How Do You Handle Lab Classes in Homeschool?

I’ve noticed many people think if someone is homeschooled, that automatically means they will never see their friends again, they will turn into a total anti-social hermit, and they’ll get off easy because their mom loves them too much to mark them down on a test.

…I’m not sure where this stereotype came from.  I’ve never met a homeschooler like that.  And believe me, I was homeschooled for nine years, so I’ve met lots of homeschoolers.  All the homeschoolers I know spend more time in their car or at someone else’s house than their own.  See, there’s this thing called a homeschool cooperative (homeschool co-ops for short).

Co-ops Provide Many Fun Opportunities for Homeschoolers

Homeschool co-ops can range from huge (as in, seventy families) to small (two students).  From picky (you must sign this document, pledge this, believe that, don’t do certain things) to completely open (you don’t go to public school?  Pssh, you’re in).

There are also co-ops within co-ops.  Now, before you get confused, hear me out.

Basically, homeschool co-ops means that a bunch of homeschoolers comes together to help each other.  In the case of the whole families, they are usually just referred to as “homeschool groups.”  That ‘help’ could come in the form of organizing field trips, providing music lessons, teaching calligraphy, 4-H, sports, etc.

Now, all of those “field trips,” “music lessons,” and “4-H” are considered individual co-ops (simply because the homeschoolers are cooperating on something for the greater good of everyone).  My homeschool group holds monthly meetings in order to support and encourage each other.  Usually, during the meeting there will be sign-ups for all the individual co-ops.

The most common co-ops in our homeschool group are Foreign Languages, Government, Literature, and Science.  So, preparing to take Chemistry this next year, but feeling a little bummed out because you think you’ll miss the experiments?  Not to fear!  Most chemistry textbooks come with experiments written out – just find a couple of friends in your homeschool group who are also doing Chemistry, and voila! You have a lab group.

How Does a Homeschool Lab Group Work?

My experience with lab groups usually went as follows:

-We met every two weeks, after having read the lesson/chapter.

-We would then work together to complete the experiments – this usually required some cooperation beforehand to see about gathering the experiment supplies.

-We took lots of photos, filled out our lab sheets, and even briefed over confusing points of the lesson to understand it better.  The group effort helped all of us strengthen our weak areas.

Now, I understand that’s not how all lab groups work.  Some parents wrangle their students together in a group, then one of the parents will teach it once a week or so, followed up with the students completing the labs.

While there are many ways to do a lab group and/or any co-op, they are all beneficial to the students and parents.

Be sure to Ask A Homeschooler if you have any other questions about lab/co-op groups!


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Tialla Rising is a homeschool graduate and a published author. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her amazing husband, where she enjoys reading, Netflix, writing, and more! Visit her website at

April 11, 2014


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