TEXAS HOME SCHOOL COALITION

2013 LEADERS’ GUIDE

The THSC board has developed this Texas-specific guide for groups, to be a help and support for the work they do, hopefully cutting down on “reinventing the wheel” by sharing information gathered from support groups and leaders from across the state.


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Basic Organization

1.1 STARTING A GROUP

1.2 GOVERNING DOCUMENTS

1.3 GROUP MEETINGS

1.4 ESTABLISHING RULES FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION\

Chapter 2 – Leadership of a Support Group

2.1 LEADERSHIP OF A SUPPORT GROUP

2.2 JOB DESCRIPTIONS OF SUPPORT GROUP LEADERS

2.3 TRAINING YOUR REPLACEMENT

2.4 A CALL TO LEADERSHIP EDUCATION

2.5 ARE YOU READY TO BE AN OARSMAN?

2.5 CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP?

Chapter 3 – Finanaces and Insurance

3.1 HOW DO WE OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT?

3.2 MONEY MANAGEMENT FOR HOME SCHOOL ORGANIZATIONS

3.3 ACCIDENTAL MEDICAL AND GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE PROGRAM

Chapter 4 – SUPPORT GROUP COMMUNICATION

4.1 SUPPORT GROUP COMMUNICATIONS

4.2 GET STARTED BLOGGING

4.3 MEMBERSHIP FORMS, DIRECTORIES AND HANDBOOKS

4.4 NETWORKING AND NEWSLETTERS

4.5 NEW WEBSITE = NEW LIFE FOR SUPPORT GROUP

Chapter 5 – PUBLIC RELATIONS

5.1 CREATING THE IMAGE SOCIETY HAS OF HOME SCHOOLERS

5.2 GETTING THE WORD OUT: ADVERTISING YOUR SUPPORT GROUP

5.3 HOW TO WRITE A MEDIA RELEASE

5.4 PERMISSIBLE ACTIVITIES OF PACS

5.5 PROMOTING A POSITIVE IMAGE

5.6 WINNING THE PUBLIC RELATIONS BATTLE

Chapter 6 – CO-OPS

6.1 CO-OP CAUTIONS

6.2 HOME SCHOOL CO-OPS: A VIABLE CHOICE FOR CHRISTIAN HOME SCHOOL FAMILIES?

By Ruth Perez

6.3 MODELS AND TYPES OF CO-OPS

6.4 SAMPLE FORMS FOR CO-OPS

6.5 SHOULD A CO-OP BE LICENSED FOR CHILD CARE?

6.6 CO-OP POLICIES AND CONTRACTS

6.7 CO-OP STUDENT/PARENT COVENANT

6.8 SAMPLE CHILD PROTECTIONS POLICIES FOR CO-OPS

Chapter 7 – FIELD TRIPS

7.1 WHY FIELD TRIPS ARE IMPORTANT

7.2 FIELD TRIP FUNDAMENTALS

7.3 PLANNING FIELD TRIPS

7.4 SAMPLE FIELD TRIP PERMISSION

7.5 POLICY FOR FIELD TRIPS AND SOCIAL FUNTIONS - SAMPLE

7.6 FIELD TRIP GUIDELINES - SAMPLES

Guidelines Sample 1

Guidelines Sample 2

7.7 FIELD TRIP PLANNING SHEET - SAMPLE

Chapter 8 TEENS AND THE SUPPORT GROUP

8.1 MEETING THE NEEDS OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

8.2 TEEN HOME SCHOOL ACTIVITIES IN ABUNDANCE

8.3 PLANNING A GRADUATION

8.4 TEEN GROUP PARENT ACTIVITY SIGN-UP - SAMPLE

8.5 TEEN GROUP MEDICAL RELEASE AND INFORMATION - SAMPLE

8.6 TEEN GROUP APPLICATION - SAMPLE

8.7 TEEN CODE OF CONDUCT - SAMPLE

Chapter 9 SPORTS AND THE SUPPORT GROUP

9.1 HOW TO GET STARTED IN SPORTS

9.2 HOME SCHOOL SPORTS - AN ESSENTIAL TEACHING TOOL

Chapter 10 – SERVING NEW HOME SCHOOLERS

10.1 SHARE THE VISION? WHY?

10.2 GETTING STARTED ORIENTATION ONLINE

10.3 HOSTING GETTING STARTED WORKSHOPS

10.4 CURRICULUM INFORMATION FOR ORIENTATION MEETINGS – Sample

10.5 COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS AT ORIENTATION MEETINGS

Chapter 11 – DEALING WITH PROBLEMS

11.1 PEACEMAKING AND HOME SCHOOLING

11.2 PREPARING HOME SCHOOLERS FOR CONFLICT

11.3 THE REBUKES OF LIFE: GOD’S SAFETY NET

11.4 IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU - DEALING WITH CHILD ABUSE

APPENDIX

Statement of Faith Sample 1

Sample Constitution 1

Sample Constitution 2

Sample Bylaws 1

Sample Bylaws 2

Sample Bylaws 3

Civil Practice & Remedies Code


Chapter 1 – Basic Organization

Find more information on starting a support group: establishing governing documents, organizing meetings, and establishing rules for your organization as well as the life cycle of a support group.

If you are homeschooling, see a need for a support group, and feel up to the challenge, you should consider a few things before getting started.

Carefully define your group early in its existence and determine the type of group you wish to form, the purpose of the group, and your goals for the group. Many groups have made the mistake of waiting until several families were involved before they saw the need to define their group.

THSC strongly encourages support groups to develop governing documents early in the life of the group. As groups grow, often leaders begin to recognize a need to develop such documents and guidelines, only to run into much resistance from their members. These documents are the foundation of a support group, and in the long run, it is much easier to loosen guidelines than to tighten them. Many groups have suffered splits as a result of a poor foundation and a lack of governing documents.

THSC hopes the articles and sample documents it has collected will help you get started. Once your group is established, don’t forget to get connected to a regional group – if one is available in your area – and get connected to THSC.

The Life Cycle of a Support Group

1.1 STARTING A GROUP

If you are homeschooling, see a need for a support group, and feel up to the challenge, you should consider a few things before committing. Does the fact that there is a need mean that you are the one to start a group? What effect would it have on your family? If your own home school would not be enhanced or would be adversely affected as you minister to other families, this is probably not something you should do. Examine your motivation. Do you have a servant’s heart, or are you seeking a “position” or recognition?

How does your spouse feel about your desire to start a support group? Does he/she understand? Do you have his/her support? Is he/she willing to watch the kids while you are involved with the new support group?

If you have determined that starting a support group is what you are to do, gather some like-minded friends for a brainstorming session. Discuss what the vision for the group is—what type of group should it be, what is its purpose, what are its goals.

Type, Purpose and Goals

Carefully define your group early in its existence. Many groups have made the mistake of waiting until many families were involved before they saw the need to define their group. Something happens (usually something negative), and then it becomes apparent that the group needs to be better defined. The more families that are involved, the harder it is to come to an agreement regarding the goals and purposes of the group. Too many times this has produced hurt feelings and hurt relationships. It is much better to hammer out who you are with a small group of like-minded people, then hang out your shingle to let people know your direction so they can know if they want to join you and your direction.

At this point, the leadership will probably want to draft some governing documents.

Type

Will it be exclusive or inclusive? Is it only for a select group (church members, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, secular, etc.), or is it open to any home school family?

Will the group be Christian or secular? If Christian, will it have Christian leadership with open membership or exclusive membership?

If you choose to have a distinctively Christian group, your name should reflect that. You will probably need a statement of faith. You should have a measure of accountability to a church or an advisory board.

How big will your group be? The size of your group will determine the type and scope of many of the activities. It is very difficult to limit membership after a size problem arises or to split a group that has become too large.

Purpose and Goals

In determining the purpose of your group, decide what the principal purpose of your group will be. There are three basic goals for home school support groups: provide activities for students, co-op classes, and support for teachers/parents.

Activities Group

If your focus is on student activities, i.e. field trips, bike rodeo, symphony, etc., your group might GROW at an astonishing rate. Be prepared! This will be a high-intensity, rewarding group. Everyone needs to have a job, or those in leadership will burn out fast. The contact person may be overwhelmed with phone calls or emails. It will be best to meet in a supportive church with lots of space and flexibility.

A sample group:

Co-op Classes

Starting a co-op is complicated and tricky! It requires a good organizer. You will need to locate adequate meeting rooms and decide whether the teachers will be paid or volunteer. (If the teachers are volunteers, will the teachers’ children get first pick of classes? Will childcare be provided for their younger children?)

Lower grades can have rotating topics, each mother taking responsibility for a month or two, to provide classes in art, science, geography, physical education, or another elective.

Upper grades may need more structure in order to count as a “credit” on a transcript.

Sample small co-op:

Support for Teachers

If your purpose is to provide information for the parents, with informative programs or speakers, your group will attract brand-new home schoolers, and the experienced ones will be feeding them. (See Appendix for information on the Smoothing the Way program. We highly recommend this program as a way to keep from “reinventing the wheel.” Topics for meetings might be How to Homeschool, How to Teach Math, etc.

Providing information for the parents is very time consuming but greatly needed. It must be viewed as a ministry.

If the purpose of the group is to provide fellowship and encouragement to the mothers, your group will probably remain small. Moms need this kind of group the most, but they tend to give it low priority! This group is easiest without children present unless you are meeting in a park as a playgroup.

A sample group:

Keep in mind that many groups try to meet all of these different purposes, and some do that very successfully. The key to success in reaching any or all of these goals is having leadership that has the heart and the vision for working in these different areas. See Chapter 2 – Leadership. 

1.2 GOVERNING DOCUMENTS

THSC strongly encourages support groups to develop governing documents early in the life of the group. As groups grow, often leaders begin to recognize a need to develop such documents and guidelines, only to run into much resistance from members in their groups. These documents are the foundation of a support group, and it is much easier to loosen guidelines later on than to tighten them. Many groups have suffered splits as a result of a lack of governing documents and a poor foundation. This article outlines the types of governing documents used by many support groups.

THSC suggests developing documents when the group is small and consists of like-minded people. Then you can “hang out your shingle,” letting people know who the group is; then they can decide to join or not join based on that information. That is not to say that changes and adjustments will not be made over the years as issues arise.

The following are the types of governing documents used by many support groups:

1. Statement of Faith or Statement of Purpose

This document best explains your reason for forming a voluntary association. Please be aware that requiring members to sign a Statement of Faith does not necessarily guarantee that they will agree with every tenet of the document. Neither will it guarantee that the members will always behave in accordance to their stated beliefs.

2. Constitution

This is a written instrument embodying the rules of an organization. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, only the following should be included in a constitution:

  1. Name and object of the society.
  2. Qualification of members.
  3. Officers and their election.
  4. Meetings of the society (including only what is essential, leaving details to the by-laws).
  5. How to amend the constitution.

3. By-laws

These are governing or founding documents adopted by body; a rule made by local authority to regulate its own affairs. Many groups combine their constitutions and by-laws into one document.

See samples of governing documents.

Statement of Faith Sample 1

Sample Constitution 1

Sample Constitution 2

Sample Bylaws 1

Sample Bylaws 2

Sample Bylaws 3

1.3 GROUP MEETINGS

Most established home school support groups began with a group of moms who got together to provide fellowship for themselves and their children. These are the support group’s first meetings, and many times the group continues to maintain these “play date,” informal meetings, where the moms fellowship and the kids play. However, sooner or later the question will arise about how to plan and conduct group meetings.

How often?

One of the decisions that the support group will need to make about meetings is how often to meet. Some groups have regular meetings on a monthly basis, some quarterly, and others on an as-needed basis. The general meetings for the whole family will usually be held less frequently than moms’ meetings, classes, field trips, and park days.

Where to meet?

Once the frequency of the meetings is determined, a place needs to be secured. Libraries often have “community meeting rooms” that can be reserved, usually for a fee. Churches will sometimes work with home schoolers by making a room available for support group or other home school activities, especially if the support group is a branch of the church’s ministry. Occasionally a school in the community will allow home schoolers access to their facilities for meetings or other activities. On occasion, the group might want to rent a community center for a meeting or event. Some of these options may require someone to research the cost and rules.

What agenda?

Your general meetings will probably follow a set order each time. Most will begin with announcements and news that concerns home schoolers. There might be prayer requests and prayer. The president of the group will usually lead the meeting.

If the group has a program planned with a speaker, panel, or video, this will be presented after the meeting officially begins. Sometimes groups might bring in speakers from regional groups or other home school-related organizations. There may be times when local “celebrity” home schoolers are asked to speak.

The leaders will want to plan programs that will meet specific interests or needs for home school families. It is good to seek input from members who might have heard of beneficial information from outside speakers.

Where two or more home schoolers are gathered, there will be fellowship! Decide whether members will be asked to bring goodies or if there will just be a time of fellowship until it is time to turn out the lights and leave.

Childcare

Determine what the policy of the group will be concerning childcare. If the group pays teens to watch the younger children, the parents will be more able to focus on the meeting topics. If it is decided that childcare will not be provided, the policy might be to expect certain behavior from the children attending with their parents, or suggesting leaving them with a babysitter might be in order.

When home schoolers secure facilities for meetings, good behavior and respect of property are incumbent on good public relations. If children are present, parents must take responsibility for the behavior of their own children. Sometimes parents can get so involved in their own socialization that it is easy to neglect not only how their children are acting but also their own consideration for the host-facility.

It is a good idea for the group to formulate a list of standards or rules for different meetings or activities. A code of conduct is a good option.

The officers or an appointed committee should brainstorm for topics to be covered in meetings. Some possibilities might be:

Other activities are often made available through the local home school support group. The same standards should be expected, as applicable, to each of these activities. Following is a list of some of the possibilities.

  1. Field trips
  1. Park days are enjoyable for both moms and students. These days give the children an opportunity to run and play. A lot of tips, ideas, and encouragement can be shared among the moms as they keep an eye on their offspring.
  2. Some groups have a track-and-field day when the weather is nice. One group uses this day to also have tables set up as a convenient time for families to renew memberships and sign-up for the following year’s activities. This time helps coaches, co-op leaders, tutors, etc., plan for their year as well.
  3. When home schoolers finish with their books and resources but still need to shop for more, they sometimes want to sell their materials. Some groups have used-curriculum sales. Members can reserve space to lay out their materials so other parents can shop for bargains.
  4. If one of your members is qualified to administer standardized tests, such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills or SAT test, she can set up dates and times. Parents who want their children to participate will need to register in advance.
  5. Following is a list of children’s activities that some groups have made available to their members. These activities are usually coordinated by members who are not officers. The local support group is usually comprised of parents with a vast array of strengths and interests!
  1. Academic or P.E. co-ops can be invaluable for parents who wonder how in the world they will be able to cover all the subjects to which they want their children exposed. Sometimes a small group of moms might co-op in teaching (from their individual strengths) each other’s children, usually in groups.

Larger groups sometimes form co-ops in which parents will pay (through co-op classes) teachers for various subjects. The children will meet in classes that are taught by these instructors.

The options for home school support group meetings are as independent and individual as home schoolers themselves. There are no limits, as long as willing workers keep having new ideas

1.4 ESTABLISHING RULES FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION

An organization requires certain rules to establish its basic structure, manner of operation, and formally adopted rules of procedure. Some rules should be made more difficult to change--or to suspend--than others.

The various kinds of rules which an organization may adopt include the following:

Corporate Charter - a legal instrument that sets forth the name and purpose of the organization and whatever else is required for incorporation. This document should be drafted by an attorney.

Constitution and/or bylaws - the basic rules relating to the organization itself, rather than the parliamentary procedures it follows, which should:

Rules of Order - the written rules of parliamentary procedure formally adopted by the organization. A copy of Robert’s Rules of Order is available at http://www.robertsrules.com/.

Standing Rules - the rules which relate to the details of the administration of an organization rather than parliamentary procedure and which can be adopted or changed upon the same conditions as any ordinary act of the organization.

Organizing your organization

Robert’s Rules of Order has a comprehensive discussion of these topics and is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject.

Civil Practice and Remedies Code


Chapter 2 – Leadership of a Support Group

Learn more about the leadership of a support group: sample job descriptions of support group leaders, tips on training your replacement, and great articles as well to inspire and encourage leaders.

Leadership of a home school support group can be a thankless job. As a wise man once said, “Leading home schoolers can be like trying to herd cats!

But for those who endeavor to persevere, THSC hopes the following articles will provide encouragement, inspiration, practical tips on distributing the work, building your leadership skills, training your replacement, and more.

2.1 LEADERSHIP OF A SUPPORT GROUP

Leadership is vital to all groups regardless of size or structure. While every group is unique, there are some common characteristics that are true of all groups.

An excellent place to study leadership is in Exodus. In Exodus 18:13-24, Jethro advises his son-in-law, Moses, to stop trying to do all the work of leading Israel alone, for “you will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” (NASB) Moses needed to delegate, and so do you. There are many options in leadership, but to be effective for any length of time, leaders need to share the workload with other like-minded individuals.

Organization

If you have not already done so, it is very important that your group write a mission statement. This is basically the “why we exist” statement for your group. You should refer to this statement frequently to ensure that everything you do falls within the guidelines of your mission statement. To whom are you ministering? In what ways are you planning to minister to them? Once you have answered these types of questions, you can then decide how your group should be organized to best fulfill its mission.

Officer Selection or Election

How are the officers chosen? This is a foundational question that is probably best answered very early in the life of a group. Once this decision is made, it is more difficult to change it later. Some of the most common methods are:

Elected Officers – The members of the group elect their officers from a list of willing candidates. Those interested in running for a particular position submit their names for consideration and/or nominations are taken from the membership. A vote takes place, and the winner takes office for that term.

Appointed Officers – Under this system, leaders are asked to serve in specific positions. Generally a board or the existing leadership reviews the membership for qualified individuals. Once a decision is made, the selected individual is asked if he would be willing to serve. The membership as a whole does not have a voice in this decision. This is also known as a “self-sustaining board,” due to the fact that the board selects its own members with either limited or no input from the general membership.

Volunteer Leadership – Under this system, leaders volunteer themselves for a position.

Makeup of Your Leadership

Support groups have several types of leadership just as home schoolers have many methods of teaching their children. Diversity can be seen in every area of home education. Following are the most common possibilities:

Moms only – Many groups take this option by default. Since it is the moms who are doing the work and moms who are attending the functions, it is moms who are in leadership. This option has the advantage of more convenience in scheduling meetings and ease in getting volunteers to lead. It is, however, limiting in some ways.

Men and women – This option provides the advantage of utilizing the inherent strengths of both men and women in leadership. A disadvantage is the fact that it can be more difficult finding men who are willing to serve. This brings us to the advantages of the third option.

Couples – This choice allows all the advantages of having men and women in leadership, but it generally makes finding men who are willing to serve easier because they are serving as a team with their wives.

What do you look for in a leader?

A good start is to seek those out who already feel called to serve in a position. Taking the time to really know your candidates will help you find those called to servant leadership.

Look for people with a particular talent in an area. Allowing people to lead in their area of strength or expertise will make the job more enjoyable for them as well as generally making them more effective.

Probably the most important factor in your decision-making process is time. Look for consistent involvement with the group. Has this person demonstrated over time that they are willing to lend a hand where needed and are dependable? Do not be in a hurry in this area. Warning: Don’t elect someone you just met just because they are willing to do the task. If you cannot find a good fit, leave the position open until the right person comes along.

Suggested Guidelines for Leaders

Does this person have a similar vision for home education as the rest of the leadership? This does not mean that he necessarily uses the same curriculum or uses the same teaching methods. Does he see home schooling as a serious commitment?

Is this person committed to the group? How long has he been a member of the group? Has he shown a willingness to help or actively participated?

Is this person in agreement with the purpose, mission statement, and bylaws of the group? Does he know the history of the group and how these things were developed?

Does this person have a good reputation for service and dependability? Does he demonstrate servant leadership? When he offers an idea, is he willing to take responsibility for making things happen and, when needed, impart the vision and share responsibilities with others?

If this is a Christian group, is this person a born-again Christian, and does he belong to an organized fellowship of believers? Is he educating his children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”?

Has this person counted the cost of serving? The decision to accept or pursue a position of leadership should be made with the knowledge that this is a position of giving and serving–not a place to be seen. What you give to the support group and other home schoolers in general can inevitably take you from other areas of responsibility in your life.

Has this person been homeschooling at least one year, or is he a “completed” home schooler (not a dropout)? Very new home schoolers are usually very enthusiastic (like new Christians) but have not yet been seasoned. Wisdom comes both from experience and from observing the veteran home schoolers and leaders. Dropouts … well, you know.

Philosophies on Filling Positions

Determine what factors are most important for your group in filling leadership positions. This is best determined in the formative stages of your support group in order to avoid misunderstandings at a later date.

Position first - We have a position, and we need to find the right person to fill it. Some positions within the organization may require this approach; the job of president, for example.

What if nobody wants a particular position? Unless it is one of the must-fill jobs, either leave it vacant until somebody steps forward later or just work around it. It is always better to leave an opening unfilled than to fill it with the wrong person.

Personality first – We have a person that has the ability and calling to serve in a particular area. The possibilities in this area are endless.

Create a position centered on this individual’s interests. Even if the position is not filled again after this person leaves, you have the opportunity to utilize his services while he is in office.

Terms of Office

The terms of office, or how long officers serve in their position, should be detailed in the by-laws of the group. Some considerations:

How much time does it take a person to learn the position and then serve effectively? Some groups have elections and allow some time for the outgoing officers to work alongside the newly elected officers to ease them into the responsibilities.

How much turnover can the leadership team have and still function effectively? It is good if someone running for office is willing to commit more than one year to the position—and to prepare someone to fill his place at the end of his commitment.

How long should a person be asked to serve in the same position before he needs a change in position or a chance to rotate out of leadership? Do not expect anyone to be a permanent fixture in his office. A burned-out officer is not as effective as one who is allowed to leave when it is time.

It is a good idea to stagger terms of office so that the leadership team is not starting over every time members rotate off. This allows continuity in leadership, because as long as the current or immediate past officers have input, the original vision will be preserved, even if it looks a little different.

Have continuity folders for each position so future officers can learn from past experiences.

Advisory Boards

Often the officers desire the input of an advisory board. This allows the officers to seek guidance or prayer support from a group of individuals not involved in the day-to-day operation of the group. Some common types of advisory boards include:

Veterans’ Advisory Board – Past leaders of your or another group provide an excellent source of support for your current leadership. It is unfortunate when the folks who were leaders in the formative years of a group are discounted as a source of knowledge and insights. They had been there, done that—sometimes before the current officers were even homeschooling. This one, seems to me, would serve more in the advisory capacity.

Member Advisory Board - Group of members who oversee various projects and give input to the board.

Supervisory Boards

Advisory Board of Dads – God has blessed men and women with very different strengths. By setting up a board consisting of dads to oversee the big picture, the moms of the group are free to run the day-to-day operations but still rely on a man’s perspective when needed. This also ensures they stay involved with the group.

Church Leadership – For a group functioning as a ministry of a local church, the church leadership will dictate how the support group functions under their authority. The church can dictate the makeup of the membership and the leadership. If the church is over the group, the church leadership will have spiritual input for the group.

Encouraging participation by veterans

Leadership veterans, including completed home schoolers, have much to offer those currently in leadership. Their presence on advisory committees (if by-laws permit those not actively homeschooling to serve) or just as informal advisors allows continuity of vision as well as a wealth of experience. This also allows them to stay involved without all the demands of active leadership. (Often these home schoolers have lived by, “once a teacher, always a teacher,” always looking for that teachable moment.)

Encouraging participation by members

Consider making it a requirement of membership that each person has a job. The key to this requirement is not overloading anyone. You do not want to discourage potential members by pressing them to do too much too fast. In particular, new home schoolers should be given very light duty. They have enough to do just getting started. Remember, you are in existence to support, not burn out your members.

Consider rotating those responsibilities that do not require too much continuity. Monthly meetings and field trips are two areas where different people could take responsibility each month. Editing the newsletter, on the other hand, is probably not a good place to rotate monthly.

Last to consider, if no one volunteers for an activity, drop it. Do not fall into the trap of requiring that if nobody else will lead it, the president or the officers do it. This only leads to burnout.

Leadership Resources

THSC offers many resources for leaders:

Every fall THSC sponsors a State Leadership Conference for support group leaders. This allows leaders to learn and fellowship with other support group leaders from around the state, as opportunity is provided for networking. The training environment provides an excellent opportunity for refreshment and restoration for both veteran and first-time leaders.

Check with your regional support organization for additional resources. It is also a very good idea to obtain a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order and run your meetings by them to facilitate more efficient meetings.

A list of typical support group offices/jobs: (Remember, many hands make light work!)

  1. President
  2. Secretary
  3. Treasurer
  4. Membership coordinator
  5. Public relations coordinator
  6. Field trip coordinator
  7. Librarian
  8. Greeter/hostess
  9. Phone network coordinator
  10. Program director
  11. Jobs coordinator
  12. Newsletter editor
  13. Activity coordinators

The key is not to try to fill every one of these positions but rather to find the right people to fill the positions in which they are called to serve.

Finally, never forget that you are working with fellow home schoolers. Home schoolers are by necessity an independent-minded group. It was the voice of experience that said trying to lead home schoolers is like trying to herd cats. Pray much, keep your sense of humor, and stay focused on your mission. Home school leadership can be both a fun and rewarding experience.

2.2 JOB DESCRIPTIONS OF SUPPORT GROUP LEADERS

Officers

As discussed in 2.1 Leadership of a support group, there are three primary types of officers: elected officers, appointed officers, and volunteer officers. How officers are selected is best determined early in the life of the group.

The Executive Board, whether it is elected or appointed is usually made up of: President, Vice – President(s), Treasurer, Secretary, and sometimes the past two Presidential couples.

Committees and Committee Chairmen

Depending on the size of the group, there are many other leadership positions that may be available. These positions may be filled by committees or individual members. It is helpful for each position or committee to have a chairman who attends board meetings and reports to the board. The following are a few examples:

Coordinators

A support group could choose to have coordinators as another leadership option. Each of these positions oversees the chairmen under them and makes sure articles and dates are submitted to the newsletter on time. If a chairman is ill, the coordinator helps do her job. All chairmen are responsible to write and submit their own newsletter articles. Coordinators make sure their chairmen know to clear dates with and post them on the calendar.

Coordinator positions could include: Activities I, II, and III Coordinators, Program, Hospitality, Special Events, Service & Community Involvement, and Field Trips.

Since activities are such a vital function of a support group, they should have several members involved in planning events for the group. The following are some examples of how Activities may be categorized.

Activity I Coordinator (Over these Chairmen)

Activity II Coordinator – (Over these Chairmen)

Activity III Coordinator (Over these Chairmen)

Program Coordinator 

This Coordinator has special responsibilities on meeting days. She must check with the Key/Sound System Chairman and Guest Speaker Chairman plus the Hospitality Coordinator to make ensure that everything is ready for the meeting. The following Chairmen are under this Coordinator:

Hospitality Coordinator – (Over these chairmen)

Special Events Coordinator – (Over these Chairmen)

Service & Community Involvement Coordinator – (Over these Chairmen)

Field Trips Coordinator – (Over these Chairmen)

Ascertains that the appropriate newsletter information from the chairmen is submitted on time.

This list of job descriptions is reprinted by permission of Richard Driggers, past president of SFWCHE (South Fort Worth Christian Home Educators).

2.3 TRAINING YOUR REPLACEMENT

When you’re selecting people for your board, keep in mind that it is all about the vision. Not everyone is going to agree with your vision. That does not mean they are wrong, but it may mean they are not the right person for the job. As you put people on the board or you bring people in to replace you, they have to buy into what you are doing.

By Chris Parrish

“I know this is a temporary gig for me and I am not here forever. I am here for a season, I have a job, and then somebody else is going to take it over.” Chris Parrish

When you’re selecting people for your board, keep in mind that it is all about the vision. Not everyone is going to agree with your vision. That does not mean they are wrong, but it may mean they are not the right person for the job. As you put people on the board or you bring people in to replace you, they have to buy into what you are doing. They have to agree that this is where your group needs to go and this is what must be done. If you have someone with a different vision, it steals momentum. Not that differing opinions are not appreciated, but when it comes to the vision, everybody needs be marching in-step in one direction. Potential leaders are going to be motivated based on your ability as a leader to impart that vision. Keep in mind, as a general rule, men are usually better equipped at seeing the big picture, establishing a vision and working toward it, than are women.

The following are some of the most important things you will ever do as you start trying to find someone to train to replace you.

Pray

As a leader, pray all the time for the leaders with whom you are working and for the leaders God is preparing. My wife and I always prayed for our board members and prayed constantly that God would show us who should replace us. Actually, I identified a guy during my first year of leadership, thinking, “There’s my man.” The first couple of times I planted seeds, he laughed, saying, “Life’s too short!” However, I was able to recruit him to be our treasurer and brought him in to replace me a year or two later. He is much smarter, much faster, and much better equipped organizationally than I will ever be. I knew that he was the guy to take the organization to the next level, but he did not know it the first time I talked to him, so we kept praying.

