There are a wide variety of homeschooling organizations that new homeschoolers can turn to. Most organizations will not fall neatly into any one category so the following definitions are generalizations.
A support group usually has periodic meetings for its members and provides various activities such as field trips, 4-H, scouts, sports, yearbooks, and graduations. In general, you must formally join a support group to participate. There may be a membership fee. Some may also offer park days, co-ops, classes. Many support groups are based on a religious belief or educational approach. Some may require leaders and/or members to sign a statement of faith.
Co-ops are classes organized and taught by parents. For students to participate, their parents must contribute by teaching classes or assisting the co-op in other ways. In general, co-ops have no or low fees and you must be a member to participate. Co-ops may also require a participants to sign a statement of faith.
Park Day groups are more informal support groups that are based on meeting at a park on a weekly basis. There is usually no membership requirement and you may show up as desired. The groups exist to simply interact with other homeschoolers. There isn’t necessarily any specific activity planned for the park day. Some groups will organize other activities such as field trips as desired.
Tutors/classes organizations provide classes to homeschoolers for a fee. Teachers are generally independent contractors and set their own fee. You may pay a general enrollment fee to the organization that is sponsoring the teachers and another fee to the teacher on a monthly basis. Parents are not required to contribute to the group as in a co-op situation.
These groups focus on a specific service or area such as theater arts, gifted children, or field trips. They may requirement membership and payment for their services.
A Statement of Faith is a document detailing a group’s religious beliefs. Often an organization will require it’s members to sign and support the statement of faith. Some may only require it of people in leadership or teaching positions. Others simply require participants to acknowledge the statement but not necessarily agree with it.
These are usually discussion or announcement groups that exist online only. Other groups will often post their announcements on such groups.
Inclusive groups usually allow anyone to participate in their activities. Some may still have a statement of faith but do not require people to agree with it in order to join their group.
Exclusive groups limit membership usually based on religious beliefs. These groups will often have a statement of faith that all members are required to sign before joining.
A University Model school is a private school that offers classes twice or three times a week like a university. Parents supervise the student’s work during the remaining time. It may have some co-op elements as well.