Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: How To Plan and Publicize a Homeschool Open House

What Is A Homeschool Open House?

Simply put, it is an event for the community to promote your group and to provide information about the benefits, realities and styles of homeschooling.

Lawannah Sanders, president of The Baytown Homeschoolers, shared with Homeschool Group Leader her preparation strategies that she is using right now as she coordinates her group's annual Open House. "One of the biggest things I have learned is how important it is to plan ahead."

How To Plan Your Group's Homeschool Open House

  • Location--Pick something public, free or almost free, and easy to find. Examples are community centers, local mall, or library.

  • Time--Choose a time when people are most available to seek out information and most interested in looking to the new school year. We suggest May or August.
  • Delegate--Ask for volunteers and use them in the areas of their strengths. For example, one mom volunteered this year to set up a PowerPoint of some of our pictures from throughout the year to show as a backdrop during our Open House. Another parent might love to greet visitors at the Welcome Table and another might like to bake cookies to offer the guests or even compile a list of the internet resources.
  • Welcome Table--Greet Open House visitors in a warm and welcoming way with a table, big folding-style or bistro-style, where they can sign a guestbook and receive a brochure about your group that possibly has contact information for future meetings, ways to join your group, your group web site address, or a list of internet homeschooling resources, etc.
  • Family Tables--Showcase how real and successful homeschooling can be no matter what your style is by inviting member families to each have their own table where they can have samples of the curriculums they like and answer questions. They may include their tools for success with the gifted, disabled, or special needs children, too.

  • Teen Table--Many homeschoolers join groups specifically for the subgroups they offer, especially for teens. Have lots of pictures and visual interest at this table!

  • Displays--Show what makes your group unique with a variety of displays to strut your stuff. Activities, classes, field trips, fairs, competitions can get them excited about the possibilities of homeschooling and draw them instantly into your group. A tri-fold board, a slideshow of pictures on a laptop, or a scrapbook are examples of what can be on this table.
How To Publicize Your Homeschool Group's Open House

  • Start early!--Sanders said starting the planning early is essential to a successful Open House. "You can get more people from your group involved and meet deadlines with your local newspaper better if you allow at least two months for planning," she said.

  • Flyer--Prepare a flyer with all of the Open House Information for the members to distribute locally. Places where the flyer can be displayed are at the library, bookstores, coffeehouses, their churches, or community bulletin boards. Be sure to make your group's name and logo are clearly visible on the flyer.

  • Radio Spot-- Sanders found the information for contacting the radio station's public relations person by digging around on their web site, but was glad she took the time. She discovered that the radio station needs at least three weeks' notice of the event and she plans to build that into the timeline for next year's planning.
  • Press Release--Sanders said she grew the most from the experience of learning how to write and submit a press release for the local newspaper. Following examples online and seeking the counsel of a friend who had experience with press releases, she drafted a professional release and submitted it successfully to the paper.

Above all, enjoy yourself. A homeschool open house is a fun opportunity to share your vision for education with others in your community and with each other.

Have a great summer!

Kristen & Denise

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