Meeting the Changing Needs of Homeschoolers
While HSLDA was founded to preserve your freedom to educate your children at home, we also come alongside you to support your family as you homeschool. At the heart of HSLDA’s mission is the desire to see families strengthened. I always like to say that the purpose of my own lifework can be summed up in three words: faith, family, and freedom. It’s a privilege to lead an organization that actively promotes all three. In this Last Word column, I’d like to share a few specific ways that we do this.
J. Michael Smith, president of Home School Legal Defense Association
I KNOW THAT A
LOT MORE GOES
THAT THEY EXCEL
IN THE THREE Rs.
I know that a lot more goes into raising children than just ensuring that they excel in the three Rs. As a homeschooling dad, my desire was to lead my family to be strong—academically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Since homeschooling dads and moms are both parents and teachers, it can be helpful to receive advice and train ourselves in both areas. And we need inspiration and support, too.
HSLDA began a web-based seminar program, @home e-vents, just over two and a half years ago. Since then, over 90 speakers—homeschooling parents and experts in their fields—have encouraged and equipped parents in subject-specific areas (for example, Andrew Pudewa’s “Spelling and the Brain” e-vent) as well as in parenting, worldview, and biblical training topics. I’ve spoken in a number of @home e-vents and enjoy this chance to interact with homeschoolers across the U.S. Attendees tell me that the e-vents are helpful and I’m convinced that this program is truly helping to meet the needs of homeschooling parents.
Many homeschooling families live on a single income. In today’s economy, that’s quite a feat. Financial strain can put enormous pressure on a family, which is why HSLDA has taken steps to make each
@home e-vent affordable to our members, who receive discounts on every e-vent and get free registration for special members-only, state-specific e-vents. In addition to offering encouragement through e-vents like my presentation, “How Can I Afford to Keep Homeschooling with a Reduced Family Income?” the program now offers discount packages and a subscription service to help you save even more on this valuable resource.
In another effort to decrease financial strain and allow you to focus on homeschooling your children, HSLDA has developed the PerX program—a collection of exclusive discounts just for our members. While many families tell us they’ve saved more than the yearly cost of membership through our PerX program, I still run across members who are unaware of the discounts they are eligible to receive. I encourage you to take advantage of the discounts listed on our website. For instance, if you’re traveling for the holidays, the 20-percent discount on Choice Hotels may be just the thing you’re looking for. Also, don’t forget that your membership card doubles as a teacher ID card to qualify you for teacher discounts in many retail stores across the country.
My prayer has been for HSLDA to actively identify needs in the homeschool community and help meet those needs in a practical way. In 1983, we saw homeschoolers’ need for legal representation. We still seek to fill that need—on a nationwide and individual level. As HSLDA and homeschooling have grown, we’ve also seen the need for personal consultation addressing the how-to’s of homeschooling. Since many parents have questions about educating their children, such as how to set goals, how to incorporate teaching and learning styles, and what types of curriculum to use, HSLDA began developing and offering resources for every stage of homeschooling.
This includes one of our most valuable resources&mdah;our educational consultants. As an HSLDA member, you are just a phone call away from free, personal consultation with our specialists in special needs, the toddlers-to-tweens age span, and high school. I know our consultants personally. They are intelligent and caring parents who have years of experience in their areas of specialty. This is a tremendous opportunity for you to speak with someone who will listen to your questions and offer you professional advice, encouragement, and individualized resources.
So, while the staff at HSLDA works to safeguard your freedom to homeschool, we are also here to support you in the day-to-day activity of educating your children. Our @home e-vents, PerX program, and educational consultants are extensions of HSLDA that can help you prepare and smoothly run a successful homeschool program. These go beyond academics to give you access to resources that will strengthen your faith and your family.
As president of HSLDA, I come in contact with thousands of homeschooling parents each year, and I’m encouraged to see so many actively striving to give their children the best education possible. Don’t ever forget that HSLDA is committed to supporting you as you do this!