NTH Series Guide to Homeschool Groups

New to Homeschooling? A Guide To Homeschool Organizations

Welcome! As a new homeschooler, maybe you’ve heard veteran homeschoolers recommend various groups for guidance and support. These organizations usually require a membership and in return offer support through services and benefits. Today, I’ll explain what a homeschool organization is, how they can help you, and why it’s a good idea to join one or more. Be sure to follow the links at the bottom of this post to learn more about each group mentioned. Now, let’s get started!

National Organizations

HSLDA – Home School Legal Defense Association

HSLDA is a nationally based, non-profit organization founded by attorneys Mike Farris and Mike Smith in 1983. It was formed by these two homeschool dads in a period when homeschool families faced legal issues from agencies that opposed them. They wanted to become affordable advocates for families who exercised their right to homeschool their children.

Even today, families can still face opposition or discrimination to a degree it is necessary to have legal help. This association can provide aid in various ways. Sometimes it’s legal representation, but they also provide educational consulting, practical resources, or grants for struggling families.

It is important to note this group is Christian based and obviously will follow Christian values. That being said, they don’t require anyone to be a Christian to join. Although I searched for a secular version of this organization, I couldn’t locate one.

Their Mission:

We believe that every child deserves a quality education—and homeschooling is one of the best ways to achieve that.

No other form of education allows the kind of customization and personalization that homeschooling does. As a homeschooling parent, you are free to teach your child at her own pace, follow her interests, and craft an education plan that meets her specific needs. The result is a unique educational experience that equips your child with the skills and opportunities she needs to really thrive.

We also believe that parents are typically better suited than the government to determine what kind of education works best for their children. Parents know their children’s needs and abilities much better than any government official can—and they’re better able to find ways to meet those needs and nurture those abilities. And so when parents are free to choose and direct their children’s educational experience, it sets the stage for children to thrive.

Because of these beliefs, we’ve made it our goal to tirelessly advocate for the right to homeschool—in courts, legislatures, and anywhere else we can make ourselves heard. Ultimately, we’re here to empower and encourage homeschooling parents as they seek to teach their children in a way that celebrates their uniqueness and nurtures their love of learning.

In short, our mission is to make homeschooling possible.

We know that homeschooling isn’t the best fit for everyone, and that’s okay. What’s important is that every family, regardless of ethnicity, religious background, or economic status, has the freedom to choose how their children are educated—and the support they need to help their children flourish.


https://hslda.org/post/our-mission

Cost:

A membership costs $130/year (or $11/month) per family for a one year membership.

Benefits include:
  • Answers specific to your homeschool journey.
  • Protection for your right to homeschool in the courts and legislature.
  • Detailed instructions for homeschooling legally in your state.
  • Help with choosing curriculum and getting organized.
  • Caring support. No matter how many questions you have.
  • The power of 80,000+ families in your corner.
  • More time, more confidence, and more peace of mind.

Heritage Defense

Heritage Defense is a national, non-profit legal advocacy group founded by attorneys Don Hart and Bradley Pierce in 2010. They specifically serve Christian homeschooling families. According to their website they see a “critical need for a legal advocacy organization which unites families, family-focused organizations, and other Christian leaders to provide for the common defense of family freedoms.”

Although there are similarities between HSLDA and Heritage Defense they are not competitors. Heritage Defense states they wish to “complement the work of HSLDA by meeting a need which, although sometimes graciously and generously addressed by HSLDA in special circumstances, is specifically excluded from the mission, purpose, and work of HSLDA.”

One difference with Heritage Defense is they do require applicants to be professing Christians. Personally I find this comforting, as Christians we can face targeted attacks in the public arena, especially if we homeschool. Having an organization which understands the faith is extremely beneficial.

Their Mission:

From their website they state who they are, what their mission is and what they do:

Heritage Defense is an alliance of Christian families and individuals united together to advance the Kingdom of Christ by protecting and empowering the family. This mission is actively championed by attorneys and staff who are dedicated to fulfilling the mission through the vigorous application of Biblical standards and methodology in the areas of law and public policy. Heritage Defense is a non-profit, 501(c)(4) legal advocacy organization.

The mission of Heritage Defense is to advance the Kingdom of Christ by protecting and empowering the biblical family.

Heritage Defense protects and empowers the biblical family by providing legal assistance, distributing helpful information, offering sound scholarship, and promoting strong public policy initiatives on behalf of families.


https://heritagedefense.org/faq/#2

Cost:

A membership to Heritage Defense is $195 annually. However, you can make monthly payments of $19 instead of one lump sum. Returning members can pay $15 per month.

