Summer reading for homeschool leaders: Homeschool Co-ops

 

This summer, I’ll be featuring one of my books for homeschool leaders every few weeks (and offering special discounts!). I’m also updating one of my books this summer…can you guess which one?

I’ll start with my first book for homeschool leaders,

I published this book in 2008 with a different cover. In 2013 I updated it and chose a new cover.
HomeschoolCo-opsCover

Original cover

HS Co-ops Cover_400

Updated cover

This book will help homeschool leaders start and run a homeschool co-op.

It has chapters on:

Part One: Starting a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter One: Benefits of Co-ops
Chapter Two: Disadvantages of Co-ops
Chapter Three: Different Types of Co-ops
Chapter Four: Your First Planning Meeting
Chapter Five: What’s in a Name? Names, Missions

Part Two: Running a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter Six: Leadership
Chapter Seven: Co-op Offerings
Chapter Eight: Money Management
Chapter Nine: Managing Volunteers and Conflict
Chapter Ten: Ready for the Next Step? 501c3 Tax Exempt Status

Part Three: Not Burning Out
Chapter Eleven: Avoiding Burn out

Read a sample chapter

Read more about Homeschool Co-ops the book


Here’s a special for the summer. Buy Homeschool Co-ops at 25% off. Get the paperback version for $7.50 (usual price $9.95) or ebook version for $3.99 (usual price is $4.95).


Order Homeschool Co-ops in paperback

Order Homeschool Co-ops in ebook Kindle  or pdf

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Give me your opinion!

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I like it when people ask my opinion. How about you?
Well, I’m asking your opinion.

I’m forming an advisory team to offer me input on my products, services and website.

If you’ve bought one of my books, used my services, or visited my website, I’d like you to to consider joining my HomeschoolCPA Advisory Team.

It won’t be a big commitment. I know you’re busy. I value your time!

I launched a closed Facebook group where I’ll ask questions, offer surveys and gather your feedback. Additionally, I will send out surveys for those not on Facebook and hold an occasional conference call for you to chat with me about your suggestions.

Here are more details of what I’ve got planned.

If you’re interested in helping me you can:

or
Click here to submit your email.

Thanks for considering sharing your valuable input.

Carol Topp, CPA

Board turnover may mean the purpose of the homeschool group could change

I am concerned that a regular turn over of the leadership of our homeschool group could result in the vision and purpose of the group changing year to year.

 

A shift away from your original vision and purpose is always a concern, so make sure you never turnover the entire board in a year or do not turn over more than half the board at once.

Also, do some training for new board members. Give them the bylaws and mission statement. Allow them to read minutes from prior board meetings. That way they will understand the purpose and mission of your group.

Additionally,  keep the mission in front of everyone’s eyes at every board meeting. Put it on a poster.  Read it out loud if you have to.

Regular meeting are a good way to remind members of the purpose of your group.

Sad but true story: One homeschool group only held board meetings when there was a crisis (and then those meetings lasted 3-4 hours!). The founder did very little to reinforce the mission and purpose of the group. She assumed everyone on  the board thought like she did.

Imagine her surprise when a board member proposed an idea that was in complete disagreement with the founder’s vision!  The meeting was a horrible experience and ended in the board member resigning. She went on to form a competing homeschool group. It bread ill-will in our homeschool community for years.

I hope that helps,

 

Carol Topp, CPA

When you are criticized for being a homeschool leader

My (virtual) friend Denise Hyde runs the Homeschool Group Leader blog over at http://hgleaderblog.blogspot.com/

She recently received some criticism for being a group leader. Denise shares how she dealt with the sting offers encouragement to other homeschool leaders.

