THSC Support Group Definitions
- Local Support Group
- Home School Club or Sports Association
- Home School Email Network
- Home School Co-op
- Home School Play Group
- Home School Resource Center
- Special Needs Support Group
- University Model School
- Affiliated Regional Groups
Local Support Group
A Support Group (SG) is an association of volunteers organized and operated by independent home schoolers organized for the purpose of assisting and encouraging each other as they pursue the choice of home educating their children.
The SG is driven by some form of leadership, depending upon group consensus. Group policies, practices, and procedures may or may not be written in the form of bylaws, depending upon the size, structure, and functions of the group.
The SG holds regular meetings, whether park days or other types of meetings. It is not a business. Therefore, it does not exist to produce goods or services for sale to those outside the group as a regular practice (e.g., magazine subscriptions, books, classes, I.D. cards, testing services, and advertising services). Single-event fundraising is an exception.
The SG is not operated by a for-profit business, nor is it operated by or affiliated with a government agency or public or private school. It does not function as a substitute for the parent-teacher role or responsibility in any of the subject areas assigned by law (reading, grammar, math, spelling, and a course in good citizenship). In other words, the SG stops being an SG when it attempts to be a school.
Home School Club or Sports Association
A Home School Club or Association is a group that is run by home schoolers and/or that caters specifically to home schoolers as it relates to a specific subject.
Home School Clubs or Associations are similar to SGs in that they support home schooling families, they meet regularly, and they are comprised of home schoolers. The difference is that a Home School Club or Association focuses on a specific area of study, exploration, or recreation, while the SG is geared more toward all aspects of home schooling. Sporting organizations fall into the category of Home School Club or Association as does any other group whose focus is on one area in particular (e.g., chess club, astronomy club, 4-H, or Boy Scout troop).
There may be similar clubs operating within a Support Group. These clubs may be listed separately under the category of Home School Club or Association if they are open to all home schoolers and are not limited only to members of that particular SG.
Home School Email Network
A Home School Email Network is an Internet-based group, run by an individual or group, that is geared specifically for home school families. A Home School Email Network is not itself a for-profit business nor is it run by a for-profit business. An Email Network may be established by an individual or group for the benefit of other home schoolers utilizing a particular curriculum, resource, method of teaching, philosophy, or who share some other commonality.
When an email loop or newsletter is offered to all home schoolers, whether in a particular geographical area or statewide, it is considered a Home School Email Network.
Support Groups may offer an email loop or newsletter to their members, but this would be considered a benefit of membership in that particular SG and not an Email Network.
Home School Co-op
A Home School Co-op is a group of private home schooling families that facilitates group academic or extracurricular teaching.
A Home School Co-op should be a supplement to the family home school and not a replacement for parent-led teaching of core subjects in the home, especially for the primary grades. A Home School Co-op is not a business; it is a collaboration of effort between home schooling families to enjoy a group experience rather than the product of one individual’s industry. Size, frequency of meeting, cost, subject matter, and choice of instructor all combine to influence the group’s nature as either a co-op or something more like a private school.
Home School Play Group
A Home School Play Group is a group that meets regularly at a park or other designated place for the purpose of providing an opportunity for home schoolers to be encouraged and edified and to fellowship with one another. If a park day is only open to the members of a specific SG or other group, then it would be a benefit of membership in that group and not categorized as a Home School Play Group for this list.
A Home School Resource Center and a University Model School are also considered Texas Home School Organizations; however, both function as for-profit businesses and, as such, will not qualify for free listing on the THSC website as a support organization but they may consider advertising in the REVIEW magazine or E-Newsletter.
Home School Resource Center
A Home School Resource Center is a privately funded organization that offers services exclusively to the home school community. These services may include book and teaching material loans; equipment rentals; acting as a clearinghouse for private, in-home tutorial services; space rentals; and counseling. Unlike SGs these organizations may be run by non-home schooling individuals and/or may be focused on distributing products and services to the home school community at large. A Home School Resource Center may operate as either a for-profit business or a non-profit corporation.
A Home School Resource Center is supportive of parent-led education and functions as a separate “executor” of the parent’s educational goals. Should an organization, through its leadership or programs, prescribe rather than simply support the parent’s educational goals, it is functioning more as a school than as a resource center.
