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Course Proposal Form
Due Fri 9 Feb 2024

Course History

Instructor Details Form
Due Fri 17 Feb 2023

Community Expectations

Course Details Form
Due Fri 14 Apr 2023

COVID-19 Policies

Information for Instructors

We recognize that there is a lot of information here, but it’s information every instructor at PHS needs to know before submitting a course proposal.

Planet Homeschool is a secular homeschool co-op for middle school and high school students ages 10–19 years. We welcome students from diverse backgrounds and our families have a variety of educational philosophies and styles. We are committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment and our membership includes many transgendered and neurodivergent students and students at higher risk of becoming very ill from COVID-19.

AnchorThe Basics

AnchorWho can teach a course?

Instructors may be interested members of the community or family members of current and past PHS students.

Instructors with a strong background in working with teens and who are actively engaged in their fields are highly sought after at Planet Homeschool.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers of current PHS students are encouraged to consider what knowledge and expertise they have to share and to propose classes to share their skills and their passions with our community of learners!

Instructors may make use of student assistants.

AnchorWho can propose a course?

Proposals can be made by current students and their parents, guardians or caregivers, current instructors, and prospective new instructors. They can even be made by prospective new students and their parents, guardians, or caregivers.

AnchorWhen should I propose a course?

Course proposals (also called “course suggestions” and “course ideas”) for the following academic year are typically due by the last Friday of January. Please consult our co-op’s calendar for the exact date.

AnchorWhat ages and grade levels are PHS Students?

All Planet Homeschool classes are restricted to students ages 10–19.

Courses may be for the entire 10–19 age range or restricted to a smaller age range (most commonly to either middle school or high school students).

  • High-school courses are typically for ages 14–19 or 9th–12th grades.

  • Secondary-school courses are typically for ages 12–19 or 7th–12th grades

  • Middle-school courses are typically for ages 10–14 or 5th–8th grades.

  • Other courses are offered for both middle school and high school students, ages 10–19.

Instructors should be prepared to teach the full age range for whom their course is advertised so that all enrolled students have a meaningful educational experience.


Granting Exceptions to the Stated Age Range

Our class registration system will automatically restrict registration to the age range stated. While instructors may grant individual exceptions to Planet Homeschool members, they cannot allow students younger than 10 to register. When granting exceptions, instructors should take into account the social and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in a group learning environment and any possible impact on students in the advertised age range. Classes at Planet Homeschool are restricted by age rather than by grade because social readiness is as important as academic readiness to a successful educational experience for every student in the classroom. Please keep in mind when considering granting an age exception to an academically-gifted younger student that your older students may also be academically gifted.

Age restrictions can only be overridden by a website admin, so forward the request for an exception and your statement granting permission to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers at PlanetHomeschoolMN+registration@gmail.com

AnchorWhat sort of courses are taught at Planet Homeschool?

Courses in all subjects are of interest to PHS students, and the following have been offered at PHS: sciences, engineering, mathematics, humanities, visual arts, performing arts, literature, English, foreign languages, history, physical education, social sciences, trades and crafts, and more. Please consult our co-op’s Course History for examples.

Course content must be secular, objective, and age-appropriate. While religious content may be included from a cultural, historical, sociological, or anthropological perspective, classes at PHS should have no religious teachings or practices. Science classes at PHS should 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 may include evolution, the Big Bang, climate change, and global warming.

Instructors set their own course plans. While a syllabus is not required, families will appreciate a course overview and/or schedule.

AnchorAvoiding Direct Competition

It is our co-op’s policy to avoid direct competition between courses and instructors. That means that Planet Homeschool is not going to offer two different courses teaching Spanish but will offer German, Japanese, Spanish, and American Sign Language (assuming there is room on our co-op’s schedule for all of those and instructors available to teach them).

What constitutes direct competition is not always clear, so we strive to be both flexible and fair.

Planet Homeschool has offered courses that complemented or supported each other. For example, a Fall semester deep dive into Macbeth and Stage Combat taught by one instructor team and a Spring Semester stage production of Macbeth taught by another with a separate technical theater course to create the costumes, props, and set taught by a third.

