The following information contains guidelines and policies for some of the gatherings and programs that BRANCHES is currently offering. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU READ ALL OF THESE because we want to avoid misunderstanding as to what is desired and needed in the running of our programs. Christ like behavior and a common sense approach in dealing with so many diverse people apply to many events, not just Park Days and Field Trips. While there is always a certain amount of flexibility as individuals deal with individuals, please use common courtesy and the esteem of the other as a guide in ALL situations (Philippians 2:3-4).
RELEASE OF LIABILITY
Your request to participate in BRANCHES activities and or receive BRANCHES email automatically entitles you to membership in BRANCHES Homeschool Support Group. As a member of BRANCHES you agree to the following POLICIES.
As a Christian group, we seek to follow the biblical mandate which disallows bringing charges against Christian brothers in civil courts. We also seek to be good stewards of the resources and blessings which the Lord has provided. Our group has never had an instance of injury or damages being charged to the group, yet it is best to be sure that all members understand our position prior to any mishaps.
We are a well organized, not-for-profit community club which consists primarily of Christian families. The core is made up of those who have volunteered their time to organize activities for the group. Participation in any event is strictly voluntary, with no member ever being required to attend any meeting or event. Neither our group, nor leaders, nor members are liable for any injuries or damages, whether connected with a group event or not.
At every event, parents are responsible for their own children. Children are never allowed to attend any function without a parent. Occasionally a member will desire to send his/her child(ren) to an activity with another adult member. This practice is discouraged, yet because we understand that occasionally the parent must remain home because of illness in the family, pregnancy, etc., and because of the family-like nature of our group, we do not desire to prohibit it. In any case, no child or teen is allowed to attend any event without being accompanied and supervised by his parent, or an adult who is designated in writing to be fully responsible for that child. We suggest that such a designated substitute be familiar enough with the child so as to be able to maintain proper discipline.
Any special guests (grandparents, relatives, friends, etc.) who accompany members to any event are under the sole responsibility of that member for behavior, damages, injuries, etc.
It is expected that any member or his child or guest who damages property or who causes injury , either willfully or through neglect, will take personal responsibility for his actions. However, our group will not be involved in any way in such situations. Any person, whether member or not, who has such a claim will be directed to discuss the offense individually with the party he believes to be responsible. The outcome of such a problem is out of the realm of this group's responsibility or resources. If such disputes cannot be handled by the parties individually, we will expect that they will follow the guidelines of Matthew 18 through their own churches and church leadership.
We advise all who attend our group function to have handy medical information and authorization in the event of injury to any child not your own who is in your care.
LENDING LIBRARY POLICIES
BRANCHES has a collection of books, videos and cassette tapes that address homeschool and parenting issues, usually from a Christian perspective, plus some hard-to-get fiction. Almost all of the material presented will be those items which are not available at the local libraries.
Although we purchase some items, we accept donations to expand the collection.
All library materials will be kept at the home of the Librarian or a designated assistant. The library will also be made available at Park Days.
A list of all Library materials is included in this Handbook (see page 26). Email inquiries to the Librarian to see if we have what you are looking for .
Contact the Librarian to set up a time to get what you want. Refer to the Confidential Directory for the listing of the current Librarian and contact information.
When you pick up the item, give the Librarian a check for , or for more than one item a check for . When you return your materials, your check will be returned to you.
Lending intervals are for five (5) weeks, and all items are due back to the Library at that time.
You can renew your items one time with a phone call or email.
Materials in the Lending Library are only available to the members of BRANCHES.
FIELD TRIP POLICIES
A. PLANNING A FIELD TRIP
1. The function of planning a field trip is open to all BRANCHES members. We would love to see everyone assume the responsibility of being a Field Trip Planner for at least one trip (or assist on a second tour that another mom is planning). If a member wants to plan a field trip, but needs ideas, there is a Field Trip Planning luncheon in August or the Field Trip Coordinator can be contacted. She has a Binder with oodles of information on available field trips and how to set them up.
2. Obtain a Field Trip Data Sheet BEFORE you make your contacts. The form will simplify your work and provide information that is needed when talking with the site contact person, for the newsletter, and sign-up sheets. This form is found in this Handbook (see page 27) and the Field Trip Coordinator has extra copies.
