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National Homeschool Organizations
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Parents and those involved with homeschooling are fortunate to have a number of support groups on the local, state and national levels to help them with the many aspects of the process. This article will discuss support organizations that operate on the national level and which therefore provide information and resources to homeschooling families from a broader perspective. National homeschool organizations provide insight into current homeschooling trends, up-to-date homeschool research findings, visibility into important cases and legal actions that could affect homeschooling families, and links to organizations and information at the state level. The focus here will be on the general educational process for homeschooling and not on any particular ideology whether religious or political, nor on any specific demographic.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a fairly large non-profit organization that has been in existence since 1983 and has over 80 thousand members. Its primary purposes if to provide assistance to families who are experiencing legal challenges, from states, institutions or third parties, to their right to homeschool. Additional benefits include access to consultants who answer homeschool questions and provide homeschool resources, email alerts of pertinent homeschool-related state and federal bills and statues, and a member marketplace for buying and selling curriculum and teacher or instructor materials. The HSLDA requires membership in the association in order to take full advantage of its services.

The Home School Foundation is a non-profit charitable arm of the Home School Legal Defense Association that was established in 1994. Its principal function is to provide aid to other homeschool groups and to homeschool families with financial difficulties, through a series of funds, alliances and associations. The funds are earmarked for needy families and homeschool groups, emergency response, widows, single parents, children of single parents, curriculum relief, needy families in the military, and a special curriculum for students that explore the foundations and principles of America’s founding and the establishment of our principles. The alliances include the Combined Federal campaign, which conducts an annual fundraising drive by Federal employees, and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, whose combined member organizations represent funds in excess of $18 billion. The HSF is a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization under federal law.

The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) was established in 1990 as a 501(C)3 non-profit research organization that specializes in home-based education and homeschool research. The NEHRI provides research-centric homeschool-related seminars and lectures to local, state and federal legislators, the media, educational conferences, and serves as an expert witness in court cases. Its work therefore not only impacts homeschooling families and the field of education in general, but government policy and the courts, as well. NHERI publishes a research journal called the Home School Researcher that reports on the latest research being conducted on homeschool topics.

The National Association for Child Development is an organization that provides special programs to parents of neurologically and developmentally challenged children. The NACD’s program also addresses the special needs of parents of “gifted” or highly capable children. The NAJD program, whose treatment protocol is based on to each client’s individual “gestalt”, therefore addresses a broad spectrum of conditions and a wide age range, from the learning needs of “typical child” in a preschool or homeschool environment, to those with learning disabilities caused by dyslexia, ADD, ADHD. The program’s developmental techniques also treat severe conditions such as brain injury, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s syndrome and genetic disorders. Enrollment in the NAJD program requires listening to their Guide to Child Development and Education audio seminal, completion of the note outline, and submission of their application package.

The National Home Education Network, established in 1999, is a national grassroots volunteer organization whose goal is to facilitate networking amongst homeschool families, provide information to individual homeschoolers and through local and state groups, and promotes public relations on a national level. The network adheres to no specific religion, particular political agenda, or educational philosophy. Instead, it provides homeschool material that homeschooling parents use can digest and then make decisions for themselves about what is the best approach for their situations. The NHEN has an extensive library of articles written by both parents and experts that provide a wide range of topics that are of interest to new or seasoned homeschooling parents. The At-a-Glance page provides a snapshot of useful homeschooling information about for each state.

A few other organizations that operate on the national level are:

Growing Without Schooling (GWS), a “movement” founded by John Holt that centers around his seminal book “How Children Learn”, companion book “How Children Fail”, and “unschooling” a word he coined in 1977 to foster the concept that learning does not have to look like school learning; GWS is now a bi-monthly magazine that continues his advocacy work; his view is represented by the quote: “I have come to believe that a person's schooling is as much a part of his private business as his politics or religion, and that no one should be required to answer questions about it. May I say instead that most of what I know I did not learn in school, and indeed was not even 'taught'.”

The American Homeschool Association (AHA), which offers networking and essential resources to secular homeschooling families who do not wish to base their homeschool program on any particular religious denomination; their secular agenda is open to all faiths and creeds;

The Home Education Magazine (HEM), started by Mark and Helen Hegener in 1984, is the most widely circulated publication that provides “help, guidance, validation and support” to parents, educators, legislators, and the media in the U.S.; the HEM is a subscription service, but a free HEM sample issue can be requested from the magazine’s web site.

The perspectives that national organizations provide can give a sense of how homeschool educators at-large across the nation and around the world view and are engaged with this dynamic educational process. Keeping our finger on the pulse of this and all other aspects of homeschooling is one of the principal objectives of Academic Boot Camp Tips. Your participation and sharing in our community are also welcomed.

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