Prospective new instructors should reach out to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers via email to inquire about whether or not their topic area is already covered.

AnchorHow are courses chosen?

Course proposals are compiled into a Course Interest Survey with February voting open to both current and prospective students.

Our co-op’s Lead Volunteer team meets in late February or early March and works together to use the top choices from the Course Interest Survey to create a course schedule with a balance of age ranges and subjects while taking into account instructor availability and classroom space needs.

Our goal is to create a 25-course schedule with:

AnchorHow to propose a course

(1) Course proposals should be submitted using either our co-op’s Course Proposal Form (also called the Course Suggestion Form or the Course Idea Form). The more complete you are in making a course proposal, the more likely it is that you’ve provided enough of a teaser for your course to be selected by our members.

(2) For a course to be placed on the final course schedule, an Instructors Details form must be completed by the end of the voting period for the Course Interest Survey (usually mid-February). This form collects essential information about instructor availability and confirms that all instructors understand and agree to abide by our co-op’s policies.

(3) A Course Details form must be completed promptly for any course proposal that makes it onto our final schedule and is usually due in early April. This form is designed to guide you through gathering all of the little bits of information we need to get your course entered into our online class registration system.

Check out our co-op’s Course History page for examples and see our co-op’s calendar for exact deadline dates.

AnchorBrainstorming Session

The All-Member Brainstorming Session is held in late January. The Brainstorming Session is open to all members — meaning students and their parents, guardians, and caregivers. Current and returning instructors may also attend as it’s an opportunity to discuss course ideas with students and their parents, guardians, and caregivers. While this is very uncommon, prospective new instructors may also attend with prior approval requested and received from PlanetHomeschoolMN+Proposals@gmail.com. All Course Proposals received at least 24 hours prior to the Brainstorming Session will be shared there.

Co-op volunteers will often reach out to the larger community seeking instructors for course suggestions requested by our co-op’s members. Instructors may wish to join the Facebook Group Homeschool Co-ops Connect with Teachers to keep abreast of these types of requests.

AnchorHow much does it cost?

The Instructor Class Fee is $10 per course. The maximum fee is $40 per semester. (Fees current for 2023–2024.)

This fee will be due before the first day of class but after your course has both met its Minimum Student Number and passed its Minimum Student Date.

This fee helps to cover our co-op’s overhead expenses in providing a space for you to teach, such as rent, this website, and supplies. Instructors who are also co-op members will have this fee waived as their contribution towards those overhead expenses will be made via their membership fee payment.

This is a per-course fee, not a per-instructor class fee.


There is an additional single $10 annual fee (not per course and not per semester) for each additional website account requested. Co-instructors may also opt to share a single website account (shared accounts is the most common approach used by co-instructors).

AnchorPlanet Homeschool Is Not a School

Planet Homeschool is a homeschool co-op, not a school. Planet Homeschool does not and cannot hire instructors. Instead, our co-op members co-operatively decide together what courses our children want to take in a group setting and then work together to find instructors to teach those courses and pool resources to provide a space for those courses to be taught, and otherwise ensure our children can have a group learning experience.

Instructors are hired by the individual families whose children enroll in their courses, not by Planet Homeschool.


AnchorCommunicating with Lead Volunteers

Instructors are expected to provide our co-op’s Lead Volunteers with an email address where they can be reliably reached … “I never check that email address” is not an acceptable reason for failing to respond.

Please watch for email requests from co-op volunteers for either further details about your course or for you to review your course’s entry in member surveys to ensure it is represented accurately during voting by our members, or to proofread your course’s entry on our class registration system should your course be selected.

During the course selection process, most communications will be sent via email from PlanetHomeschoolMN@gmail.com, so you should ensure your email provider recognizes that address as a legitimate sender. This can often be accomplished by adding the email address to your safe sender list, address book, and/or contacts but may require additional measures.

Some emails will be sent from the personal email addresses of individual volunteers.