Benefits include :
  • Experienced Attorneys. Member families have access to experienced attorneys who are ready to assist them by answering questions and providing counsel, or by defending them against false accusations and unconstitutional invasions.1
    In the case of genuine legal emergencies, our attorneys may be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even if a member family has a legal issue unrelated to the mission of Heritage Defense, we may be able to assist you with finding a Christian attorney in your area.
  • Financial Resources.  Annual membership contributions and other donations provide both the financial means for protection of individual Christian families and the mechanism by which Christians help bear one another’s burdens in difficult times. Heritage Defense’s goal in assisting our members is that our attorneys resolve the issue quickly and completely. When we take a case to court, it is the intention of Heritage Defense to cover all legal fees, including attorney’s fees and traveling expenses.
  • Up-to-Date News. Heritage Defense is committed to keeping families informed about the latest news and issues relating to the family. Members receive a subscription to the Heritage Defense Newsletter, a periodic email newsletter aimed at keeping families informed and offering valuable commentary about the latest issues facing the family.
  • Legislative Influence. Heritage Defense’s goals also include efforts to encourage legislative changes and initiatives which will benefit and protect Christian families. Members will also receive our Heritage Defense Alerts, which inform families about urgent legal, legislative, and public policy initiatives, and provide information about how families can get involved.
  • In-Depth Information. Through our web site, members have access to a wide-range of resources and tools to equip families to know, exercise, and defend their freedoms. These resources include state-by-state summaries on vital issues facing the family, position papers on popular issues and current events, and scholarly research on a variety of topics.

State Homeschooling Associations for Minnesota

MACHE – Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators

MACHE is a statewide organization formed in 1983 by the Schurke and Coleman families. They sought to encourage Christian families in accord with Biblical principles. This effort continues today as they aim to provide information and help safeguard the Christian home education opportunity in Minnesota.

Additionally, they offer the state’s largest yearly homeschool convention. The locations rotate between Duluth, the Twin Cities and Rochester. I have attended them and they are fantastic! It’s a one-stop-shop to connect with other homeschoolers, hear expert speakers, and browse/purchase curriculum. Even though MACHE is a Christian organization there is no requirement for members to share their faith.

Their Mission:

From their website:

Our Central Ministry Focus – In order for MACHE to live out its mission, it will continuously equip parents for home educating through constant communication, conferences and other resources. In addition it will work to safeguard the freedom to home educate.

Our End goal – The goal of MACHE’s ministry is to see the development of Godly families through the equipping of parents in Christ-centered home education resulting in Godly children who are well educated and equipped for life and service.


https://www.mache.org/beliefs

Cost:

The yearly membership is $45.

Benefits include:
  • 10% off in the MÂCHÉ store on all audio products/sets every day
  • 20% off annual convention & curriculum fair registration and fees
  • 20% off Student/Teacher ID’s
  • 20 Streaming Audios FREE per year (Over $80 value)
  • High School Transcript Generator
  • Discounts on HSLDA Membership
  • 190+ page Online Handbook (articles, resources, links, testing, …)
  • The Paper MÂCHÉ, a full-color 20+ page quarterly magazine
  • The NonPaper MÂCHÉ semimonthly e-newsletter
  • MÂCHÉ Graduation participation
  • Legislative monitoring and advocacy
  • Members-only web pages
  • Special seminars and workshops

Minnesota Homeschoolers’ Alliance – MHA

Their Mission:

Minnesota Homeschoolers’ Alliance is a secular alternative to MACHE. According to their website, “Minnesota Homeschoolers’ Alliance is a volunteer run non-profit corporation existing for the purpose of providing support and information about homeschooling to MN homeschoolers without bias for or against any religious or political group and without bias for or against any one approach to homeschooling.” A Board of Directors manages the association. Presently, there is a Board President and three other members serving MHA. I couldn’t find when it was first formed, but I know they’ve been around since I started homeschooling 14+ years ago.

Cost:

Currently there isn’t a membership program, but they do list multiple ways to support them.

Benefits include:

Their website contains a good deal of information ranging from our state’s laws to events like science fairs and used book sales. I will link to them below so you can check it out for yourself.

State Organizations Outside of Minnesota…

It was clear in my brief search, I can’t list each state’s homeschool associations in this post. There were simply too many! Hmmm, maybe a project for another time? Until then, what I can do is share how I went about finding those. It’s fairly straightforward, I just googled:

<insert your state> homeschooling association” -or-
<insert your state> homeschooling organization” -or-
<insert your state> home education association

Searching any of those will definitely give you what you need. Some states, especially where homeschooling is popular, produced pages of results! If I ever get the impulse to tackle that project I will be sure to let you know.

Supporting hands

In Summary

To sum up, there are plenty of organizations to support new homeschoolers on a national or state level and it is worth considering joining one or more of them. Covid-19 is reshaping the way we think about education and it is my goal to make the transition to homeschooling as painless as possible for those of you interested.

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to checkout the rest of the series.

Links:

Minnesota Homeschoolers’ Association – http://homeschoolers.org/
Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators – https://www.mache.org/
HSLDA – https://hslda.org/
Heritage Defense – https://heritagedefense.org/

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