The following is a guest post from Melissa from The Cork Board.
Because our son is an extrovert who started in a traditional classroom setting, I knew we would need to schedule regular outings as part of our homeschool experience. Aside from our academic community, we also joined a field trip co-op.
It has been a phenomenal experience for our family. I know a lot of our families like it because it’s a low cost, low commitment way to connect to others and take advantage of field trip offerings that are only available to groups. Here’s how ours works.
Our field trip co-op accepts enrollment during the early summer months. Due to the nature of the co-op, rolling registration is not possible. Google Forms have been super helpful for this.
Each family fills out a form that includes basic information (contact, homeschool style/curriculum, etc.) plus an additional form for each child that profiles activities and interests. These submissions are compiled into spreadsheets that are made available to all members. Because we only meet a couple times a month and come from a wide age, geographical, and style range, this data helps families make more intimate connections outside of the community events if desired.
Our max size group would be about 40 families. We are growing pretty fast and will probably create 2 separate groups so we can keep our planning model the same.
Once registration closes, each family submits a detailed field trip idea that includes available days/dates/times, location, price, contact information, and description. These ideas are all voted on by the entire group. At the end of the summer, all the moms attend a mandatory planning meeting to assign the top 9 choices a month (September through May excluding December). Additionally, we plan one social event per month (i.e., Back-to-school picnic, holiday parties, science fair, field day, etc.).
At the meeting, moms sign up in pairs to coordinate an event or field trip. Some events may require more or less moms depending on your group size. We all take a week or so after our big meeting to nail down specific dates for our events and publish them in advance so everyone can mark their calendars.
Our group uses BigTent to communicate, schedule events, and handle RSVPs and sign ups. About a month before each event, the coordinators send out an invite with payment instructions (if applicable). Families are able to pick and choose events as they wish. The only mandatory event is the one you coordinate.
To cover basic administrative costs and church rental for our social gatherings, each family pays $15/year. Additionally, we pay for field trips as we go.
Does your family participate in some type of co-op? If so, what kind?
Melissa is a is a photography-dabbling, veggie-loving, housework-hating, triathlon-trying, homeschooling, grace-needing mom who blogs about her family’s adventures in adoption and classical homeschooling at The Cork Board.