After your course is selected, co-op communications are primarily posted to our co-op forums and are sent via email from lifeline@homeschool-life.com, so you should also ensure your email provider recognizes that address as a legitimate sender.

Instructors are expected to keep abreast of co-op-related communications and to respond promptly to communications from our co-op’s Lead Volunteers.

Instructors are also expected to provide our co-op’s Lead Volunteers with a phone number where they can be reliably reached.

Instructors are encouraged to follow our co-op on Facebook and Twitter.

AnchorCommunicating With Students and Their Families

Instructors are expected to respond promptly to communications from both current and prospective students and their parents, guardians, or caregivers.

Your Class Home Page provides enrolled students with a dedicated Class Forum and the ability to send short messages about specific assignments. These will be sent via email from lifeline@homeschool-life.com.

Some communications from students and their families may be forwarded from PlanetHomeschoolMN@gmail.com and others will be sent from the personal email addresses of individual students or their parents, guardians, or caregivers. These email addresses will be included on your Class Roster.

Instructors should reach out to the parents, guardians, or caregivers of students who are struggling in class to let them know what additional support their students may need and request their assistance in helping their students succeed. Instructors may also reach out to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers for advice with helping ensure every student has a positive and rewarding educational experience.

While instructors are not expected to use the attendance tracking tool, they are expected to notice if students stop attending class and to reach out to their families to find out what’s up and if anything can be adjusted to help the student reconnect and succeed.

Instructors should also let our co-op’s Lead Volunteers know so that they can reach out to help the family successfully navigate our co-op.

Instructors should also inform our co-op’s Lead Volunteers if a student withdraws from a course for any reason.

AnchorCommunity Expectations

Instructors are expected to be familiar with Planet Homeschool Community Expectations and the policies linked to therein, to treat all students, their parents, guardians, and caregivers, and other instructors respectfully, to work to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone, and to share feedback in a constructive way.

AnchorClassroom Policies

Instructors are expected to abide by all co-op policies but may set additional guidelines for their classrooms, including policies for late registrations and late cancellations and on expected and acceptable behavior during class.

AnchorCo-op Schedule


Fall semester is 12 weeks long and typically starts the second Friday of September and runs through the second Friday of December with no classes on the third Friday of October or the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Spring semester is 16 weeks long and typically starts the first Friday after January 6th and runs through the first Friday of May plus the second Friday of May as a scheduled inclement-weather makeup day with no classes on the Friday before Presidents Day (which is the third Monday of February) or Good Friday.

This schedule is subject to change.

Courses can be single-semester or full-year programs.

AnchorCourse proposals must specify if the course is intended to be:

  • a 12-week 15-hour Fall Semester course

  • a 16-week 20-hour Spring Semester course

  • a 28-week 35-hour full-year course (spring content builds on fall content)

  • either a 12-week Fall Semester or a 16-week Spring Semester course

  • both a 12-week Fall Semester and a 16-week Spring Semester course (spring content is independent of fall content)

AnchorFull Year Courses

Instructors can choose whether students can register separately for fall and spring semesters or for the full year. When registering for the full year, families will still pay tuition by semester.

Instructors need to decide if they will allow new students to join for Spring Semester or if they will limit spring registration to continuing students only (those registered for the Fall Semester).

If new students are allowed to join for Spring Semester, instructors should include information in the spring course description about how new students will be caught up or otherwise integrated into the course.

AnchorAdditional Dates

It may be possible to add a few additional dates to your course schedule. These are typically either field trips or dress rehearsal and performance dates for performing arts courses.

  • Please let state clearly whether any additional dates are required or optional.

  • If you wish to use our co-op’s space at Faith UMC, our co-op’s Lead Volunteers will need to inquire with the church beforehand to see if the space is available and if there will be any additional cost to use it.

  • If your course is selected to be offered, our co-op’s Lead Volunteers will need to know the actual dates and times of the additional days by mid-April. This information should be included on your Course Details Form.