Remember the Vision

Constantly remind the people with whom you serve and the folks in your organization about the vision. Every time we were together as a board or as an assembly (including as many families as possible), there was always printed material distributed that reminded everyone of our vision. Why are we doing what we are doing? What is our desired end result? What are we trying to accomplish? What is our long-term goal? What are our short-term goals?

Identifying Leadership Qualities

As you begin to look for somebody to replace you, look for someone who does not need strokes. Home school leadership is not a place to get involved if a person is looking for strokes and wants applause and accolades. He is not going to get it! This is service—usually without recognition and often without thanks. Unfortunately, those are the facts. Welcome to the ministry! As you look for someone to replace you, one of the attributes you need to find is someone who is a little thick skinned; he will face some opposition.

Develop descriptions of different jobs that are involved in running your group. The leadership team is the support structure of the group, so make that job description as detailed as you can. It then boils down to basic people skills and understanding personality types, and then matching those with the job. In addition, as you are wooing someone in to take your place, you do not want any miscommunication; you do not want them to feel misled. You should be completely up front, so the new guy coming in can make an honest decision for himself of what is expected. Be brutally honest with people--you owe it to them. It prevents burnout and prevents them from getting frustrated.

Your support group and your board are no different in their needs and structure than any other organization. Whether it is a field trip, co-op, or a company, people are equipped to do certain jobs, and you need to find the people to do those jobs. If you surround yourself with the right people, it makes life easy. People do not get frustrated, do not get mad, and do not start to resent what they are asked to do when they fit the job. For example, when looking for someone to be your media contact, find somebody you want to represent the home school community, someone who will not embarrass the home school community. Can you imagine the news station with the microphone and camera and Joe Mountain-man coming out of the woods to talk to him about home schooling? “Yeah boy, we’re teachin’ our kids to read real good.” Obviously that is not the person you want. Put your best foot forward with the organization by getting a good public relations person.

Your replacement needs to be a mature, home school veteran—not necessarily in tenure but in experience, devotion, and commitment to what he is doing; he is not just trying this thing out. It is a lifestyle, and you need folks who are committed to it.

Find somebody better, faster, and smarter

Keeping in mind the vision of the group, look for someone who can truly do a better job of executing and taking it to the next level than you can. If an organization is alive, it is going to grow. If it is going to grow, it is going to change, and you might not be the person to take it to that next level.

Training

Once you have identified your potential replacement, what do you do? A way to find out if the person is going to fit with the organization and the organization is going to fit with the person, is to let him volunteer for an assignment. See how he works. Face it, if you have a job that needs to be done, and if someone volunteers but does not take the ball and run with it, he is not the guy for the job. He does not really want to serve.

Allow yourself to go through that process of finding people who are really dedicated to what you are doing. They need to understand that it is work. Knowing that, volunteers do not show up thinking that it is going to be a picnic—no false expectations.

One way to train officers is to stagger board positions. Then there would never be a time in which a whole new group of officers would come in and serve. Whether it is a field trip, support group, co-op, or big company, if every eighteen to twenty-four months everyone in charge steps out, what does that do to leadership, direction, and momentum? It is gone; it all goes back to that vision. If everyone leaves at the same time, nobody has a clue as to where you have come from or where you are going.

If No One Wants to Do a Job, Maybe It Does not Need to be Done.

What happens if no one steps up to take a job? You need to seriously consider that perhaps that job does not need to be done.

For example, at one point we thought that our organization’s life blood was the big monthly meetings. We needed a person to set up these meetings, but nobody stepped forward. Therefore, the question became, do we delegate this task to one of the already overworked families?

We decided to let it go. For months, we did not have any monthly meetings, so that those who felt the need and the call were allowed to rise up and fill the position. We detailed very specifically the job description for this person. We were brutally frank about the expectations and what was going to be required, but we also stepped in right behind to help him do that. We asked, “What resources and help do you need? Can we bring somebody in to help you do this? Do you need help from outside organizations?”

Learn to Delegate

Dealing with obstacles to get the ultimate goal taken care of is probably an issue of delegating authority to people in order to accomplish tasks. We have all been part of meetings where we are going to try to set up a field trip or a book fair, and the whole discussion is bogged down with issues of what color should tablecloths be, etc. The mark of a good leader is that he can turn a job over to someone else and let it go. You may have to follow up with the person, especially if he has no track record.

Sometimes the best intentions do not always equate to the greatest execution. You are dealing with a volunteer army, and you cannot dock their pay, as much as you would like to. What are you going to do? To get through these things, as a team you commit early in the process that you are going to operate in grace. You are dealing with volunteers, but you need to decide early on that you are going to get through this together, you are going to find the right people, and you are not going to do this on your own.

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” What a perfect scripture for board structure—not doing things in the flesh, and not doing things out of your own desires and your own sense of what needs to be done! Let God direct your steps to the right people; He knows. God is not looking down, wringing His hands, saying, “Look at what’s happening to the organization.” He knows what is going on, and He will bring you the right people.

2.4 A CALL TO LEADERSHIP EDUCATION

By Rebecca Smith

It all began the summer of 2007 when I attended a seminar on leadership education by Oliver DeMille. He’d just finished a masterful discourse on the need for a renaissance of classical literacy and on leadership education. According to DeMille, when public compulsory schooling became the American way we put ourselves on a conveyor belt of sorts. While education for the masses has been integral to the goal of widespread literacy, it has edged out leadership education, which is badly needed in our time. We rarely see this latter type of education administered in today’s America. So I pondered over my own experience on the conveyor belt as the seminar drew to a close. The desire came over me to make the sacrifices necessary to gain the education I lacked.

I knew that the vast majority of my home schooling peers were also products of the conveyor-belt approach. Surely I wasn’t alone in my need for scholarship. I sensed that a population of home schoolers existed that would also want to participate in the creation of a leadership society. Certainly I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel, I thought. Fortunately for me, the Texas home schooling community, to which I was a recent transplant, already enjoyed an abundance of great leadership. Even better, there was an infrastructure of resources in place that had been built over the course of at least twenty years, beginning with the pioneers of the 1980s who wanted more for their children, just like I do.

Now fast forward to October of that year, and you find me sitting by a beautiful lake adjacent to the Lake View Conference Center in Waxahachie, Texas. I had by now contacted the other Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) families I knew who were dispersed all over the D/FW Metroplex. A Thomas Jefferson Education is the title of the first of three books authored and co-authored by Dr. Oliver DeMille. In it, he describes the kind of education that created some of the greatest leaders in history—Thomas Jefferson being the quintessential example. Beginning with about ten families, we met in July and formed the North Texas Statesmanship Society. I’d heard about the opportunity to attend the THSC annual Leadership Conference for home school support leaders. Anxious for training, I jumped at the chance to attend, though not without some trepidation. After all, my support group leadership experience amounted to a grand total of three months. I wondered if I really had what it takes to create the kind of community I’d envisioned. I was almost overcome with a sense of inadequacy at the prospect of my present path.

Then something amazing happened, in that half-hour by the lake, on that beautiful autumn afternoon. In a moment of prayerful meditation an indelible sense of calling washed over me. It replaced the suffocating fear that had held me captivated just a moment earlier. Conviction of the rightness of my course came into my mind with a cascade of ideas, adding vibrant details to my earlier vision of what to do. In that moment God made it abundantly clear that He had work for me to do and that I’d better get to it. I walked back into the leadership conference, carried by this greater vision. It was a watershed weekend for me. I didn’t know any of the leaders there and didn’t converse with nearly enough of them. But those who I did get to know and observe were inspiring leaders and statesmen, all with missions of their own, going about the work they were called to do. They inspired me to be a better person, lifting me up by their examples of courage.

I am ever drawn back to this idea that it’s not just a select few of us who are meant to be statesmen. Oliver DeMille maintains that in order to meet the challenges of 21st Century America, we will need a generation of statesmen and stateswomen. Indeed, I’m inclined to believe that each of us has a calling we are meant to fill - a mission, if you will - that only we can accomplish. As to what that mission is, no one but the individual can determine. Of all societies in history, I think ours is among the neediest of statesmanship.

Russell Kirk, in his ageless Roots of American Order, quotes Simone Weil, a French philosopher and born-again Jew: “Our 20th Century ... is a time of disorder very like the disorder of Greece in the Fifth century before Christ. In her words, ‘It is as though we had returned to the age of Protagoras and the Sophists, the age when the art of persuasion--whose modern equivalent is advertising slogans, publicity, propaganda meetings, the press, the cinema, and radio--took place of thought and controlled the fate of cities and accomplished coups d’état. So the ninth book of Plato’s Republic reads like a description of contemporary events.’”

Considering this view, I have to ask myself, “How long has this been true in America? When was the time that we were still thinking for ourselves? When did we stop?” While I claim to be no expert on this subject, I suspect that this shift from independent thinking to dependence on persuasion occurred gradually but accelerated with the advent of mass media. Weil’s astute assessment of modern times, even half a century ago, reflects our American reality today. Our sources of propaganda and persuasion have only broadened with the inventions of the television, cable networks, and the Internet. Think of the Y2K phenomenon. Remember the propaganda surrounding that non-event? The amount of money funneled into the Y2K campaign was staggering.

With the angry masses always clamoring for our attention, it’s no wonder we feel like there is little we can do to make a difference. But this is wrong thinking. There is much we can do. Home schoolers and educators are uniquely equipped to influence future generations for good. But do we realize how much power we hold in our hands? We are molding the next generation. In this context, does it make any sense to replicate the conveyor belt model of learning in our homes? Yet, many of us, not knowing anything but this unnatural approach, unwittingly beat ourselves up in the pursuit of mediocrity.

Let’s discuss two of the seven keys to a great education.

First: Inspire, Don’t Require.

Was your natural love of learning as a child smothered in the education process? Think about your upbringing in the public school system. If all of our teachers had set out to inspire great learning in each of us, exposing us to the greatest classics down through history, allowing us to explore our greatest talents in depth, what would have happened? Our founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, were mentored this way. They thirsted after great knowledge. Their mentors filled the need. Because of this way of educating, they were prepared for the miraculous work of building a new nation, where it is understood that all men are created equal.

Second: You, Not Them.

How does a child choose to get a great education? One of the elements of conveyor-belt schooling is that children's initiative is marginalized, even discouraged. We don't believe anymore that if left to himself, a child might make wise educational choices. If done well, education can be a mix of child-initiated learning and wise parent-mentoring. The most powerful way to ensure your child's acquisition of a world-class liberal arts education is simply to get one yourself. The sooner we realize that home schooling is more about our own education than our children's, the better. The best mentors are first and foremost excellent students, pursuing lifelong learning and growth.

Who are the mentors who can help us rise above our limitations? God is naturally our first and most important Mentor. If we are careful observers, we can identify other mentors who are most willing to help us. Plato mentored Aristotle. Thomas Jefferson had George Wythe. Esther had Mordecai. Who were your mentors? Statesmen and stateswomen are visionary leaders, walking an independent path. They look for the need that they can fill, and then go about doing it. When that need is filled they find and fill another one. They do it again and again. They heed an inner voice that guides them undeviatingly to serve the common good. Anchored to true principles, guided by God and the greater good, they live publicly and privately virtuous lives. America needs them desperately. We are meant to be more than we’ve allowed ourselves to be. In ten years your education will be the same as your children’s. Will it be poor, mediocre, or great? One inspiring stateswoman put it this way, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?”

Rebecca Smith is a mother of five children, aged nine years to seven months. She is currently homeschooling. When not promoting Leadership Education (TJEd), she enjoys reading, gardening, singing, piano, driving through the country, going on walks with her family, and serving in her church. Her husband Michael is a data analyst with a statistical modeling company in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they now reside.

2.5 ARE YOU READY TO BE AN OARSMAN?

If you are too busy because of other activities to give back to a group which has provided for your needs, I humbly submit that you have two choices: return some energy or leave the group.

By Bill Keating
Texas Home School Coalition REVIEW © May 2000

“I want to serve, but now is not a good time.” Possibly you have heard these words. Probably you have spoken these words.

Were you in need of medical care, these words would be unthinkable, possibly a sentence of death. The same is true about a volunteer group. Without the lifeblood of people willing to serve the body, the support group dies. With its death, all of the support functions you have enjoyed also die. The question then becomes: Have you given as much to your support group as you have received? If you have not, reconsider your attitude. Giving is an uplifting experience and a worthy use of one’s time. Our Lord Jesus extolled the virtue in giving and serving when He washed the disciple’s feet.

There are many people in these groups who have served either in board positions or those most necessary and often thankless jobs of coordinating individual activities; however, many more have never even helped with anything. In all organizations, there has usually been an 80/20 ratio of takers to givers. In today’s world, those ratios have shrunk to nearer to 90/10. Nowhere is that more evident than in volunteer organizations such as local support groups. However, they have no paid staff, no paid volunteers, and even the volunteers pay the same fees as everyone else to participate in group activities. So the only rewards must come from a sense of a job well done or a “thank-you” given by an individual member.

Now, granted, there will always be some in these groups who will never give. This is unfortunate but true. There are also those in these groups who have given in years past and some too new to home schooling to need any other additional responsibilities. This article is not directed at you. However, for those of you who say or think, “I’m too busy to serve,” hope is that you will take this article to heart.

If you are too busy because of other activities to give back to a group which has provided for your needs, I humbly submit that you have two choices: return some energy or leave the group. This is not to say that the truly needy should consider this an indictment—but can you honestly look in the mirror and claim to be truly needy? For most of us, “too busy” is the convenience of not making choices to give rather that to forgo the pleasure of being served. In which category do you fall?

A volunteer group is similar to one of those multi-man crew boats we see in the Olympic competitions. They can only get to their goal if all six oarsmen pull in unison. If several oars are left unpulled and those people ride … well, you get the picture. There is only one person who does not row, the coxswain, and his job is to coordinate the pull and the pace - a different but necessary function.

Most support groups need a lot more oarsmen. Are you ready to row but cannot decide which oar to pick up? Do you have an interest in strengthening your left hand? Pick up an oar on the left. (Perhaps something you are uncomfortable with but need to learn to do?) Do you want to use your strength to its full advantage? Pick up that oar which is your current strength. (Volunteer for a job with which you feel comfortable.) These are large boats with many oars. In fact, there are probably extra seats if you have a special calling that your group needs. They may also have training and beginner oars—plenty for all.

Probably no one but you and God will ever know if you never volunteer for a single job or position with your support group, but if you have enjoyed your group for a year or two or more, it is time to give back. It is time to serve others who are coming behind you and will now be the new home schooler that you once were. Take your pulse to see if your servant’s heart is sick or dying—then volunteer for the perfect cure.

Think of all the great experiences, growth, friends, and fellowship you will miss if you are “too busy.” Realize how important it is to be fully involved in a few organizations and not peripherally involved in a great number of organizations.

This decision is about choices—does your support group live or die from lack of volunteers? The choice and the decision are in your hands. If your support group is worth your membership, it is worth your service. Your membership fee does not fulfill that duty—only you and your time can. As you enjoy the summer, prayerfully consider whether to rejoin. Count the cost and consider service as a part of that cost.

Bill Keating and his wife Kristy homeschooled their two sons through graduation. They have served in leadership at the local, regional, and the state level. Bill has served on the THSC board for many years.

2.5 CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP?

Has your group recently experienced a change in leadership, or will spring elections bring new leaders onboard? Now is the time to drop us a line and update your support group information.

One of the most difficult jobs we have here at THSC is keeping support group information up-to-date. Every day we receive calls from home school families all across the state looking to connect with other home school families. We want to be sure that the information we give them is current and accurate.

As home schooling grows in popularity, new groups seem to pop up like spring flowers. We would love to assist these groups to help ensure their success. Other groups completely lose contact with THSC when leadership changes and past leaders move on. So, please help us help you by keeping your group’s information up-to-date and making sure your new leaders know who we are and what we do.

One of the services THSC offers to support groups is providing them with complimentary copies of our quarterly THSC REVIEW magazine to distribute to new and prospective members. Is the number of copies your group receives sufficient to meet your needs? Now is a good time to take inventory and let us know if fewer or perhaps more copies would be better. These magazines are free upon request to all Texas home school families, so take a THSC sign-up sheet to your next moms’ meeting and add those new home school families to the THSC mailing list.

REMEMBER to let your members know that they will receive $15 off their THSC Association membership when they list your support group on their membership application. We will be happy to provide your group with THSC brochures for you to pass along to your members. Just include your request for brochures with your updated leadership information.


Chapter 3 – Finanaces and Insurance

Articles to help support group leaders with those tough questions such as how to open a bank account or how to incorporate as a nonprofit group. THSC also offers insurance for support groups and co-ops.

3.1 HOW DO WE OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT?

When a group seeks to open a bank account, one of the first questions most banks will ask is, “What is your taxpayer ID number?” To avoid problems, groups should apply for a taxpayer ID number. Although it may seem complicated, it is fairly simple.

  1. Fill out an IRS form SS4. This can be done online.
  2. In the place where it says “type of entity,” check “Other non-profit organizations” and put “association” in the blank. This tells the IRS that you are a loosely affiliated association of individuals doing some financial activity.
  3. You will get a letter from the IRS assigning your group a number.
  4. You might also get some payroll tax information and even a first quarter payroll tax report that asks you to file the payroll taxes for all of your employees. If you get this letter, do not throw it away, but complete it, putting zeros in the blanks. Mark that you do not have any employees and you do not expect to have any. At that point, you have given the IRS enough information to understand that your organization and its financial activity are not of interest, along with all the other 100,000s of small associations.
  5. Regarding what signatures to require on the account, most groups will want at least two people on the signature card, to provide accountability. However, this requirement may become cumbersome when trying to do business. Remember that the signatures will have to be changed as the group changes leadership.

Once you have the taxpayer ID number, completing any paperwork for the bank should not be a problem.

3.2 MONEY MANAGEMENT FOR HOME SCHOOL ORGANIZATIONS

Download the book by Carol L. Topp, CPA

3.3 ACCIDENTAL MEDICAL AND GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE PROGRAM

Responding to groups from across the state that have expressed a need and had difficulties fulfilling that need, THSC Association has worked with strong, experienced insurance companies to set up a program for accident medical and general liability coverage for Texas home school groups. In today’s litigious society, home school groups and their leaders are wise to be sure that they have this type of coverage “just in case…”

THSC Association now has an umbrella for affiliated groups. To be an affiliated group, a support group (or an activity group, such a Boy Scout group, co-op, sports league, etc.) must have at least 10 member families who are also members of THSC Association.

Download the brochure.


Chapter 4 – SUPPORT GROUP COMMUNICATION

Websites, newsletters, and blogs are all discussed in these informative articles on support group communications.

Support group communications have changed dramatically since the modern home school movement began in the 1980s. Gone are the days of telephone trees and mailing lists, as websites, blogs, e-newsletters, and social networking now provide groups with a variety of ways to connect with their members.

4.1 SUPPORT GROUP COMMUNICATIONS

By Jube Dankworth

In the early years when home schoolers finally found each other, it was just a matter of exchanging phone numbers in order for communications to be complete. As support groups grew, communications became formalized with newsletters.

Then telephone trees were established, along with directories of everyone’s phone numbers, addresses, and sometimes the ages and names of children. The telephone tree coordinators would have the option of calling everyone themselves when a message came along (usually good only with groups of less than twenty) or setting up a relay system and hoping that everyone was reached. Each year the tree would be configured differently, as each new telephone tree coordinator would try to avoid the inevitable break in the lines—with some people not getting the messages. Of course, since the tree was comprised of humans, messages were often received with many data errors.

The next step in group communications were fax trees, which only worked in some areas of Texas, since fax machines never were as popular as telephones.

Lately there has been an explosion of Internet lists among support groups. There have been statewide lists, regional or citywide lists, curriculum specific lists, and special needs lists in existence for several years. The newest phenomenon is the proliferation of support group lists. Back in the old days (ten years ago, which equals 100 in Internet years) when you had to pay for a server’s use or set-up your own machine, many support groups were still asking, “What’s a list server?” Now leaders have found it to be the quickest and most accurate way to get information out to their membership (announce lists), and many have allowed their lists to be used to enhance friendships and communications between their members (discussion lists).

With all these lists, what kind of training and awareness does a support group List Mom have? Are your members aware of basic Internet security measures on a list?

There are several lists on the Internet to train your List Mom, and a list university site available to train managers, about the how-tos and where-tos of list management. Some management lists consist of home school moms who have been doing this for several years, and gradually, through questions and answers, new managers learn how to handle situations unique to lists. Other management lists consist of managers from around the world and with a variety of their own lists. For a beginning List Mom, a management list with other home schoolers is suggested, to keep things on-topic and relevant to your day-to-day needs.

Suggestions for starting support group lists are:

  1. Keep members’ e-mail addresses private; this keeps harvesters from obtaining everyone’s email.
  2. Keep posts limited only to members; this cuts down on spam e-mails.
  3. Directly subscribe members—verifying they are members of your support group—adding new members as they join your group. If a newcomer does come across your list and sends a message to join, the message will be forwarded to the List Mom, who can then direct her to the next support group meeting or event.
  4. Keep archives private by allowing only members to have access to files, calendars, databases, and messages. This practice helps to prevent people on the other side of the world from “listening in” on your conversations.

When choosing one of the free servers for your support group list, be sure to check the terms of service when you register and check it monthly. A new, disturbing industry trend is to sell information to third parties. Amazon.com announced recently that it was going to start selling information about its customers. Yahoo also allows access to its information to other people, and other servers are picking up on this profit potential. It is hoped that this trend will be turned around by legislation or public and consumer outcry. Until then a List Mom needs to do everything she can to ensure the privacy of the discussions on the support group list.

When writing online do not provide profile information (your name, address, and/or phone number). We teach our children not to give our private information to strangers; we should also learn that lesson. Also, if given the option of keeping your profile private, click that button. When discussing your children do not put names or birth dates. Use acronyms like ds (dear son) or dd (dear daughter) and the old standby of Xyo (x years old). Put only your area of town or major intersection, not your address, online. If you are coordinating a field trip or event, put only your e-mail in the online announcement. You can always pick up your support group directory to call a person if there are questions.

A list is a great tool for communications if used wisely. Remember, although a list may make you feel as though you are in your living room discussing things with your friends, it really is a discussion in the town square.

  1. THELMA@egroups.com (Texas Home School List Managers Association)
  2. List University site

4.2 GET STARTED BLOGGING

I am not an expert, but I have the advantage of being a person who doesn’t know HTML, and I’m very un-cool, so I can tell you the simple ways.

By Lisa Pennington

OK, you’ve decided to start a blog. You’re ready. You’re set. Go.

Oh, but wait. How will you do it? Where to start? There are lots of great Web tutorials out there. I am not an expert, but I have the advantage of being a person who doesn’t know HTML, and I’m very un-cool, so I can tell you the simple ways. Then you can go and grow your blog into something that I won’t understand, and you can come back and teach me.

There are several free blog publishers available--Blogger, Wordpress, TypePad, and LiveJournal, just to name a few. I think Blogger is a good one with which to start. It is very user friendly, and it is easy to set up an account and get started.

First, you will need to choose a template. I’d suggest looking at the templates offered by your publisher. Look at the columns and header sizes; then go to some of the blogs you like and study their headers and columns. Do you want three columns or two? How big would you like your header to be? If you don’t like any of the choices, you can do a search for free layouts or templates on the Internet. You can even hire a blog designer, if you want something completely original.

Back to simple. After establishing an account with a blog publisher and choosing a template, the next step is to name your blog. Naming a blog can be a challenge. Just remember, this is your brand, and it will stick with you, so decide carefully.

Once you have an account, a template, and a name, you’re in. You will have lots of options, such as widgets, stat counters, add-ons - but the basic blog setup is done. Now you can take your time and play with it, and you can start writing. If you’re not a writer, that’s OK. Just say what’s on your mind, share what you learned at church, discuss your curriculum, or anything you like. It will get easier with practice.

To bring traffic to your blog, there are a few simple things you can do. Add your blog address to your email signature. Visit blogs you like and leave comments; the authors will often come back to visit yours. Also, you can post polls or host a weekly feature or giveaway. Put pictures on your blog; people love pictures.

I’d suggest that you blog at least once a week or you will start to lose readers. In most blog platforms, you can write a post and schedule it to send when you want.

This process is just the beginning. You can get as creative as you want. It takes a little time to get the hang of it, but I have confidence in you. If I can do it, anyone can!

4.3 MEMBERSHIP FORMS, DIRECTORIES AND HANDBOOKS

Once a group has established some governing documents and has begun to develop a networking system, the next step is to gather contact information for each member, to ensure that all members are receiving information about group activities. Exactly what information needs to be included on the membership form will vary depending on the services the group provides. However, a group should keep in mind that it is much easier to have members fill out all the information the group might possibly need when families join, than to go back and try to gather more information from members later.

MEMBERSHIP FORMS

If this information is stored in a database or on an Excel spreadsheet, it can be used later for mail-merge documents, making it much easier to get information to specific members.

DIRECTORY

If a group plans to put together a directory for the use of its members, here are some things to consider:

NEW MEMBER PACKETS

New member packets can be extremely helpful, particularly for families who are also new to home schooling. A new member packet might include the following information:

4.4 NETWORKING AND NEWSLETTERS

Communication and networking are the life blood of a home school group. Many groups start out as a small group of moms who simply call each other and meet for fellowship at the park or someone’s house. When three or four become eight or ten, then the group must establish a means of networking.

Phone Trees

Before the days of widespread Internet and e-mail use phone trees were usually the first step in a network. If your group is still small and using a phone tree, here is a list of things to consider:

Newsletters:

Once a group’s members have moved beyond the early stages of a play group, they discover a need for an organized method of communication, and thus, the newsletter is born. Before Internet access was so widely available, most newsletters were sent via the post office. Today there are many options available to support groups.

The following is a list of questions and things to consider when planning a newsletter:

E-mail Networking:

Using e-mail for support group communications is more reliable and easier to maintain than any of the telephone options or the paper version of a newsletter. When members move, their e-mail address can usually move with them.

This method is also easier to track. When an e-mail communication is sent, there is a record on the sender’s computer of the messages sent and to whom they were sent.

Anonymity is easier to maintain with e-mail. When someone requests home schooling information by e-mail there is not the personal contact that might make that person uncomfortable. Also, the person giving the information is free to take as much or as little time as desired to answer questions. Be sure to use BB, blind broadcast, when sending out, to keep email addresses confidential.

If you are simply using an e-mail network, here are a few things to consider:

Websites:

Will your group use the Internet to post messages? If the group has a Web page, it will need a Webmaster, who will keep the information current.

Will the group use the site to post information about meetings? Keep the details current. Will the site be used to let interested people know about home schooling, about your group, or who you are?

Consistent and accurate communication within a group will ensure fewer problems and will allow all group members access to information regarding group activities.

4.5 NEW WEBSITE = NEW LIFE FOR SUPPORT GROUP

By Shanna Phillips

We had 300 families. Administration time was at least one hour per family; that’s the amount of time our support group leader was spending doing administrative work each year for our group. More than seven weeks of full-time work per year–nearly two months out of twelve … and we are supposed to be homeschooling our kids! You can imagine with that amount of administrative work to be completed, there was not a lot of time left over for actually leading the group! Things had to change … and fast.

For several years we had been dreaming of getting a new website. When people googled home school groups in our area they came across our site--maybe. When they found it, it was not impressive. The code was so outdated that we could not even fix problems, much less add new content. Who would want to join our group with a site like that? With so much administration falling under the responsibility of the support group leader, and half of our leadership expecting babies and juggling other commitments of life, who was left to get a new site up and running?

If we had only known how much better a new website would make the job of leadership, we might have conjured up the time to make the change long ago! Really, it was an educational process. What is out there? What are our website options? What is on our wish list? How much is it going to cost? Whom should we trust with all of that money to complete the project? There were lots of questions, and it was a slow learning process to get the answers.

We wanted our website to be a fresh, exciting first glimpse into our dynamic support group. Visitors to our site should be encouraged, know who we are and what we are about, and want to be a part of it all. Membership registration should be online and payable by PayPal. With on-line registration, the membership database should be automatically populated, saving the bulk of the admin time for group leadership.

Other website requirements included a secure site for members; online event sign-up; a dynamic, interactive calendar; a central point of information for the group; flexibility; and the ability to allow each volunteer to have access to update their part of the website, to help spread the admin duties out over all members. Finally, it had to be affordable. We are, after all, called to be good stewards of the resources with which we have been entrusted!

Was this a dream list? Yes. Reality? As it turned out … yes!

The answer to our need presented itself in a well-timed email from Homeschool-life.com. It was as though a website developer had found our wish list and created a site just for us. Even better–it was ready for public viewing in just a few days! It has been wonderful to work with the people at Homeschool-life.com. When we have a need they have not yet considered, they are willing to help us figure out a workable solution, and then they add it to the development wishlist. Our dream website turned into reality!

