Observations from the Midwest Homeschool Convention

April 29, 2009

On April 16-18, 2009 , I attended the Midwest Homeschool Convention here in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

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I did two workshops, one on Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out (named after my book of the same title) and the other on Micro Business for Teenagers (my upcoming book).

Here are a few of my observations:

Homeschool leaders from across the country all have similar problems:

  • No one wants to work or join the board
  • Older, experienced hoemschool mothes are not coming to meetings
  • There is a need for a clear vision and purpose. Leaders want to be everything to everyone.
  • Policies and bylaws are sorely needed to elect new board members, deal with conflict, and to prevent burnout

Meeting and talking to attorney David Gibbs of the Homeschool Legal Advantage was a highlight.  We look forward to a wonderful working partnership helping homeschool organizations. Individual families have long had access to legal advice, but now there is a need for homeschool groups to have access to legal advice also.

Some homeschool leaders lack business sense. I heard about fund raising disasters, mistakes with charging fees and offering discounts, etc.

Meeting some of my virtual friends in person was fun.  And I’m so sorry that I missed some of you! I was stuck in my booth (I shared a booth with Mary Hood, the Relaxed Homeschooler) and didn’t get out much.

Here were some of the questions that were asked during the Homeschool Co-ops workshop:

  • What does your co-op charge? Is it by student or by family?
  • How often does your co-op meet? How long each time?
  • Do you interview potential members?
  • How do we ensure everyone is like minded?
  • How can we encourage members to help out more?
  • Do you group grades/ages in your co-op?
  • What classes do you offer?
  • Ho do you “fire” a volunteer?
  • How do you elect a new baord?
  • Can a co-op keep the same director/leader forever?
  • Why collect a registration fee?
  • Where do you meet for co-op classes?
  • What is a typical rental fee?

Aren’t those great questions? I’ll work on answering them on this blog in the future.

I will also be presenting this workshop and several others at the Home Educators Association of Virginia convention  June 11-13.  Stop by my booth and say hello if you attend the convention!

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Carol Topp, CPA

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Good Advice for Starting a Homeschool Group

October 23, 2008

Veronica  at The Homeschool Classroom had some excellent advice in her post titled How To Start a Support Group.

Methods of communication — Some groups rely on printed newsletters; others, solely through email. Because I love the Internet and my friend likes the telephone, we decided that I would start up and run the Yahoo message board and info blog, and that she would handle telephone calls.

I love how the two founders split of the tasks based on their strengths. If only one person did all the work, there would be a lack of communication and possible leader burnout.

Veronica has a lot of other good advise that applies to all homeschool groups, not just support groups. She mentions:

  • Writing a mission statement
  • Writing down ideals and setting some aside
  • Making decisions about how to lead the group and where to meet
  • Advertising
  • and praying for your group

Read her entire post at The Homeschool Classroom here

Carol Topp, CPA