How to Properly Plan an Event for your Homeschool Group
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As a homeschool group leader, and after planning a multitude of events, parties, workshops, group meetings and field trips; I learned there is a proper way to plan an event for your homeschool group. Yes, anyone can plan an event for their homeschool group, but as homeschoolers, we need more groups and co-ops planning successfully organized events!
How to Properly Plan an Event for Your Homeschool Group
I decided to start and lead a group after attempting to attend events as a member of other groups, and I was shocked by the way some groups were running. I would show up at the designated time and place to not find anyone, or find others but not be greeted or told where to go or what to do; there seemed to be no order to any of the groups I tried. That is a huge pet peeve of mine. So today I want to share my tips to help you plan an organized event that everyone can enjoy.
So what exactly does a successful event look like?
- Successful events are organized events. People will quickly know where to go and when.
- You prepare for the event before your members arrive.
- You have headcounts before the event to accommodate for everyone, and ready to assist any special needs families or unique situations.
- Warmly greet people as they arrive. They want to feel welcome, and not awkward.
- Create clear indicators for them to know what to engage in when. A posted timeline or agenda works well.
- The setup and clean up are simple.
- Families will leave happy and want to attend your next event!
Please Don’t lead or try to organize a group and not be organized. Wow, I know…I just said that! Gasp!
Honestly, if you are called to lead a group God will open all the doors, maximize ALL your gifts, and he will equip you! But pray about it first and see if God is calling you to lead or maybe you would be an excellent volunteer mom for the right group, we all need to work with what gifts we possess. We each play a role and are gifted with different offerings, so be the best leader you can be OR be the best group member if you are gifted elsewhere. Volunteer moms are invaluable to group leaders! Find out where you can contribute your best efforts, and if you are in a season that you are not called to serve; that is ok. Enjoy your season. (You may have littles or another situation keeping you from serving outside the home, that’s completely alright. Don’t ever feel guilty about that.)
1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Truth Alert – No one wants to attend an event with no order, and no one wants to be there for the 1st time and not feel welcome; that is precisely how and why that mom/family may never come back. If you want to retain members of your group there are a few simple ways to do so:
- Plan your trip well in advance to give members time to plan.
- Don’t announce your plan details until you have solidified everything with your venue – this helps to avoid plan changes and confusing people.
- Always keep notes with names of who you spoke with and all your trip information in one place, somewhere you still have access to it. On your phone is a good idea, maybe in a “notes” section/app. So once you arrive if there is any discrepancy you have your information near to access. Or use a field trip or event planning template or printable.
- When you do announce your trip/event information to your group – Always give clear instructions and give them information on what to expect. I include everything, do they need socks, water, or to remember to dress accordingly for the weather or type of event. Tell them where to park, or add directions, where to wait or meet, it may seem like overkill, BUT this will cut down on questions from everyone and the more clear you can make it the smoother it will go. Especially if you organize for a large group, organization will be key.
- Don’t forget when setting up your field trip or event to check for things like the max capacity of persons allowed. Ask if it is stroller friendly, or you may need to suggest that your mommas “baby wear” for this one. What is the cost per person – does that include moms, do kids under two pay, all those questions will come in handy.
- Set up a way to organize advance payments. Do you want to collect the amount for the group, many venues require one payment so that you can access the “group discount.” If you don’t want to be responsible for this, you may be very limited on what you can plan. If you do, use a Paypal account or something similar so that when an event is canceled or rained out, you can easily refund payments. Always disclose your return policy up front in case an event is canceled for any reason.
- Headcounts – yes you will need them. Once you know the max capacity allowed for your event, keep a headcount and as a courtesy (most venues require them in advance anyway) contact your venue a week or two before giving an accurate headcount, and that is also a great way to remind them your group is coming soon and confirm. You never want your group to show up, and the event wasn’t confirmed in advance, the venue may not be able to accommodate you. But give your group a deadline for head counts, don’t be afraid to state in your initial announcement for the trip or event that you will need a head count by the said date. Most moms know and understand that headcounts are necessary for planning an event of any size, and I promise it will make your job easier.
- Lastly – GREET. I always tried to meet and greet every mom at every event. Were there times that I couldn’t personally meet everyone – yes! But I made it a priority at each event to greet each family, definitely if it was their first time. People want to feel welcome, and that is how they will feel comfortable enough to come back again. You can also use some other moms as volunteers to help you greet everyone, or create a leadership team to help you with the group.
DON’T be overwhelmed! Planning is simple IF you stick to a system for each trip or event, and once you do a couple you will be a PRO! Consider this your gift of service to others.