Our new website has sparked a new energy in our support group this year! We have increased our membership at a time when we were afraid we might be declining in numbers and interest. Through the use of teleconferencing technology, we were able to quickly train our leadership team (in the comfort of their own homes and on their own computers) to use and update the website. Our theory of spreading the work out over many to free up our leadership, has become a proven concept! Great things are happening in our group because our leaders can focus on passing along a vision instead of on administration. We have record numbers of new members this year, as people search the Internet and come upon our group and our fresh, exciting website!

Do we think a good website is a necessary part of a successful home school support group? If you are trying to serve more than just a few families while not burning out your leadership–absolutely!


Chapter 5 – PUBLIC RELATIONS

Support groups can be a vital part of creating a positive image for home schoolers within society their world and communities through public announcements and media releases.

Advertising events, sending press releases, and maintaining good public relations can benefit both your group and the home school community in your area while promoting your group.

5.1 CREATING THE IMAGE SOCIETY HAS OF HOME SCHOOLERS

Jube Dankworth

There is more and more negative press appearing all over the nation about home schoolers as abusers, home schooling being a haven for abusers, and home schooling needing more regulation. I know that home school leaders have not considered their public image in the past, concentrating on helping those in their groups. But now might be a good time to help the image of home schooling.

All it takes is one parent who can use the computer and is not afraid to write. Sending basic press releases—every time your kids win awards or do service projects or your support group has an open event—can go a long way in helping the home school image. Most local papers are willing to post information about success stories of school kids, even home school kids. So a basic who, what, where, when, and how press release (you did have a section of that in English?) should suffice. No pitches or twisting of arms should be needed to get them to print it.

So my suggestion is that as the kids in your group obtain scholarships, get admitted to universities, and you have the date, place and time for the graduation, please send a quick press release to the press.

There are also the community calendars on your local television and radio station sites. Just look for community calendar, public service announcement or other such wording on their site, and you will find a place to put your information under community events. Even big cities like Houston have these on the TV and radio sites.

When you have special speakers coming to your meetings, call your local talk radio station and offer to have them interviewed on the radio. The speakers will appreciate it, and it will help get the word out about the event to the general public.

With a team of people doing this all over the state, we can help the public image of home schooling in Texas!

5.2 GETTING THE WORD OUT: ADVERTISING YOUR SUPPORT GROUP

You’ve organized your group, you have your governing documents in place, you have your leadership in place, and you are serving the local home educators whom you have located or who have found you. Now you need to decide how big your “tent” will be and how broad your service.

If there are home schoolers out there thinking they’re all alone in this world, do you want to let them know that they are not alone and that there is a loving network waiting to take them in, serve them, and find the area in which they may serve others?

Are there folks in your community who still think you are not doing the right thing by keeping your children isolated and missing out on socialization and other important things the classroom affords?

ADVERTISING

The solution to both of these situations is to get the word out! Word-of-mouth will only reach so far; try boldly proclaiming that you are there! There are several ways that this can be accomplished at little or no cost.

Libraries are always pleased to find new patrons, and home schoolers are usually frequent visitors there, developing relationships with the librarians. Ask your local librarian if you can leave helpful, informational materials for other patrons to pick up. Request that the THSC Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers as well as other books about home education be purchased and placed on the shelves.

A church that home schoolers attend might be willing to announce support group events or even allow meetings/events at its facility. If the events/meetings are free, television or radio stations will advertise the events for free if they have community calendar announcements.

Community centers and some book stores also often post notices concerning free informational classes or meetings. Ask the manager of the facility.

Ask regional or state organizations to announce or publish your presence and willingness to serve. You can also network with groups in your area. If you are in a sparsely populated area, sometimes this can mean the difference between a small event and an impressive presence.

If you have newsletters or brochures and can afford the extra expense, offer to leave samples at the different contact locations. (THSC will be glad to provide magazines to be placed in public locations.) Each contact you make will be PR for home schooling and your group—make a good impression!

BROCHURES

If you choose to print brochures, here are some tips:

Make sure you have current information about home schooling in Texas. Be realistic and truthful about the challenge of home schooling. It is good to encourage people that this is something that they can do; however, make it clear that home schooling should be a commitment and that it is hard work.

Give your group’s contact information and a statement about who you are and what you do. Let folks know that you are a credible source of information.

Just as with PR contacts, make a good impression! Your brochure should look planned—not thrown together.

A FEW MORE THINGS TO CONSIDER

Contact information should be constant, not person dependent (PO Box, Yahoo Groups, permanent website, search engines, etc.).

Showcase students through sports and talent activities.

TV coverage--have someone prepared to be interviewed whenever local stations are looking for a home school slant. (These interviews are especially common at the beginning of the school year.) This person should be someone who is informed, experienced, and well versed—in order to make a good impression!

If the mission of your support group is to serve the home school community, then it is your responsibility to make sure the home school community knows you exist and that you are available.

5.3 HOW TO WRITE A MEDIA RELEASE

One of the most effective ways support groups can help create and maintain a positive image for home schoolers is to issue a press release for newsworthy events.

By Jube Dankworth
©THSC Leader's Guide, November 2008

One of the most effective ways support groups can help create and maintain a positive image for home schoolers is to issue a press release for newsworthy events. Whether you are trying to reach potential home school families or just trying to improve society’s image concerning the socialization of home schoolers, a press release can be an excellent tool for promoting a positive image of home schoolers.

Most media have community calendar sections. These reporters are looking for community events. You can place your information on many of these calendars through the Internet. Just go to your local media websites and look for a community calendars or events link. There should be form on which to place your information.

For sending a media release to a newspaper or radio station, here are a few basics. In high school you were taught to put the who, where, what and when in the first sentence of a press release. Although that framework still exists in media releases, the media release needs to be relevant to something occurring locally in your community or nationally in the news. This will become the ”hook” that draws attention to your media release in contrast to the other 500 submitted that day. Also, adding a quote from a parent who attended or someone who is looking forward to the event is a good personalization of the media release.

Remember, only one subject per release. Be positive and stick to the basic message. Do not attack public education or public school teachers. To promote home education is to deliver a positive message.

The information at the top of the media release is very important. If the reporter has any questions, he will want to be able to contact you immediately. This information is not put in the media release. There is an understanding that this information is for reporter use only. The information after the ###, which signals the end of the actual release, gives the reporters background information on the organization.

So your releases may look something like the following:

Media Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Homeschooler
Phone: 555-555-5555
Email: mary@homeschooler.com
Date, town -- A THSC Orientation for parents wanting to expand their educational choices will be held at [where, when]. This is a two-hour workshop to help answer questions many parents may have concerning the home education choice.

Suzie Homeschoolers noted: “This workshop really helped us in the decision-making process for our children.” “The THSC Orientation helped us find a support group for our children to be able to participate in geography bees,” responded Linda Homeschooler of the Springfield community.

The meeting will cover the legality of homeschooling in Texas, how to get started, how to teach special needs children, and offer free resources for parents. The cost for attending this event, which is sponsored by (support group), is $25 per family, and everyone is welcome.

###

Texas Home School Coalition Association is one of the largest home school organizations in the United States. THSC Association helps new home schoolers in Texas and provides leadership training for local support groups and legal assistance for member home schoolers throughout the state as well.

List contact information: name, phone, and email

Feel free to elaborate or change the sample as fits your situation. However, keeping it short will help its chances of being included in publication, so 3-4 paragraphs should be sufficient.

Be sure to proof your media release. It is a good idea to have someone else read it. Even professionals have been known to send press releases with typos and misspelled information. Be sure the address and information is correct.

Do get this information to the media as soon as you have confirmed the time and place of the meeting. It would be wonderful if the information is up for several weeks or sent out in several issues of a weekly paper.

5.4 PERMISSIBLE ACTIVITIES OF PACS

Become familiar with political activities that are allowed through the THSC PAC.

Download Permissible Political Activities of PACs and Non-Profit Organizations Under Federal Campaign Finance and Tax Laws – Prepared by Public Citizen’s Congress Watch (December 18, 2002)

5.5 PROMOTING A POSITIVE IMAGE

By Kay Orr

With the sun peaking over the hills of Elm Valley and the rooster crowing his morning hello, three little boys awaken one by one and make their way, sleepy-eyed, down the hallway … to school. Yes, we homeschool. The hallway in our home leads to lands beyond the boundaries of our community. Homeschooling allows us to walk on clay bricks in Mesopotamia, smell the gunpowder of the Boston Massacre, and swim with crocodiles in the rivers of Australia. Where else could a child eat breakfast by the fire in pajamas and listen to the tales of Robinson Crusoe?

Teaching children to be articulate, smart, confident, and morally sound has always been a common goal for home schooling families. What has changed, however, are the reasons for making the decision in the first place. Many families choose to home school because their jobs call for frequent relocation. Home- schooling lets children enjoy the stability of learning at home, wherever home may be. Families are also homeschooling so they can be proactive in the development of their children’s Christian education and values, something not allowed by law in public schools. Many homeschooling parents take into consideration the size of public and private school systems and the restrictions placed on teachers relative to discipline and displays of affection toward students. These issues are the stronghold for home education.

As with any form of education, home schooling brings with it advantages and disadvantages. When someone asks my children where they go to school and are told we homeschool, we receive one of two responses. First, a friendly smile and well-wishes followed by a story of someone they knew who homeschooled and now have children in college or possibly a neighbor with a unique way of integrating community service into a school day. The second response seems to be driven by an unfortunate past experience or stories they have heard from someone else on the national news. This second response is almost always accompanied by a crinkling of the eyebrows and blank stare as if they are struggling for words.

Yes, there are drawbacks to home education, and the struggles change with time just as do the reasons for making the choice. The financial sacrifice that comes with home schooling will be a determining factor for more families in the upcoming years than in years past. Not only do homeschool families pay school taxes in addition to the cost of purchasing student curriculum, but they are almost always a one-income family. Lesson preparation, teaching time, and the coordination of a school day are difficult, if not impossible, to do with both parents working in a formal setting outside the home. This is, of course, dependent on the ages of the students and the type of curriculum chosen.

There is also the ever popular question about the social development of the student. Socialization, as defined by answer.com, is “the process whereby a child learns to get along with and to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitation as well as group pressure.” For our family, socialization is one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. Most home educating families embrace every opportunity to teach their children about the current societal trends, discuss moral issues, and nurture knowledge of what is right and wrong based on what we believe to be true.

One of the ways home schooling families increase socialization opportunities is through planned group interaction. Big Country Home Educators is a local group based in Abilene, Texas, that supports the efforts of Christian home educators by pooling resources and providing supplemental educational opportunities, as well as opportunities for fellowship, encouragement, and the exchange of ideas. With a membership of 170 families, serving approximately 400 children across ten counties, BCHE children participate in a wide variety of activities and events, which include a Science and History Project Fair, four competitive basketball teams, spelling bee, variety of field trips and activities, Christmas/Spring Music Festivals, teaching cooperatives, Annual Family Picnic, movie nights, and choir and debate clubs to name a few. In existence for nineteen years, BCHE is proud to provide a common ground for home educating families to connect and grow together.

5.6 WINNING THE PUBLIC RELATIONS BATTLE

By Tim Lambert

We live in a democratic republic in which the people choose their leaders to govern them. Thus, the opinion of the majority of the public often becomes public policy, which illustrates the need for homeschoolers to promote positive public relations at the local, state, and national level. We must be actively involved in shaping public opinion about home schooling and the issues that could affect the home school community.

In September of 1993 a poll by the Family Research Council showed that forty-five percent of the public believed that home schooled students learn as well as students in public school, while forty-four percent disagreed with that statement. In June of 1994 a Wall Street Journal poll determined that only twenty-eight percent would choose home education over public education, while a Gallup Poll in September of 1997 showed thirty-six percent of the public was positive about home education.

In contrast to those poll numbers, in the fall of 1996 a Hart-Hanks newspaper poll of a group of Texas citizens showed that fifty-one percent believed that home school students should be allowed to take part in extracurricular activities at public schools. Perhaps the higher support for home schooling in Texas is the result of the high profile of home schoolers in our state and the support of elected officials in official statements and endorsements.

In October 2003 CBS Evening News did a two-part series on home schooling that was extremely negative and was obviously designed to stir up support for the state regulation of home education. This type of propaganda demonstrates the vital need to be sensitive to things that can impact the public’s view of home education. THSC issued a press release to all the media outlets in Texas that stated the following:

“CBS Evening News has done a hit piece on home schooling that is the worst case of biased reporting on home education that I have seen in my twenty years of leadership in the home school movement,” said Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition. “Texas home schoolers are outraged,” he asserted.

On the October 13, 2003 show CBS Evening News implied that if home schools in North Carolina were strictly regulated, the three Warren children who were homeschooled in North Carolina might still be alive. In point of fact, child welfare workers were well aware of this family, had contacted the family eleven times, and were working with the family. As the Warrens were being tried for child abuse defense attorneys asked why the children had not been removed from the home. If blame must be placed in this situation, perhaps it lays with child welfare officials.

The October 14 segment highlighted two Texas cases. The first was that of Andrea Yates, who killed her five children in June 2001. The Yates had one child of compulsory attendance age, but since this tragedy happened in the summer, no amount of home school regulation would have changed this horrible tragedy. CBS failed to mention that Andrea had attempted suicide in 1999 and suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis. In the other Texas case cited by CBS, Deanna Lajune Laney had killed two of her three sons in May 2003. Although she taught her six- and eight-year-olds at home, the more accurate parallel is the mental illness of Mrs. Laney.

According to the FBI, 8,297 parents murdered their children between 1976 and 1999, which is an average of more than 250 cases per year of children killed by their parents (filicide). CBS could only find a handful of cases of filicide, involving parents who may have homeschooled, in order to make the case that home educated children are in danger and that home schooling parents should be subject to criminal background checks and strict regulation by the states. “Home education has nothing to do with filicide,” said Mr. Lambert. “This appears to be a politically motivated story to stir up efforts to regulate home school families,” he said, “and CBS should be ashamed for using such horrific and tragic situations to promote a political agenda.”

Many local newspapers across Texas used this THSC press release to print letters to the editor or editorials on this issue, and many local support groups also passed the information on to their membership as well. We must never forget that the public mind is impacted by events and information and we must be diligent to give positive information to the public and respond quickly and strongly to negative issues such as these CBS reports.

In view of that necessity each home school support group should prepare in advance for these situations by having a public relations officer designated for the group. This person should be responsible for publicizing the newsworthy events of the group and fielding any calls from the media for information or reports on home schooling.

This officer should have media packets, information for officials and reporters, or a resource such as the THSC website to refer reporters to in order to give out accurate information quickly. Members of the group should be aware of the officer to whom they should refer such calls. When dealing with members of the press please be sure that the information you share is accurate. Be sure to verify your facts prior to an interview if you are unsure of yourself. THSC will be glad to help you on such issues.

First impressions are often lasting impressions. In fact, we read in First Samuel that while God looks on the heart, man looks on the outward appearance. We are often judged by our appearance. Therefore, when dealing with members of the press or elected officials be careful to dress appropriately. It is good to dress in a suit or coat and tie or business dress and make every effort to be well groomed.

Give the Right Message

When dealing with reporters be careful to keep your message simple and straightforward. In a press release or written statement, make your most important point first and move on from there. If the message is edited, you will then be more likely to get the most important points into the interview. If you are working with radio or TV reporters, be sure to speak in short sound bites that are easily understood. Most reporters will only use a few seconds or minutes of an interview. Try to repeat your main points in several ways, with sound bites that will easily get your message across. Be wary of long, rambling interviews that may be used to deliver a message that you did not intend. Keep your message simple and repeat it often in the interview to enhance your chances that it will be picked up for the story that will be published or aired.

As you speak be careful not to attack public education or public school teachers. We are trying to promote home education, and the best way to do that is to deliver the positive message about what we are doing with our children and the result of our choice, not to point out the shortcomings of public schools.

Try to work in the following points about home education:

  1. It is the tutorial method of education, and as such, the low teacher/student ratios allow much one-on-one attention.
  2. This method results in great time management, in which a great deal can be accomplished in a few hours instead of the entire day it takes in a traditional classroom setting.
  3. Studies continue to show that home schoolers do very well on nationally normed, standardized achievement tests when compared to their classroom counterparts; in fact, home school students generally score about thirty percent above the national average on these tests.
  4. Because of the low teacher/student ratio, home schoolers accomplish their academic work in a shorter time and have extra time to pursue enrichment activities such as music lessons, sports, and other activities, all of which almost always allow for social interaction with others. Thus, we deal with the socialization questions.
  5. Finally, while home schooling may not be for everyone, it should be available for anyone.

Delivering the Messages

Your public relations officer should be sensitive to every newsworthy event that your organization does and make plans to contact the media to promote that event in particular and home schooling in general.

Contact TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers in advance. Start one week prior to the event and follow up several days before the actual date of the event. You should issue a press release to announce to the media the activities you would like them to publicize or report on. The following rules should apply to each press release:

  1. Only one event should be announced per release, and the length of the release should be one page.
  2. The organization sponsoring the event should be listed at the top of the page, along with the date, time, and place of the event.
  3. A contact person and phone number should also be listed.

Be positive when you deal with reporters and stay on message. Be prepared for questions. You might want others to help you by practicing with questions you might anticipate so that you have responses that are well thought out. Finally, don’t forget your children--they are often our best weapon in the public relations wars. However, be careful not to allow them to be asked questions that are inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to tell the reporter that the question is not appropriate and to redirect the conversation.

Practice makes perfect, and the more you do these kinds of public relations efforts, the better you and your group will become at it and the more positive the public will be about home education.


Chapter 6 – CO-OPS

Home school co-ops can be a viable choice for home schoolers. Learn more about the models and types of co-ops as well as co-op cautions. This section also includes several sample co-op policies and documents.

6.1 CO-OP CAUTIONS

By Ruth Perez

Avoid the seeds of destruction. Be careful who you partner with to accomplish your goals. You must use like-minded people with a moral commitment to Biblical standards. Do not be influenced by the trends of the world. Be ye separate.

School vs. home school - Dr. Brian Ray, president and founder of NHERI (National Home Educators Research Institute), emphasized that the school model is doomed to fail. Don’t copy it. When presented with the question, to co-op or not to co-op, Dr. Ray quickly clarified that he saw a place for co-ops in the lives of Christian home schoolers. He mentioned many of the reasons that make home schooling successful, like small classrooms, protected environment, customized curriculum, lack of distractions, sensitivity to life opportunities, those teachable moments and events, individualized attention, small student/ teacher ratio combined with the added advantage that the teacher loves and really knows each child. However, continued Dr. Ray, when we set up a co-op and one-by-one pull out the elements that make home schooling successful, you may end up with the very product that you fled from.

Motivation - Before choosing to co-op, parents should carefully consider their motivations and desires. Avoid those that have vain or humanistic motives. Are you starting a co-op because there are no others in the area? Are you reverting to the school model of teaching, because that is what is familiar to most of us? Are you bending to home school peer pressure? I would caution you to enter this area covered with prayer. Do you want social experiences for your children, or are you primarily looking for some assistance with difficult classes? Parents should also carefully consider what they expect to gain from the co-op experience and be willing to voice those expectations. Unmet expectations are the number one complaint of co-op members. Many home school parents like the idea of someone else taking the responsibility of a difficult subject, yet they are not always willing to surrender control and accept that someone else may teach a little differently than they would.

Socialization - Many parents join co-ops to provide their children with social opportunities. While parents and children alike can build positive friendships in a co-op, even among like-minded families, negative socialization still exists. Parents should also carefully and prayerfully consider the ages of their children and the effects of socialization. While all children must face society at some point, are you prepared to discuss the issues that might arise with your children and are they old enough and mature enough to handle peer pressure? If you are committed that a co-op is consistent with your homeschool vision for your children, then continue with prayer.

Counting the Cost - Depending on the co-op, parents will invest their time, their money, or both. Co-ops that require all parents to participate require a commitment in time, and parents should carefully consider whether they are willing to meet that commitment before classes start.. They must be willing to give up a little of the flexibility that makes home schooling so attractive to some families. Almost all co-ops have some fee, whether it is just enough to cover building costs and supplies, or there is a fee for hired teachers, parents should first consider the cost and whether it is an affordable option for their family.

6.2 HOME SCHOOL CO-OPS: A VIABLE CHOICE FOR CHRISTIAN HOME SCHOOL FAMILIES?

By Ruth Perez

Definition: Co-op – Co-operative, partnering with to accomplish a goal.

Are co-ops a viable educational choice for Christian home school families?
THSC believes that it is, and has always been, the responsibility of parents to make wise and informed decisions concerning the best way to educate their children. In the state of Texas, our state legislature gives the parents the right to use anything and anyone to help them accomplish this goal while remaining in compliance to state law. Participating in a co-op with other families is a legal option for home schooling families. Knowing that it is legal, the Christian parents must decide if they feel that they would have the liberty in Christ to participate in a co-op and if the Bible has anything to say on this issue. We believe it does, and feel that there is scriptural support for those wishing to proceed down that path.

Parents are called by God - Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou risest up.”

Parents are equipped by God – He who has begun a good work in you is faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). You have been thoroughly furnished, by God, with every skill that you will need to accomplish what God has called you to do. BUT, just because you CAN do it all by yourself, does not mean that it is God’s will for you to do everything on your own. That is a humanistic worldview. Seek the Lord and His continual leading. Do not depend on your own strength.

God’s provision for His plan-God will not command you to do something that He is not going to provide for. Don’t lock the Lord in a box. He may send someone else to teach that complicated subject that He is impressing on you to provide for your children.

God’s example through scripture – I Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Our example is that God trusted faithful men with a good witness to teach. Our most convincing example is the fact that we would all agree that if someone could write a book all by himself, surely God could, yet He chose to use some forty-plus men to pen this eternal classic. Again, the example is that we have a choice, even if we have the ability to do great things on our own.

Co-op Philosophy – Proverbs 9:9-10 “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” It is clear that God approves teaching and learning between people, not necessarily in the same family. The formula for successful learning is putting prominence to good clear Christian teaching.

Co-op Purpose – I Timothy 4:11-13 “These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” In this scripture, we have an active participation of study, one that includes: teaching, showing examples to others, command of language, public speaking, loving pure interactions with others, with specific direction to focus on reading, teaching others and instruction in developing a Christian Worldview.

Co-op Vision – Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We are to be busy teaching and training children to have an impact on the world for Christ sake—they are our future leaders. We need to use whatever we can to accomplish this command.

Co-op Quality - “Caught vs. Taught” is a very common idea that many home school families may rely on a little too much. “Caught vs. Taught” It is a fact that more learning is caught rather than taught, but for subjects that require in-depth study, “taught” is the better choice. Parents may want to choose to have certain subjects taught by a Christian whom they trust. Their child’s educational training will definitely suffer if they are depending on that information being caught.

The primary purpose for starting a co-op should be to provide additional options for parents as they continue to seek the Lord for His provision for their children’s education. It should also give an opportunity for members of the Body of Christ to make their gifts and talents available to others. A co-op should never be designed to undermine the authority or confidence of parents in any way. Participating in a good co-op can be a tremendous blessing to the families involved. The co-op experience should be encouraging to one another through Christian fellowship while learning in a protected environment that is designed to honor the Lord.

6.3 MODELS AND TYPES OF CO-OPS

The following three co-op models are the most common among home schooling organizations. Typically made up of families with common standards and goals, these co-ops usually offer menu-style classes. There are several types of co-ops within each of these models.

Academic or Service Model Co-op – This co-op is designed as a service to the home schooling families in the area. It is organized primarily to meet the needs of older students, with classes like chemistry, calculus, physics, public speaking, drama, foreign language, etc. However, it is best if a variety of classes are offered for all ages so that younger children are occupied while older siblings are in classes. This type of co-op usually meets once a week. A paid co-op director is often needed to orchestrate schedules and handle general co-op operations. There are several ways this type of co-op may be funded. The following are a few options:

Some of the types of co-ops that would fall within this model are:

Enrichment or Relationship Model Co-op – This co-op is designed to build a strong home school community. Families will need to be like minded, because all classes and duties are shared by parents. By including parents as volunteer teachers and helpers and establishing a range of ages in the classes, the children come together in a community, rather than in the isolated peer group of a traditional classroom. The children enjoy same-age friendships as well as friendships with children and adults who are years younger or older. Parents can barter with fees. This is best set up in a facility that is free of charge, as in a church or community center. Like the Academic co-op, there are several types of co-ops that fall within this model:

6.4 SAMPLE FORMS FOR CO-OPS

Co-op Teacher Assistant Application

Child Protection Policies

Liability Release Form

6.5 SHOULD A CO-OP BE LICENSED FOR CHILD CARE?

We here at THSC have had this issue arise several times recently, and we believe co-ops should be exempt from state licensing of child care under the following statutes for educational programs:

TAC Section 745.119(5)

(5) Private Educational Facility, Including an Educational Facility that is Religious in Nature

(A) The educational facility offers an educational program;

(B) If the educational facility is located in a county that has a population of less than 25,000, all children in the program are at least four-years old; or if the educational facility is located in a county that has a population of 25,000 or more, all children in the program are at least kindergarten age;

(C) No more than two hours total of child day care is provided before or after the customary school day in the community; and

(D) It operates one or more of the following:

(i) Preschool or kindergarten through at least grade three;

(ii) Grades 9 through 12; or

(iii) The same pattern of public school grade clustering as the local school district elementary grades (1 through 6)."

HRC Section 42.041(b)(11)

11) “subject to Subsection (b-1), an educational facility that is integral to and inseparable from its sponsoring religious organization or an educational facility both of which do not provide custodial care for more than two hours maximum per day, and that offers educational programs for children age four and above in one or more of the following: preschool, kindergarten through at least grade three, elementary, or secondary grades;"

A day care within a co-op, however, might be required to be licensed if the co-op meets more than two days per week.

6.6 CO-OP POLICIES AND CONTRACTS

At THSC, we feel that leaders and groups can greatly benefit from the advice and experience of others. We also feel that by providing groups with sample documents from other groups, we can prevent the need for others to "reinvent the wheel."

Home school organizations are run by fallible people, and governing documents and written agreements can help prevent conflict and confusion. Whether your co-op is just beginning or has been in service for years, these sample documents may be just the thing to get your group off to a great start or the answer to a perplexing issue.

For more samples of governing documents, such as by-laws, constitutions, and statements of faith, contact THSC at leaders@thsc.org or call our office at (806) 744-4441.

6.7 CO-OP STUDENT/PARENT COVENANT

CO-OP STUDENT/PARENT COVENANT
YEAR ___/___

I, __________________________ and my parents, _______________________________ understand that I desire to attend classes with the FEAST Co-op under the terms of this covenant.

I, ____________________________along with my parents, ___________________________ will display a Christlike attitude and manners in all my interactions with students, teachers, Co-op staff members and devotion volunteers. I will not at any time speak disrespectfully or unkind about FEAST as an organization or its standards.

Specifically, I, _______________________________ will immediately follow-through with the request of a teacher and complete tasks in a timely manner without causing a distraction or problem.

I, _________________________________ will focus my attention on academics and complete all class and homework assignments to the best of my abilities without hesitation or redirection.

I, ________________________________ will follow the FEAST Co-op Guidelines and Rules at all times. I understand that a breach of this covenant will result in the submission of an Incident Report that will be reviewed by the FEAST Co-op Staff or by the FEAST Incident Committee.

I, _________________________________ will comply with the FEAST Co-op Guidelines for Dress Code and will encourage those around me to do the same.

I, ________________________________ desire that FEAST provide a Christian learning environment that is in keeping with the mission and educational goals of the organization.

The parents of _____________________________ agree to support and work of the FEAST Co-op as partners in this educational co-op process by participating and helping with special co-op events and fundraisers.

The Parents of _____________________________ agree to pay all teachers on the designated day and understand that I will pay a late fee after that date.

The parents of _____________________________ agree that it is the responsibility of the home schooling parent to verify that their child is home schooling in a bona fide manner and fulfils the duties of this covenant.

In the event that any of the covenant terms are broken, ___________________________ will not be allowed to continue participation in the FEAST Co-op, however, the parents are financially responsible for payment of all contracted class fees for the entire school year regardless of circumstances that may prohibit their child’s attendance.

____________________ _____________________________________ ____________________
Student Signature        Email        Date

____________________ _____________________________________ ____________________
Parent Signature        Email        Date

__________________ _______________________________ ____________________________
Office Phone (include Extension)        Home Phone        Cell Phone

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” II Timothy 2:15

RPDocuments, Co-op, co-op student covenant 6/18/09


6.8 SAMPLE CHILD PROTECTIONS POLICIES FOR CO-OPS

The following is a sample copy of the FEAST (the regional group for the San Antonio area) policy and procedure for FEAST co-ops:

Leadership Profile
For FEAST Co-op Staff, Teachers, and All
Volunteer Workers with Children and Youth

The staff of the FEAST Teaching Co-op is committed to providing a safe environment in which to help children learn to love and follow Jesus Christ while participating in educational activities at the Co-op. At this time, the disturbing and dramatic rise and recognition of physical and sexual abuse of children has claimed the attention of our nation, our society, and this organization. Our programs for children are not insulated from those who abuse.