3. Check the Calendar for possible conflicts. This information can come from the web site, one that you have constructed from the newsletter and Park Day announcements, or check with the Newsletter Editor who has the Master Calendar. Try to avoid scheduling a field trip for the same time as a Park Day.
4. Contact the Field Trip Coordinator to double check the calendar and to put your tour on it. Two field trips in the same week are not usually a problem because of the large membership in BRANCHES, the wide variety of interests in different age groups, and the fact that many field trips are limited in space and fill quickly.
5. Contact the site and set up a date. If space is limited to fewer than 50, check whether a second field trip can be tentatively scheduled.
6. Once a date has been firmly established, contact the Field Trip Coordinator with all pertinent information who will then contact the Email Secretary, the Web Host, the Newsletter Editor, and the Park Day Coordinators.
7. Contact the Newsletter Editor to have the field trip announced in upcoming issues. She will see that the Park Day Coordinators get the information.
8. Gather deposits and maintain a waiting list.
9. If a second tour is scheduled, we suggest that your partner with another mom so that you won't need to attend both tours.
10.Call your site contact person to confirm the reservation one week before the trip. Arrange with the Treasurer to obtain a check and to turn in deposits collected.
11.Get the name and address to which you and all the kids may send "Thank You" notes. Distribute this information to the parents at the event.
12.Within two weeks after the field trip takes place, complete the Field Trip Data sheet and turn it in to the Field Trip Coordinator to be added to the Field Trip Binder.
B. SIGNING UP FOR A FIELD TRIP
1. Check the web site regularly to find out what events are scheduled, come to a Park Day where upcoming events will be announced, and always check your newsletter .
2. As soon as possible, contact the Field Trip Planner for the trip you find interesting. Remember, our group is large, and these trips fill up quickly.
3. Write down on your own calendar the field trips for which you have signed up. The Field Trip Planner will NOT be able to call you to remind you of the event. If you forget or fail to appear without reasonable excuse or notice, your deposits will be forfeited.
4. In the event of last-minute changes, only those who have signed up will be notified.
1. For a class or tour that has a fee to be paid, all funds must be given to the Field Trip Planner by the specified deadline, usually about two weeks before the trip date, though this may vary. Make checks payable to BRANCHES. If you pay cash, be sure that you put it in a sealed envelope with the name AND date of the field trip, your name & return address and the Planner's name and address clearly marked on the outside. Give directly to or mail to the Field Trip Planner--be careful not to leave it lying about.
2. For free guided tours, please give the Field Trip Planner a deposit (preferably a check made payable to BRANCHES which she can merely return uncashed) of $1 per child to ensure accountability when we designate class size to our hosts. As above, the deadline in most cases is 10-14 days before the event.
3. When the field trip is limited and fills up, a waiting list will be maintained. If a required deposit is not received by the deadline, those spots will be given to families on the waiting list.
4. When you arrive at the tour, your money will be refunded. If you fail to appear, the money will be forfeited to the BRANCHES general operating fund. You will be returned your money in the event of an emergency or illness, or if you call 24 hours before the event.
5. For free trips which do not involve a guide or need the group to be counted and organized, there will be no deposit required.
D. BEHAVIOR DURING FIELD TRIPS
1. Please arrive about 10-20 minutes AHEAD of the tour's scheduled starting time. If you are late, you may be left behind.
2. Dress neatly and appropriately, with good hygiene. In many places, the BRANCHES T -shirt is desirable, because it will identify us as a unit.
3. Follow all rules and instructions given by the tour director and Field Trip Planner (no touching, stay with the group, etc.).
4. Every child must be accompanied by an adult who is designated (in writing if not the parent) to be responsible for him or her. Students are to stay with their adult. Parents, keep track of where your children are.
5. Never litter. Do not chew gum or eat candy during the tour .
6. No running or rough play.
7. No loud talking or distracting whispers during the tour. This goes for parents as well as kids! We have come to listen and to learn. Save your pertinent questions for group discussion. Avoid rude comments.
8. If you must leave to attend to one of your children, arrange with another mom to watch your other children during your, hopefully, brief absence.
9. Thank the tour guide when the time is finished, and if possible, have the children send a "Thank You" note within a week of the tour.
