But since they can have very different aims and audiences, it’s important to know what their purpose is in order to understand how they might serve you or how you might contribute to them. This article helps explain the different types of organization called homeschool associations that operate in the United States.
Types of Homeschool Associations
There are two facets of homeschool organizations to notice as you review them, whether for the purposes of joining or just seeing what might be available to you for support: the location(s) that they serve and their affiliation or other purpose. In the area of locations, you will find that some home schools have a national presence and purpose, while others are regional, some operate at the state level, and still others are local.
The purposes of homeschool associations vary at least as much as the affiliations of homeschools do. Some are sectarian or have some other type of exclusive audience. Others aim to serve all and are open and inclusive.
Open, Inclusive, and National Homeschool Associations
Here are examples of two open, inclusive national organizations to support homeschoolers.
• American Homeschool Association, PO Box 218, Tonasket, WA 98855, – americanhomeschoolassociation.org
Partly sponsored by Home Education Magazine, is a national service organization with the goal of networking homeschoolers and provide them with news, information, and resources.
• Home School Legal Defense Association, P.O. Box 3000 · Purcellville, VA 20134-9000,- hslda.org
HSLDA is a national, non-profit organization of homeschooling families the mission of which is to protect the freedoms of all homeschoolers. Athough its officers and directors are Christian and it considers itself a Christian organization, it supports homeschooling families regardless of their beliefs or approach to teaching. It has a branch that focuses on research, lobbying, and legislation, as well as a branch called the Home School Foundation (HSF) that, among other goals, aims to help homeschooling families that are in need. HSF’s web address is: homeschoolfoundation.org
Homeschool Associations Focused by Type of Schooling
Here are three examples of homeschool associations that are focused on homeschoolers who share a particular approach to homeschooling. Notice that in each case, a different segment of homeschoolers is the focus.
• Family Unschoolers Network, 1688 Belhaven Woods Ct, Pasadena, MD 21122, – unschooling.org
Family Unschoolers Network offers support for unschooling, homeschooling, and self-directed learning across the U.S.
• RuralUnschoolers, – groups.yahoo.com/group/ruralunschoolers
Althought focused on rural unschoolers who may have no local peers to interact with, RuralUnschoolers invited urban unschoolers to join in their online discussion.
Some organizations that focus on a particular type of schooling also focus on a location:
• Northside Unschoolers of Chicago – northsideunschoolers.org
This is a non-directed support group for unschooling families living in and around Chicago. It currently includes about 60 families with children aged newborn to 18 years old. The group schedules their own activities and keeps members apprised of activities for homeschoolers in the Chicago area.
Homeschool Associations Focused by Location
Homeschool organizations can also be open to serve any family in the area they cover. Here are some examples:
• HomeSchool Association of California – hsc.org
HSC provides information, support, legislative outreach, activities, and a yearly conference for all California families educating their children at home, regardless of how they’re doing it.
• Southern Utah Homeschool Group – groups.yahoo.com/group/SUHG
SUHG serves a region of Utah with a group that offers information, support, joint activities and field trips in an inclusive setting.
• Midwest Parent Educators Association – midwesthomeschoolers.org
MPEA serves 1200 families in two states: Kansas and Missouri. It offers groups, activities, support, conferences, and a newsletter.