Special Needs Support Group
A Special Needs Support Group (SNSG) is an association of volunteers organized and operated by independent home schoolers for the purpose of assisting and encouraging each other as they pursue the choice of home educating their children who have special needs. Special Needs is defined as any physical, medical, mental, emotional, or behavioral condition causing a child to have difficulty functioning in the ways that the world would deem “normal.” The SNSG functions the same as the previously defined Local Support Group.
University Model School
This type of school, which is similar in structure to a co-op, is closely related to a private school, although it is designed to encourage more parental involvement than a traditional private school. Most meet two or three times a week, have a rigid schedule, and are typically age and grade segregated, with a standardized grading system. Most or all of the teachers are paid and selected through an application process, the school has paid staff, and it also offers many school-type programs such as student council and graduation ceremonies.
The primary difference between a school and a co-op depends on whether the parent or the school is the one determining the success or failure of the student. Schools determine the success of the student and whether or not they receive credit for classes. Schools also prepare student transcripts and issue diplomas. In a co-op, parents determine the success or failure of the student and whether or not the student receives credit for classes. The parent is also responsible for preparing the student’s transcript, determining the requirements for graduation, and issuing a diploma.
Affiliated Regional Groups
Regional groups function as the hub and connecting point for several other home school support groups and support organizations. Because their function is different from that of support groups, they do not generally grow out of existing support groups. A regional group generally is made up of a board of directors, with a full constitution and/or bylaws; its primary focus is to connect, encourage, and serve support groups in its region. These groups sponsor events and activities that are best accomplished by several groups working together, such as book fairs, seminars, leadership training, debate tournaments, etc.
Affiliated Regional Group Definitions
Regional Group Definition
Texas Home School Coalition
Updated April 2009
I. General Purposes of a Regional Group
1. To help home schoolers find support groups in the area where they live.
2. To provide leadership training and fellowship opportunities for home school leaders.
3. To provide information networking to support groups and cooperation for a specific geographic area (via website, newsletter, email network, etc.) Website should provide links and contact information for local groups as well as link to THSC.
4. To sponsor regional activities such as:
b. Book fairs
d. Support group leadership training and assistance via meetings and/or retreats
e. Regional debate tournaments, spelling bees, geography bees, etc.
5. To promote or sponsor THSC Getting Started Orientations
II. Definition of a Regional Group:
1. The regional organization must serve at least some of the general purposes listed above.
2. It must represent six or more legitimate support groups (each of which has ten or more families). A Regional Group should avoid activities that are already being done by local support groups and concentrate on that which is best accomplished by several support groups cooperating with each other.
3. A board with a full constitution and/or bylaws must govern the organization. It must identify how board members are selected and approved, and this must be clearly defined in that constitution.
4. Any group that wishes to be recognized by THSC as a Regional Group may contact THSC for an application. Such a group must currently be functioning in some ways listed above, must begin the reciprocity process if not already doing so, and may contact THSC for assistance in complying with remaining areas of the definition. Once the Regional Group completes the application and consistently complies with the “Areas Required, Ongoing Reciprocity” (see below), the application for recognition as a regional group will be submitted to the THSC board for approval.
5. There must be reciprocity with THSC in the areas listed below. THSC will offer benefits to those Regional Groups that are affiliate members. These benefits are:
a. Assisting Regional Groups in developing their ministry (as defined under Section I) to home schoolers and leaders
b. Supplying mailing list as requested (Format is flexible.)
c. Providing a listing in the Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers and on the THSC website as a regional group
d. Promoting Regional Groups in the magazine, handbook, and website by including regional-specific information as provided by the Regional Group
e. Referring inquiries from each region to the specific Regional Group
f. Including the Regional Group’s brochures in THSC info packets sent to that area
g. Inviting Regional Group board members to the THSC Leadership Training Conference
III. Areas of Required, Ongoing Reciprocity:
1. Sharing of mailing list and databases at least once a year*
2. Promoting and supporting THSC in newsletters and info packets
3. Selling of the THSC Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers
4. Including THSC speakers and information at events with multiple suppliers/workshops
*Regional Groups may be assured that THSC protects all names on our list, from whatever source. THSC provides labels to cooperating Support and Regional Groups for special mailings. At times, THSC makes available its list to businesses. The only way this happens is if the business sends its mail piece to our mailing service. Our mailing service labels and mails the piece at the business’ expense. Names and addresses are never turned over to businesses or government organizations. THSC requires all organizations with which it shares lists to have the same policy.