 

  • First, you don’t take it personally. I know, it’s very difficult! I had to swallow a couple of times, send a prayer-flare, and focus on trying to learn from the problem instead of internalizing it.
  • Then ask a few clarifying questions while you settle your feelings and get a handle on the true cause of the discontent. I started with the fellowship, asking her to describe when she felt left out. Ended up it was on a FYI field trip where everyone took their families through the displays on their own. It was a misconception about the type of field trip. Then I tackled the religious view differences and the homeschool philosophies that she had encountered.
  • As we discussed each one, I realized that most of these were things that I couldn’t change her mind on. At that point, I just reassured her of her welcome, pointed out a couple of things to counter her viewpoint, and let her go.
  • Yes, I ended it. I wished her well, telling her I hoped she would find a perfect fellowship for her and her son. Sometimes that is the best policy. Don’t beg them to stay, or try to fix it perfectly. Let them go with genuine care and kindness.
  • Next, realize what you can learn and improve. Put your energy into doing what you truly can do. Nurture the strengths of the group. Follow your God-given goals for the group and the purpose of your homeschool group.
  • Remember, you can’t please everyone, so again, don’t take it personally!
  • Oh, and yeah. . . . focus on the compliment again! Look at all the families that ARE receiving strength from your group. You are doing a great service! Your ministering IS making a difference.

See the entire post at http://hgleaderblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/best-and-worst.html

Hang in there homeschool group leader! Take Denise’s advice to heart and know that what you’re doing is important work!

Carol Topp, CPA

How can you ask a member to leave your homeschool group?

Hey Carol,
We do not have anything in our by-laws or policies about dealing with a mom in the group whom the board feels must be asked to leave.

 

I have steps in place for dealing with students, but had never even considered an issue with a mom in the group.

 

Joy  from Florida
Joy,
At a homeschool convention this summer, Attorney TJ  Schmidt from HSLDA recommend all organizations have in their bylaws a sentence that states something about membership in the organization can be terminated at any time and without cause.

 

He then advised that if you do terminate a membership, that you NOT give a reason (i.e. cause).  Giving a reason can open up the leadership to headaches, liability, and arguments.

 

I agree completely with Mr Schmidt. If your board decides to ask this member to leave, then do not discuss the reason why with your other members or get in a discussion with the offender about her behavior. Certainly, the board can discuss the “why” but that should not be made public.

 
I know it is tempting to defend yourself, but just say

“We’ve been advised to not discuss publicly sensitive matters such as these. It was a board decision.”

I think that a statement such as “membership in the organization can be terminated at any time by decision of the board and without cause” should be on the registration form that the members sign as well as the bylaws (because the members don’t usually read the bylaws).

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA

 

 

Ten Ways to Torture a Tired Leader

My friends Kristen and Denise of Homeschool Group Leader have a sense of humor.

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You have to be able to laugh at human weaknesses if you are a homeschool leader.

Here are their 10 Ways to Torture a Tired Leader:

Top 10 Ways to Torture a Tired Leader!
  1. Don’t Listen ~ Talk all during the announcements, the meeting discussions and while your leader shares important information.
  2. Be Clueless ~ Ask your leader repeated questions about the information that you didn’t just listen to. Send them one-line questions in individual emails spread out over time.
  3. Fill Other Members’ E-mail In Boxes ~ Send your repeated questions and comments to everyone on the list, filling all in-boxes, instead of only the in-box of the leader to whom you’re writing.
  4. Quit at the Last Second ~ Volunteer to help with, or better yet–lead–an activity, then back out at the very end, leaving it all for the leader to complete.
  5. Gossip ~ Discuss the leader’s clothes, kids, home life, homeschool, and leadership style –openly and with great fervor.
  6. Complain ~ Never be happy with the place, the decisions, the agenda, the trips, the teachers, or the way the leader looks at you.
  7. Show Up Late ~ Choose carefully the events that need to start at a specific time and strategically and systematically show up 15 or 30 minutes late.
  8. Never Help Clean Up ~ Don’t stay after any event and help clean up. After all, isn’t that what the leader is there for??
  9. Don’t Watch Your Kids ~ Let them run wild or talk while someone else is talking. Then get offended when someone asks them to be quiet or to sit down.
  10. Be Demanding ~ Always express your opinion as fact. Be sure you speak every time someone else does, making sure that your frustrations and wants are very clear each time.

Recognize anyone?  Maybe you at times? Some of these are too close to the truth to be truly funny!

Carol Topp, CPA

Conflict and Leaving a Homeschool Group

We have a situation where a mom feels her teen daughter is being “left out” by the other girls in the class.  It “hit the fan” yesterday when the mom yelled at one girl to leave the class, threatened that the other girl was next.

