What is Planet Homeschool?

Planet Homeschool is a secular homeschool co-op for middle-school and high school students (ages 10 to 19 years).

Co-op is short for cooperative. Co-op members volunteer their time so that their children can attend group classes once a week, pool their finances to pay for the costs of providing a space for those classes to take place, and work together to find instructors for the classes they want their children to be able to take.

Volunteering

Every member of Planet Homeschool is expected to help run the co-op. For many families, that is as simple as volunteering to serve as Monitors at the co-op during in-person classes and events. Other members volunteer to take on leadership and support roles to ensure essential tasks get done.

The goal for our co-op is to have a core Executive Volunteer team of at least three co-op members who are (1) committed to ensuring that all essential tasks are completed and (2) willing to take on decision-making responsibilities. Decisions that fall to the members of this team include, but aren’t limited to, ensuring our co-op has adequate and appropriate insurance, setting the number of hours per semester that families need to volunteer to ensure that all Monitors shifts are covered, setting our co-op’s membership fee to ensure it covers our co-op’s expenses, determining how much our co-op needs to hold in reserve to survive the occasional dip in membership, and deciding whether or not to cancel in-person classes due to inclement weather. Members who volunteer to serve as an Executive Volunteer should expect to regularly engage in conversations about co-op policies and practices and to help communicate those policies and practices and our co-op’s mission and goals to the larger membership.

Executive Volunteers are tasked not with doing all the work themselves but with ensuring the work gets done. In addition to the Executive Volunteer team, there are typically several co-op members who volunteer to do particular tasks but who do not participate in the overall decision-making process outside of those needed to accomplish their chosen duties. Examples of Support Volunteer roles include taking on a social media and marketing campaign to bolster awareness of our co-op and the classes offered, planning our annual open house party, welcoming new members, hosting our semi-annual potluck picnics, coordinating the Parent Monitor shifts to ensure our co-op always has at least 2 adult members on-site, entering important dates onto our website calendar, helping new instructors understand our co-op’s policies and website resources, and more.

Co-op executive and support volunteers may make general appeals for assistance or ask specific members to take on specific roles. Any member of the co-op who sees that something needs to be done can volunteer to do it.

Finances

Your Planet Homeschool membership fee covers our co-op’s overhead costs of offering those classes, which include paying for rent, insurance, this website, supplies, and other miscellaneous costs.

It is the responsibility of the Executive Volunteers to determine what our expenses are and to set a membership fee that will cover them. Because membership numbers can fluctuate in unpredictable ways, the Executive Volunteers are also tasked with ensuring our co-op has the financial reserves to survive the occasional dip in membership and may hold fundraisers to cover budget shortfalls or replenish our reserves.

Classes

All current members of the co-op participate in the process of selecting classes for the following academic year.

Suggestions for classes can come from any current co-op student, parent, or guardian, current and prospective instructors, and even from prospective students. Suggestions should be made by the end of January.

Current members (students, parents, and guardians) participate in run-off voting on those suggestions. Executive Volunteers can opt to also solicit prospective members about their interests, but the preferences of current members take priority. Voting takes place in February and March.

While Executive Volunteers strive to honor the preferences of members as shown by their votes on the Class Survey, there will be decisions that must be made based on available classroom space and in order to create a class schedule with a good balance between ages and topics. Classes may also get dropped from the schedule if no instructor can be found. The Executive Volunteers are the ones who make those decisions. While the search for instructors can delay this process, the goal is to have the class schedule for the following year finalized by the Open House Party on the second-to-last week of our Spring Semester.

Because of this collaborative process, PHS has a wonderful variety of classes where there is always something new but our favorites remain.

Ages

Planet Homeschool offers middle-school and high-school classes for homeschooled students ages 10 through 19 years.

PHS is focused on providing a unique community and learning opportunities for preteens and teens that are often hard to find, and our age policy reflects this goal. To best serve our targeted community, we do not accept class registrations for any children younger than 10 years old, and students need to be the minimum age for any given class by the time the class begins.

Secular

Planet Homeschool is a secular co-op. We have no religious requirements or affiliations and welcome members and instructors regardless of religious beliefs. There will be no attempt or intent to convert participants, whether overt, subtle, or covert. LGTBQI+ students, parents, guardians, and instructors are welcome here just as they are.

Classes at Planet Homeschool are secular. While religious content may be included from a cultural, historical, sociological, or anthropological perspective, classes at PHS have no religious teachings or practices. Science classes at PHS use curriculum and materials that include and present scientific facts, principles, models, and theories as recommended by the majority of practicing experts in the field of study. Topics covered include evolution, the Big Bang, climate change and global warming.

Planet Homeschool is not a school

At first glance, Planet Homeschool can appear to be a school that meets once a week, but we are not a school.

Planet Homeschool is a homeschool co-op. The instructors who teach those classes are independent contractors hired directly by the individual parents and guardians whose children enroll in their classes, not by Planet Homeschool. Tuition and materials fees are paid directly to the instructors by the parents and guardians of the enrolled children, using a Homeschool-Life-generated invoice.

While our members choose the classes to offer, each instructor sets their own curriculum, sometimes dynamically based on the kids registered for a class. While instructors are expected to abide by co-op policies, they are free to set additional guidelines for their classrooms.

While Planet Homeschool classes may offer instruction in the areas required by the compulsory attendance law, we do not report to the various Superintendents of our member families, maintain the required records, or perform the required testing. Member families are responsible for ensuring their children are meeting the compulsory attendance law another way, whether that is via homeschooling, an online school, an alternative school, or some other means. To learn more about Minnesota’s homeschool laws, visit the Minnesota Homeschoolers’ Alliance website.