there are men scheduled to come in periodically to teach theology, economics, and character issues.  Not only are the speakers qualified to teach the subjects in depth, but having a variety of speakers helps hold the interest of the students.  And, since in most cases the parents who participate in the co-ops are usually the moms, it is nice to have men come in to teach when possible.

If you find a speaker perfect for the theme of your co-op, but he/she cannot be present during the time your co-op meets, then schedule an additional time for co-op in order to take advantage of that speaker!  Most speakers do not require a fee for their services, but some do so be sure you come to an understand beforehand.  And, if the speaker does not require a fee, consider presenting him/her with a gift of some sort in order to show your appreciation.  Two years ago we were honored to have a local man come in every week and speak to our co-op for 45 minutes to an hour.  We were more than appreciative of his willingness to take time away from his schedule to invest in the lives of our students and as a way to show our appreciation, we took up a monetary offering for him.  The students, who were also appreciative, contributed monetarily as well, and some even organized fund raisers in order to add to the amount given to the speaker.

Are you part of a co-op or are you planning one for the future?  Then consider bringing in the speakers!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teen Co-op Resource

WARNING:  This post will be duplicated in my worldviews in review blog so if you read that one, no need to read this one!

Having teens meet together once a week for co-op is a great opportunity for challenging the students to think seriously about their future.  When one discovers a well-written book that the teens will enjoy and it's filled with wise advice, one celebrates!  When such a book is found one should purchase said book and uses it in co-op, with intention placed on forming breakout sessions so that the book can be discussed in depth!

My teenage son, Matt, and I had the privilege of reading this book before it was published.  Not only does this book contain the advice all teens need to hear, but it's written so well that teenagers will enjoy reading the book  Each chapter is filled with wisdom from differing areas of life and the advice should be pondered, discussed, and then wisely applied.  

It has been interesting to observe teen after teen attend leadership camp at Summit Ministries who get all excited after hearing the same thing their parents have been telling them for years, as if it were brand new information.  Why is that?  Because someone other than mom and dad are speaking into their lives  Parents, rather than being offended, are quite happy when these truths hit home, regardless of who (or what) finally causes the connection!  

The book is about a grandfather who introduces his grandson to various people who share great advice with him  The grandson is an athlete heading to college on scholarship.  Do not let that specific scenario prevent you from getting this book for daughters or for sons who are not athletes, because the advice applies across the board regardless of a young adult's future plans.  

The author of this book, Ryan Sprague, is also a very articulate, entertaining, and knowledgeable speaker. You should contact him to speak in your area.  You won't be disappointed.

If you have friends who teach, coach, counsel, and/or mentor young adults, tell them about this book   Lastly, if you click the picture of the book you can order it from there!  You won't be disappointed.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nine Little American Girls . . .

Years ago I helped organize a co-op for young ladies that included my daughter Kimmy (who is now married and living in Colorado).  This fall I'm repeating that adventure with my granddaughters, Karis and Tessa, along with seven other little girls.  Using the first of each of the American Girl books (Meet ______) as the basis for the study, we will get together once a week for three hours!  Lessons will include Bible, character, current events of that time period, geography, social studies, vocabulary, and more.  The girls will give a presentation that relates to the book and/or the time period of each particular week. We will also have thematic snacks, crafts and games!  

Our kick-off party was last week and the girls had a great time getting to know one another. We made feathered clip-on earrings that can be worn at the first co-op since Kaya, a Native American, is the first book we will cover.  

Above is a sample of an organizational chart I am putting together for each week of co-op.  The chart only covers the first three books in the series.  We will also be publishing a newsletter weekly that will include a recap of the co-op as well as the student's presentations.

There are several movies made about the American Girls and we plan to have a movie night during the week that the study coincides with the girl featured in one of the movies.  The movies are well done and each movie includes more than a few relevant issues to discuss afterwards! Movie night will be a fun learning adventure!! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Co-ops for Teens

One of the reasons I loved co-oping when my children were younger was the fact that they could all stay together (for the most part) in the co-op and I could be a part of this experience as well.  I love participating in my children's education and I love it even more when we can all study together.  Once my youngest child became a teen I began directing the co-op studies towards matters that pertain to teens only.  The first co-op with teens only was a ten week co-op entitled "Current Events and Persuasive Speech." This particular co-op was for boys only and we met at night so dads could join us.  The transformation from boys standing before the group, shaking in their boots as they read their presentations, to boys standing behind a podium, on stage, delivering a presentation without notes, was amazing.  And in just ten weeks time!!

We have since enjoyed teen co-ops based on the following units of study:

  • The Scopes Trial that took place in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925.  
  • Foundations of Truth
  • Vocation and Calling
This fall my youngest will be part of a co-op that is based on the Constitution and U S Law.

Next spring the co-op plans to include the newly published curriculum entitled Adventures in Philosophy!  I wrote a review on this curriculum here and am excited that it will be included in a co-op.  