AnchorAtypical Semesters

While this is not common, it is possible to teach:

  • two half-semester courses

    • two 6-week sessions for Fall Semester

    • two 8-week sessions for Spring Semester

  • a 12-week course during the 16-week spring semester.

AnchorPlanned Absences

If you plan to not teach a full semester (whether that means starting late, ending early, or missing a week mid-semester), this information must be included on your Course Details Form and will be published as part of your course description along with a statement that tuition has been adjusted to reflect the shortened schedule.

Your students will still be at PHS even though you are not. For mid-semester planned absences, please see Class Cancellations below for options on handling this.

AnchorDaily Schedule

In-person classes meet once a week on Fridays with four class periods. (We are experimenting with a fifth period for 2023–2024.) Online classes are scheduled to meet once a week on a day other than Friday.

Class periods are 75 minutes long (1 hour and 15 minutes).

Instructors should arrive at class prepared to teach, begin class on time, teach for the full class period, and end class on time.

  • Setup Period: 9:00 AM–9:15 AM (15 minutes)

  • First Period: 9:15 AM–10:30 AM (75 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 10:30 AM–10:35 AM (5 minutes)

  • Second Period: 10:35 AM–11:50 AM (75 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 11:50 AM–11:55 AM (5 minutes)

  • Lunch Period: 11:55 AM –12:25 PM (30 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 12:25 PM–12:30 PM (5 minutes)

  • Third Period: 12:30 PM–1:45 PM (75 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 1:45 PM–3:05 PM (5 minutes)

  • Fourth Period: 1:50 PM–3:05 PM (75 minutes)

  • Cleanup Period: 3:05 PM–3:20 PM (15 minutes or until it is done)

  • Experimental fifth period: 3:15 PM–4:30 PM with cleanup completed by 4:45 PM.

There is a 5-minute break between class periods. Instructors and students are expected to work together to ensure that there is time to both clean up from the prior class and set up for the next one.

  • If you need more than 5 minutes for setup, you should plan on teaching either first or third periods.

  • If you need more than 5 minutes for cleanup, you should plan on teaching either second or fourth periods.

  • If you need more than 5 minutes for both setup and cleanup, you should let our co-op’s Lead Volunteers know via your Instructor Detail Form.

There is a 30-minute lunch break between second and third periods (40 minutes if you include the 5-minute break before and after lunch, but that time is needed for cleaning up classrooms and setting up the fellowship hall for lunch and then for cleaning up lunch and setting up classrooms for third-period classes).

AnchorCourse proposals must specify:

  1. Which class periods an instructor prefers.

  2. Which class periods an instructor can make work.

  3. Which class periods are not an option for an instructor.

If you are submitting multiple course proposals, be sure to tell us:

  • How you would prefer your courses be ordered.

  • Which class periods you most prefer in case not all of your proposed courses are offered.

Instructors teaching multiple courses will (almost always) be assigned consecutive class periods. Some instructors request to have a scheduled break between classes. There have been a few unusual situations in the past when an instructor has been asked if they can accept a break in order to make the entire schedule work out.

Prospective new instructors typically start by teaching a single course per semester, although exceptions have been made to fill specific needs, offer options for both middle school and high school, or provide complimentary courses.

AnchorAtypical class periods

While this is not common, it is possible to teach two 30-minute classes during a single 75-minute class period. It is also possible to teach a 60-minute class, but unless families are informed of the reduced class time before registering for the course, all classes should otherwise be planned for the full 75-minute class period.

Our co-op is unlikely to support a request to teach a 90-minute or 2-hour class as it disrupts students’ ability to register for other courses, but any such classes would need to be timed to start at the same time as first or third period or to end at the same time as second or fourth period.

AnchorMinimum and Maximum Number of Students

Small class sizes are highly valued by homeschoolers. Historically, courses at PHS have averaged 8 students with the vast majority of courses fairly evenly distributed in a shallow bell curve between 4 to 12 students.

AnchorMinimum Student Number

Please consider your minimum number carefully. This is not your ideal number of students but the smallest number for whom you are willing to teach this course.