Therefore, the FEAST Co-op believes that it is vitally important to take decisive steps to ensure that the Co-op and its teachers are safe and provide a joyful experience for children and youth. The following policies have been established and reflect our commitment to provide protective care of all children when they are attending any FEAST-sponsored programs or activities.

Child Protection

Suggestions for Staff and Volunteers Who Work With Children and Youth

The following guidelines are provided to create an awareness of vulnerability to civil and criminal liability as well as to instill the need to protect children.

DO

DON’T


Chapter 7 – FIELD TRIPS

Field trips can play an important role in the function of a support group. THSC has gathered several sample documents to help support groups in their field trip-planning, such as planning sheets, permission slips, and field trip policies and guidelines.

7.1 WHY FIELD TRIPS ARE IMPORTANT

Home schooling parents have the opportunity to provide the very best educational experience for their children through the use of field trips. Field trips are a unique way to provide a learning experience for every child, no matter what his or her learning style might be. There can be a variety of learning styles in one family. One child may be a hands-on, kinesthetic learner; another may be a visual learner; and yet another may be an auditory learner. Some children may have a creative/artistic bent, and there may even be a child or two with special needs, such as ADD or possibly sight impaired. Adding a fun and exciting field trip that includes hearing, seeing, touching, talking, doing, and experiencing real life may be just the thing you need to keep learning exciting. No matter what the educational needs of your children, the multi-sensory experience of a field trip will usually yield a profitable learning experience.

Here are a few tips to help you use your educational time wisely. Field trips are a great use of time if you do your homework! Planning ahead can ensure that a field trip becomes a vital part of your child’s learning experience instead of a disappointing distraction to your school day. With a little effort, parents can request study packets from potential field trip offices. A little preoperational study about what the child will be learning, or seeing, on the upcoming field trip will increase the effectiveness of the learning experience. Take time to look at a map, Google some history, watch a movie, read a book, take a tour, or peruse a brochure about your field trip to wet your child’s appetite for this very special time. Acquainting your child with details or historical information will preprogram his or her brain to assimilate the information given through the field trip. Take time to help your child formulate questions that he or she may already have, and build the excitement with statements such as, “I can’t wait to find out how they …” Such preparation teaches your children that “learning is fun”!

Scheduling field trips to enrich the subjects that your children are studying can reinforce the principles outlined in their curriculum. A visit to a farm can be a real-life example of sowing and reaping. Seeing people working together in a factory may emphasize the importance of working together as a team in unity and harmony. A trip to the zoo may yield many academic advantages, but may also reveal the importance of self-control in maintaining personal safety.

A field trip can be used to reinforce the areas where children have weaknesses. If your child is having trouble understanding our planet or universe, take a field trip to the planetarium. Young adults who are struggling to understand the branches of government will benefit from a civics field trip; set one up with a local politician, or visit the state capital. Focus on the needed area of study by intentionally scheduling a field trip that meets your children’s specific academic needs.

Field trips can be used to encourage your children to strive for a higher level of achievement. Visiting a museum and reading about a great hero who came from a humble past, yet persevered to make a difference in our world, may inspire your child to reach for a higher goal. Through field trips that explain great accomplishments in science, literature, medicine, or maybe industry, your children gain a great appreciation for those who have contributed to making our lives better or our work easier and more efficient. Your child will gain the understanding of what great things can be accomplished by mankind. Christian families will want to point out specific indications of God’s leadership in a famous person’s life, such as the testimony of George Washington Carver or any one of the godly quotes by Sergeant York. This exercise may start their creative juices flowing; you may be raising tomorrow’s next great scientist or inventor!

Scheduling field trips to art expos, museums, or guild meetings can increase your child’s cultural literacy. You may capture a glimpse of interest as your child watches an artisan working with glass, clay, or wood. Exposing your children to a wide variety of arts through field trips will expand their frame of cultural reference as well as equip them to understand the variety of gifts and talents that God provides to each of us. Field trips such as these can provide an opportunity for parents to observe their children’s responses during field trip demonstrations. Parents can then start to draw out the creativity within their children by allowing them to express themselves through hands-on experimentation with the arts that they have observed.

Parents can use field trips to increase their child’s social skills. You have told your children that manners matter; now it is time to see your lessons in action. You may have gotten lax in proper protocol within your safe, comfortable home; a field trip will reveal everything you may have missed. Take a few minutes before a field trip to review the behavior guidelines that you have taught your children at home. Simple things such as standing in line, waiting your turn for something, or that most people raise their hand when they would like to ask a question are skills that must be implemented on a field trip with a group. Also, proper etiquette such as boys opening doors for the women in the group, younger children staying with mother, and that when in a group we respect others by not crowding, shoving, or walking too close to one another are things that need to be remembered. Older young ladies can exercise selflessness by extending a hand to help a young mother with several small children while on a tour. Seeing your children in action on a field trip can reveal what a parent needs to cover at the kitchen table during school time tomorrow.

Field trips provide a great time to communicate with your children on a tutorial level. Educational field trips that include interactive activities can be used to build strong learning skills in your children. Asking questions about what the child has seen, read, touched, tasted, etc. can be a comprehensive exercise that will grow with each subsequent field trip. Eventually the child will subconsciously listen and observe more intently if he or she knows that the parent will probably discuss the field trip information with them later. Parents with children who have special needs such as ADD can increase the value of the field trip information by encouraging their child to tell back their experience. Parents can remind children of things that they may have forgotten, thereby supplementing the gaps in their observations. Even small children can exercise their recall skills by drawing a picture of what they saw or experienced.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your field trip. Have you ever heard the quote, “Children remember fifty percent of what they hear; sixty percent of what they hear and see; seventy-five percent of what they hear, see, and touch; eighty percent of what they do …” and the percentage increases each time you add an activity to the equation? Take the time to incorporate a wide variety of activities into every field trip experience. If the tour has a film, watch it. Read every sign. If there are ranger lectures at the site, make sure your schedule incorporates time to enjoy them. If there is an interactive section for children, take the whole family through it. Touching, trying, and smelling, etc. will increase your child’s learning experience. Teach your children to be good natured and brave enough to volunteer for the field trip presenter. By becoming involved in the demonstration, your children become part of the learning experience. Get the most out of all of your effort by looking for as many ways to get them to participate as possible. At the end of the field trip if you can see the tremendous amount of information that your child has learned and remembers, what a great time they had, then you can say, “Mission accomplished”!

The goal of the field trip is not just to not waste time or to just have fun, but to provide a rich learning experience for every child involved. Take the time to select field trips that not only expose your children to a wide variety of cultural interests and experiences but that will also enrich your home school academic studies. Home schoolers are often accused of “sheltering” their children from the world. Field trips are a good way to “expose” your children to the world. We are in the world, but not of the world. This principle is magnified right before your children’s eyes as they are exposed and experience the people who make up this great big world. Diversity and tolerance studies are all the rage in academic circles. As a home schooled parent, you choose the right experiences and the right time for your own child to learn about the world. Home school children are the leaders of tomorrow; prepare them well for the honor and glory of the Lord. After all, isn’t that just one more reason why we homeschool?

7.2 FIELD TRIP FUNDAMENTALS

By Ruth Perez

Temporary Field Trip Coordinator

If possible, the board of a support group should select a temporary field trip coordinator to begin the process of building a solid plan for the group’s field trips for the year. The goal of the temporary field trip coordinator is to initiate the steps needed to train and select the volunteers to coordinate and organize the many details associated with support group field trips.

Temporary Field Trip Coordinator Responsibilities

Designing Your Survey

Begin your process with a field trip survey. The survey will be given to each member of your support group and should include any question that could be asked in a support group informational meeting. The survey can be as long or as detailed as needed. Include basic information that will be needed for follow-up such as name and contact number of the person answering the survey. You will want to include space for the members to list 3-4 field trips that they think would be fun, educational, and would fit the dynamics of your specific support group. Include space for field trip locations (in town/driving distance), and some indication as to whether this is a family field trip or one that would be geared to a specific gender, age, or interest group. Include questions on desired standards of conduct or dress code guideline suggestions. This is also a good place to solicit your field trip leader with a few simple questions such as, would you be willing to organize all or even one of our field trips this school year?

Compiling the Survey Information

The temporary field trip coordinator should organize and compile the information from the group surveys. This can be done loosely or electronically depending on the ability of the volunteer. A report with the survey findings should be submitted to the board for review.

Field Trip Coordinator Search

Discuss potential names for the position of field trip coordinator with the board members. Reveal any unusual leadership qualities within members that you have observed during the survey process. Compile a list of individuals to be interviewed. Call and conduct an informal interview with potential field trip coordinator. This position can be manned by one person for a specific length of time, such as a semester or calendar school year, or by several people who volunteer to organize one of the many field trips for your support group. Report your recommendations for permanent field trip coordinator for final selection by the board or for a vote at the next support group meeting.

Time

Agenda time should be scheduled to present candidates for a vote or to introduce the new field trip coordinator who has been selected. Also, at this meeting you should present a sign-up sheet for all of those who are interested in assisting the field trip coordinator with the many details required in organizing and facilitating field trips.

Transfer of Responsibility

The temporary field trip coordinator should be available to train or transition the permanent field trip coordinator. This can be as simple as being available by phone or can actually be ongoing by serving as an assistant when needed.

Responsibilities of the Permanent Field Trip Coordinator

Field Trip Committee

Organizing the field trips for your group can be an overwhelming responsibility. Delegating specific events and tasks to a committee will mean the difference between a successful year and one that results in the burnout of your field trip coordinator.

The field trip coordinator should select two or three people to work on details of the support group’s field trips for the year. These can be taken from the names given on the sign-up sheet from the last meeting, or they can be hand-selected by the field trip coordinator, with permission from the group board. This three-fold-cord principle will ensure that none of the details for a successful field trip goes unhandled.

Field Trip Planning Meeting

The field trip coordinator should host a planning meeting for her committee. The meeting should include the development of behavior standards and dress code guidelines that will be followed during all support group field trips. The committee will also discuss details such as how many field trips are to be planned for the year, whether there will be separate field trip organizers for the teen field trips, or whether all of the field trips will be family-oriented. The committee will present this information to the support group for approval. If approved, each family attending agrees to the field trip format as well as agrees to abide by the adopted behavior standards and dress code during field trip participation.

This meeting may also involve compiling rough draft lists of the best times specific field trips can be planned.

The committee should set up separate files by title of each field trip. Any information previously gathered should be placed in these files.

Any specific challenges or decisions that need to be made for the group field trips should be discussed by the committee. A “needs list” should also be compiled for each field trip, e.g., who will collect the fees, who will handle RSVPs, etc.

The committee may want to design a Field Trip Host form to be used for each event. A space for members to sign their name as coordinator should appear at the top of the form just under the title of the field trip.

Compile a Suggested Field Trip Calendar

Once the committee has a well-thought-through selection of field trips, a Field Trip Calendar should be composed. Give special considerations to major city-wide events as well as other annual home school related events such as book fairs, speech tournaments and sports tournaments. Major holidays and potential travel during spring break and summer breaks should also be considered. Avoid planning activities that will conflict with traditional worship times such as on Sundays and also Wednesday evening prayer services. A completed calendar should be submitted to the group board for approval.

Presentation of the Field Trip Behavioral Standards and Dress Guidelines, Calendar and Field Trip Host Forms

The field trip committee will prepare the approved field trip behavioral standards and dress guidelines, calendar, and the individual field trip host forms for the next support group meeting.

Each member should receive a copy of the Guidelines and Field Trip Calendar.

An Individual Field Trip Host form should be made for each field trip selected for the year. At the meeting, place the forms single file on a table in the room. Instruct the members to select the field trip of their choice to host. The field trip coordinator may want to announce that if no one steps up to organize and host any particular field trip, that field trip will be dropped from the schedule. The coordinator may wish to present the available forms at several meetings until all have been selected. Any scheduled field trip that does not have a host within two months of the event should be dropped. This should be announced at the meeting by the field trip coordinator. If desired, the coordinator may want to open the floor for alternative field trip suggestions and host. Suggestions should only be taken from those who are willing to host their own suggestion. After two or three suggestions have been taken, a simple show of hands could indicate which field trips would be well-attended. A field trip form should be prepared for the new event.

Hosting a Field Trip

Hosting a field trip for your support group begins with a phone call to the field trip coordinator or the designated committee member. Any specific details that have already been gathered for that event should be copied and placed in the event field trip file and turned over to the host.

As the host gathers specifics needed for the field trip, those should also be kept in the file for reference, as needed, and for future years.

Information Needed for Hosting a Field Trip

Field Trip Sign-up Sheet

The host for each event should prepare a family sign-up sheet for the support group meeting two months prior to the field trip (earlier if reservation deadlines are required by the business or attraction that you will be attending). The sheet should include the name of each person attending, phone, and a space to check off “paid fee,” if fees must be collected in advance. Sign-up should be first-come, first-served until all spaces are filled. Additional names should be kept on a waiting list to replace those who may drop off your list due to emergencies or last minute schedule changes. Refunds should not be given. Unused funds should be deposited to the support group account by the treasurer.

Responsibilities of Host

The host handles all details associated with the field trip, i.e. booking the event, coordinating the caravanning or arrival of the attendees, and even details related to staying on schedule and prearranging where families can sit to have a picnic lunch, if needed.

The host may want to appoint specific parents to be spotters to help keep the group in compliance with company request and with the support group behavior standards and guidelines.

Either the host or another parent should be responsible for photo documentation of the event. These photos can be shared with the group for a fee if needed. Two or three selected photos should be given to the host to place in the field trip file as an archive.

Wrap Up and Return File

The host should also take responsibility for writing a short review about the field trip. The review should be given to the support group newsletter editor along with photos of the event. The host should also send a thank you note to the contact person at the business or attraction where you attended.

Any details or suggestions that would make this field trip run more smoothly should be noted and put into the file for future reference. Also, any problems that occurred during the field trip should be documented.

The file and its contents should be returned to the field trip coordinator at the next scheduled support group meeting.

7.3 PLANNING FIELD TRIPS

By Julie Hunt, Robertson County Home School Association

Why plan field trips? There are several reasons to incorporate field trips into your regular planning. Field trips are a great break from a regular school day. Families can enjoy a respite from structured lessons, with friends or family during a trip to the zoo or simply on a picnic. Home school days at various museums and parks make great outings with educational twists. Field trips are also great ways to introduce new subjects and stimulate a student’s interest in unfamiliar things; and of course, field trips are an excellent way to review a unit of study and put all that students have learned into the context of the real world. Another exciting benefit of field trips is to teach difficult subject matter with the help of a passionate expert! Once, while studying flight and flying, a trip to the Scientific Balloon Base in Palestine helped tremendously. Likewise, when the need to teach about aluminum manufacturing arose, instead of studying a bunch of charts, we hit the road and toured the Alcoa plant in Rockdale. So as a group leader, plan field trips that suit your family and schooling needs and invite others to join you; chances are if it is interesting to your family, it will interest others too!

Planning field trips does not have to be daunting. Spontaneous field trips can be wonderful, but they don’t often work well for groups. On the other hand, the purposeful planning of a field trip can make it extra-special, and for group field trips, planning is a must. As families begin to prepare their schedules for the semester, it is best to schedule and plan most field trips before the semester begins. (Now is the time for the fall semester, and it is not too early to begin thinking of the spring schedule too!) Leaving the scheduling until the middle of the semester often means the trip won’t happen. Scheduling the trips early allows families to mark their calendars and can also help families pace their studies during the semester. One thing to keep in mind as you plan: March, April, and May are prime months for public and private schools to take field trips. Many locations will need to be scheduled in late December or early January if you are going during this peak time. Last May, RCHSA took a group to the Bob Bullock State History Museum, and we discovered that they hosted over 1,000 school children on that day alone!

At the beginning of the semester, field trip coordinators should brainstorm locations that will enhance study or recreational needs. Select three or four of the most interesting or important venues and find a general time frame, usually within a two-week span, that you wish to plan the trip. Contact the location and work out the details (see field trip planning form), including the exact date and time, group discount requirements, scope of the tour, appropriate ages, etc. Once you get the trip planned, advertise it in your newsletter or on your website. Families do not all need to be studying the same subjects to enjoy a field trips together.

There are many resources available to help find a good field trip destination. The Internet is an excellent tool in your search. The great state of Texas has resources that every home schooling family should have:

Other resources include local businesses and restaurants, factory tours, agricultural operations, and specialty crafting groups like embroiderers, potters, and the like. The Field Trip Factory may have a trip to suit your needs as well.

Good field trip etiquette goes a long way to helping hosts have positive impressions of home school groups and even encouraging them to tailor programs to suit your group! Courteous field trip manners help endear you to your hosts. Some ideas:

Field trip planning is something that can be shared among many families in your group. Just announce at a meeting that the group is open to sharing trips with other families. Often, the cost is half of regular price if you have enough students to qualify as a school group.

Field trips are not only fun and educational, but they are a great activity to share with friends, so enjoy your field tripping adventures!

7.4 SAMPLE FIELD TRIP PERMISSION

Download the sample form.

7.5 POLICY FOR FIELD TRIPS AND SOCIAL FUNTIONS - SAMPLE

Download the sample.

7.6 FIELD TRIP GUIDELINES - SAMPLES

Guidelines Sample 1

Field Trip Rules

As members of _________________, we are planning a number of field trips throughout this year for current members only. In order to have them done in an orderly fashion and to bring glory to our Lord, we have set up some rules. Please do not have your children participate in these field trips if you and they do not agree with each stipulation set forth below.

  1. Please arrive 15 minutes early, unless otherwise stated.
  2. Students should always be responsive, obedient and respectful.
  3. Every parent must attend the field trip with their children and be responsible for their own children. If there is a good reason why you cannot attend, please contact another parent who will agree to be responsible for your child(ren). The name of the other parent should be given to the committee member in charge of that field trip. Do not just "drop off" children at the field trip.
  4. Touch only when permitted. Pet or feed animals only when permitted.
  5. Students should raise their hand if asking a question in a group. There should not be excessive noise. Please have your children give their attention to the speaker. This person is giving their time and resources for us.
  6. There should be self-discipline practiced by each student participating. If a child continues to be disruptive, it should be brought to the attention of the parent in charge in an appropriate manner. Only one warning will be given to the child and parent. If the child disrupts again, during the same field trip or another field trip during the same semester, the child will lose the privilege of going on another field trip that semester.
  7. Parents: Please stay with your children. Avoid the temptation to hang back and visit with others during the tour or presentation. Arrange with another adult to watch your child for a minute if you must attend to the needs of another child. Enjoy the educational opportunity and time with your children by participating actively in what is going on.
  8. Clothing for the outing should be clean, neat and appropriate for the outing. Proper attire at each field trip will ensure safety as well as our home schooling influence.
  9. Everyone should wear a nametag. Have your children design a tag for all of your family members so that they can be worn on each field trip.
  10. The sponsor of the field trip is responsible for writing an official thank you note on behalf of the group. Children, however, are encouraged to write individual thank you notes to each of the places they visit. The name and address will be given to you at some point during the field trip if you wish to write individual thank you notes. If the information is not available at the trip, please call the committee member to obtain such.
  11. When you decide to attend a certain field trip, make sure that you RSVP to the field trip committee member listed with all of the information requested by the deadline date.

IF YOU NEED TO CANCEL AFTER YOU HAVE RSVP'D, PLEASE CALL THE COMMITTEE MEMBER 24 HOURS BEFORE THE FIELD TRIP, SO THAT SOMEONE ON THE WAITING LIST CAN TAKE YOUR PLACE. IN SOME CASES CHILDREN WAKE UP SICK OR GET SICK; IF THIS HAPPENS, PLEASE CALL THE MEMBER ASAP. THERE ARE SOME TRIPS WITH A LIMITED NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS, SO THERE WILL BE A 'WAITING" LIST FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO ATTEND. GIVING NOTICE THAT YOU WILL NOT BE THERE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE WILL ALLOW FOR OTHERS WHO ARE ON THE “WAITING LIST” TO ATTEND.

***ANYONE WHO MISSES A FIELD TRIP FOR WHICH THEY HAVE SIGNED UP FOR WITHOUT CALLING TO CANCEL, WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM FIELD TRIPS FOR 3 MONTHS FOLLOWING THE “NO SHOW” DATE.

***EACH FIELD TRIP HAS A STARTING TIME ALSO. IF YOU ARE LATE, EVEN IF THE FIELD TRIP HAS STARTED OR NOT, 3 TIMES IT WILL HAVE THE SAME CONSEQUENCE AS A “NO SHOW”- EXCLUSION FROM THE FIELD TRIPS FOR 3 MONTHS FROM THE LAST "LATE SHOW".

If you attend any field trip, it shows that you agree with the rules listed previously. Please plan for you and your children to abide by these rules.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Guidelines Sample 2

Guidelines for Field Trips and/or Social Functions

We have a wonderful, friendly home school group that loves each other and loves the Lord. We represent Christ and in so doing, we must always strive to teach our children to behave in a manner that honors the Lord. Our reputation as Home Educators and as Christians is very important. With this in mind the following guidelines for all _____ social functions have been adopted by the _______ Leadership.

  1. When attending field trips please make sure that your children are dressed appropriately for the event. On all occasions, however, please make sure that parents and children are dressed in a modest, conservative, and neat manner. The following are considered examples of inappropriate attire:
  1. Since field trips take much effort to schedule and plan, it is very important that everyone be on time for all events.
  2. Anytime there is a speaker at a field trip, etc., the children are to be quiet and listen and be attentive. Parents, please save fellowship with each other for afterwards--don't miss teachable moments with your children.
  3. Children may not run inside any buildings or make noise disturbing to others. This rule applies at our meetings and all group activities.
  4. Children should show respect for property, for all adults, and for each other. Every child must attend with an adult to whom he or she is accountable.
  5. On field trips, all family units and anyone who has come with that family should stay together.
  6. If you sign up to attend a field trip and find that you are unable to attend, please call the Coordinator and cancel.
  7. Any parent may verbally correct and guide a child who is not complying with these guidelines--provided the child's parent is not nearby. Please speak to the parent first before correcting the child, if he/she is nearby. Parents should report repeat offenders to the Coordinator of the social function, who will then:

PLEASE KEEP THESE GUIDELINES ON FILE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE

7.7 FIELD TRIP PLANNING SHEET - SAMPLE

Download the Field Trip Planning Sheet


Chapter 8 TEENS AND THE SUPPORT GROUP

Need some inspiration on how your group can continue to serve those older students and their families or, perhaps, just some practical ideas on conducting teen activities or planning a graduation? Find some inspiring articles, practical tips, and sample forms for teen activities.

8.1 MEETING THE NEEDS OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

By Becky Preble

How many high school students are involved in activities with your local home school support group? Think about your last field trip. Were there mostly toddlers and elementary-age students in attendance? Field trips to the library, bakery, zoo and dairy farm are great for the younger set but have probably outlived their effectiveness for the junior-high- and high-school-age students. By the time my eldest daughter was in sixth grade, she could almost give the tour at the dairy farm and petting zoo that our support group had visited for three years in a row. While she loved all the animals, I could see that it was time to start thinking about other types of activities that would be more age appropriate to the growing number of junior high school students in our group.

Consider This First

Before I share a few ways that our support group responded to meet the needs of the junior high and high school students, I feel that I must be candid in relating that turning your support group into a community that ministers to older students can be fraught with problems. If you are currently part of a support group made up primarily of toddlers and elementary-age students, I encourage you to pray about whether or not the parents in your group want to or should try to build a program that offers activities geared to older students. This needs to be discussed openly among the entire support group.

When your children are younger, it is so easy to determine the guidelines for activities because you are probably in a support group of like-minded people. You are all likely to agree that field trips to the museum, holiday parties, and park days are good activities for your family to participate in. The children play, the mothers have a chance to visit and receive encouragement from other home schoolers, and all is good. However, as your children mature, you will find that topics of conversation will change. Once, you were discussing which phonics program is best and how to homeschool with toddlers underfoot. Suddenly, your children reach the pre-teen years, and you are discussing subjects like courtship vs. dating, college vs. apprenticeship, and many more issues that you never considered before. As you can imagine, the opportunity for disagreement increases significantly.

For example, those families committed to courtship may disapprove of parties and dances encouraging interaction between the young men and women. When their children were younger, co-ed parties were not viewed with the same amount of concern. Also, families opposed to sending their children to college may not want the support group to offer college prep classes to the high school students. These same families probably enjoyed participating in sewing classes, science classes, and the like when their children were elementary aged, but have determined that college prep courses are not in line with their current goals. On the other side of these issues are those parents who see nothing wrong with parent-supervised co-ed parties and who are planning to send their children to college. They may welcome the support group activities as in line with their goals. Families on both sides of the issues are trying to raise godly children but may disagree on the methods by which this is best accomplished. As Nancy Wilson so aptly described in her book The Fruit of Her Hands, people may agree in principle but disagree in methodology. So without consensus on the methods for setting guidelines for the teenagers’ activities, your support group could end up in conflict. This is why I recommend that you prayerfully consider whether or not your support group should undertake the development of a program designed for junior high and high school students.

Two Possible Methods for Developing Group Guidelines

Basically, I think there are two ways to help reduce potential conflict should your support group decide to offer activities for the older students. As with any suggestions, these are certainly not foolproof, and I would never presume that they would remove all potential for conflict. These are just tips gleaned from my eight-plus years experience in home school leadership. In both suggestions, I am assuming that the high school activities will fall under the larger umbrella of the home school support group. I personally would not recommend that you set up a totally separate group from your current home school support group because the older students and their parents could become too disconnected from the families with younger children. Those mothers with younger children need to have access to the mothers with years of home schooling experience under their belts. Also, many families have children ranging in age from infant through high school, and it would not be practical for them to belong to two separate support groups.

Method #1

One method for setting up a high school program is to have guidelines for all activities clearly defined from the beginning. The support group leaders are responsible for determining the guidelines for the group, and such guidelines may be changed only by the support group leaders. The leaders may choose to outline a code of conduct including things like dress code and rules of behavior. The support group leaders also determine what type of activities can and cannot be offered to the group at large. The guidelines are usually written down and communicated to the group through some sort of handbook. This method provides clear definition to the group and may work well for larger support groups.

Method #2

Another way of determining the operating guidelines for a high school program is a method that is currently in place in my home school support group. While the group has bylaws that outline our group’s purpose and intent, the board of directors is not responsible for providing activities for the group nor do we set up rules of conduct and behavior for the support group at large. Instead, any family within the support group may offer an activity or program to the rest of the group. This family then sets all the rules and behavior guidelines for that specific event.

We feel that the family who has taken the initiative and responsibility for the event should be able to set up the event as they see fit. This means that certain rules and guidelines may apply for one event but not another. For example, one family may offer a field trip to the city government offices and feel that it would be appropriate for the young ladies to wear dresses and the young men to wear ties. They would then communicate this dress code guideline to the group through our monthly newsletter. The group members who want to go on this field trip are required to dress as such or simply not attend. Another family may offer a field trip to the zoo and not feel that it is necessary to set a dress code for such an event.

Another example would be that one family might offer to host a dance. Those families in the support group who do not approve of dancing will choose not to attend. By having the sponsoring families set the guidelines for all events and programs, it allows for flexibility within the group. It also provides a wide variety of activities for families from which to pick and choose. This method can work well for smaller groups but can be frustrating to those families who want specific and unchanging guidelines.

Regardless of whether you decide to follow method #1 or #2, or even create a new method, make sure that your philosophy is communicated to the entire support group. You need to decide up front whether the support group leaders or individual families will determine the types of activities that will be offered. You must also be clear about whether the support group leaders or the individual families will determine the guidelines and code of conduct for activities and events.

We Started a High School Program

With that basic organizational groundwork laid, I would like to share with you why our support group decided to start offering activities for the older students. I must admit that when my children were toddlers and in elementary school I did not give much thought to how I would homeschool through high school. I had enough to do just maintaining the routines of life and teaching phonics.

However, when my eldest daughter reached sixth grade, I began to wonder about home schooling through junior high and high school. Ever the investigator, I decided to interview some of the mothers with older children. I wanted to know all about their experiences of home schooling through high school. With the exception of a very few families, I was surprised to learn that most of the mothers of the older children had already put their children into the local junior high or were planning to start them in the high school. The most commonly cited reason for this decision was that they did not feel qualified to teach courses like chemistry, calculus, physics, etc. The next most quoted reason for putting their children into high school was that they felt our support group did not offer any activities that were age appropriate for these students.

As I talked with some of the other mothers who had students approaching the junior high years, we decided that we did not want to feel like we had to put our children into school in order to get certain classes. We also wanted our children to participate in a variety of activities with other home schooled teenagers. We realized that in order to develop a program that would be ready by the time our students were in high school we needed to get started right away.

