What Are Homeschool Associations?
References to homeschool associations can be a little confusing, especially to families new to the homeschooling community or newly relocated to a different state or region. Although most state homeschool organizations are referred to as associations, there are also smaller, local groups that use the same terminology.
Officially, a homeschool association is a state-wide, but usually private, organization that provides legal information and paperwork needed to homeschool in that state. This organization also takes responsibility for lobbying on behalf of homeschoolers to encourage pro-home educating legislation and protection. Some state associations also organize annual homeschool conventions, which draw speakers and curriculum vendors from around the country.
Points to Ponder
Here is some basic information that can help you learn more about association activity in your state.
Each state handles its association differently, but in many situations, homeschool families are automatically a part of the state homeschool association simply because they have chosen to homeschool. The association is financially supported through donations from homeschool families, sponsorships, or various other creative means.
Any state legal requirements for homeschool families are processed through the state homeschool association, which works closely with the state education department to ensure all paperwork and information is processed properly.
The benefits of association involvement vary from state to state. Some states offer legal assistance, organize state or regional field trips, connect homeschoolers to available public school activities, or offer information about graduation requirements, testing, and scholarship opportunities. Other states focus more on the lobbying and political side of homeschooling, entrusting the informational needs to other sources. Homeschoolers can typically search for their state’s association online to determine how much information and support is available.
State vs. Local
Where state associations deal with legal and organizational issues, local associations organize for the purpose of support or group activities. They are usually less formal than a co-op, as they frequently do not offer classes. Instead, extracurricular activities such as sports teams, fine arts opportunities, field trip organization, or simply encouragement tend to be the focus. These groups are often found through word of mouth, although some local associations can be found through informational lists shared through the state association.
A Few More Thoughts
State homeschool associations are not government-run nor are they organized by or directly connected to the state’s department of education. Instead, they are privately organized groups that work closely with the state to ensure that the needs of homeschoolers are heard and met from a legal standpoint. Because of this, many state associations are created as faith-based organizations that seek to protect the educational and religious freedoms of homeschoolers across the state.