How to Develop a National or Regional Homeschool Organization
Michael P. Donnelly, Director of Global Outreach
& Gerald Huebner, HSLDA Canada
Starting a national or regional homeschool organization is an important step in advancing home education in your country or region. HSLDA and its partners around the world would like to support you, so we have compiled this 10-step approach to help 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 or regional organization. It is important to remember that virtually all national organizations that exist today did not start as the large organizations they now are. They started small and grew as resources and support expanded. After 35 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 a guide to help put you on the right path to initiating a formal organization that will bless homeschoolers in your country. HSLDA has several resources that we hope will be of assistance to you.
Steps 1 and 2—Research and investigate other national organizations & Develop a network of organizational leaders in other countries that you can connect with.
There are many national organizations who would be more than willing to share with you the methods, systems, and approaches they have used. These organizations’ advice can save you a lot of time and effort if you look at what they have learned. Some of these include HSLDA USA, HSLDA Canada, Pestalozzi Trust (South Africa), HSsupport.ru (Russia), Home Educators of the Philippine Islands, and ANED (Brazil). (See www.GHEX.world for many more.) Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help.
Step 3—Determine your organizational purpose.
To establish your goal and purpose, you will need to identify the needs you want to address in an organization. These could include the following or others: Legal advocacy (helping with making home education legal or making it possible practically), developing a national home education accreditation system, developing and publishing curriculum, supporting and educating parents, or connecting families.
Step 4—Investigate organizational models to determine the type of organization you will pursue.
National home education organizations around the world use a variety of organizational models. These include not-for-profit volunteer-based organizations, for-profit enterprises, and other NGO types. All are different and have various advantages and challenges. Choose one that will best accomplish your purposes.
Consider whether it will be beneficial to become an official non-profit organization. If so, undertake the process. If home education is not legal in your country, it is advisable to contact a lawyer in your country to advise your organization. (HSLDA may be able to refer you to a lawyer in your country.)
Step 5—Name the organization. Example: National Lithuanian Homeschool Association
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 8). It is especially important to supply HSLDA with national information such as the compulsory attendance age, a summary of the current legal situation, an estimated number of national homeschoolers, and any specific needs that exist.
Step 6—Build a leadership team to create and support the organization.
You will need a team of people who are committed to the purposes of your organization; a team working together will accomplish many goals and milestones.
Step 7—Develop an organizational plan.
Using the advice of others and the model you have chosen, develop a plan of action for the first year. Set goals for establishing an organization and for the activities you want to pursue.
Step 8—Communicate and develop a website and various other social media platforms.
A key in building a national home education organization is communication. Develop a communications plan and use technology to reach out and connect with families. Use networks in your country to build your database of contacts.
Introduce content that will interest homeschoolers: “How-to” articles, personal stories, memos, special education information, practical hints, basic information, articles from other countries, etc. Other documents (such as the Rio Principles) can be found at GHEX.world.
Connect with HSLDA to get more things to put on the website. Anything you find at www.hslda.org can be posted on your website either in English or in translation.
Notify all interested people when the website is up and running.
- Collect email addresses to develop a broadcast list and communicate regularly.
- Use social media to connect with your community.
Step 9—Organize and promote an event or annual gathering.
Home educators want support and want to meet other home educators. So organize events that meet this need. Although these events can be online, also consider in-person connection opportunities. Evaluate the needs of the homeschoolers throughout your nation as you plan. At first you may need to work in connection with another country. Submit a grant request to HSLDA. Our budget is limited, but we want to help if we can. Please fill out our grant application here.
Step 10—Refine and develop the organization.
All organizations are works in progress; expect to modify and change as you develop and grow. Be sensitive to the needs of your people and focus on meeting those needs. Experiences around the world show that home educators’ organizations usually become a significant influence in their country and are critical agents for change even beyond home education. As you raise funds, you will want to recruit staff to help your homeschool community grow.
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 what process they will use to take the child out of the government school. Parents will need to pull together their curriculum for the coming year and communicate with authorities.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.