10. Remember, we are Christ's ambassadors. Leave a good impression as the Holy Spirit works in you on this and all days!
PARK DAY POLICIES
A. WHEN & WHERE
1. In Hayward: the 1st and 3rd Friday of each Month, approximately 12:30-2:00pm
2. In Fremont (all ages): Every Tuesday, approximately 1:00-2:00pm
3. In Fremont (Preschool/Kindergarten Play Group): 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month, approximately 10:30am-12:00noon.
4. Park Day Coordinators and park locations are listed in your Confidential Directory.
1. Generally, expect that Park Day has been canceled if there is rain that morning. Showers during the previous night might not cancel us. Call the Park Day Coordinator if in doubt.
C. WATCH YOUR CHILDREN
1. Each parent is responsible for keeping track of his or her own children. Be diligent; we are very limited in our ability to assist you in this. Please do not drop off your children-even teens-unless you have designated another adult to be responsible for them, and you have notified a Leader.
1. We desire a positive impression of our "unique" lifestyle.
2. Children's unkind remarks, profanity and conversations unbecoming to Christians are not welcome.
Unacceptable behavior includes bad language, actions, and attitudes.
E. PRAYER TIME
1. We will hold our prayer time every Park Day at 1:15 in Fremont and 12:45 in Hayward, with the children at our sides.
2. If you arrive late, please pray with your kids in your car, to give this special time of "socialization" over to the Lord.
3. Parents need to set the example for their children in being attentive and courteous to the Park Day Coordinator as she makes announcements and prays.
1. Following prayer and the dismissal of the kids, we will give announcements, which will be limited to those things of imminent importance: deposits that are due that day, events corning up within the week, or other things that we need to proclaim. We expect you to check the newsletter and/or web site to keep abreast of other happenings.
2. If you know of something coming soon that would be of interest to our members, call the appropriate Park Day Coordinator or be prepared to deliver your news to the group(s) personally.
3.We will try to have news posted for late comers.
1. Read the Field Trip Policies to find out the best way to participate in these events. For the latest information, it is suggested that you check the web site.
2. Many outings may be filled up before Park Day meets, so check both the web site and your email often, and contact the person in charge as soon as possible. We will try to have sign-ups at Park Day (which could include waiting lists) and in the newsletter, but this will depend on the Field Trip Planner providing the necessary sign-up sheets.
H. BOUNDARIES & RESTROOMS
1. Instruct your children to play only in "safe" areas. Tell them that a good rule of thumb is that if they cannot see Mom, they are out of bounds and need to come closer .
2. Have your children tell you when they need to go to the restroom so that you will know where they are.
1. Any parent who desires to organize a group of kids in a common activity is welcome to do so after checking with the Park Day Coordinator.
J. FREE ITEMS
1. If items are brought to the Park, it will be assumed to be on a "free-for-the-taking" basis, unless care is taken by the seller to specify a price.
2. When a day has been set aside as a special sales event, of course, you are expected to look for or ask about price before taking something.
3. If you do bring something, whether as a "freebie" or part of a "sale", please do not leave it behind if no one takes it.
K. ITEMS LEFT BEHIND
1. Please double check before you leave the Park to make sure you are taking all of your things with you.
The last people to leave are not your janitors, and they have no way of knowing whether something ought to be thrown away.
2. We try to hang on to things like jackets, etc., but it is much easier if you take the time to look around.
EMAIL SERVICE POLICIES
A. Participation in the Email Service is completely voluntary, and members indicate their interest by indicating such on the sign-up Form.
B. The emails are sent BCC to all members to protect the privacy of our members' email addresses. Although most addresses are listed in our Confidential Directory, not all are desired to be made public; hence, the privacy feature.
C. It is each member's responsibility to notify the Email Secretary if their email address has been changed or is no longer operable. If the Email Secretary receives multiple messages that emails to an address are "undeliverable", the address will be dropped from the mailing list.
D. The emails are intended for information purposes only rather than being a discussion loop of any kind. When someone has information or details about an upcoming field trip, a request for curriculum, a prayer request, or the like, they contact the Secretary and ask her to pass on the information.
E. Many rely on the email reminders for timely information as it is available immediately rather than having to wait a whole month for the newsletter.
