J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
How to Develop a National Homeschool Organization
Michael P. Donnelly
Director of International Relations
May 5, 2010
Starting a national homeschool organization can be a rewarding and important step. We would like to support you. We have compiled this 3-step approach to help you as you begin. While the approach is simple, we recognize that a significant amount of work may be involved to set up and run a national organization. After 27 years of advocating for homeschoolers we’ve learned a few things about what a national organization can and should do. These steps are not intended to be exhaustive but rather as a guide to help put you on the right path to initiating a formal organization that we pray will bless homeschoolers in your country. HSLDA has a number of resources that we hope will be of assistance to you. Visit our website for more information. We look forward to hearing from you again!
Name the organization. Example: National Lithuanian Homeschool Association
Consider whether it will be beneficial to become an official nonprofit organization. If so, undertake the process. Before contacting a lawyer, consider saving legal fees by doing it yourself. It may be as simple as getting the paperwork and filling in the blanks.
Create a letterhead to promote the credibility of the organization and to be prepared to assist families when dealing with government agencies. It would be valuable to have the names of influential individuals on the letterhead—prominent businessmen, significant officials, well-known Christians. Therefore, it will be important for you to develop relationships with people in these groups. They only need to be sympathetic to homeschooling, not necessarily active homeschoolers. Japan made a huge step forward by using names of CEOs of big corporations, influential missionary names, etc. and they have never been challenged by their government.
Inform HSLDA of your official status by providing the following: the name of the organization and local contact person, mailing address and telephone number, email and website addresses (see Step 2). It is especially important to supply HSLDA with national information such as the compulsory school attendance age, a summary of the current legal situation, an estimated number of national homeschoolers, and any specific needs that exist.
Develop a website.
Fill the website with anything and everything you can think of that will interest homeschoolers: “How to” articles, personal stories, memos, special education information, practical hints, basic information, articles from other countries, etc.
Connect with HSLDA in order to get more things to put on the website. Most anything you find at www.hslda.org may be posted on your website either in English or in translation.
Send out a notice to any interested folks when the website is up and running.
Collect email addresses to develop a broadcast list:
- Send a notice once a month to draw interest to the website.
- Send notices whenever there is an update or addition to the website.
- Work at keeping the website current in order to keep people coming back.
Promote an annual gathering.
Consider the needs of the homeschoolers throughout your nation as you plan. At first you may need to work in connection with another country or with outside speakers. There are many materials available through HSLDA that can be shipped—brochures, studies, books, etc. If there is a financial need, it is possible for HSLDA provide aid through the Home School Foundation.
It is important to remember that parents who want to take their child out of school need to have a plan in place ahead of time. This plan should include not only what they intend to do when they homeschool, but also the process they will use to take the child out of the government school. Parents will need to pull together their books and curriculum for the coming year and write a letter to the local government authority. It might say that they are going to teach their child in an independent education program with the same amount of days, subjects, and so on as the local school requires. The plan would include an evaluation component, such as a test or a report from a certified teacher or dated samples of the child’s work. Another method that has been successful is the CLASS approach. HSLDA will assist in providing U.S.-based curriculum through CLASS (Christian Liberty Association of Satellite Schools) recommendations. This program provides a certificate of enrollment for their correspondence course. Once the educational plan is complete, the parents need to decide when and how to withdraw their child. It is much better to go to the authorities with a reasonable, well-thought out plan than to wait for them to come to you.
HSLDA wishes to be a resource for you and welcomes your contact about issues you may have. Please contact us directly with specific questions or to set up a time to speak with one of our international support staff.