One of the parts of car ownership that I don’t particularly like is the necessity of taking the car in for regular oil changes and getting the engine looked at. I’ve found, though, that it really is important—as a young legal assistant at HSLDA driving home to New England regularly, I ruined a car by ignoring the temperature light and not putting enough coolant in it.
Like a car, after a homeschool group has been operating for a while, it may need a tune-up. Here are some important documents to look at:
- Check your bylaws. Bylaws are the rules that your group has set up to run itself. They usually cover vital issues like how the leadership is chosen, what kind of transparency is required, and which leaders have which responsibilities. These normally don’t have to be updated every year or two, but I’ve talked with some groups who haven’t reviewed them in a decade. Time for a tune-up!
- Update your membership process. Many homeschool groups have a membership application—and I’ve talked to groups whose application was designed 15 years and three leaders ago. Look it over, freshen it up, and make sure it actually covers the items your group believes are important.
- Look at policies. Even if you’ve established policies to govern finances and other critical areas, as I recommend, it’s worth looking at them every few years to make sure they’re still the best fit for your organization. For example, maybe you’ve had a family join recently whose child has a severe allergy, so you’ll need to update the medical policy. Perhaps the brilliant treasurer you had moved out of state, and you need to split her job between two people just to get it done. Time for a tune-up!
- Update fee schedules. If your group hasn’t raised its prices in five years, you probably want to re-examine your expenses versus your income. Because the $10 you used to charge is not going to cover renting the local church to have classes every Monday and Wednesday. Time for a tune-up!
I also think it’s a good idea to intentionally establish connections. Maybe you have someone who is responsible for meeting new member families. There could be someone else who looks after the families who are almost at the end of their homeschooling. And I always think it’s useful to have someone as a liaison to your state’s homeschool organization, so that when legislation comes up and needs to be dealt with, your group already knows the drill.
HSLDA’s Group Services Department (GroupServices@hslda.org) is always willing to help you tune-up your group’s policies. Please reach out to us!