One of our main goals with each co-op is to create a group environment conducive to asking questions, having discussions, doing research, and sharing information both with one another and in front of the group.  We have learned that dividing the students into smaller groups for break-out sessions tends to encourage everyone to take part in the discussions.   We assign student leaders for these groups, but rotate assignments so that each student has an opportunity to lead a group (whether they like it or not).  

In order to teach teens to ask questions, question answers, conduct research, and give presentations, it doesn't matter what subject you choose to study, it only matters that you have a subject to study and a plan for carrying out the study.  The subject can be something as specific as the Scopes Trial to something as general as Truth.  Don't be intimidated!  Gather a group and plan a fall co-op!  Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, or suggestions!!  

We are in the midst of publishing and updating co-op guides so that parents can use the materials we have put together.  Check out or website,,  periodically for updates. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fall co-op ... do you need help?

There's still time to plan for an eight or ten week fall co-op.  All you need is a location and time to meet, a few families to join you and a theme for your co-op!  Right now I'm helping to organize three different co-ops, two for grandchildren and one for a friend.  Because I have organized and conducted co-ops for more than 20 years, helping others is not only easy, but it is also enjoyable.  If you have been wanting to be a part of a co-op, but have been afraid to get one started, message me.  I'll be glad to help via email or phone! Our website shares a little bit of information, and we'll be adding more to it in the near future:

We have an instruction guide to help you start a co-op as well as unit studies that are easily used in a co-op. Because I have a large family, I love having my children together in the same classes, sharing the work load with parents.  Creating a safe and friendly environment for children to share oral presentations provides
public speaking experiences that are vital to raising children who are not afraid to communicate in public! Including breakout sessions for discussion helps improve critical thinking skills, as well as teamwork.  Having children of various ages learning to work alongside and together with one another is socialization at its best!

The fall co-ops I am helping organize now are based on The American Girls books, transportation (boats, planes, cars and trains), and a co-op for teens (I will share more about teen co-ops soon).  With the advent of Pinterest, the task of finding thematic snacks, crafts, and science experiments has become much easier than before!   Take a look at the board I'm putting together for the transportation co-op:

My email is  Feel free to write with questions or suggestions.  If you want me to call you, send your phone number!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cars, Planes, Boats and Trains

The previous blog post spoke to making boys into manly men by teaching them important life skills.  This post is about organizing a co-op for the younger boys and girls, based on the history of transportation.  My daughter who lives in Texas with her three sons (ages 6, 4 and newborn), will be hosting a co-op this fall and she has asked me to help her organize it.  Asking me to help organize a co-op is like inviting a chocoholic to a "Death by Chocolate" event.

One of the reasons I love co-ops, as a homeschool mom, is that children of various ages can participate, keeping families together.  Another reason I love co-ops is because the parents share responsibilities, lessening the work load.  But, one of the better benefits of having your children participate in a co-op, especially at young ages, is that you can create a safe and friendly environment for the students to give presentations.  The earlier a child begins to speak in "public," the less afraid he'll be of speaking in public later.

With a co-op centered around transportation, it will be easy for a young child to give a presentation to the group because he can do something short and simple, such as holding up a picture or a model of a mode of transportation and saying a few sentences about it.

Here is a preliminary schedule for a transportation co-op:

Week one:     Walking with mention of wheels on carts, early boats and animals
Week two:     Chariots, wagons, bicycles
Week three:   Cars
Week four:    Trains
Week five:     Boats
Week six:       Planes, balloons, dirigibles
Week seven:  Emergency Vehicles
Week eight:   Rockets
Week nine:    Future transportation (driverless car, trips to moon)
Week ten:      Review and party

The subjects we will include are as follows:  devotions, songs, manners, timeline, science, thematic snacks, student presentations,  geography, craft, games and pre-view of next week.

One of the highlights of our co-ops has been to publish a newsletter that includes a re-cap of co-op highlights as well as the children's presentations.  Of course photographs are included as well.  The newsletters are great to share with others, put in your child's portfolio, and keep as a memory to enjoy later.

Below is a chart of what the first week of this co-op might look like.  Eventually we plan to publish all of our co-op guides as a part of our "Better Together" series, but for now you can use this and if you send me your email address, I will share the plans for the other nine weeks as they are developed!

For thematic snack ideas, go here:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making Boys Manly Men via Co-ops

If you have boys, then consider starting a co-op like the one Linda, here in Dayton, Tennessee, is organizing. Her son enjoys using both his mind and his hands and, at this point in time, desires to go to welding school instead of college.  She has a vision for a fall co-op that has many parents excited in this area.  Arriving at our meeting with a stack of books Linda shared her idea of having retired men in the area teach our sons (daughters are not necessarily excluded) how to do things like repair small engines, tune up a car, replace the inside workings of a toilet, build a computer, do wood working, replace screens on iPods, and more!

As you can imagine the moms are quite excited.  People began throwing out names of retired men who would probably love to be a part of this co-op.  One mom, who only has a daughter left at home, suggested having a co-op at the same time for the girls who aren't interested in learning those particular skills.  The idea was shared that the young ladies could prepare home baked goodies for the men who will be volunteering to help with the boys co-op.