How does one get to the bottom of this? The family who has the child who was yelled at would like to quietly step down and leave the group. She’s been involved for 5 years -I’d be heartbroken to lose them!

All with only 2 weeks left of the quietest, smoothest co-op year ever!
Oh, help, help, help!
Lisa

Lisa,
Sounds as if a lot of  emotions and hurt feelings rose to the surface.

I wrote an article on Conflict in Homeschool Groups. You may read the entire article at Heart of The Matter Online. Here is part of what I say in the article:

Confession and Reconciliation

Some offenses are too large to be overlooked, perhaps because a relationship has been painfully damaged. In this case, confession and reconciliation between parties is needed. Reconciliation is gently restoring the relationship and it may involve confession on someone’s part. Each party needing reconciliation should ask themselves,

  • Have I said something unkind?”
  • Have I gossiped about the person or problem?”
  • Have I tried to control others?”

Confession to the other party maybe necessary in order to restore a relationship. Reconciliation isnot merely confrontation; it is restoring a relationship. Remind members to ask for God’s wisdom and a gentle spirit before they approach the other party. Each party should aim to be clear and specific.

Merely complaining about another’s behavior rarely helps a situation. The goal is restoring a relationship, not blaming or accusing others. Members should use “I feel” statements such as “I feel like a scolded child,” to explain the hurt feelings a member may suffer.

Using creativity through stories to make your point can be very helpful. An excellent example of using stories comes from the Old Testament prophet Nathan in II Samuel Chapter 12. He had the unpleasant task of confronting King David with his sins of adultery and murder. Nathan wisely used a story of a poor man with only one lamb to help David see his own greed.

I used The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande.  It’s a GREAT book and highly recommended. The Peacemaker.net website has some helpful articles from Annette Friesen, their Homeschool Advisor. Search on “Homeschool” and you’ll find an article titled Preparing Homeschoolers for Conflict.

Mrs Freisen says that when a person is offended, (and several people were offended in your situation) they desire three things:

1. An apology
2. Restitution if applicable
3. Reassurance that it won’t happen again.

I think you should work on #1 with the parties involved and perhaps the board could work on #3 if policies are needed.

BTW, I discuss conflict in my book, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out and have several sample conflict resolution policies that other homeschool groups use.

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA

Resolve Conflict: Take a PAUSE

Conflict-it happens in any group of people and homeschool groups are no exception! Maybe it’s worse in a homeschool group because homeschool parents are typically independent-minded, confident people.  Its a wonder we get along with each other at all!

Peacemaker Ministries has a suggestion to dealing with conflict, remember to PAUSE.

  • Prepare (pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, develop options)
  • Affirm relationships (show genuine concern and respect for others)
  • Understand interests (identify others’ concerns, desires, needs, limitations, or fears)
  • Search for creative solutions (prayerful brainstorming)
  • Evaluate options objectively and reasonably (evaluate, don’t argue)

babyonbackWe had an example of this at our homeschool co-op recently.  There was a disagreement between our nursery coordinator and one of the mother’s about how to clean the toys in the nursery. Both ladies showed genuine respect for the other’s concerns (Affirm).  They agreed that safety of the children was important to both (Understand). Where they differed was that the nursery coordinator wanted to use only natural products, while the mother, a physician, was concerned that the natural products wouldn’t kill the germs and wanted to use stronger chemicals.  These ladies did research, gathered facts and shared them (Search).  They looked for creative solutions.  They chose to focus on the problem-cleaning the toys without endangering the babies-and they avoided the temptation to lash out personally or gain control (Evaluate options, don’t argue). They did bring our co-op director into the situation, so that she would know what was happening (Prepare).

Our co-op director told the board that several options were being considered and that the two ladies were working together on a solution.  She raved at how mature and respectful they were to each other. Unfortunately, we did have a problem with other people in the co-op. Some people not involved in the discussion were inflaming the issue by interfering where no interference was needed.  Sometimes we need to remember to PAUSE and to mind our own business.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Good Advice for Starting a Homeschool Group

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