F. When emails are sent through the Service, the originator of the message is typically someone other than the Email Secretary and mayor may not be a Branches member. Emails should include the email address and/or the phone number of the person whom is to be contacted for further questions or if a response is needed. In addition, names, phone numbers, and email addresses can be found in the Confidential Directory. If you want to respond to an email, please look for the message originator's name/phone/email information within the body of the message, and respond to that person. Hitting the "Reply'. button on your email only sends the message back to the Email Secretary.
G. Guidelines for items to be sent through BRANCHES Email Service:
1. Prayer requests should be limited to immediate family only rather than for a friend of your cousin's sister-in-Iaw's uncle. This will avoid things getting out of hand. Please use discretion. If the prayer request is urgent and you need immediate prayer, call the Email Secretary, the CHEA Liaison, or the Chaircouple to begin the Phone Tree.
2. Messages are to include an appropriate subject line, contact person, email address and/or phone number, pertinent deadlines, time requirements, prices, etc.
3. Messages are to be of interest to the general membership, not personal messages.
4. The subject matter must be of interest to and benefit those who are homeschooling their children for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Please do not pass on "diddly's" or cute stories for mass email; we are all getting those from enough other sources.
6. Please do not pass on information about public school ISP's or charter schools, events sponsored by such orgaizations, or enrollment information for such organizations.
H. Items which are appropriate for the BRANCHES Email Service
1. Announcements of sales or giving away of concrete items (books or playthings, etc.). Household items bought and sold are acceptable because they allow for the "thrifty" lifestyle most of us have assumed.
2. Information about a specific service, such as piano or art teacher
3. Information about a kids' club -- Please use discretion in recommending an activity that might not be edifying to a Christian family.
4. Field trip and/or home schooling events suggestions
5. Messages of a political nature ONL Y if it
a) benefits members in light of their home schooling
b) informs members of events or calls members to action regarding proposed legislation that affects our right to privately home school AND which comes from Family Protection Ministries and/or HSLDA only
c) edifies them in their Christian walk
6. Messages that in any way will assist a family in DOING or BUYING something that will enhance the home school.
BRANCHES AND PUBLIC SCHOOL ISP'S AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
A. Home educators in California conduct their schools legally under several different options. "Private" options are those in which the family's home school is completely autonomous from the government. On the other hand, there are options which place the family under the authority of a public school district with the district's involvement and direction of the home school ranging from little to extensive.
(Please refer to the Legal Fact Sheet on pages 20-21 in the Handbook which outline the home schooling options and educational codes in California.)
B. The growth in both the number and size of public charter schools and public school Independent Study Programs in California is producing new tensions in the home education community . A growing number of charter school representatives are recruiting home schoolers from the private home school ranks. To some, this option is a blessing while others feel strongly about maintaining their autonomy from any government interference in the raising and educating of their children.
C. BRANCHES includes in its membership families which choose any of the home schooling options, but limits its Leaders to those schooling through one of the Private home schooling options. No Leader in our group will be enrolled in, in leadership in, nor employed by a public school program which enrolls home educators or a home education group or organization which does not operate as a Christian organization. This policy is consistent with our Statement of Purpose, our affiliation with CHEA, and our financial support of Family Protection Services.
D. BRANCHES prohibits the solicitation of charter school or public school ISP enrollment at BRANCHES events. Private conversations between individuals are completely at your discretion.
E. Members who home school under a public school option and who wish to serve the membership in some capacity are welcome to find an area of service within the Service Opportunities section of this Handbook (see pages 5-6).
F. The limitation of families in leadership to those who are privately home schooling in no way implies that those who freely choose to home school under public school ISP's or charter schools are in question as to their personal Christian principles or the manner in which they lead their homes or home schools.
G. This BRANCHES Handbook contains two articles written by Roy Hanson of Family Protection Ministries and by Samuel Blumenfeld which outline concerns some people have about the charter schools in California. We encourage everyone to read these articles, gather as much information as possible, ask lots of questions, and above all to seek the Lord's direction for your family before making decisions about which option you will choose for your family's home schooling.
Note: Two new publications are available for viewing at any Hayward Park Day. "Why Charter Schools Won't Work for Christians" and " Charter Schools-What is Allowed, What is Not, and Why Christian Parents Should Think Twice Before Signing up", published by CHEA and Family Protection Ministries. Copyright 2002.