How We Got Started

One of the first things we did was to offer a biology class for the 7th through 12th grade students. We prayed for a teacher, and the Lord blessed our group with a Christian gentleman who was involved in research at the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio. We decided to offer biology because that is what the majority of the parents wanted. We also offered a Latin class that first year. The classes met on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one of the local churches allowed us to use their classrooms. The fee for the classes was $10 per student, per week, per class. The course fees were paid directly to the teachers.

As home schoolers in the surrounding area heard about the classes, they begin to call to sign up for one or both of them. That first year we had almost 20 students in the biology class. Each year after that the school grew in class size and in the number of courses offered. Some of the courses offered through the years have included microbiology, chemistry, physics, constitutional government, biblical worldviews, English composition, algebra, and calculus. This year we are offering a PSAT/SAT math prep course and a college prep writing class. The class offerings change from year to year depending on the needs of the students.

Activities

While the classes provided an opportunity for the students to get together on a weekly basis, some of the mothers in our support group decided that we needed to develop other activities specifically geared for the junior-high- and high-school-age group. One family volunteered to host a formal Christmas dinner; other families offered to hold youth nights centered around a devotional and followed by games or eating and visiting. We also have a junior/senior night where the students dress in formal attire, rent a limousine, and ride in style to a nice restaurant for dinner. After dinner they attend a play or other activity of their choosing.

Another favorite activity among all ages of students in the support group has been our drama classes. The older students, particularly, look forward every year to participating in a play since the lead parts are usually reserved for them. Students who do not want to act can participate in making costumes, designing the program, or helping paint sets. The play is usually held at the local public school auditorium. Yet another activity that the high school young ladies participated in recently was a service project at our local crisis pregnancy care center. They raised money and hosted a baby shower for a local family that was expecting a new baby and was going through a difficult time financially.

Start Small

These are only a few of the ways that our support group has found to offer activities for the older students. As you can guess, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and by the amount of time you are willing to commit to the group. Keep in mind that it can take years to develop a full-scale program of classes and activities for high school students. Do not let the size of the task overwhelm you. Start small--offer a weekly Bible study or some other activity that meets on a weekly basis. You also might want to offer at least one special monthly or yearly event. Once the word gets out that you are offering even one regularly scheduled activity for home schooled junior high and/or high school students, it won’t be long before your group can be sponsoring a variety of activities geared to meet the needs of high school students.

8.2 TEEN HOME SCHOOL ACTIVITIES IN ABUNDANCE

By Linda Nuttall

When our family started homeschooling in the spring of 2000, we had a 9th grader, a 7th grader, and a 2nd grader. Therefore, the entire time we’ve homeschooled, we have needed to focus on the special needs of homeschooling teens. The curriculum needs for teens are advanced and varied. More than subject matter, we were concerned with opportunities that would help our kids grow into responsible, contributing adults, and that would give them good memories so that twenty years from now they wouldn’t look back and feel they’d been deprived of some valuable rite-of-passage experience.

We were among five families that started a support group at the end of 2005 (which quickly grew to a steady forty-five-plus families covering the greater Houston area), so we were able to make sure the needs of teens were always addressed by the group. That turned out to be a huge undertaking but also a real blessing.

We started what we call Teen Leadership Council (TLC), which functions something like a student body council. The TLC learns and puts into practice leadership skills by planning activities. During our first year we had the council develop their own mission statement and draft by-laws. I was really proud of their insights and effort. The mission statement included four categories: Responsibility (to serve as a liaison between the teens and adult leaders), Spirituality (living high standards and including prayer and spiritual experiences in planning and activities), Leadership Development (receiving and putting into practice leadership lessons during planning meetings), and Fun (planning activities that would encourage teens in the group to enjoy associating together).

The TLC group is mostly self-appointing, with approval from adult teen leaders. It requires a pretty big commitment from both the teen and the family. Therefore, it’s unlikely that there would be more than a dozen in the group that can commit to TLC in a given school year. We’ve honored them with certificates at the end of the year. They can feel confident that their service will be useful on college applications and resumes. Usually an adult teen leader and an assistant work directly with the council and bring in other parental help as needed. The learning and experience, we believe, far exceed what a public schooler could get on a student council (for the few who even get that opportunity).

The TLC keeps the lives of teens in the group pretty full. (This is an understatement, as you’ll see.)

We have a monthly special program during the school year, put on by some of the dads, called Teen Quest. The adult volunteers are called Questians (which sounds a lot like “questions,” of which they ask a lot). The program is designed to teach principles in a fun and active learning setting. It’s usually held in a home and averages about twenty-five teens. Teen Quest follows a theme through each school year. One year the text they used was 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Another year they covered philosophers through the ages, comparing these to the philosophy of their own religion. There are a couple of advantages to this special program. It’s popular, because it’s so much fun. (The dads can be pretty wacky sometimes.) It’s also a unique opportunity for dads to make a contribution to the home schooling effort—with their own kids and their kids’ friends.

Annually we hold a Teen Camp, running from Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon. It is led by the Questians, who decide on the theme; and it’s planned by the TLC, with help from a lot of adult volunteers. TLC members design the T-shirt, plan the meals, handle publicity, and lead the groups during activities. Sometimes we have special guests come and help with the teaching (a professional photographer, a Christian rock band, a ballroom dance instructor, a rock climbing instructor). Most of the program is presented by the Questians. We also conduct a service project, hold a dance, and have plenty of social/fun play time. Somehow the tradition took hold that the final activity would be a water fight, instigated by the Questians. They search for a new method of attack each year. The length of time together, involved in so many shared intense experiences, allows for some close bonding and wonderful memories. We make a photo CD so the kids can go back and recall the good times.

Quarterly we have a day for religious experience. Our group is associated because of our common religion, so this makes these experiences desirable and well-supported by families. We typically have a service project and spiritual class during the day, then a late-afternoon visit to the temple, followed by dinner and evening activities (often Teen Quest, when the schedules align). These are consistently among our best attended activities; they are very effective for providing spiritual, social, and learning opportunities all in one day.

Monthly during the school year our support group holds Education Days, with classes divided by age group. We have the teens (age twelve-plus) meet together for science and other classes that are best accomplished in a larger group rather than a family. Teachers for these classes come either from within the support group, or we recruit guest teachers/presenters. We try to have plenty of active learning and labs, rather than just sitting and listening to lectures.

On occasion we have teen field trips. One year we took the teens to visit artist Ken Turner’s studio in Columbus, Texas. Since we were already far from our home in Houston, we stopped in at an archaeological dig near Stephen F. Austin State Park and learned about the history of that place, where a brief battle had taken place during the Runaway Scrape. Another field trip was to the Reliant Center downtown shortly before Christmas to put together bikes for the Elves & More project.

One year we held a monthly teen book club, concentrating on books that were likely to be expected reading before college, plus a few just for fun. Annually we put on a Shakespeare play, which includes younger players as well, but teens usually play the leads. Listing leading roles in various well-known plays also looks good on a college application.

In addition, kids get together for parties, church dances, book signings, service projects, and anything individual families or the TLC chooses to plan. One spring the teens held a parent appreciation dinner, including entertainment for their parents. This past spring we held a “squeaky clean prom”—music was clean, semi-formal dresses were modest, and behavior was fun without typical public school prom problems. The home schooling teens invited their like-minded friends from public schools, so they had over ninety teens attend at a cost of just $10 each, which covered hall rental, DJ, decorations and a wide array of refreshments. This event was very well supported by the community, with businesses donating gift cards and coupons worth several thousand dollars. (We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which helps when asking for donations.) It was such a success that the prom is likely to be an annual event.

The teens have various ways of keeping in frequent contact. They have their own Yahoo group. The TLC has a group on Facebook, and phone calls and texting seem to fill in any gaps. When people ask the “what about socialization?” question, we just laugh. They have no idea.

There are going to be experiences we might not be able to provide our teens: marching band, varsity football, homecoming queen. But without a doubt our family has had better social lives homeschooling than they had (or could have had) as public schoolers. Also, we were able to provide more experiences for each of them than any of them could have had in competition with hundreds of others in a school. I hope what our group has done will give you ideas and maybe spark confidence that whatever wild plan you come up with, you might be able to make happen, especially when you consider that teen energy will be part of the equation.

8.3 PLANNING A GRADUATION

Do you have high school seniors in your group planning to graduate this spring? Many families honor their graduates with individual graduation ceremonies. These can be very beautiful and touching, but perhaps you have a group of students who have enjoyed participating in home school activities together for a while and would like to share a graduation ceremony. If you haven’t already started, now is the time to start preparing.

Before getting the information out, your support group will need to determine whether the ceremony will be for members only, or will they open it up to anyone. For example, some local support groups, after having to deal with this issue, determined that the family must be a member of the group and that the student must have been home schooled for at least one full year.

The first step would be to submit an announcement of graduation plans to your group’s newsletter. It is a good idea, since most support group members are aware of the “workers” among them, to have a core group willing to help the first meeting run smoothly with information already gathered about the preliminary nuts and bolts.

Then get a ballpark figure of how many graduates will participate. Some of your other decisions will be determined by how many will be sharing in the cost. Even if you decide to adopt a one-price-fits all policy, it is good stewardship to have a plan. Set a payment deadline as soon as you settle on the graduation date.

Armed with the ideas based on the possible count, announce a graduation planning meeting. Start your list of graduates, parents, contact information, and any deposits/payments toward the cost. Have this ready before the first meeting, and have copies available to all participants. This is just a beginning; additions can be made until the sign-up deadline.

At the first meeting determine who will be the “keeper of the purse” to be certain that everyone who will participate pays as agreed. This will enable them to provide needed funds as different monies need to be dispersed. Deposits and payments will be determined by the deadlines for making necessary arrangements.

The following is a list of things to be considered:

  1. Facility
  1. Date and Time
  1. Speaker - Someone who will speak exhortation/encouragement to home school graduates
  1. Caps and Gowns – Either by vote or by executive decision (on colors), caps and gowns need to be secured. While the actual mortarboards and gowns can be reused, the tassels with the year of graduation will have to be purchased new each year.
  1. Things to print and where to have them printed
  1. Order as a group
  2. Order each individually
  1. Order as a group
  2. Order individually
  1. Pictures – Set a convenient time for grads to get together for a group picture. If desired, each family can take this opportunity to have individual photos made.
  1. Power-point presentations or Blessing presentations – Some groups have an annual audiovisual presentation in which each family is able to share photos, life verses, music, and a blessing and exhortation for their graduating child. If the graduation is small enough, the parents and/or graduate might use a separate time for diploma presentations and speeches.

Once the date, time, location, and speaker have been determined there are then other considerations. Some groups appoint committees to handle these decisions.

The following is a list of possible committees and their tasks:

  1. Commencement Committee
  1. PR Committee- Publicizing the event
  1. Newspaper
  2. Radio stations
  3. TV stations
  1. Reception Committee
  1. Cookies
  2. Cake
  3. Punch
  4. Paper goods
  1. Juniors serve
  2. Home school group adult volunteers
  1. Serving Tables
  1. Graduates’ Tables
  1. Clean-up Crew

Just as every home school family is unique, every home school graduation is unique. Support group leaders should be aware that each family may have a slightly different idea about what to include in a graduation ceremony. Leaders should ask families to list the things that they feel strongly about incorporating into the ceremony and the areas in which they would be willing to compromise. Any graduation ceremony involving more that one student will involve a certain amount of compromise.

8.4 TEEN GROUP PARENT ACTIVITY SIGN-UP - SAMPLE

Download sample form.

8.5 TEEN GROUP MEDICAL RELEASE AND INFORMATION - SAMPLE

Download sample form.

8.6 TEEN GROUP APPLICATION - SAMPLE

Download sample form.

8.7 TEEN CODE OF CONDUCT - SAMPLE

Download sample form.


Chapter 9 SPORTS AND THE SUPPORT GROUP

Home school sports can be essential learning tools. FEAST Athletic Director, John Harris, and head coach, Rush Cone, share some tips on how to get started in home school sports.

9.1 HOW TO GET STARTED IN SPORTS

On a crisp Saturday evening last November in Central Texas two outstanding high school football teams stood in the center of the field and bowed their heads in prayer as families, friends and fans waited on the sidelines to provide a final cheer in support of an outstanding season just completed. The game they had just finished was hard fought on both sides with many highlights that would be discussed and debated for years to come. After all, these teams had just finished playing for a Texas State Championship! However, though you could not see it on the surface, there was something different about these two teams. All of the players from both teams were home schooled young men!

The Family Educator’s Alliance of South Texas (FEAST) Patriots from San Antonio had just overcome the Bryan/College Station Brazos Valley Christian Home Educators Alliance (BV CHEA) Mustangs in the IronMan Playoffs to win the Texas Independent Six-Man State Championship in football. Both teams playing in their fourth season had reached the top of their category as competitive teams. Home school teams playing football at a competitive level; how is this possible? Well, as many home schooling parents have learned, nothing is impossible for creative and determined home schoolers!

As home schooling parents we are continually challenged to find ways to “stretch” the talents of our sons and daughters during different stages of their lives. Especially as the teenage years approach we are challenged to try and find non-academic outlets for their talents and interests. For many of us that outlet is sports. Of course, the obvious question is; “How do we get involved with sports?” Especially when considering the traditional team sports we were brought up with (basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball and football).

For over two decades FEAST has provided home schooled students with the opportunity to participate in team sports. First in basketball beginning in the mid 1980’s; followed by track and baseball in the 1990’s; and soccer, cross country, volleyball, softball and football in the 2000’s. Notwithstanding some of the barriers that exist, the question for today’s home schooling parent is not “Can we participate”, but rather “How do we get started?” For any team sports program the answer to that question can be answered with the following 3 basic steps;

  1. Who will we play?
  2. What will it cost?
  3. How should we organize?

How should we organize?

  1. Set up a “Board”: The old saying “Many hands make light work”, certainly applies in getting started with a sports program. Without a doubt one of the most important steps is to gather a like-minded group of adults to provide the needed oversight, guidance and supervision.
  2. Establish a written set of Guidelines: The “rules” of the sport are already set and in place, your guidelines should focus on “character” and non-sport behavior issues. The vast majority of issues and concerns which will arise are NOT related to playing the game, but rather what image we project to others.
  3. Set up a Timeline with Milestones: Nothing “encourages” progress better than a good old fashion “list” with dates and responsibilities. Nothing defeats a sports program quicker than the failure to take this step. Anticipate needing at least 6 months lead time before fielding a team.
  4. Get Coaches on Board: No new program can survive without a committed coach or coaches to put a “face” to the program. Do not proceed without a coach!
  5. Get Help: No longer is it necessary for home schoolers to try to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to developing a sports program. There is plenty of help available and any group wishing to get started should take full advantage of those who have gone before them. THSC, among others (FEAST, BV CHEA), can put you in touch with several sources.

Who will we play and where do we get players?

  1. Start Slow: The first step is to “measure” interest. Most often this can be accomplished with a camp or “pick up” league. For example, before FEAST formally started its football program we had a two week “spring camp” to find out if there was enough interest to field a team. To our surprise not only did we have enough interest to put together a high school team, but we also were able to start up a middle school program.
  2. Limit your season schedule: Finding public or private schools to play against is not as difficult as it may seem. More important is trying not to “over schedule” your team the first couple of years. Do not make the mistake of assuming your program must start off with a full blown season and schedule to be a “success”. “Baby steps” in the beginning are great for learning how to run a sports program AND for not “burning out” players and volunteers.
  3. Build Relationships: If other home schooled teams are not available, most private schools welcome the opportunity to play against a group of Christian home schoolers and public schools often will also be willing to let you help them fill out their schedule. There is currently no UIL rule violation against playing a home schooled team. Lists of teams and contacts can be obtained from several places on the Web, including the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship (TCAF), Texas Christian Athletic League (TCAL), the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the YMCA.

What will it cost?

  1. Develop a Budget: Being able to estimate program costs is very important. Home school programs must be funded by the players or through sponsorships. A well-developed budget is essential. The fees for the current programs at FEAST run from $145 for Track & Field to $475 for Varsity Basketball. Football was $375 this past season, Baseball $350, Volleyball $300. The primary costs to include are field or gym rental, officials, players’ uniforms and team equipment. We do not include shoes, travel and meals in our budgets. These are borne by each of the families.
  2. Sponsorships and Fundraising: Many homeschool teams obtain local sponsorships to defer some of the team related costs. Others organize fundraising activities (car washes, flower sales, etc.). Whatever you do use the funds generated to lower programs fees. Do not anticipate raising funds and then have to raise your program fee later to cover a short fall.

For over 20 years homeschoolers have been breaking down barriers to participation in team sports. Today even the most remotely located home schooling families can find many opportunities to participate in team and individual sports at the middle school and high school level. All you need is a good development plan and a committed group of parents.

9.2 HOME SCHOOL SPORTS - AN ESSENTIAL TEACHING TOOL

By John Harris, Athletic Director for FEAST of San Antonio

In providing a well-rounded education program for home school children, athletic participation should be an integral part of the plan. It’s very easy to focus on the academics and completely overlook the athletics as a home school parent. The best lessons that many of us parents learned when we were growing up were not in the classroom, but on the field, course, track, or court. Especially in this culture when the idea of “sending the kids out the front door to play” is a dangerous one, athletics may be the only opportunity to learn some critical lessons for life.

A well-organized athletics program can provide real-life lessons for children. Being responsible to practice and then exercise on your own creates a sense of responsibility, integrity, and character. Working with other teammates provides group perseverance, cooperation, and bonding to one another. Answering to coaches and officials teaches respect, humility and patience. Added to all of these character traits is the important benefit of building up and strengthening the temple of the living God. Lastly, the opportunity for fathers to gain an additional opportunity to teach and to work together is a critical opportunity to make a Godly impact, while keeping their work schedules intact. When a group of home school families work together to provide an athletics program, the benefits of like minds and spirits provide and protect the Godly values that we hold as paramount for our children.

Many home school families are choosing to participate in “club” or “select” teams at a cost of $2000-$7000 a year, with most of them participating with secular coaches and teams. Consider what you can do with fellow home school families at a fraction of the cost and a greater benefit with Godly instruction. Join us and other organizations as we strengthen our network of home school sports in Texas – we need to add more teams in all sports in all areas of Texas. For more information or resources on how to start or grow your home school sports program, feel free to contact the FEAST Sports Office at (210) 342-4674 ext. 14 or sports@homeschoolfeast.com or me at jharris@homeschoolfeast.com.


Chapter 10 – SERVING NEW HOME SCHOOLERS

10.1 SHARE THE VISION? WHY?

By Tim Lambert, THSC President

As I write this, we have just returned from the last Texas home school conference of the season, and I was impressed–as I always am–with the number and quality of young families who are choosing to teach their children at home. When Lyndsay and I speak to them about the different aspects of home schooling in Texas, we deal with a lot of questions about the law, learning styles, and curriculum as well. Many, if not most, of these families come to these events in search of practical information that will help them get started.

I have noticed that home school conferences, support groups, newsletters, and other support functions for home schoolers today are very different from those of twenty years ago when we began our journey. Today there is a tremendous number of choices that families have concerning curricula, home school cooperatives, support groups, and tutoring services–not to mention books and publications that address virtually every practical aspect of home education. Numerous speakers and authors are veteran home schoolers with years of experience who are eager to share their insights and opinions about the best methods and materials.

Twenty years ago there was little information and only a few books on the subject. Home school conferences focused primarily on the concepts and vision of home education, and leaders in the movement were visionaries who had decided to homeschool out of conviction. They had determined that it was not only a way they could educate their children successfully but also a manner in which they could protect their children from the negative influences of our culture while imparting their spiritual and philosophical values in the process.

While these events were meager in terms of the number of offerings presented at today’s conferences, they focused on the vision of how home schooling could benefit our families and our culture. The tone of most of these events was almost evangelistic, seeking converts to the concept of home education. We came away from them inspired and committed to teach our children at home regardless of the cost or opposition, because we had been convinced that the spiritual, educational, and personal fruit was worth any price we had to pay.

Lyndsay and I, along with many other home school veterans, are now beginning to reap the fruit of the years we invested in the teaching and training of our children. Our adult children have adopted our worldview as their own and are pursuing God’s plan for their lives with commitment and resolve. We truly enjoy spending time with them, and they seek our counsel and prayer for God’s direction.

Our culture and society are also beginning to see the fruit of home schooling families of the last two decades. Colleges and universities are recognizing home school graduates as outstanding prospects, and many are recruiting them and changing discriminatory admission policies. In national competitions there is a keen awareness of the academic prowess of home schoolers. Employers are also becoming familiar with the character and work ethic exemplified by home school graduates. Government officials are also very cognizant of the home school community and our dedication to the freedom to teach and train our children.

In view of all these positive benefits that have emerged from the home school movement, I am troubled by a trend that I see. As an educational alternative, home education in Texas is an extremely easy choice to make. Many families choose home education as a result of their dissatisfaction with a school or because of a particular family situation. There is certainly nothing wrong with any of these reasons.

However, as many families ask home school veterans for information, the focus tends to be on the how-to. Consequently, we very often fail to give prospective home school families a vision for teaching their children at home. We tell them how to get started and what the law requires, but we do not explain the incredible benefits that come with home schooling–academic and otherwise. We talk to them about phonics, learning styles, and curriculum choices but fail to explain the joy that comes with seeing our children become mature, spiritual, young men and women of character. While we were hopeful that home schooling would benefit our families, we can now share from our experience the positive results.

We all know that teaching our children at home is difficult and requires commitment and perseverance to accomplish. The problem with failing to share a vision for home schooling that goes beyond academics is that it is too easy to abandon the course if the only reasons we teach our children at home are academic ones. It is vital for the home school community to share a complete vision for home schooling. As veterans and home school leaders, we must share a vision of home education that will inspire families to home school when–not if–things become difficult. We must be there to encourage and support them along the way.

10.2 GETTING STARTED ORIENTATION ONLINE

Download the sample.

10.3 HOSTING GETTING STARTED WORKSHOPS

Providing information to those who are researching the idea of educating their children at home is among the most important duties of a home school support group. The best protection against loss of home school freedom is to ensure that those who adopt this lifestyle have the information and resources they need to be successful. Holding getting-started workshops will play an important part in helping these new home schoolers.

Where should you hold these workshops? Availability of free meeting places in your community will have a large bearing on your options. The public library is usually an excellent choice, as it is one of the first places people approach when researching the idea of home education. A local church that is home-school-friendly is another option, but you will want to consider your audience. Even if your organization is Christian in focus, your informational meetings will most likely be open to the public. While a church might be appropriate for your regular support group meetings, when trying to reach a broader audience, you should consider the possibility that some information seekers will not be comfortable in that venue. Choosing a more open location will convey the idea that the meeting is about home education and is not an attempt to proselytize. Therefore, libraries, community centers, and bookstores are usually better choices.

How often should your group offer getting-started workshops? The population of your community will be a determining factor. In a smaller city, quarterly or bi-annual meetings will most likely be adequate. A larger city might warrant monthly meetings—possibly at more than one location each month.

How should you promote the workshops? It is important to remember that the people who are seeking information on home schooling are probably not currently receiving your regular publications. Consider where they will go to seek information on the idea of home education. As mentioned previously, the public library is often the first point of contact. Christian bookstores also report a large number of requests for information. Teacher supply stores are excellent places to publicize your getting-started workshops. Depending on your organization’s resources, you might be able to use local newspapers, radio, and even television. If your organization has 501(c)3 status (or sometimes if there is no admission charge), you might be allowed to post notices on community calendars through your local radio and TV news stations.

type of format should you use for these workshops? Developing a standardized format will allow you to offer a solid information base without overloading your veteran volunteers. It will also guarantee that all pertinent points are covered each time. While you do not want the meeting to appear scripted, you do want to follow an outline that covers all of the most important information in a logical and sequential order. A lecture format is recommended to allow for the most productive time management. Ask attendees to hold questions until the end (to avoid being pulled away from the outline). If people are allowed to ask questions and to talk about their own situations during the meeting, you will often find that you are not able to cover all of your material. When you have finished the outline, spend the rest of the meeting time in a question-and-answer session, which will allow you to address the individual needs of attendees.

Who will speak? When seeking volunteers to conduct getting-started workshops, it is imperative that you look for veteran home schoolers who genuinely have a heart for ministering to those just getting started. The people attending these workshops are often unsure of their ability to teach their children and are fearful of taking the first steps. A veteran who is intuitive and has a warm personality will make the attendee feel comfortable enough to discuss his or her fears. On the other hand, you will want to avoid someone who is a “home school cheerleader.” Home schooling truly is not the right choice for everyone. The goal of your veteran leader is not to talk the attendees into home schooling, but rather to present information and help each family consider whether it would work for them. If at all possible, ask a married couple to lead your meetings. Often you will have dads in attendance at these meetings, and a homeschooling dad will be the best one to convey the vision of this lifestyle and will be uniquely qualified to address the specific concerns of other dads.

What materials should you make available? While your attendees might take notes throughout your presentation, it is still helpful to have handouts that cover some of the material you are presenting. This is especially true in regard to the home schooling laws in Texas. You certainly want to provide information about your organization, but you may also wish to make available information on other groups in your area. Showing that there are many options available for academic enhancement, sports participation, and social interaction will go a long way toward reassuring the potential home schooler that this is a mainstream educational choice. Encourage anyone in your area who offers classes or activities for home schoolers to provide brochures or flyers that you can display. Consider offering a variety of catalogs from home school publishers. While this definitely adds to the workload of the veteran leaders, it is a great way to equip new home schoolers, who have so many decisions to make. If you are not able to offer catalogs, you will at least want to provide a list of the major curriculum publishers so the attendees can begin to acquire catalogs and materials on their own.

What information should you provide? In determining the actual content of your meeting, you will certainly need to consider your time limitations. Remember that you need to allow adequate time for questions and open discussion. Following are some of the most important topics to cover.

Should you have items for sale at your getting-started workshops? This question is often determined by the restrictions of your location. Some facilities will have rules about selling items. If this is the case, you might consider providing an order form that attendees can take with them. If it is possible to sell items, consider offering a few of the most important books on the resource list you are providing. Offering THSC’s Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers is a great way to send your attendees home with everything they need for a solid start. If your organization does not wish to offer a variety of books for sale, at least consider offering this valuable tool. Refer to it often throughout your meeting and let the audience know that much of what you are discussing is included in the Handbook.

What about questions? Allow at least 30 minutes for questions and open discussion. This will give you an opportunity to ascertain whether attendees have understood the material you presented and to address their individual needs as well.

What about breakout groups? If your getting-started workshops are well-attended, you might consider offering breakout groups in addition to, or in place of, a question-and-answer session. Suggestions for topics are special needs, older students, preschoolers, teaching multiple grades, etc.

When offering an informational meeting for those just getting started, remember that their two greatest needs are information and connection. Provide enough information to get them off to a good start without overloading them to the point of distraction. Provide information about not only activities for their children but also activities and support opportunities for the home school teacher. They will be more successful if they seek ongoing support, and your workshop may be your only chance to convey the importance of this fact.

A Few things to remember: A Getting Started Meeting is not-

A well-run getting-started workshop will benefit not only the new home schooler but also—ultimately—your larger support group. Seeing to the needs of the new home schooler outside of the regular monthly meeting will allow for a meeting that ministers to all of the home educators in your community—new and veteran.

THSC now has an orientation DVD available to home school support group leaders to help those who wish to host getting started workshops.

10.4 CURRICULUM INFORMATION FOR ORIENTATION MEETINGS – Sample

The following Curricula can be categorized into Traditional, Classical, Unit, Self-Paced, or a combination such. There is a great difference between the workings of these kinds. The prices listed here were the prices of various curriculum choices at the time this information was compiled; host groups should research pricing information before presenting information to make sure pricing information is current. Remember this is just a sampling of curricula, and host groups should feel free to add to this list as they have knowledge and experience using various types of curriculum.

Bob Jones Publication

Bob Jones is a structured curriculum formatted with individual textbooks. The main source of information includes: student notebook or worksheets, the written assignments and activities, test packets, and optional extra resources. For the teacher there is an answer key to the students’ notebook, answer key to tests, and the main teacher’s guide for the subject. The teacher’s guide will include the students’ information, required additional discussion, research information and teaching instructions, answers to chapter questions, and a timetable for the lesson plans.

In meeting the required subjects, parents will need to purchase the students’ Phonics & Reading (K4-1st) Reading (2nd-6th), Grammar & Writing (2nd-12th), Handwriting, Spelling, Vocabulary (lower grades through 7th), and Literature (7th-12th). All are administered in individual subject textbooks.

Bob Jones is generally advanced compared to public school education. Using Bob Jones will require more teacher interaction with students than curricula that are self-paced. Bob Jones will run between $400.00 and $600+ per grade, depending on grade level and course choices. The purchase of teacher materials is mandatory for the success of this curriculum.

School of Tomorrow, Also known as A.C.E. Paces

A.C.E is a self-paced curriculum. It is formatted using workbooks called Paces. There are twelve Paces per year, per grade. These twelve are equivalent to one textbook. Each student workbook is all-inclusive. Unlike Bob Jones, in which the parent can use different resources, the Pace workbook contains the students’ information lesson, written activities, quizzes (Check-Ups), and tests (Pace Test). The teacher has an answer key for grading purposes.