Although I am a huge fan of co-ops that include a variety of ages of students, both male and female, there are definitely situations that call for separating ages and genders and this is one of those cases.  Not only will this co-op be blessing to the retired men, the men will be blessing our families and we will be raising boys who will be able to bless their families with the skills they learn!!

Better together -- co-operative learning at its best!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Co-ops Can Coax the Shiest Ones Out of Their Shells!

When we organize a co-op we allow children of all ages to attend (unless the subject is too mature for a younger audience). We insist the children not be disruptive, but we allow the parents to decide if their child has to give a presentation, or not. We encourage everyone to give presentations, but realize that sometimes it helps to let them observe for a few weeks. During this time they will realize that co-ops are a safe place, and that no-one is going to make fun of them or belittle them. They will be inspired by watching other children give presentations and, more-than-likely they will soon ask to give a presentation!

My youngest son was extremely shy when he was 4 years old. I called him my "clingon" ... not from Star Trek, but because he was always clinging to my leg. To be honest, I didn't expect him to show any desire to do a presentation at co-op, but after a few weeks he surprised all of us by his presentations. After he decided he wanted to participate, he readily memorized a report and then presented it with relish. His first report was about Galileo's law of falling bodies. He not only explained the principle, but he illustrated the law by standing on a chair and dropping items.

At another co-op we had a mom attend with her two young children to observe, but not participate. By the third co-op the young children had asked if they, too, could give a presentation and the next week they shared about their new kittens, showing photographs to the class.

The geography co-op we had one year was so large that in order to have everyone give presentations, we had the entire family give one presentation each week on a particular country. We found this worked out great for larger families. The youngest child, usually 2 or 3 years old, would hold up a flag of the country while the other children would share little bits of information about that country, oftentimes wearing costumes or bringing props to share with the class. I'll never forget the presentation given by one family on the Easter Islands. This was the first time that they participated in a co-op. As they got out of their chairs and headed to the stage they sang, "Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro?" and then they proceeded to talk about the huge stone statues found on the islands, many of which had low hanging ears. It was great!

Statistics say that people are more afraid of speaking in public, than they are of dying. If you began encouraging your child to give presentations to groups at a young age, then they are less likely to be deathly afraid to speak in public when they are older. Not only do the young ones participate, they often do a better job than some of the older children who, until trained otherwise, stand in front of the group and read a written report in a monotone voice.

Don't be afraid to organize and/or participate in a co-op this fall! More-than-likely you'll be amazed and impressed by the presentations given each week and it won't take long before the shy ones are not-so-shy any more!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Welcome to Better Together Co-ops -- a blog written for the express purpose of encouraging homeschooling parents to participate in co-ops from elementary age through the high school years.

Let's start by defining a co-op:  Co-op (noun, action verb!) -- a group of children being taught by a group of their parents, cooperating together to make the experience a success. 

Co-ops are a fun way to include such vital subjects as research, logic, public speaking skills and critical thinking.  Meeting together with several families on a regular basis accomplishes several goals:
1.  A safe and friendly environment is created for the students.

2.  Responsibilities are shared among the parents, easing the workload of each family.
3.  Children of various ages learn to cooperate and interact with other students.
4.  Socialization is monitored.
5.  Students who excel raise the bar for other students, motivating each other to higher performance standards.

What subjects can be taught?  There is no limit to the variety of number of subjects that can be included in a co-op.  We'll discuss this more in the future, giving suggestions for specific co-ops.
How many families should be involved?  We've had co-ops that included just a few families to co-ops that have included more than 10 families.  
How long should a co-op last?  I recommend each co-op lasting for 8 to 12 weeks and no more.  If a co-op needs to last longer in order to complete a particular subject, then divide it into two semesters, breaking for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.
What ages can be included in a co-op?  We've had co-ops that included infants to teens and we've had co-ops that were restricted to specific ages and, at times, specific gender.  

When and where do you meet?  We've met at houses, office, parks, churches, and at outside locations.  Our co-ops have generally met once a week for as little as 3 hours to as many as 5 hours, with a lunch break.  We've met in the mornings, in the afternoons, and even in the evenings.
Why am I writing this blog?    Over the years I have organized and conducted numerous co-ops and have found that co-ops make a homeschooling mother's life much simpler and more enjoyable when done well.  Karin Carpenter (another homeschool mom) and I have co-authored two books on co-oping.  One is an instruction manual on how to get started, Better Together, and the other is a guide to using ten of the books written by Patricia Polacco in order to enjoy a "Cross Cultural Cruise" co-op.  My other publications include unit studies on the Civil War, inventions & inventors, worldviews and entrepreneurs.  Each of these publications are easily adapted to co-op use.  Although a curriculum isn't necessary to the success of a co-op, using materials that have been written specifically for that purpose often helps quell the fears of first time co-oping parents.

We are in the process of building websites for each of these publications and will link to those as soon as the sites are up and running.  Meanwhile, feel free to send in any questions you may want answered concerning homeschooling and co-oping!