Organizing a Homeschool Swap

Starting a homeschool swap in your area can be a great way to repurpose curriculum, give to those who will appreciate it, and have fun.  It can be a one-time event or you can make it a regular part of your meetings.

Organizing a swap is not hard.  With a little prep work and some communication you can make a swap a huge success that homeschoolers will look forward to each year.

First things first

Decide when and where you would like to hold your swap.  If you regularly meet during the week for classes or fellowship, think of a way to incorporate the swap into that time.  This way you have maximum potential for involvement in your group.

Gauge interest in your plans through email or word-of-mouth.  Ask other families for suggestions as to the length of time to continue the swap, the guidelines for swapping, and what items to include or exclude.

Decide what people can swap

Make a proxy list of possible items that can be swapped.  Some ideas might be:

  • Books, curriculum, flashcards, and supplements
  • DVD's, videos, audiobooks, music
  • Art and craft supplies (nothing toxic)
  • Clothes, shoes, outer wear
  • Toys and games
  • Infant and toddler gear
  • Sports equipment

Think of the possible items you want to dissuade participants from bringing.  You can also specify the quality of items that should be brought.  For example- no broken toys or missing pieces, severely worn clothing, or open liquids.

Make sure to provide this list before the actual swap so that families can gather items and be aware of anything not allowed.

General rules

In the past, our homeschool group has held a very casual swap.  The items placed on the swap table were up for grabs by anyone present for class that day.

However, I have participated in swaps that had guidelines. Decide whether participants must bring items in order to swap (and how many), and how items are to be swapped.  Will you designate a 1-1 swap?  A gentle reminder to only take what your family needs and will use is always useful.

What to do with items leftover after the swap

One of the major issues you need to cover in organizing the swap is how the items leftover will be handled.  There are several ways you can go:

  1. Donate the items to a local thrift store or charity
  2. Individuals are responsible for taking their own items back home
  3. Place the items in  a box and saves it for the next swap

Any of the options you choose will require a designated person to supervise the clean-up afterwards.  If you do not wish to be responsible- try asking the other homeschool families if they would assume the job or take turns each time.

Organizing a homeschool swap is an excellent ministry to struggling families who otherwise might not share their needs.

Tip: make a list of needed items and update it regularly so other families can share in their abundance.  This could be done anonymously and only you would know who posted the original need.

Of course, I have been talking about an actual physical swap but the same advice could apply to a swap over an email group, online forum, or through a newsletter.  Online sites such as Craigslist and Freecycle are great examples of communities coming together to recycle and repurpose.

However, some of the issues that arise with online or list swaps make a physical event seem much less time-consuming.

Aadel Bussinger

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