The most common minimum number is 4 students.

AnchorMaximum Student Number

The most common maximum number is 15 students.

Most of our classrooms won’t comfortably seat more than 15 students plus an instructor, and our smallest classroom will comfortably seat only about 8 people. The Fellowship Hall is reserved for courses needing space for significant student movement, such as fencing, dance, and theater.

AnchorMinimum Student Date

If you do not specify a Minimum Student Date, your deadline will be assumed to be 2 weeks prior to the start of classes.

We create our course schedule based on the interests indicated by our current members, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, that interest doesn’t translate into actual class registrations. To allow both students and instructors time to make alternative plans, courses that have not enrolled their Minimum Student Number by their Minimum Student Date will be canceled. Cancelation is automatic. If your course does not reach its minimum registration number before midnight on your Minimum Student Date, all enrolled students will be automatically unenrolled.

Instructors are encouraged to monitor their registration numbers as any requests to adjust minimum enrollment numbers must be made before their Minimum Student Date. If it appears that your course will not meet your Minimum Student Number by your deadline:

  1. You may opt to lower your Minimum Student Number, but you are also then committing to teaching the course with that lower number.

  2. You may opt to extend your Minimum Student Date but you are then also extending both “the last day that those registered for the course may ask to cancel their registration and be guaranteed a full refundand your “Payment Due Date.”

  3. You may opt to adjust your age range, if applicable, within the PHS age range of 10-year-old middle school students through 19-year-old high school students.

  4. You may accept that the course is quite likely going to be cancelled due to low enrollment (but may still be saved by last-minute enrollments).

  5. You may not ask to cancel a course prematurely as co-op volunteers will have been spreading the word about your course to the local homeschool community, including your Minimum Student Date, and interested families may be depending on being able to time their decisions based on that information.

Requests for changes must be emailed to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers before your Minimum Student Date.

AnchorPHS Registration Historical Data

  • 33% of registrations happened the day registration opens
  • registrations dribbled in at a fairly steady rate after that
  • 75% of registrations were completed by 4 weeks prior to the start of classes
  • 80% of registrations were completed by 3 weeks prior
  • 85% of registrations were completed by 2 weeks prior
  • 90% of registrations were completed by 1 week prior
  • 10% of registrations happened during the week immediately before classes begin
  • a small number of registrations happen the week (or two) after classes have begun

AnchorPayment Due Date

Tuition and supply fee payments will be due the day after your Minimum Student Date. This policy helps instructors avoid paying fees on tuition refunds.

AnchorClass Registration Deadline

Instructors also set the last day that students can register for each of their courses. If you do not specify a Class Registration Deadline, it will be set to the day prior to the second class session (meaning that late-registering students may miss the first day of class but no others).

Students may continue to register for (non-canceled) courses after the course’s Minimum Student Date until the course reaches either its Maximum Student Number or its Class Registration Deadline.

AnchorPro-Rata Tuition

Instructors set their own policies for adjustments to tuition for any late registrations made after the first day of class. Because one of our co-op’s Lead Volunteers will need to make any adjustments to automatically-created invoices manually, instructors are responsible for informing our co-op’s Lead Volunteers of any invoices needing adjustment.

AnchorA note about displayed registration dates

Since instructors who are not also PHS members do not register for courses, your website account will be assigned to a non-registering section. That means that you may see “Signup for this class will open on 12/31/2999 at 12:00 AM CST." Rest assured that class registration will open on time for co-op members. (It is a long-standing feature request with Homeschool-Life for the non-registering sections to instead display no date.)

AnchorRefund Policy

Your “Minimum Student Date” is also the last day that those registered for the course may ask to cancel their registration and be guaranteed a full refund.

Currently, PayPal states that while there are no new fees to issue the refund, the fees you were originally charged will not be returned to you. That is a disingenuous game of semantics: Refunds will cost you money.

To help instructors avoid the cost of refund fees, our co-op discourages families from paying tuition until a course’s Payment Due Date, but the registration system our co-op uses cannot prevent earlier payment.