A.C.E. was designed to be used by the student working independently. There is very little teacher involvement (except in the case of first or second graders if necessary). This is evident in the Pace workbook as the student is instructed to check their own work. It is also clear in the fact that the teacher does not have any instructions in teaching the lesson. The teacher key contains only the answers to the written assignments.

The information taught to the students through the lessons is very clear and thorough. The lesson is made basic for understanding, and repetitive reviewing is seen throughout the program. A.C.E. is written at the recreational reading level, yet presenting at-grade-level-material. Therefore, students will not have a stressful time in doing their work and will still test well on standardize tests.

Note: The recreational reading-level is usually one or two years below the instructional reading level.

We recommend selecting reading/literature books and study guides to complement this curriculum.

Note about required subjects: In A.C.E., the student’s reading and grammar are together in the English subject. The student’s spelling and vocabulary are in the Word Building/Etymology books (up through 9th grade).

Along with the requirements, A.C.E. carries a variety of electives and subjects from which to choose.

The current costs for School of Tomorrow are available online. Each teacher’s answer key contains the answers for 3 books at a time, and cost the same amount as the students’ book. The family can choose to purchase either the whole year at one time or “as they go.” We strongly advise the parents to purchase 3 books at a time. It will correspond to the answer key. They will then need to buy their next set when or the second book. This eliminates the possibility of having to wait to continue their next book if ordering is needed.

COMPARE BJU vs. A.C.E. - One can see an obvious difference in teaching- and learning- styles by pulling a Bob Jones English book and comparing it to the same grade level in A.C.E. English. Bob Jones will show more extensive information than School of Tomorrow.

Alpha Omega Publications

Alpha Omega is a self-paced program, with teacher interaction. AOP is formatted using workbooks called LifePacs. There are 10 LifePacs per subject, per year. This is equivalent to one textbook. Each LifePac contains a glossary, the students’ information lesson, written activities, quizzes (Self Test), and tests (LifePac Test). Any additional materials that will be needed will be listed in the teacher’s book.

AOP is written using the mastery system, which means that the most important facts are repeated enough to insure mastery of the subject. Self-paced curriculums usually leave out the “fluff”. There are two things about this fact, the program may not be as interesting but will consume less time.

Note about required subjects: In Alpha Omega, the student’s reading, grammar, and spelling are together in the Language Arts subject.

There are many electives to choose from in addition to the basic requirements.

Each teacher’s answer key contains the answers for 3 books at a time, and cost the same amount as the student’s book. The family can choose either to purchase the whole year at one time or “as they go”. Strongly advise the parents to purchase 2 books at a time. They will then need to buy their next set when starting on their second book. This eliminates the possibility of having to wait to continue their next book if ordering is needed.

AOP also offers the same coursework in a computer program called Switched On Schoolhouse.

SOS offers visual learning with video and audio clips throughout their program, along with links to corresponding topics and additional tutorial helps. This program helps in scheduling and assisting the parents in record keeping.

COMPARE A.C.E. vs. AO - Price per year for Alpha Omega LifePac is usually lower than A.C.E. Although A.C.E. and Alpha and Omega may look similar, they are very different.

The AO Teacher’s guide offers more information than A.C.E. answer keys. Alpha Omega suggests more teacher involvement in their program and is designed to be worked with a bit more structure than A.C.E. As mentioned previously, Alpha Omega is designed with the student’s work assignments and questions to produce cognitive reasoning by questions that develop analytical skills through brief answers and essay questions and “put into your own words” assignments. While the majority of A.C.E. is assessed using multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, and some essay questions.

Putting together your own curriculum program: Writing your own curriculum is a great responsibility and needs to be well-organized. A program is designed by using information gathered from published material. The parent should be organized, planning at least half a year of studies with the materials they are to use. A “how to” reference book, such as Ruth Beechick’s or the Trivium, should be used. One usually finds using a Classical Curriculum Book is a good resource for this method. The name and publisher of each book used must be recorded. If a family is interested in this method, they might need to speak to someone with a few years experience for more information. Electives Foreign language, physical education, and science are all electives (even though you will find these are requirements in public school) that Texas law does not require. We highly recommend teaching science for all students and foreign language, especially for high school students. This helps maintain a well-rounded education. Most new home schoolers will start by teaching the basic requirements, then they will acquire the other subjects after they have become familiar with the home school lifestyle, schedule, and teaching.

Unit Study Curriculum

Example: Life in America Series by Ellen Gardner

This unit study covers history, English, geography, Bible, science (earth, biology, chemistry), physics, astronomy, and botany. This program also teaches students in the area of character, art, communication skills, finances, and library skills. It does not cover math, phonics, and certain grammar skills. Extra material, books, and educational software are required to complete this program.

This program meets all national standards.

This curriculum comes divided into time-periods for each book. Each book is a complete year’s study for lower grades, and two books cover a school year for a high school student. One book can be used for several students in multi-level grades. Each lesson will be modified according to the learning level of each student.

Included in each book are the teacher information (lesson plans, schedule, and record keeping) and the student’s information. Each book is divided into six sections that are to be covered for three weeks each.

Each section will contain several lessons. Each lesson is divided into several steps, covering several subjects. Each step must be covered to complete each lesson. One lesson may take from several days to a little over a week. There are four steps to each lesson, which shadow a learning style: Interest, Inform, “Dig Deeper”, and Create. At least two activity steps should be completed per lesson.

For high school students: Two lessons per week are recommended.

10.5 COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS AT ORIENTATION MEETINGS

Kindergarten

Kindergarten education mostly consists of learning coordination, numbers, and letters, along with phonics. There are some curricula that offer sciences, history, and foreign language courses for this level as well.

The early years of school builds the foundation for a student’s education. The child’s readiness level needs to be taken into consideration as outlined in the book Better Late Than Early, by Dr. Raymond Moore. There are also other resources available to determine the student’s level. The student’s readiness level will determine the type of program used to teach and will even affect their daily schedule. Some students, like those with high activity levels, may need to have shorter lessons presented several times throughout the day.

Programs might be “sit-down” textbook work or be formatted with colorful worksheets, activities, and games. At this age, children’s learning ability will go from concrete to abstract, so hands-on work and manipulatives are very effective. Understanding the child’s learning level and style of learning will help in choosing the best program.

It is best for the host of the orientation to become familiar with the different styles of phonetic programs.

Some include: Pathways; AOP Horizans; AOP LifePacs; BJU; Sing, Spell, Read, and Write; Explode the Code Series; Saxon Phonics; The Gift of Reading; Christian Liberty Press; The Writing Road to Reading; and Rod and Staff. There are many resources that may be used in addition to a curriculum, such as coloring books, flashcards, and educational computer games.

Parents may think that Kindergarten work is simple enough to exclude the use of curriculum, teacher’s guides, and keys. There are certain cautions with this due to the intricate details of learning a specific concept. As an example, a parent can look at a page with work for the letter “A”. The teacher/parents can explain the use of the “A” and the sounds of “A”, but may not know the phonetic rules of when to apply a certain pronunciation for certain words. Therefore, teacher guides help in outlining the important aspects of each concept and will suggest what areas to emphasize as they teach. We would strongly suggest the parent preview the teacher materials before making a decision to omit their use.

Testing

The majority of “whole” curriculum programs come with the quizzes and tests for the students to take at the appropriate time. The state does not require registered testing. Standardized testing, such as the Iowa, Stanford, and California Achievement Tests are often offered by support groups. These tests, which are administered by certified individuals, score and compare the student on a national scoring level. These tests are beneficial in evaluating a students’ progress and education level.

While it is not legally mandatory according to Texas law, they can be taken periodically if a family desires. If a family does take this kind of test, it is not required for them to “register” it with any institution or organization. If the family is in a situation involving the court, and the court requests these records, the family does have to comply.

It is not required for high school students to take a test to graduate, but it is wise to complete the PSAT or the SAT.

Days and Hours Required

Although there are no state requirements on the number of days or hours a student must attend class, families will find that home schooling requires a major time commitment on the part of the parents.

Extra-curricular Activities

The flexibility of home schooling make way for opportunities to be involved a variety of activities, unlike public school were you can pick only two electives. There are many organizations that a family can join to complement their home schooling goals. Many families are involved in church activities, missions, citywide programs like YMCA, or sports leagues. They can participate in sport clubs, 4-H, craft classes, and gymnastics. Older students also have the opportunity for apprenticeship work in business and firms. Support groups also provide many organized activities through co-ops, competitive sports programs, educational camps, parent training, educational workshops, and more.

High School and Graduation

Homeschooling through high school can be a very rewarding experience for students and parents if a solid foundation for education has been established. Many students are able to work fairly independently and at a much faster rate than in a traditional school. Dual credit is an option that can be explored for high school students who chose to take college courses at a local community college while still in high school. Home school students can graduate as early as 14 and may begin college work with special permission from both parent and college officials.

Home school students may choose from the curriculum format that will best meet their learning style. Many families choose a group setting for subjects like drama and public speaking. A co-op situation may be chosen for advanced subjects like chemistry or physics.

When planning your high school student’s curriculum, we recommend preparing them for college even if this has not been an expressed interest. If they decide not to go on to college, you can rest assured that they are leaving high school with a well-rounded education, prepared for college entrance if needed in the future to meet their life calling.

Home school students will be expected to have their records completed and summarized on a transcript. A transcript is a list of the classes taken and the grades earned. For college admission, a transcript is what makes their diploma valid. You should keep a copy of their transcript file at home and additional copies will need to be notarized and sent off with scholarship applications and college admissions. Diplomas may be acquired through home school organization like THSC and FEAST, or may be generated on the computer by the family.

It is important to abide by any local or city ordinances or curfew that may apply to your home schooling high school student. Many cities, like San Antonio, have daytime curfews from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. This gives the police the authority to stop any young person, not accompanied by an adult or parent, and question him as to why he is not in school. The parent, as the school official, may give their student permission to be out and about for activities like library research, co-op or tutor class attendance, and sport events. If the student is stopped, they will need to inform the officer that they are homeschooled and have parental permission to be out at that time. The officer will call to verify the fact with the parent. The parent will be required to know the exact whereabouts of the child or will be fined. We suggest the student carry a student ID card, which can be acquired from the Texas Home School Coalition Association in case the officer cannot contact the parent. The student can then present the card if the officer is intent on taking the student for violation of curfew. The student would be held in custody and released to the school official (parent). He then would be required to go to juvenile court to be fined for being in violation of the daytime curfew. Students that are homeschooled and carry a THSC Student ID are usually considered okay by the police and are not detained.

Graduation is determined by the parent (official) of the private home school. There is not an accredited or “official” state test to graduate the student. Each curriculum program will contain tests that the student takes periodically throughout their semester. The parent and student will beforehand outline their goals in achieving satisfactory grades for their lesson tests, along with their desired semester and yearly grades. Accomplishing the desired grades throughout the year will confirm that the student comprehends the lessons, and is succeeding in his educational goals to pass from grade to grade, and ultimately graduate.

It is the family’s preference whether or not to have a commencement ceremony for the graduate. They can plan the ceremony for their student individually, or they can join a graduation group formed by other home school graduates in their area. Graduation groups are usually formed with students that have been involved in activities together in church, co-op classes, sports, or social groups such as support groups. There are also individual and/or families who will announce upcoming graduation groups for seniors to join.

Differences between Private Home Schools and Public Schools

The home school parent must understand that they are carrying the title of administrator of a private school. Therefore, as mentioned before, the homeschool needs to be conducted in a “bona fide manner”. This is accomplished by following very closely to the recommendation of the chosen curriculum publisher (i.e. 4 pages a day, one lesson a day, or XX chapters, etc.) The home school family is now a private school, making the parents/guardians not only responsible as teachers, but also principles, administrators, and superintendents of their school. This responsibility includes setting the standards and requirements for the student(s) (i.e. schedule, lessons, and passing grades), and making sure the work is being completed. Remember, an adult should be in the home when a student is working on their schooling.

What are the differences in the way home school works compared to public schools?
What kind of things are the home schools exempt from?

The public schools are required to have set 180 days of school, while home schoolers may wish to conduct schooling year ‘round. There is no specific number of days required, because the schooling is conducted at the student’s pace of learning. One can do as much school as desired, just not as little. Home school students are expected to go by the published curriculum recommendation of work per week. This will keep them on track to complete their quota for that subject year. Be aware that an extreme number of exceptions to their schedule will hinder them from meeting their educational goals for that year.

You will find that the number of hours of actual teaching will be very different from the standard 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. public school hours. The important goal is not the time spent doing school, but completing the work required in each subject. It may take 45 minutes for math, but an hour and 30 minutes for history, because of the reading assignment. It is possible in home schooling to “catch up” if needed or even to move ahead.

Other differences concerning requirements for public school students vs. those not required for homeschooled students are taking the public school, such as the TAASP or TASK test and certain public school subject requirements like health, foreign language physical education, ., etc..

In addition, the home school is not regulated by the public school. For example, the public school would not direct the home school studies or schedule. The public school does not give scheduled visits to the family’s home, neither do the families report to the public school. Just as any other institutional private school is not evaluated or regulated by the school districts, neither is the home school.

One can also name their school if they so choose. They can use this in various ways such as indicating that name on the graduation diploma. When they do name their school, it does not need to be registered.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal from Public School

It is best for the family to receive all their information for homeschooling before venturing to withdraw a student. Parents of older children should look at the long-term educational goals of their child. An immediate continuance of education needs to take place once the student has been withdrawn during the school season. Some schools will stipulate a maximum of three days leeway for the student to be placed in an education program, but the state requires immediate placement. After the amount of time regulated is completed and the student is not in a program, the parents/guardians will be found in violation of state law and fined with a fee up to $500.00 per day. It is therefore wise to acquire the student materials, if not for the whole year at least the start of the grade that is needed. Testing for placement is acceptable as indication for starting the educational program. Since the student has been in the public school system, withdrawal out of that system is needed. This is necessary for the guardian to fulfill so that the student is not viewed as truant or missing. If a preschool student attended any kind of half-day programs, or head start programs with the public school system, withdrawal is still necessary even if the child is under the compulsory attendance law age. The child under 6 years of age who has attended school programs would need to continue in their education, according to law.

To withdraw:

The parent/guardian should send a letter of withdrawal to the school the child has attended, via certified mail. A sample letter of withdrawal is available on the THSC website. If the school district tells the family they need to fill out “intent to home school form” for the school, the parents should write their own letter of assurance. A sample letter of assurance can be found on the THSC website. Some school districts will have a “Homeschool Agreement” form for the parents to sign. This may require the parent to give out the information for the family’s intentions as to how the home school is going to be conducted; according to state law, this is not necessary. As advised by the Texas Home School Coalition the parent needs to be very aware as to what information is given. For example, it is not necessary for the parent to write or give an oral explanation of their home school curriculum or parent’s capability to teach the students. Neither does the family have to sign a form that declares the public “school has a right to investigate the family if there be any reason to during their year(s) of homeschooling” (such wording has been found in some withdrawal forms). The parents have a right to submit their own withdrawal form (Letter of withdrawal).

The Texas Home School Coalition Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers, also contains a sample form for the parent to recreate and use. The withdrawal letter should be sent to the school or school district, certified mail and receipt requested with a copy to THSC.

Once the student is withdrawn, the student is no longer under the public schools regulations. This statement is illustrated with the idea the student has been transferred from their public school to private school.

Following information given as necessary:

In some cases the school will inform the parents that there is a home school program in which the public school is involved in the student’s education; this is not true home schooling. Public schools have a program called “home-bound;” this is not home schooling. Again, in some cases the school will tell the parents, either at the time of withdrawal or sometime after, that the school’s authority would need to meet with the home schooling family in their home; this is not necessary, THSC strongly advises against this.

If the family is contacted after the student is withdrawn, in addition to the website, The Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers also contains a response sample assurance letter that the family can recreate and send to the individuals who are inquiring about their home schooling.

Re-entering Public School

Be prepared to have a copy of your students’ record (transcripts and maybe even daily records) as to what the student completed in his/her home schooling year(s). Each school district, even each individual school, handles re-entering home schoolers in different ways. The way the school counselor or official handles the situation is matter of whether or not they understand home schooling and Texas law. Some individuals that understand the home school process will create a smooth transition for the entering student. On the other hand, an individual who does not have much knowledge or has some prejudices, may make the process tedious. The best thing to do is to call the school district or school and ask to see a written copy of the school’s enrollment policy for nonaccredited private school students. The school will often administer a placement test. If not, we highly recommended that the parent ask the school to test the student for proper placement if the school threatens to hold the student back a grade. They should have this service available since the state has provided funds for testing students. On average, there are seldom any hindrances to re-entering. There is certainly no law that prevents a home schooler from re-entering public school. The principle or administrator of each school has a right to ask whatever he/she wants in order to place the student in the school. If the parent feels they are being unfair or prejudiced against them, they should feel free to question their motive. They should place the child at the level the parents feel the child should be in to receive the proper level of instruction. The parent should not feel belittled or made to feel ashamed of their decision to have homeschooled. Remember, the state of Texas gives the parents the right to homeschool whenever they choose to do so. If the family does not choose to homeschool any particular year, the state of Texas guarantees their child an education with the public school. The public school and its teachers work for the parents. If any difficulties do occur, the parents should record the individual’s name, what was said by them, school phone number, and district information. This information then can be provided to THSC.


Chapter 11 – DEALING WITH PROBLEMS

Unfortunately, conflicts are not uncommon within support groups, and peacemaking skills are vital for support group leaders to help groups weather those rough seasons that come to all.

11.1 PEACEMAKING AND HOME SCHOOLING

By Annette Friesen

This article originally appeared in the HomeSchool section of Crosswalk.com and is reprinted by permission.

"Make every effort to live at peace with all men." Hebrews 12:14a

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

As Christian home schoolers, my husband and I take seriously God's call to live at peace with others. We always have, but it hasn't always been easy. When Rick and I began home schooling in 1984, pursuing peace with those who wanted to make home schooling illegal—or at least very difficult—led more often to adversarial relationships than it did to peaceful ones. Over the years, however, we have seen the tables turn. Through the efforts of many, home schooling is not only accepted now, but often we are considered some kind of saint for having the patience and fortitude to stay home and teach children all day!

And yet our responses to those who question our home schooling can still be adversarial in nature. Home schoolers are wonderful and unique, but perhaps the long years of battle have left us more willing to fight than to pursue peace. I have seen this tendency in myself! Even though all our home school battles are not yet won, we can choose to see our home schooling differently. In Second Corinthians Paul says, "And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:19b-20a). As ambassadors for Christ who home school we can deliver the gospel of peace. We can do this by learning to respond to our conflicts biblically.

As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict. So begins the "Peacemaker's Pledge," which beautifully states a Christian's commitment to being a peacemaker. (For the full text of the Pledge, click here.) So I have to ask myself, how do I respond to conflict, and is my response a Godly one? If I am to abide by I Corinthians 10:31, doing all to the glory of God, are my responses doing that? Or are they simply an attempt to serve myself instead. When I evaluate my typical response to conflict, I must admit I serve myself more often than glorify God, and I realize the need to know how to respond to conflict in such a way that God is glorified.

In order to learn how to respond to conflict biblically, I need to understand what conflict is. In his book, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, Ken Sande defines conflict as "a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone's goals or desires." This definition includes large conflicts like lawsuits and the little conflicts we encounter every day.

For example, in my own life the adversarial approach reasserted itself the other day when I caused a conflict with Rick. We were having a small support group leaders meeting. As we were finishing it, Rick, who is our organization's president, mentioned that due to the time we would have to forgo what I was going to say (which could have waited and wasn't that important). He had previously told me that this might happen. Yet, without thinking, I jumped up and asked him, "May I have a few minutes?" Without waiting for an answer, I began talking. I was so focused on what I wanted to say that I didn't give any regard to his leadership or his desire to finish the meeting. Our desires had become diametrically opposed.

Later Rick confronted me with this and I reacted defensively, justifying my action and even pointing out some of his faults, as if this would strengthen my case. But instead of bringing about a reconciliation, I escalated the problem. God worked on my heart, though, and I was humbled to realize how I had violated Philippians 2:4—"Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." I had only been concerned about achieving my own desire and had not given any thought to Rick's interests. It was not easy to confess to him what I had done without excusing it, and to ask his forgiveness, but as I revealed honestly to Rick how I had not put his interests first, had dishonored him and God, Rick immediately forgave me. I was humbled by Rick's forgiveness and grateful to God that through obedience to Him, I had peace with my husband.

The Peacemaker's Pledge continues, "We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ." Focusing on these opportunities is very reassuring. God has a plan for each conflict if we will trust Him and follow His instructions. We can begin by choosing to respond to all our conflicts biblically. To see what this looks like, read Peacemaker Ministries' simple "Four G's":

The Peacemaker Pledge ends this way, "We will remember that success, in God's eyes, is not a matter of specific results, but of faithful, dependent obedience. And we pray that our service as peacemakers brings praise to our Lord and leads others to know His infinite love." Whether our conflicts arise at home, in church, or in the community, whether they are home school-related or not, we have an opportunity to be ambassadors for Christ with the message of reconciliation. I am committed to responding to conflict biblically. Will you join me?

Annette Friesen is the Home School Specialist for Peacemaker® Ministries, an international ministry committed to equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically. Rick and Annette graduated all three children from home schooling. They have been support group leaders, convention coordinators, and served on three state homeschooling boards. Rick and Annette currently work for Peacemaker Ministries and make their home in Billings, Montana.

This article in its entirety may be photocopied, re-transmitted by electronic mail, or reproduced in newsletters, on the World Wide Web, or in other print media, provided that such copying, re-transmission, or other use is not for profit or other commercial purpose. Any distribution or use of this article must set forth the following credit line, in full, at the conclusion of the article: " © 2001 Peacemaker® Ministries, www.Peacemaker.net. Reprinted with permission." Peacemaker Ministries may withdraw or modify this grant of permission at any time.

© 2005 by Peacemaker® Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

11.2 PREPARING HOME SCHOOLERS FOR CONFLICT

By Annette Friesen

This article originally appeared in the HomeSchool section of Crosswalk.com and is used by permission.

Conflict is inevitable. The apostle Peter reminds us, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Pet. 4:12). Conflicts will come. How we as believers respond to them—depending on our level of preparedness—may prevent them from developing further, or may allow them to progress into destructive sin. Will you and the home schoolers you serve be prepared to respond in a way that glorifies God?

Being prepared for conflict means we are deliberate about the preparation process. Romans 14:19 exhorts, "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Leaders of the Christian home school movement must seek to offer whatever resources and training are necessary to prepare homeschoolers for conflict—just as they would offer other events and services to encourage, equip, and train parents for the weighty tasks of teaching and disciplining their children. Preparing people for conflict involves teaching biblical peacemaking principles, providing training in reconciliation skills and processes, and most importantly, cultivating a commitment to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).

What can you do to bring this process about?

Be an Instrument of Change
As a leader in a Christian home school organization, and a home schooler yourself, there are many ways you can help your board, your support group leaders, and the homeschoolers in your state learn to respond to conflict biblically. In the process, you will strengthen your witness to Christ and improve your ability to minister to those you serve. Listed below are several steps you can take to start this process today.

Train Your Leadership
One way to be a good steward of your God-given responsibility to equip and encourage home schoolers is to learn peacemaking yourself and introduce it to your organization's leaders. Some of the following ideas may be helpful in this process:

Invite a Speaker from Peacemaker Ministries to Your State Convention
No matter the culture, language, or place, people all over the world are profoundly impacted by the powerful principles of peacemaking found in God's Word. If no one has spoken about biblical peacemaking at your state convention, we encourage you to pursue this opportunity. Ken Sande, president of Peacemaker Ministries, and Annette Friesen, the ministry's Home School Specialist, have presented keynote addresses and workshops about peacemaking at several home school conventions. These presentations are some of the most effective ways to introduce peacemaking to the homeschoolers in your state. (For more information, contact Annette Friesen at
afriesen@Peacemaker.net.)

Take Advantage of Real-Life Applications
Approach disputes in your homeschool community as divinely arranged "homework assignments." If you are a party in a conflict, make it a point to diligently apply the peacemaking principles you have learned, which can serve as an example to others. As a homeschool leader, you have the privilege of serving as a reconciler to help others understand and obey what God says about resolving conflict. If you are bystander in a dispute, prayerfully consider how God might use you to guide the parties down the path of biblical peacemaking. A few words of sound biblical advice is often all others need to handle a conflict constructively.

Encourage Gifted People to Take Reconciler Training
To further enhance your ministry and your ability to guide home schoolers through conflict, encourage spiritually gifted leaders in your state or organization to take Peacemaker Ministries' Reconciler Training. The 
Reconciler Self-Study Course includes audio or videotape seminars covering hours of the foundational aspects of Christian reconciliation; a manual with detailed study guides; The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande; and Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. Upon completing this course, those who desire further training can attend the two-day practicum, a hands-on training event designed to equip Christians to carry out personal peacemaking, conflict coaching, and mediation. How exciting it would be to have people in your state (and every state!) trained and ready to provide biblical conflict resolution among home schooling families. This would strengthen the witness and testimony of home schoolers all across your state.

Keep Informed with the website This website is specifically designed to give you helpful, detailed information, so you can begin applying biblical principles of peacemaking in your life and in the lives of others. Full of practical advice, it is so thorough that many who call our ministry can often go directly to our website to find the help they need immediately. The home schooling section features articles for your state and support group newsletters. Becoming familiar with our website will help you find the information you need and guide others to the specific areas that will help them.

Put Conciliation Clauses in Organizational Bylaws
Many home school organizations, from the state level to the local level, are very reluctant to get involved in their members' conflicts, because they fear getting tangled in destructive lawsuits. Although such fears are often exaggerated, it is wise for these organizations to implement policies and procedures that direct their members toward Christian conciliation (rather than litigation) in the event of conflict. One of the best ways to make sure that conflict is resolved constructively is for an organization to include conciliation clauses in its contracts. These clauses are legally enforceable and require that any dispute related to the contract be resolved through biblically-based mediation or arbitration rather than litigation. More information on conciliation clauses, including sample clauses, can be found in our Guidelines for Christian Conciliation.

Obtain Assistance through Conflict Intervention
If your efforts to resolve conflict biblically do not seem to be fruitful, it may be time to seek assistance from trained consultants who can help you or your group to break the cycle of conflict. Peacemaker Ministries is a national leader in training Christian conciliators to apply biblical peacemaking to group conflicts. For more information about conflict intervention, click on 
Get Help.

Please do not hesitate to contact Peacemaker Ministries for more information on peacemaking resources and services, or for advice on how to teach and apply God's peacemaking principles. We believe that home schoolers, being as visible as they are in today's society, have a unique opportunity to testify to God's grace through their response to the daily occurrences of conflict. Join us in helping others learn about the power principles of biblical conflict resolution found in God's Word. We look forward to assisting you as you strive to serve others!

Annette Friesen is the Home School Specialist for Peacemaker® Ministries, an international ministry committed to equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically. Rick and Annette graduated all three children from home schooling. They have been support group leaders, convention coordinators, and served on three state homeschooling boards. Rick and Annette currently work for Peacemaker Ministries and make their home inBillings, Montana

© 2005 by Peacemaker® Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Since the first posting of this article many of the links have changed. For more information and the complete article, please visit the Peacemakers website at http://www.peacemaker.net

11.3 THE REBUKES OF LIFE: GOD’S SAFETY NET

By Rodger Williams

Leaders have a difficult time with rebukes. It is not that we have a special problem of pride. No, it is not pride,(though we certainly face this temptation maybe more than others). Rather, the difficulty stems from our high visibility and the fact that we make decisions which affect the lives of others. We often face unfair criticism from those who disagree with our viewpoint and actions and therefore we may develop a protective filter.

Yet it is critically important that we be open to genuine rebuke, both for our own sakes and for the sake of those who depend on us. You see, rebuke is God's safety net.

The preferred way of gaining knowledge, understanding, and eventually wisdom, is to be instructed. I do not know about you, but my tendency from childhood has been to do the foolish thing in new situations. Instruction prepares us to act with discernment and is the least painful way to learn how to act wisely.

In cases where we have missed instruction, God graciously supplies the safety net of rebuke, lest we fall through to the most painful way of learning our lesson. Though rebuke is uncomfortable, it is not an insult. Wise people themselves are rebuked and it is their response to rebuke which proves them to be wise (Prov. 9:8b,9). In fact one of the most prominent ways of becoming wise is heeding rebuke. Genuine rebuke springs from anticipation that you are perceptive enough to learn and the conviction that you are valuable enough to be worth the energy and risk to rebuke (see Prov. 3:11, 12). A true friend will rebuke you if you need it, rather than tell you what you want to hear or just remain silent (Prov. 28:23).

For those who miss the twin opportunities of instruction and rebuke, there is one other way to learn a lesson: Consequences are the logical end of foolish actions, and the most painful way to gain knowledge. Many of us have had to learn the hard way the value of heeding instruction and rebuke. Quite frankly, it hurts.

