Homeschool Leader Tips
Homeschool support groups are often started and led by moms (and dads) with good intentions but who may have little or no experience organizing and managing a group. This can lead to members being dissatisfied with the way the group operates, not to mention the group leader feeling overextended and exhausted. If you are a new leader or are otherwise struggling to make your homeschool group all that you envisioned it to be, here are some tips:
1. Whether you built the group yourself or took over from someone else, you have a vision as to what you would like to accomplish as leader. Develop a mission statement for your homeschool group or a personal mission stating your leadership goals.
2. If the membership is dwindling or inactive, consider whether your group is truly fulfilling the needs of its members. To differentiate your group from others in the area, think of a unique niche that your group can fill which the others may not be.
3. Talk honestly with your core members about your frustrations and limitations. They may not realize that you need help unless you ask!
4. Recognize the fact that you're not going to be able to do it all single-handedly forever. Don’t be afraid to call for volunteers and delegate responsibilities. Keep in mind that people are more likely to offer their assistance on a specific, clearly defined task, rather than being “roped” into something not knowing what they’re “in” for.
5. Set up a regular meeting time and location, preferably in a place where a supervised play area is available for members to bring their children along.
6. Start an electronic discussion list for your group so members can communicate with each other between meetings.
7. Post announcements, flyers, and meeting reminders via e-mail. You may also want to consider putting out a newsletter.
8. Take a survey to discover your members’ homeschooling styles, curriculum used, children’s ages, what specific types of support or other activities the members would like to see offered, and their greatest area of need in regard to homeschooling.
9. Study one or more leaders who you admire. Observe how they conduct themselves in their leadership role.
10. Keep up-to-date on the education laws in your state and also try to stay abreast of homeschool-related developments nationwide. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) can help with this.
11. Be aware of upcoming events in your area. Know when the next homeschool convention, seminar, workshop, or other activity is scheduled.
12. Familiarize yourself with the educational resources available in your community, such as music and art teachers, sports leagues, museums, libraries, teaching supply stores, etc.
13. Put together a website with frequently asked questions or a “New Member Packet” of information for newbies.
14. Gather a collection of homeschool books, catalogs, and tapes – even if it’s simply kept in a box.
15. Don’t depend on word of mouth to make your group known. Inform your statewide homeschool support organization. Print out an informative brochure and leave copies at the local library. Post an eye-catching flyer on church and community bulletin boards. Place an announcement of your group’s events in the local newspaper’s activities section.
16. Set up a “Welcoming Committee” at your group's scheduled functions to make newcomers feel welcome.
17. Host an annual book sale or “Homeschool Information Night” to reach prospective members and parents who may be undecided or curious about homeschooling.
18. Have a special potluck meeting once or twice a year in the Fall (September/October) and Spring (February/March). This gives the dads a chance to meet each other, and an end-of-year potluck can be an opportunity for the kids to show off their projects.
19. Encourage members to take charge of arranging field trips and posting the information to the group.
20. If coordinating a particular activity is too much for you to handle and no one steps forward to help out, stop doing it. Perhaps someone will decide to take over once the activity is missed. If nobody does offer to do this, then maybe the activity is no longer important to the majority of members at this time.
21. Create a membership form with a place for name, address, phone number, email address, names and ages of children, etc. Include a statement such as: “Please indicate in which area(s) you are willing to volunteer,” followed by a list of jobs such as newsletter editor, welcoming committee, mentor mom, treasurer, secretary, e-group moderator, test proctor, legislative liaison, co-op teacher, etc. Then when you're looking for help, you will already have a list of people who expressed a willingness to do so. Another good question to ask is if they have any special talents, training, skills, or hobbies which they may be able to share with the group.
22. Try to maintain a sense of balance and resolve to stay organized so that you won’t end up feeling overburdened and overwhelmed.
23. Don’t get discouraged when you have bad days, but call a friend (perhaps a former leader) who you can count on to empathize and encourage you in some way.
24. Connecting with other support group leaders on a regular basis can be a wonderful opportunity to look beyond ourselves, share ideas, compare what we are hoping to accomplish within our respective groups, discuss different group structures and how they work. You may want to have business cards made up with your contact information on it that you can pass out.
25. As with any job, it’s a good idea to take some regular time off for yourself to relax and recharge.
26. Remember that no one is perfect, but always try to do your best.
27. Don’t let past failures or delays diminish your enthusiasm or keep you from pursuing your homeschool group’s goals. Remember that God's hand is working in your life. Pray about what He wants to accomplish through you and your group.
28. No one can be an expert on everything, so don’t worry if you can’t answer someone’s question. Admit your limitations and point the person to another source, or tell him or her that you will look into it and get back with them. Qualify any suggestions you make regarding law-related questions by stating that you are not qualified to give legal advice.
29. Keep in mind that a good leader is one who has a caring servant’s attitude rather than the know-it-all mentality of a dictator, and will naturally attract others who are willing to serve alongside.
30. You may not be President of the United States or CEO of a major corporation, but you are a leader nonetheless. Read one or more leadership books such as The Leadership Genius of Jesus by William Beausay, Leadership by the Book by Ken Blanchard, The Leader in You by Dale Carnegie, or Think on These Things: Meditations for Leaders by John Maxwell.
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These pages are a continuous work in progress.