Sometimes people blame others for the consequences of what they themselves have done (Prov. 19:3). They refuse to learn the lesson. Some will respond with enmity to those who would dare give instruction or rebuke and it is usually best to not bother these particular folk with reality (Prov. 9:7,8a).

The best plan is to not just wait around for instruction and rebuke to find you. Instead you should be soliciting counsel, which may include both instruction and rebuke. Most people do not go out of their way to have others tell them they are wrong. But the Bible clearly teaches that this type of reality check is an essential ingredient in successful planning (Prov. 15:22; 20:18; 24:6).

While counselors should share your values (Prov. 12:5), they should have differing viewpoints so that critical issues are not overlooked. A potential counselor may fear disrupting his relationship with you if he says what needs to be said. Make particularly sure those you lead feel safe to tell you the truth. Counsel may need to be drawn out as a bucket of clear water is drawn up from a deep well (Prov. 20:5).

Is paying attention to rebuke important for the Christian leader? Proverbs sums the matter up quite simply:

The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. Prov. 15:31

Rodger Williams is an Oregon home school dad who regularly finds himself saying, "Daddy makes mistakes, doesn't he, children? I was wrong." ©2000 Rodger C. Williams. All rights reserved.

11.4 IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU - DEALING WITH CHILD ABUSE

By Joanne E. Juren

We think home schoolers do not have to deal with issues like child abuse – but we are wrong! We need to make ourselves aware and know how to protect our children, our families and if you are a support group leader, how to protect yourself.

This year in the United States, three million children will be victims of child abuse, with nearly five hundred thousand of those being victims of child sexual abuse. One out of three girls and one out of five boys will be sexually abused before they reach their eighteenth birthdays. In a survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times, twenty – two percent of Americans reported that they had been sexually abused as children. One-third of those who reported that they had been sexually abused as children didn’t reveal the abuse until well into adulthood. In eighty-nine percent of the cases, the molester is most often someone known to the child. Most molesters are males, but females are blameworthy too.

There are many reasons why we home school – one is we want to keep our children from being in situations where horrible things can happen to them. We try to keep our children in loving surroundings, however by having them involved in co-ops, support group activities, youth groups, etc. they are put into situations where assaults can happen. We have had it brought to our attention that we’ve had cases of child molestation within support groups here in Texas. THIS IS PREVENTABLE!

It’s important that we educate ourselves and know how to educate our children on what child abuse is and how to deal with it. Child abuse is when an adult hurts a child and it is not by accident. There are several kinds of child abuse. Physical abuse is caused by hitting or beating, while emotional abuse is caused by saying things that make a child feel like a bad person. A child is abused by neglect when food, care and shelter are taken away. Sexual abuse is when an adult touches the private parts of a child’s body, tries to get the child to take off their clothes, or touches/kisses them in a way that scares them.

To recognize and deal with child abuse, you need to be familiar with the 3 – R’s of Child Abuse Prevention. The first “R” represents, RECOGNIZE. Children must learn to recognize situations in which they are at risk. Since most child molesters are known to the child – perhaps a family member or someone in a position of authority over the child, we can no longer simply warn children about “stranger danger”. Warn children about strangers, but also warn them about people they know. Typical lures used by predators are affection, assistance, authority, bribery, ego/fame, emergency, fear/treats, jobs, magic/rituals, name recognition, and playmates. Additional information can be found in a book called Child Lures by Kenneth Wooden.

The second “R” represents, RESIST. Children must learn that most child molesters will stop if the child resists. The molester wants a willing victim. Your child has to learn to trust his or her instincts and feel free to react assertively when feeling threatened. Children must be taught that they have the right to say “NO” to anyone touching them. Teach your children it’s ok to scream out that someone is touching them.

The third “R” represents, REPORT. Children should be encouraged to tell their parents or another trusted adult whenever they encounter questionable behavior by an older youth or adult. Reporting an attempted or actual molestation is very difficult for children. Children are often afraid to tell their parents because they think they will not be believed. Statistically, most children will not lie about this type of situation because it’s embarrassing. Therefore, if a child comes to you and tells you they have been touched, be sure you act on the situation.

Often children are too frightened to talk about sexual molestation. However, they may exhibit a variety of physical and behavioral signs. Any or several of these signs may be significant. Parents should assume responsibility for noticing such symptoms including extreme changes in behavior such as loss of appetite, recurrent nightmares, disturbed sleep patterns, fear of the dark, and regression to more infantile behavior such as bedwetting, thumb sucking or excessive crying. Listen to and be aware of things your child says. If your child tells you “they don’t want to go to that support group activity and play with those children” this could be a Red Flag. Be alert to your child having unusual interest in or knowledge of sexual behavior or expressing affection in ways inappropriate for a child of that age. Be sensitive of any fear or intense dislike your child may have of a person they are being left with. Other behavioral signals may be aggression, disruptive behavior, withdrawal, running away or delinquent behavior or failing school.

It’s important to know you cannot blame yourself if something does happen to your child. We don’t intentionally put our children in situations where abuse would happen. However, we need to remember It Could Happen To Us. We need to remember it can happen within our own family – be aware of behavior issues of family members as well as your own children.

While educating yourself, be aware of the Texas State Law regarding reporting abuse or neglect. Any person who believes that a child or person 65 years or older or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited to report the circumstances to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Abuse Hotline. A person making a report is immune from civil or criminal liability, and the name of the person making the report is kept confidential. Any person suspecting abuse and not reporting it can be held liable for a Class B misdemeanor. Time frames for investigating reports are based on severity of allegations. Reporting suspected child abuse makes it possible for a family to get help. Reporting abuse can be reported by phone (1-800-252-5400) or secure internet website.

Protecting yourself as a home school group leader is important. Train your leadership about abuse. Make sure they know the law. Have materials available for parents. Always have a “Two – deep” policy at all leadership activities and never bend this rule. This “Two – deep” leadership shouldn’t be husband / wife teams. Know who your adult leaders and youth leaders are; consider background checks. Do not allow one on one contact. Respect privacy such as restrooms, and changing clothes at campouts and other activities. Train leadership to report incidents through the proper channels. Provide training for your parents such as the CHILD LURES program.


APPENDIX

Information on Smoothing the Way

Statement of Faith Sample 1

(Name of Group) Statement of Faith

  1. INERRANCY OF THE BIBLE

WE BELIEVE the Bible is the inerrant, plenary, verbally inspired word of God, which is needed to direct lost souls to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

  1. SIN AND SALVATION

WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ was, is, and shall forever more be the Son of God. (John 1:1, 14)

WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ lived a perfectly sinless life, and His sacrificial death on the cross is complete atonement for our sins. (I Peter 2:21-22, 24; and John 19:30)

WE BELIEVE all mankind possesses a bent toward sin, and must personally accept the work of the Lord Jesus Christ as payment for the penalty of those sins. (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Acts 16:31; John 1:12)

  1. FAMILY

WE BELIEVE the family is the basic governmental, social, and spiritual unit created by God. In it, the child learns self-government, social relationships, and develops a relationship to the Creator and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.. (John 3:5, 16; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20) The family also provides protection from over-extensive government and over-stimulating social involvements.

WE UNDERSTAND "family" to mean a male and a female parent, legally married to each other, with one or more children (Genesis 1:26-28), although we recognize the exceptions of a single parent, adopted, foster, and step children (James 1:27).

WE REJECT homosexual "marriages" or homosexual orientation because it is contrary to Scripture and the intentions of God in creation (Romans 1:18-32), and we believe that such relationships are destructive to children and the very idea of family. Further, we reject transitory, co-habitational relationships as being equally in violation of God's laws and incapable of providing the long-term nurture and instruction needed by children and commanded by God. (Proverbs 1:18-32, and 9, 2:1-11; Colossians 3:21; and Ephesians 6:4) In view of this, no homosexual or merely cohabiting "parents" are eligible for membership.

  1. PARENTAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION

WE BELIEVE that the ultimate responsibility for the education of children belongs to parents. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:1-25, and 4:1-4) Thus, we believe this is an inalienable right given by God, which the state cannot create, destroy, or alter. Parents may allow another to teach some of the cognitive information that children need to know, but all education must be under the ultimate control and supervision of the parents.

WE BELIEVE education in the home to be the best form of education, but we recognize that many parents cannot educate at home for valid reasons and support the right of parents to send their children to private Christian schools.

  1. NATURE OF EDUCATION

WE BELIEVE that all education is religious in nature since one's view of the world and life is inevitably involved in teaching. (Proverbs 2:1-8, and 3:1-2, with 6:20-23; and Matthew 28:18-20) Every discipline of knowledge, whether it be a subject such as mathematics, science, or history will have as its final reference point a theistic or, in the alternative, a humanistic view of reality (Colossians 1:15-20, and 2:8-15), and that there is no neutral academic discipline.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I/We, the undersigned, do hereby affirm that I/ we have read and agree with the above and foregoing (Name) Statement of Faith, the _______________

day of _______________________, 20 ____.

_______________________________(Parent)

_______________________________

_______________________________(Parent)

________________________________

 (Please print your name beneath your signature.)

Sample Constitution 1

(Name of Group) Constitution
Revised and Approved by Membership Vote on (Date)

Article I
Name

The name of the organization shall be (name), a Christian charter.

Article II

Membership

(Name) shall be comprised of home schooling families who desire to affiliate.

Membership shall be restricted to those individuals who concur with the Beliefs We Hold in Common, as stated in Article VIII, and agree to abide by the Constitution of the charter.

Membership dues will be exacted per family and will be determined each year by the Board members with the approval of the membership in regular general meetings. Special provision will be made for those who desire to be members but are unable to pay.

Those who cease to agree with the Beliefs We Hold in Common, cease to abide by the Constitution, or in some way bring disrepute to the Association shall be biblically confronted by the Board members for restoration. If unrepentant, they will be excluded from membership (Matthew 18:15-20; I Corinthians 5:1-5; II John 9-11). The vote to exclude from membership shall be determined by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all Board members. Board members who are not present for the vote shall cast their vote in absentia.

Article III
Purpose

The purpose of the Association is to provide support to parents who educate their children at home. Support may include services such as field trips; small group meetings for close fellowship and for mutual educational, academic, spiritual, and emotional encouragement; regularly scheduled large group meetings for information on curricula and assistance in choosing appropriate curriculum; special speakers; workshops; coordinated efforts of political and legal concern; and a newsletter.

Article IV
Board Members

The Board members of the Association shall consist of President, Vice President (the number to be determined by the current Board), Secretary, and Treasurer.

The President shall provide the oversight for the Association through the other Board members and persons appointed by him. He shall preside, or appoint someone to preside, over all General and Board meetings of the Association, work with the Treasurer in the disbursement of funds, and speak for the organization.

The Vice President(s) shall assist the President in the performance of his duties and chair special committees set up by the President.

The Secretary will be responsible for keeping a record of each meeting and handling any correspondence necessary. The Treasurer will receive funds and disburse payments and provide at each Board meeting an accounting of this activity. Records shall be reviewed or audited annually or as determined by the Board.

The offices of President, Secretary, and Treasurer shall be elected by a majority vote of the Board. The President, Secretary, or Treasurer may be dismissed from their respective offices by a majority vote of the other Board members at any Board meeting. A motion to remove or replace an officer shall never be out of order, shall take precedence over any other business, shall require a second, shall allow for a limited discussion, and shall require a vote.

Any Board member shall be subject to censorship or dismissal from the Board by a two-thirds (2/3) vote by the members present and voting in regularly called general meetings or by a unanimous decision of the other Board members.

Board members of the Association shall meet the following qualifications:

Board members shall be men. The reason for this rule is that the Association is comprised of home schooling families over which men are to provide the leadership according to the Scriptures. The Association is an extension of the home and should mirror the home.

Board members shall have home schooled for at least two years.

Board members must be members of the Association.

A Board member’s term of office is for two years. Elections for Board members will be held each year at the May general membership meeting. A nominating committee is to be appointed by March 1, with nominations made by April 1. Written notice of these nominations is to be mailed to all members at least one (1) week in advance of the May general meeting. Should a Board member resign during his term of office, the Board may appoint someone to complete his term.

Motions and official business of the Board are binding, pending a majority vote of those present. A quorum of two-thirds (2/3) or more of the Board members must be present in order to hold official business.

Article V
Attendance of Meetings

Persons who are not members of the Association are welcome to attend general meetings and should conduct themselves in a decent and respectable manner.

Persons who are not members of the Association will not be allowed to attend Board meetings.

Members of the Association may attend Board meetings.

Article VI
Meetings

The time, date, place, and frequency of general meetings shall be decided by the Board members. The membership will be notified at least one week in advance of all general meetings.

All general meetings of the Association shall be conducted according to Roberts Rules of Order in its most recent edition.

The time, date, place, and frequency of Board meetings shall be decided by a majority vote of the Board members. All Board Members shall be notified of Board meetings within a reasonable amount of time. If the President is not able to attend a Board meeting and has not appointed a replacement to preside over the Board meeting, the Secretary shall preside over the Board meeting. If both the President and Secretary are not able to attend a Board meeting and have not appointed a replacement to preside over the Board meeting, the Treasurer shall preside over the Board meeting.

Article VII
Execution and Amendment of the Constitution

This Constitution shall become effective upon approval by two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members present and voting at a general meeting called for that purpose. This Constitution may be amended by a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the members present and voting at a general meeting of the Association, provided written notice of the proposed amendment(s) is mailed to all members at least one (1) week in advance of the meeting.

Article VIII
Beliefs We Hold In Common

The Bible is the verbally inspired and only infallible, authoritative Word of God, inerrant in the autographs (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

God is one Being, Who eternally exists as three Persons (i.e., Father, Son and Holy Spirit). All of the Persons are equal in power and glory (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

Jesus Christ is fully God and man (John 1:1,4), born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18), and sinless in His life (Hebrews 4:15). He died vicariously on the cross as a substitution for sinful men (Hebrews 9:15). He rose bodily from the grave (John 20:1-9, 24-31; Acts 2:24) and now reigns with the Father (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 10:12). He will return visibly and personally to earth both in salvation and judgment (Acts 1:11; Hebrews 9:28; Matthew 24:30).

All humans are sinful by nature (Romans 3:23; 5:12) and can only be forgiven by the expression of trust in Jesus as Savior (John 3:16) brought about by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-7).

We believe in the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit by Whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life (Romans 8:1-17).

We reject the anti-Christian tenets of secular humanism, including the general theory of evolution, one-world government, government-mandated sex education, government-mandated parenting courses, modern feminist ideology, and abortion.

Family

We believe that the family is the basic governmental, social, and spiritual unit created by God. In it the child gradually learns self-government, social relationships, and develops a relationship to the Creator and Savior (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20). The family also provides protection from over-extensive government and over-stimulating social involvements.

We understand family to mean one male and one female parent with one or more children, all related by the institution of marriage, though we recognize the exception of a single parent.

We reject homosexual marriages or homosexual orientation because it is contrary to Scripture and the intentions of God in Creation (Romans 1:18-32). As well, we reject transitory co-habitational relationships as being equally in violation of God’s laws and incapable of providing the long-term nurture and instruction needed by children and commanded by God (Proverbs 1:8-9; 2:1-11; Colossians 3:21; Ephesians 6:4). In view of these rejections, no homosexual or merely co-habitating “parents” are eligible for membership.

Parental Rights and Responsibility in Education

We believe the ultimate responsibility for the education of children belongs to parents (Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:1-25; 4:1-4; Ephesians 6:4). Thus, we believe parents directing the education of their children is an inalienable right given by God which the State can neither create, destroy, nor alter. Parents may allow another to teach some of the cognitive information that children need to know, but all education must be under the control and supervision of the parents.

We believe education in the home to be the best form of education, but we recognize that many parents cannot educate at home for valid reasons and we support the right of parents to send their children to private Christian schools.

Nature of Education

We believe that all education is religious in nature, since one’s view of the world and life is inevitably involved in teaching (Proverbs 2:1-8; 3:1-2; 6:20-23; Matthew 28:18-20). Every disciple of knowledge, whether it be subjects such a mathematics, science, or history, will have as his final reference point a theistic or humanistic view of reality (Colossians 1:15-20; 2:8-15), and there is no neutral academic discipline.

Thus, we believe that all social, physical, and cognitive knowledge should have as its beginning the fear of God and its end, the Glory of God (Proverbs 1:7; Romans 11:33-36).


Sample Constitution 2

CONSTITUTION
for

_______________ CHRISTIAN HOME EDUCATORS
_____________ County, Texas

Article I
Name

The name of the organization shall be ________________, also herein after referred to as "the Association."

Article II 
Membership

(Name) shall be composed of home educating families who desire to affiliate (Hebrews 10:25).

Membership dues shall be exacted per family and will be determined each year by the directors with the approval of the membership, in regular business meetings. Each family unit shall have one vote. Special provision will be made for those who desire to be members but are unable to pay.

Those who cease to abide by this Constitution, or who otherwise bring disrepute on the Association, shall be biblically confronted by the directors of the Association for restoration, and if necessary, will be removed from membership by unanimous consent of the directors. (Matthew 18: 15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 2 John 9-11)

Article III 
Purpose

The purpose of the Association is as follows:

The Association shall not impinge on the rights of parents to educate their children, as parents believe best. (Name) is a service organization providing advice and help to members who may use the assistance offered, as they desire.

Article IV
Statement of Principles

Family

We believe the family is the basic governmental, social, and spiritual unit created by God. In the family, the child learns self-government and social relationships and develops a relationship to God (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3;20).

We understand family to mean one male and one female parent with one or more children, all related by the institution of marriage, though we realize the exception of a single parent (Genesis 2:24).

We reject marriage of homosexual orientation because it is contrary to the Scripture and the intentions of God in creation (Romans 1:18-32). We also reject transitory, co-habitational relationships (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). We believe these relationships to be in violation of God's laws and incapable of providing the long-term nurture and instruction needed by children and commanded by God (Proverbs 1:8-9; Colossians 3:21; Ephesians 6:4).

Nature of Education

We believe that all social, physical, and cognitive knowledge should have as its beginning the fear of God, and as its end the glory of God (Proverbs 1:7; Romans 11:33-36).

Rejection of Secular Humanism

We reject and oppose the anti-Christian tenets of secular humanism. These tenets include the general theory of evolution, one-world government, government-mandated sex education, government-mandated parenting courses, modem feminist ideology, and abortion (2 John 9-11; 2 Corinthians 6:14).

Article V


Statement of Faith

We believe the Bible to be the only Word of God, written by men divinely inspired by God, and that it is the record of God's revelation of Himself to man. It has God as its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Pete 1:19-21).

We believe there is only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. He reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being (John 1:1).

We believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18), and sinless in His life (Hebrews 4:15). He died vicariously on the cross as substitution for sinful men (Hebrews 9:15). He rose bodily from the grave (John 20:1-9) and now reigns with the Father (Acts 2:23). He will return visibly and personally to the earth, both in salvation and judgment (Acts 1:11; Hebrews 9:28).

We believe all humans are sinful by nature (Romans 3:23) and can only be forgiven by the expression of trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 3:16), brought about by the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-7).

We believe in the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life (Romans 8:1-7).

Article VI


Code of Conduct for (Name) Functions

Each individual shall conduct himself in purity, according to the standards set forth in 1Timothy 5:1-2.

We will refrain from any inappropriate public display of affection (2 Timothy 2:22).

We will refrain from tobacco use (1 Corinthians 8:9).

We will use no profanity or other degrading speech (Colossians 3:8).

We will dress in a modest manner. Short shorts and halter-tops are specifically prohibited (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

We will not make negative comments or speeches regarding other forms of education, especially public schools and their representatives. We will instead focus our time together on the positive attributes of home schooling (Philippians 4:8; Colossians 4:6).

Written, signed suggestions may be mailed to any director. Complaints and grumblings should be taken before the Lord (Philippians 2:14-15).

Activities and field trips are restricted to members of (name). This rule, of course, does not exclude visitors who are interested in (name) from attending park days or general meetings (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12).

Please read this Constitution together as a family and, if in agreement, sign the following signature page.


Sample Bylaws 1

(Name) Home Schoolers' Association
(Address)
BYLAWS

Article I - Name 

The name of the organization shall be ____________ Home Schoolers' Association.

Article II - General Purposes and Goals

  1. To support and encourage parents desiring to educate their children at home
  2. To promote legislation in support of the parents' primary and constitutionally guaranteed rights to educate their children
  3. To further the appreciation of home schooling in the community through education, community involvement, and media communication
  4. To provide educational opportunities toward the needs of the group

Article III - Membership

  1. For the purposes of this document, all references to the terms "Members" or "Membership" shall be defined as referring to the body of (name of group) corporately. All references to the term "Board" shall refer specifically to the body of elected officers comprised of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary/Treasurer.
  2. Members must read the bylaws and sign the response form indicating that they will concur with this organization's Statement of Faith and agree to abide by this Constitution. Complete agreement with the Statement of Faith is required for Board members only.
  3. No homosexuals or co-habitating, unmarried parents will be accepted.
  4. Membership dues will be expected per family at the beginning of the fiscal year (the fiscal year being September through August). Dues will be determined by the board, with the approval of the membership in a regular business meeting. Special provision will be made for those who desire to be members but are unable to pay.
  5. Those who cease to agree with the Statement of Faith or cease to abide by the Constitution or in some way bring disrepute to the organization shall be biblically confronted by the board members for restoration; if restoration attempts are unsuccessful, these families will be excluded from membership (Matthew 18:15-17).

Article IV - Board

  1. The Board shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairperson, and a Secretary/Treasurer.
  2. Qualifications: A. Officers must be members of (name of group) and be in complete agreement with the Statement of Faith.B. The office of Chairman shall be filled by a husband/wife team. C. Officers shall have homeschooled for no less than one (1) year.
    3. Officers shall be subject to censor and or dismissal by two-thirds of the membership attending a regularly scheduled business meeting.
  3. Officers are elected by a simple majority of attending members to a term of one (1) year. Officers cannot serve for more than two (2) consecutive years in any one office.
  4. In the event that an office becomes vacant between regularly scheduled meetings, the Board shall appoint a replacement officer until the membership can vote by a two-thirds majority vote on a replacement.
  5. Special meetings may be called by the membership and shall be scheduled not less than four (4) nor more than (30) days from the date the request was made.
  6. All business matters shall be decided by a majority vote of the active members present at a meeting.
  7. The management of the affairs of this organization shall be vested in the Board.
  8. The Board shall meet on an as-needed basis, with a minimum of two meetings per year.
  9. All officers shall work together in the performance of their duties to coordinate the activities for this association in a timely manner so as not to delay another member in the fulfilling of his duties.
  10. The goal of the Board is to operate by consensus. Where consensus among the Board is unobtainable, the office of Chairman shall have final authority.

Article V - Board Duties

General Board Duties

  1. Enforcement of the By-laws and any other declaration of the Board.
  2. Affect the smooth and efficient flow of the home school group toward the stated purposes and goals of the organization.
  3. Bring to the attention of the membership any issues on which the membership must act.
  4. Set up temporary committees for specific purposes, which will be dissolved upon completion of their purpose.
  5. Supervise group activities as delegated to Board members by Chairperson.
  6. Approve creation and dissolution of group activities.

Chairman

  1. Preside at all meetings of the membership or appoint another board member to preside over meetings in the absence of the chairman.
  2. Act as an official representative of the Association.
  3. Schedule general and special meetings and draw up an agenda for each meeting. A minimum of (2) general meetings will be called annually.
  4. Delegate board members to supervise (name of group) sponsored activities.

Vice-Chairperson

  1. Maintain a master calendar for all (name of group) sponsored activities.
  2. Recruit and coordinate volunteers to organize various activities throughout the year.
  3. This person will not be responsible for arranging (name of group) functions.
  4. Preside over business meetings in absence of Chairperson or their appointed replacement.

Secretary/Treasurer

  1. Keep minutes of board and membership meetings.
  2. Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of the membership and records of dues.
  3. Receive all dues and contributions.
  4. Disburse funds as needed to cover expenses incurred by the Association.
  5. Maintain an up-to-date list of the membership.
  6. Oversee the typing, copying, and mailing of the monthly newsletters.
  7. Read minutes of previous meetings and give current financial standing at each called meeting.
  8. Notify Board of requests from non-members for information.

Article VI - Elections

Board members shall be elected during the May General Meeting and shall assume office upon election- They shall serve until the following year's election. Election procedure shall be as follows:

  1. Any qualified member wishing to serve must submit their name and office of interest at least two (2) weeks before the May meeting.
  2. The Board will compile a list of these names to submit in ballot form to the membership at the May meeting.
  3. Members will record their votes on this form and return it to the Chairman.
  4. If candidates for these positions are not submitted prior to the two-week deadline, the Board will dissolve, and elections will not be held until further action is taken by the general membership.

Article VII - Amendments and Execution

The By-laws shall go into effect with a majority approval of the active members in attendance at a regularly called meeting of the Association. The By-laws may be amended by a three-fourths C/4) vote of the active members in attendance at meeting called for this purpose. All active members must have two (2) weeks written notice prior to such a meeting. Such notice shall contain the meeting date, time, place, and changes proposed. Members not able to attend this meeting may mail in an absentee vote to the Secretary/Treasurer prior to the date of the meeting.


Sample Bylaws 2

BYLAWS
OF
___________________________________

PREAMBLE

The purpose of (name of group) is to provide support, education, and fellowship for local home schooling families.

ARTICLE I

Offices

The initial principal office of the Non-Profit Corporation in the State of Texas shall be located at ________________________. The Non-Profit Corporation may have such other offices, either within or without the State of Texas, as the Board of Directors may determine or as the affairs of the Corporation may require on occasion.

The Non-Profit Corporation shall have, and continuously maintain, in the state of Texas a registered office and a registered agent whose office is identical with such registered office as required by the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. The registered office may be, but does not need to be, identical with the principal office in the state of Texas, and the address of the principal office and the registered office may be changed occasionally by the Board of Directors.

ARTICLE II

Members

Classes of Members

The Board of Directors will determine the types of classes of members and set the qualifications to become members in the corporation by meeting such qualifications, completing such forms, and paying such membership fee or fees as shall from time-to- time be designated by the Board of Directors.

The members will not have voting rights in the affairs of the Corporation unless given voting rights by a majority of the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors, by affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members of the Board, may suspend or expel a member for cause after an appropriate hearing.

Any member may resign by filing a written resignation with the Secretary.

Upon written request signed by a former member and filed with the Secretary, the Board of Directors may, by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of the Board, reinstate such former member to membership upon such terms as the Board of Directors may deem appropriate.

Membership in this Corporation is not transferable or assignable.

ARTICLE III

Board of Directors

Section 1: General Powers

The affairs of the corporation shall be managed by its Board of Directors. Directors must be residents of the state of Texas and members of the Corporation.

Section 2: Number, Tenure, and Qualifications

The number of Directors shall always be at least three (3). The number of Directors may be increased by at least a two-thirds vote of all the Directors on the Board of Directors.

Each Director shall hold office until the next annual meeting of Directors and until his successor shall have been elected and qualified. There shall be no limit on consecutive terms.

Each Director shall sign the Statement of Faith. Each director shall demonstrate moral and spiritual character. Each Director shall have a minimum of two consecutive years homeschooling experience. Each Director shall be an active participant in home schooling activities.  

Section 3: Meetings

The Board of Directors shall have meetings on a regular basis in order to conduct the affairs of the Corporation. Notice of any meeting of the Board of Directors shall be given at least two (2) days previously, in a manner determined by the Chairman of the Board of Directors. A majority of the Board of Directors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Board. At no time may a meeting be held with less than three Directors present.

Section 4: Manner of Acting

The act of a majority of the Directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the Board of Directors, unless the act of a greater number is required by law or by these bylaws.

Section 5: Vacancies

Any vacancy occurring in the Board of Directors, and any directorship to be filled by reason of an increase in the number of Directors, may be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors, though less than a quorum of the Board of Directors. A Director elected to fill a vacancy shall be elected for the unexpired term of his predecessor in office.

Section 6: Compensation

Directors, as such, shall not receive any stated salaries for their services, but by resolution of the Board of Directors, a fixed sum and expenses of attendance, if any, may be allowed for attendance at each regular or special meeting of the Board; nothing herein contained shall be construed to preclude any Director from serving the corporation in any other capacity and receiving compensation thereof.

Section 7: Informal Action by Directors

Any action required by law to be taken at a meeting of Directors, or any action that may be taken at a meeting of Directors, may be taken without a meeting if a consent in writing, setting forth the action so taken, shall be signed by all of the Directors.

Section 8: Removal of Director

Any Director elected or appointed by the Board of Directors may be removed by the Board of Directors whenever in its judgment the best interests of the corporation would be served thereby, but such removal shall be without prejudice to the contract rights, if any, of the Directors so removed.

ARTICLE IV

Officers

Section 1: Officers

The officers of the corporation shall be a President, one or more Vice-presidents (the number thereof to be determined by the Board of Directors), a Secretary, a Treasurer, and such other officers as may be elected in accordance with the provisions of this Article. The Board of Directors may elect or appoint such other officers, including one or more Assistant Secretaries and one or more Assistant Treasurers, as it shall deem desirable, such officers to have the authority to perform the duties prescribed, from time-to-time, by the Board of Directors. Any two or more offices may be held by the same person, except the office of the President and Secretary.

Section 2: Appointment and Term of Office

The officers of the corporation shall be appointed annually by the Board of Directors from those nominees selected by the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee shall consist of the current Board of Directors as well as the current officers of the corporation. Officer appointments shall be held at the regular annual meeting of the Board of Directors. If the appointment of officers shall not be held at such meeting, such appointments shall be held as soon thereafter as conveniently may be done. New offices may be created and filled at any meeting of the Board of Directors. Each officer shall hold office until his successor shall have been duly appointed and shall have qualified. There shall be no limit on consecutive terms.

Section 3: Qualifications

Each officer shall sign the Statement of Faith. Each officer shall demonstrate moral and spiritual character. Each officer shall have a minimum of two consecutive years of home schooling experience. Each officer shall be an active participant in home schooling activities.  

Section 4: Removal

Any officer elected or appointed by the Board of Directors may be removed by the Board of Directors whenever, in its judgment, the best interests of the corporation would be served thereby, but such removal shall be without prejudice to the contract rights, if any, of the officers so removed.

Section 5: Vacancies

A vacancy in any office because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification, or otherwise may be filled by the Board of Directors for the unexpired portion of the term.

Section 6: President

The President shall be the principal executive officer of the corporation, and shall, in general, supervise and control all of the business and affairs of the Corporation. He or she shall preside at all meetings of the members and of the Board of Directors. He or she may sign, with the Secretary or any other proper officer of the Corporation authorized by the Board of Directors, any deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts, or other instruments which the Board of Directors has authorized to be executed, except in cases where the signing and execution thereof shall be expressly delegated by the Board of Directors or by these bylaws or by statute to some other officer or agent of the corporation; in general he or she shall perform all duties incident to the office of President and such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors on occasion.

Section 7: Vice president

In the absence of the President or in the event of his or her inability or refusal to act, the Vice-president (or in the event there be more than one Vice-president, the Vice-president in the order of their election) shall perform the duties of the President, and when so acting, shall have all the powers of and be subject to all the restrictions upon the President. Any Vice-president shall perform such other duties as occasionally may be assigned to him or her by the President or by the Board of Directors.

Section 8: Treasurer

If required by the Board of Directors, the Treasurer shall give a bond for the faithful discharge of his or her duties in such sum and with such surety or sureties as the Board of Directors shall determine. He shall have charge and custody of and be responsible for all funds and securities of the corporation; receive and give receipts for moneys due and payable to the corporation from any source whatsoever; and deposit all such monies in the name of the corporation in such banks, trust companies, or other depositories as shall be selected in accordance with the provisions of Article VI of these bylaws. He shall keep adequate records, provide periodic updates to the Board of Directors, and in general, perform all the duties as from time-to-time may be assigned to him or her by the President or by the Board of Directors.

Section 9: Secretary

The Secretary shall keep the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors, in one or more books provided for that purpose; see that all notices are duly given in accordance with the provisions of these bylaws or as required by law; be custodian of the corporate records; keep a register of the Post Office address of each member, which shall be furnished to the Secretary by such member; and in general, perform all duties incident to the office of Secretary and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him or her by the President or by the Board of Directors.

Section 10: Assistant Treasurers and Assistant Secretaries

If required by the Board of Directors, the Assistant Treasurers shall give bonds for the faithful discharge of their duties in such sums and with such sureties as the Board of Directors shall determine. The Assistant Treasurers and Assistant Secretaries, in general, shall perform such duties as shall be assigned to them by the Treasurer, the Secretary, the President, or the Board of Directors.

ARTICLE V

Committees

Section 1: Primary Committees

The Board of Directors, by resolution adopted by a majority of the Directors in office, may: designate and appoint one or more committees, which to the extent provided in said resolution, shall have and exercise the authority of the Board of Directors in the management of the corporation, except that no such committee shall have the authority of the Board of Directors in reference to amending, altering, or repealing the bylaws; electing, appointing or removing any Director or officer of the corporation; amend the articles of incorporation; restate articles of incorporation; adopting a plan of merger or adopting a plan of consolidation with another corporation; authorizing the sale, lease, exchange or mortgage of all or substantially all of the property and assets of the corporation; authorizing the voluntary dissolution of the assets of the corporation or revoking proceedings therefore; adopting a plan for the distribution of the assets of the corporation; or amending, altering, or repealing any resolution of the Board of Directors which by its terms provides that it shall not be amended, altered or repeated by such committee. The designation and appointment of any such committee and the delegation thereto of authority shall not operate to relieve the Board of Directors, or any individual Director, of any responsibility imposed upon it or him or her by law.

Section 2: Secondary Committees

 Secondary committees not having and exercising the authority of the Board of Directors in the management of the corporation may be appointed in such manner as may be designated by a resolution adopted by a majority of the Directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present. Except as otherwise provided in such resolution, members of each such committee shall be members of the corporation, and the President of the corporation shall appoint the members thereof. Any member thereof may be removed by the person or persons authorized to appoint such member whenever, in their judgment, the best interests of the corporation shall be served by such removal.

Section 3: Term of Office

Each member of a Primary Committee shall continue as such until the Board of Directors has been notified by the committee that a successor has been appointed, unless the committee shall be sooner terminated, or unless such member be removed from such committee, or unless such member ceases to qualify as a member thereof. A Primary Committee shall have the right to appoint its own members unless such right is specifically excluded by an act of the Board of Directors. There shall be no limit on consecutive terms.

Section 4: Chairman

One member of each committee shall be appointed chairman by the person or persons authorized to appoint the members thereof.

Section 5: Vacancies

Vacancies in the membership of any committee may be filled by appointments made in the same manner as provided in the case of the original appointments. The committee will notify the Board of Directors of changes in the membership of the committee.

Section 6: Quorum

Unless otherwise provided in the resolution of the Board of Directors designating a committee, a majority of the whole committee shall constitute a quorum, and the act of a majority of the members present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the committee.

Section 7: Rules

Each committee may adopt rules for its own government not inconsistent with these bylaws or with rules adopted by the Board of Directors.

ARTICLE VI

Contracts, Checks, Deposits, and Funds

Section 1: Contracts

The Board of Directors may authorize any officer or officers, or agent or agents of the corporation, in addition to the officers so authorized by these bylaws, to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the corporation, and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances.

Section 2: Checks, Drafts, etc.

All checks, drafts, or orders for the payment of money, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness issued in the name of the corporation shall be signed by such officer, officers, agent, or agents of the corporation and in such manner as shall from time to time be determined by resolution of the Board of Directors. In the absence of such determination by the Board of Directors, such instruments shall be signed by the Treasurer or an Assistant Treasurer.

Section 3: Deposits

All funds of the corporation shall be deposited from time to time to the credit of the corporation in such banks, trust companies, or other depositories as the Board of Directors may select.

Section 4: Gifts

The Board of Directors may accept on behalf of the corporation any contribution, gift, bequest, or devise for the general purposes or for any special purpose of the corporation.

ARTICLE VII

Certificates of Membership

Section 1: Certificates of Membership

The Board of Directors may provide for the issuance of certificates evidencing membership in the corporation, which shall be in such forms as may be determined by the Board.

Section 2: Issuance of Certificates

When a member has paid any initiation fee and dues that may then be required, a certificate of membership shall be issued in his or her name and delivered to him or her by the Secretary, if the Board of Directors shall have provided for the issuance of certificates of membership under the provisions of Section 1 of this Article VII.

ARTICLE VIII

Books and Records

The corporation shall keep correct and complete books and records of account and shall also keep minutes of the proceedings of its members, Board of Directors, and committees having any of the authority of the Board of Directors, and shall keep at its registered or principal office a record giving the names and addresses of the members. All books and records of the corporation may be inspected by any officer or director, or his agent or attorney, for any proper purpose at any reasonable time.

ARTICLE IX

Fiscal Year

The fiscal year of the Corporation shall begin on August 1 and end on July 31 of each year.

ARTICLE X

Waiver of Notice

Whenever any notice is required to be given under the provisions of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act or under the provisions of the articles of incorporation or the bylaws of the corporation, a waiver thereof in writing signed by the person or persons entitled to such notice, whether before or after the time stated therein, shall be deemed equivalent to the giving of such notice.

ARTICLE XI

Amendments to Bylaws

These bylaws may be altered, amended, or repealed and new bylaws may be adopted by a two-thirds majority of the Directors present at any regular meeting or specially-called meeting, if at least two (2) days’ written notice is given of intention to alter, amend, or repeal or to adopt new bylaws at such meeting.

ARTICLE XII

Adoption of Bylaws

The foregoing Initial Bylaws of this Corporation are hereby adopted by the undersigned, being all the Directors of such Corporation named in the Articles of Incorporation on _______________.


Sample Bylaws 3

Bylaws of the _____________ Association

Article I - Name

The name of the organization shall be (name of group), a not-for-profit organization.

Article II General Purposes and Goals

  1. To Support and encourage parents desiring to educate their children at home by:
  1. Disseminating information of interest to potential home educators.
  2. Pooling resources to provide educational opportunities that would be difficult for parents to provide by themselves.
  3. Providing opportunities for fellowship, encouragement, and the exchange of ideas among home educators.
  4. Encouraging high standards of excellence throughout all the membership.
  1. To promote legislation in support of parents' God-given and constitutionally guaranteed rights to educate their children.
  2. To further opportunities for home educators and the appreciation of home schooling in the community through education, community involvement, and media communication.

Article III - Membership

Membership in (name) is based on application, signed agreement with the Bylaws and Statement of Faith, payment of dues, and good standing with the Association.

  1. Members must read the Bylaws and sign the response form indicating that they will abide by the Statement of Faith and Bylaws. Complete agreement with the Statement of Faith is required for leadership only.
  2. Members of (name) have voting privileges and are encouraged to help plan and organize (name) activities and regularly attend meetings.
  3. Each family that desires (name) membership will pay annual dues, to be determined each year by the Board. A thirty-day grace period will be granted before a member's name is removed from the rolls for non-payment of dues. Special provision will be made for those who desire to be members but are unable to pay.
  4. Those who cease to abide by the Statement of Faith or the Bylaws, or in some way bring disrepute to the Association, shall be biblically confronted by the Board members for restoration; if this process is unsuccessful, such members will be excluded from membership. (Matthew 18:15-17)
  5. No homosexuals or co-habiting, unmarried parents will be accepted for membership.

Article IV - Board

  1. The Board shall consist of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, and a Secretary/Treasurer.
  2. Qualifications
  1. Board members must be members of (name) and be in complete agreement with the Statement of Faith.
  2. Board members shall have home-schooled their children for no less than one year and shall have been a member of (name) for at least one year.
  1. Board members shall be subject to dismissal by two-thirds of the members attending a regularly scheduled meeting. Prior notice of such a vote will be posted in the newsletter.
  2. The management of the affairs of this Association shall be vested in the Board.
  3. The Board shall meet in accordance with rules set forth under Article VI - Meetings.

Article V - Board Duties

General Board Duties

  1. Enforce the Bylaws and any other declarations of the Board.
  2. Direct the Association toward its stated purposes and goals.
  3. Bring to the attention of the membership any issues on which the membership should act.
  4. Set up temporary committees for specific purposes which will be dissolved upon completion of their purpose.

Chairman

  1. Preside at all meetings of the membership or appoint another board member to preside over meetings in the absence of the chairman.
  2. Act as an official representative of the Association.
  3. Schedule board, regular, and special meetings and establish the agenda for each meeting as necessary.

Vice Chairman for Academic Activities

  1. Plan and execute activities, such as field trips, seminars, and workshops, for students as well as parents.
  2. Submit plan of events to the Chairman and Vice-chairman for communications in a timely manner.

Vice Chairman for Recreational Activities

  1. Plan and execute recreational and social activities.
  2. Submit plan of events to the Chairman and Vice-chairman for communications in a timely manner.

Vice-chairman for Fundraising and Community Awareness

  1. Plan and execute any fund-raising and community-awareness activities.
  2. Coordinate release of information to the media.
  3. Submit information to the vice-chairman for communications for inclusion in the monthly newsletter.

Vice-chairman for Communications

  1. Oversee operations of a phone tree and newsletter.
  2. Maintain a list of known home schoolers.
  3. Distribute literature to prospective home schoolers.
  4. Oversee management of curriculum resources and curriculum exchanges.

Secretary/Treasurer

  1. Write and keep a record of each board meeting, handle any correspondence necessary, and do other administrative functions as assigned by the Chairman.
  2. Maintain an up-to-date list of the membership.
  3. Administer and keep records of elections and keep records of changes to the Bylaws and Standing Rules.
  4. Receive funds, including dues and donations, and disburse payments and provide an accounting of this activity at each Board meeting. Keep all financial records which shall be reviewed or audited annually or as determined by the Board.

Article VI - Meetings

  1. The time, date, and place of regular and special meetings shall be published in the newsletter.
  2. A quorum of twenty percent of the current (name) membership must be established before voting for board member dismissal or amendments to the Bylaws.

Article VII - Elections

  1. Board members shall be elected in May and shall assume office in June and serve until May 31 of the following year. If an election is not held in May, one shall be held on the earliest possible date at a time set by the chairman, or by consensus of at least two vice chairmen. The date of the election shall be published in the newsletter at least four weeks before the election. Election procedure shall be as fol1ows:
  1. Any member desiring to be a candidate for a position on the Board shall submit to the Secretary/Treasurer their name and office of interest at least two weeks before the election.
  2. Members may submit a written nomination to the Secretary/Treasurer at least three weeks prior to the election. The Secretary/Treasurer will confirm, at least two weeks before the election, the willingness of the nominee to serve on the Board.
  3. The Secretary/Treasurer will compile a list of qualified candidates' names on a ballot, to be voted upon by the members. Ballots must be published in the newsletter, mailed, or hand-delivered to all members at least one week before the election.
  4. Two weeks before the election, if there is no opposition in all six offices on the Board of Directors, candidates shall be declared eligible to assume office without conducting an election.
  1. A member who meets all qualifications to serve on the board, except for time requirements set forth in Article IV, Sect. 2(b), may be elected as a chairman-elect or vice chairman-elect. Such a person must serve under the oversight of the chairman or the vice chairman with the same function, and after having been a member and home schooler for at least a year, assume the office of the chairman or vice-chairman for the remainder of the term, if the chairman or vice-chairman chooses to resign from office. If the chairman or vice-chairman chooses not to resign, the chairman-elect or vice-chairman-elect will assume office the following June, if there is no opposition for the position.
  2. Board members are elected for a term of one year by a majority vote of members. Absentee votes will be accepted.
  3. In the event that an office becomes vacant, the membership will vote to replace the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term. Such an election will be subject to the same requirements as the regular election.

Article VIII - Amendments and Execution

  1. The Bylaws, Statement of Faith, and Standing Rules shall go into effect with a majority approval of those in attendance at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Association.
  2. The Bylaws may be amended by a three-fourths vote of the members in attendance at a meeting called for this purpose. All members must have at least two weeks’ written notice, as published in the newsletter, prior to such a meeting. Copies of the proposed changes will be made available to members upon request. Members not able to attend this meeting may mail in an absentee vote to the Secretary/Treasurer prior to the date of the meeting. Such absentee votes will count toward the establishment of a quorum.


Civil Practice & Remedies Code

CHAPTER 84. CHARITABLE IMMUNITY AND LIABILITY

Sec. 84.001. NAME OF ACT. This Act may be cited as the Charitable Immunity and Liability Act of 1987.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Sec. 84.002. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES. The Legislature of the State of Texas finds that:

(1) robust, active, bona fide, and well-supported charitable organizations are needed within Texas to perform essential and needed services;

(2) the willingness of volunteers to offer their services to these organizations is deterred by the perception of personal liability arising out of the services rendered to these organizations;

(3) because of these concerns over personal liability, volunteers are withdrawing from services in all capacities;

(4) these same organizations have a further problem in obtaining and affording liability insurance for the organization and its employees and volunteers;

(5) these problems combine to diminish the services being provided to Texas and local communities because of higher costs and fewer programs;

(6) the citizens of this state have an overriding interest in the continued and increased delivery of these services that must be balanced with other policy considerations; and

(7) because of the above conditions and policy considerations, it is the purpose of this Act to reduce the liability exposure and insurance costs of these organizations and their employees and volunteers in order to encourage volunteer services and maximize the resources devoted to delivering these services.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Sec. 84.003. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:

(1) "Charitable organization" means:

(A) any organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by being listed as an exempt organization in Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the code, if it is a nonprofit corporation, foundation, community chest, or fund organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious, prevention of cruelty to children or animals, youth sports and youth recreational, neighborhood crime prevention or patrol, fire protection or prevention, emergency medical or hazardous material response services, or educational purposes, including private primary or secondary schools if accredited by a member association of the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission but excluding fraternities, sororities, and secret societies, or is organized and operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare by being primarily engaged in promoting the common good and general welfare of the people in a community;

(B) any bona fide charitable, religious, prevention of cruelty to children or animals, youth sports and youth recreational, neighborhood crime prevention or patrol, or educational organization, excluding fraternities, sororities, and secret societies, or other organization organized and operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare by being primarily engaged in promoting the common good and general welfare of the people in a community, and that:

(i) is organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the above purposes;

(ii) does not engage in activities which in themselves are not in furtherance of the purpose or purposes;

(iii) does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office;

(iv) dedicates its assets to achieving the stated purpose or purposes of the organization;

(v) does not allow any part of its net assets on dissolution of the organization to inure to the benefit of any group, shareholder, or individual; and

(vi) normally receives more than one-third of its support in any year from private or public gifts, grants, contributions, or membership fees;

(C) a homeowners association as defined by Section 528(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or which is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by being listed as an exempt organization in Section 501(c)(4) of the code;

(D) a volunteer center, as that term is defined by Section 411.126, Government Code; or

(E) a local chamber of commerce that:

(i) is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by being listed as an exempt organization in Section 501(c)(6) of the code;

(ii) does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office; and

(iii) does not directly or indirectly contribute to a political action committee that makes expenditures to any candidates for public office.

(2) "Volunteer" means a person rendering services for or on behalf of a charitable organization who does not receive compensation in excess of reimbursement for expenses incurred. The term includes a person serving as a director, officer, trustee, or direct service volunteer, including a volunteer health care provider.

(3) "Employee" means any person, including an officer or director, who is in the paid service of a charitable organization, but does not include an independent contractor.

(4) Repealed by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 18.03(1).

(5) "Volunteer health care provider" means an individual who voluntarily provides health care services without compensation or expectation of compensation and who is:

(A) an individual who is licensed to practice medicine under Subtitle B, Title 3, Occupations Code;

(B) a retired physician who is eligible to provide health care services, including a retired physician who is licensed but exempt from paying the required annual registration fee under Section 156.002, Occupations Code;

(C) a physician assistant licensed under Chapter 204, Occupations Code, or a retired physician assistant who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(D) a registered nurse, including an advanced nurse practitioner, or vocational nurse, licensed under Chapter 301, Occupations Code, or a retired vocational nurse or registered nurse, including a retired advanced nurse practitioner, who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(E) a pharmacist licensed under Subtitle J, Title 3, Occupations Code, or a retired pharmacist who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(F) a podiatrist licensed under Chapter 202, Occupations Code, or a retired podiatrist who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(G) a dentist licensed under Subtitle D, Title 3, Occupations Code, or a retired dentist who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(H) a dental hygienist licensed under Subtitle D, Title 3, Occupations Code, or a retired dental hygienist who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(I) an optometrist or therapeutic optometrist licensed under Chapter 351, Occupations Code, or a retired optometrist or therapeutic optometrist who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state;

(J) a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant licensed under Chapter 453, Occupations Code, or a retired physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state; or

(K) an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant licensed under Chapter 454, Occupations Code, or a retired occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant who is eligible to provide health care services under the law of this state.

(6) "Hospital system" means a system of hospitals and other health care providers located in this state that are under the common governance or control of a corporate parent.

(7) "Person responsible for the patient" means:

(A) the patient's parent, managing conservator, or guardian;

(B) the patient's grandparent;

(C) the patient's adult brother or sister;

(D) another adult who has actual care, control, and possession of the patient and has written authorization to consent for the patient from the parent, managing conservator, or guardian of the patient;

(E) an educational institution in which the patient is enrolled that has written authorization to consent for the patient from the parent, managing conservator, or guardian of the patient; or

(F) any other person with legal responsibility for the care of the patient.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 634, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 403, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 400, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 77, Sec. 1, eff. May 14, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 538, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1420, Sec. 14.732, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 93, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 10.02, 10.03, 10.04, 18.03(1) eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 553, Sec. 2.001, eff. Feb. 1, 2004; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 895, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 239, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 84.004. VOLUNTEER LIABILITY.

 (a) Except as provided by Subsection (d) and Section 84.007, a volunteer of a charitable organization is immune from civil liability for any act or omission resulting in death, damage, or injury if the volunteer was acting in the course and scope of the volunteer's duties or functions, including as an officer, director, or trustee within the organization.

(b) Repealed by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 18.03(2).

(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d) and Section 84.007, a volunteer health care provider who is serving as a direct service volunteer of a charitable organization is immune from civil liability for any act or omission resulting in death, damage, or injury to a patient if:

(1) the volunteer commits the act or omission in the course of providing health care services to the patient;

(2) the services provided are within the scope of the license of the volunteer; and

(3) before the volunteer provides health care services, the patient or, if the patient is a minor or is otherwise legally incompetent, the person responsible for the patient signs a written statement that acknowledges:

(A) that the volunteer is providing care that is not administered for or in expectation of compensation; and

(B) the limitations on the recovery of damages from the volunteer in exchange for receiving the health care services.

(d) A volunteer of a charitable organization is liable to a person for death, damage, or injury to the person or his property proximately caused by any act or omission arising from the operation or use of any motor-driven equipment, including an airplane, to the extent insurance coverage is required by Chapter 601, Transportation Code, and to the extent of any existing insurance coverage applicable to the act or omission.

(e) The provisions of this section apply only to the liability of volunteers and do not apply to the liability of the organization for acts or omissions of volunteers.

(f) Subsection (c) applies even if:

(1) the patient is incapacitated due to illness or injury and cannot sign the acknowledgment statement required by that subsection; or

(2) the patient is a minor or is otherwise legally incompetent and the person responsible for the patient is not reasonably available to sign the acknowledgment statement required by that subsection.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 30.179, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 400, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 10.05, 18.01, 18.03(2), eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 84.005. EMPLOYEE LIABILITY. Except as provided in Section 84.007 of this Act, in any civil action brought against an employee of a nonhospital charitable organization for damages based on an act or omission by the person in the course and scope of the person's employment, the liability of the employee is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $500,000 for each person and $1,000,000 for each single occurrence of bodily injury or death and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Sec. 84.006. ORGANIZATION LIABILITY. Except as provided in Section 84.007 of this Act, in any civil action brought against a nonhospital charitable organization for damages based on an act or omission by the organization or its employees or volunteers, the liability of the organization is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $500,000 for each person and $1,000,000 for each single occurrence of bodily injury or death and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Sec. 84.0061. ORGANIZATIONAL LIABILITY FOR TRANSPORTATION SERVICES PROVIDED TO CERTAIN WELFARE RECIPIENTS.

(a) In this section, "religious charitable organization" means a charitable organization that is also a "religious organization" as the term is defined by Section 464.051, Health and Safety Code.

(b) Subject to Subsection (e), a religious charitable organization that owns or leases a motor vehicle is not liable for damages arising from the negligent use of the vehicle by a person to whom the organization has entrusted the vehicle to provide transportation services during the provision of those services described by Subsection (c) to a person who:

(1) is a recipient of:

(A) financial assistance under Chapter 31, Human Resources Code; or

(B) nutritional assistance under Chapter 33, Human Resources Code; and

(2) is participating in or applying to participate in:

(A) a work or employment activity under Chapter 31, Human Resources Code; or

(B) the food stamp employment and training program.

(c) Transportation services include transportation to and from the location of the:

(1) work, employment, or any training activity or program; or

(2) provider of any child-care services necessary for a person described by Subsection (b)(1) to participate in the work, employment, or training activity or program.

(d) Except as expressly provided in Subsection (b), this section does not limit, or in any way affect or diminish, other legal duties or causes of action arising from the use of a motor vehicle, including the condition of the vehicle itself and causes of action arising under Chapter 41.

(e) This section does not apply to any claim arising from injury, death, or property damage in which the operator of the vehicle was intoxicated, as the term is defined in Section 49.01, Penal Code.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 991, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 2001.

Sec. 84.0065. ORGANIZATION LIABILITY OF HOSPITALS.

(a) Except as provided by Section 84.007, in any civil action brought against a hospital or hospital system, or its employees, officers, directors, or volunteers, for damages based on an act or omission by the hospital or hospital system, or its employees, officers, directors, or volunteers, the liability of the hospital or hospital system is limited to money damages in a maximum amount of $500,000 for any act or omission resulting in death, damage, or injury to a patient if the patient or, if the patient is a minor or is otherwise legally incompetent, the person responsible for the patient signs a written statement that acknowledges:

(1) that the hospital is providing care that is not administered for or in expectation of compensation; and

(2) the limitations on the recovery of damages from the hospital in exchange for receiving the health care services.

(b) Subsection (a) applies even if:

(1) the patient is incapacitated due to illness or injury and cannot sign the acknowledgment statement required by that subsection; or

(2) the patient is a minor or is otherwise legally incompetent and the person responsible for the patient is not reasonably available to sign the acknowledgment statement required by that subsection.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 10.06, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 84.007. APPLICABILITY.

(a) This chapter does not apply to an act or omission that is intentional, wilfully negligent, or done with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

(b) This chapter does not limit or modify the duties or liabilities of a member of the board of directors or an officer to the organization or its members and shareholders.

(c) This chapter does not limit the liability of an organization or its employees or volunteers if the organization was formed substantially to limit its liability under this chapter.

(d) This chapter does not apply to organizations formed to dispose, remove, or store hazardous waste, industrial solid waste, radioactive waste, municipal solid waste, garbage, or sludge as those terms are defined under applicable state and federal law. This subsection shall be liberally construed to effectuate its purpose.

(e) Sections 84.005 and 84.006 of this chapter do not apply to a health care provider as defined in Section 74.001, unless the provider is a federally funded migrant or community health center under the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C.A. Sections 254b and 254c) or is a nonprofit health maintenance organization created and operated by a community center under Section 534.101, Health and Safety Code, or unless the provider usually provides discounted services at or below costs based on the ability of the beneficiary to pay. Acceptance of Medicare or Medicaid payments will not disqualify a health care provider under this section. In no event shall Sections 84.005 and 84.006 of this chapter apply to a general hospital or special hospital as defined in Chapter 241, Health and Safety Code, or a facility or institution licensed under Subtitle C, Title 7, Health and Safety Code, or Chapter 242, Health and Safety Code, or to any health maintenance organization created and operating under Chapter 843, Insurance Code, except for a nonprofit health maintenance organization created under Section 534.101, Health and Safety Code.

(f) This chapter does not apply to a governmental unit or employee of a governmental unit as defined in the Texas Tort Claims Act (Subchapter A, Chapter 101, Civil Practice and Remedies Code).

(g) Sections 84.005 and 84.006 of this Act do not apply to any charitable organization that does not have liability insurance coverage in effect on any act or omission to which this chapter applies. The coverage shall apply to the acts or omissions of the organization and its employees and volunteers and be in the amount of at least $500,000 for each person and $1,000,000 for each single occurrence for death or bodily injury and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property. The coverage may be provided under a contract of insurance or other plan of insurance authorized by statute and may be satisfied by the purchase of a $1,000,000 bodily injury and property damage combined single limit policy. Nothing in this chapter shall limit liability of any insurer or insurance plan in an action under Chapter 21, Insurance Code, or in an action for bad faith conduct, breach of fiduciary duty, or negligent failure to settle a claim.

(h) This chapter does not apply to:

(1) a statewide trade association that represents local chambers of commerce; or

(2) a cosponsor of an event or activity with a local chamber of commerce unless the cosponsor is a charitable organization under this chapter.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 14, Sec. 284(14), (20), eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 835, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1297, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 93, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 18.02, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1276, Sec. 10A.507, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 133, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Sec. 84.008. SEVERABILITY. If any clause or provision of this chapter or its application to any person or organization is held unconstitutional, such invalidity does not affect other clauses, provisions, or applications of this chapter that can be given effect without the invalid clause or provision and shall not affect or nullify the remainder of the Act or any other clause or provision, but the effect shall be confined to the clause or provision held to be invalid or unconstitutional and to this end the Act is declared to be severable.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 370, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 198