If you haven’t tapped into the homeschool market at Outschool, you’re missing out on one of the biggest audiences available.
During the 2021-2022 school year, there were over 3.1 million children homeschooled in the U.S., according to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). Even PBS reported that more families are choosing to homeschool their children post-COVID.
No matter why families choose to homeschool, it is important to note that many homeschooled children find their way to Outschool for semester-long academic classes, supplementing their at-home learning, and even for social interaction with others across the globe.
But what if you’ve never taught homeschooled learners or are unsure how to offer classes to meet the needs of homeschooling families?
We reached out to Martha Jackson, English Language Arts and writing educator, to learn more about how she’s excelling in this area of her teaching business.
Martha started teaching with Outschool in March of 2021 and has seen great success teaching English Language Arts online. Martha has a degree in English Language Arts and was previously a public school teacher. The classes she mostly focuses on are writing courses, especially for reluctant writers. Throughout her time at Outschool, she has learned the importance of niching down.
While not all of the learners who attend her classes are homeschooled, most are. She did not plan on targeting her classes to homeschooled learners. Because she started during the pandemic, she admits that she, “Started throwing things out there to see what worked.”
Her writing classes took off and it wasn’t long before traditional school families realized that the workload was too much for after school or in addition to their current academic responsibilities. On the other hand, homeschooling families saw a great benefit to her lessons and workload which started a snowball effect.
5 Tips for offering classes to homeschoolers
You do not have to be a homeschooler to teach homeschoolers, but there are some things that you might want to keep in mind to help you succeed. Check out these five tips that have helped Martha find success in her teaching business.
Tip 1: Know your homeschool audience
Did you know that there are at least seven types of homeschooling methodologies ranging from unschooling to classical homeschooling to recreating school-at-home?
“The homeschool community is really diverse. There are so many kinds of homeschoolers. For me, there are three main categories. You’ve got unschoolers – interest-led learning, you’ve also got people who are over here who want it to look almost exactly like private school or public school, and then you have the middle people who don’t want either one. Figure out which one of those you want to target.”
With so many options available, it’s important to make sure that you pick a style that works best for you. For example, Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschoolers typically follow an older, more literature-based approach to learning. A homeschooling method like this might be conducive to book clubs, Socratic discussions, and older teaching models. On the other hand, unschooling is more learner-led focusing on a learner’s passions and interests. These classes may be a bit more flexible and offer multiple topics and themes that change with learner interests. No matter what type of homeschool style you offer, all classes on Outschool should encourage learner agency. The ways you encourage learner agency may be different depending on your teaching style or format.
Although you do not have to include a specific homeschool methodology in your class listing, it does mean that you will attract different homeschoolers depending on the type of class you’re offering.
Tip 2: Narrow your audience
Your personality, teaching style, and expertise all play an important role in who you are offering classes to. Younger learners may enjoy being more active and engaged for shorter amounts of time. Older learners may appreciate having more time to dive deeper into subjects they are passionate about or are interested in. After offering classes to both younger learners and high school learners, Martha found her sweet spot with middle school learners. As an educator, you want to make sure that you’re qualified for the subjects you teach, even if that is through lived experience, for the age range you’re most comfortable with.
When putting together your listings, consider including the grade level of your classes in the title and class description. While this may be more important to families searching for academic classes, it doesn’t hurt to include it at times when reading, solving problems, or other skills may be involved.
If you’re up for the challenge, consider moving up with new classes as your learners get older. Doing so will add to your catalog of classes as well as allow current learners to continue learning with you throughout the years.
Tip 3: Prepare to teach during school hours
When offering classes to homeschoolers, make sure to choose a time during traditional school hours. Many homeschool families, especially those looking for a more traditional type of teaching or seeking to supplement academic classes, are looking for classes that take place during the day. Martha has found great success by doing this in her own teaching business.
“My audience is almost exclusively homeschoolers. The reason is because of the hours I teach. I teach roughly from 1 pm to 5 pm EST.”
Checking Outschool’s scheduling tips throughout the year will allow you to keep up with time changes as homeschoolers who follow a typical school calendar start back up or take breaks during the summer and winter months.
Tip 4: Focus on longer-term semester classes
If you keep up to date with the latest Outschool trends, you probably know that ongoing courses are a great way to churn up business. However, Martha owes her success to long-term academic semester classes.
“I think ongoing works in some smaller areas. My bread and butter are multi-day classes. They are great for homeschoolers because homeschoolers want to know upfront this is what they’re going to learn, we’re going to block it off for this amount of time and it’s going to fill this gap that I need help with. The other perk about multi-day classes is that they build off of each other. It also builds great community.”
The lesson here? Create multiple class types of one topic (an introductory one-time class, an ongoing class, and a multi-day class) and see which one works best for you and your learners.
Tip 5: Create classes with siblings in mind
Based on Martha’s experience at Outschool, “The sibling game is real.” It is common for homeschoolers to use educators they trust over and over again for all of their learners. Martha has seen this with her own eyes and in her classes. If you take the time to create fun and engaging classes, keep an open dialogue with families and offer support, you may find younger siblings joining your classes as they reach your age range.
To learn more about getting learners excited and coming back for more classes, find out how you can create successful class funnels.
Martha’s 3 tricks for success with homeschool listings
According to Martha, “A lot of what sets Outschool apart from watching YouTube or anything like that is the discussion,” but how do you relay that to families who’ve never signed up for your classes before?
Trick 1: Be clear about what your class is about
Use the Class Experience section of your listing to break down the details of your class. Include what you’re doing each week during class and your expectations. The more you can include, the better. Martha makes sure to put as much information as possible in her description so that families know what to expect.
When creating classes, “I put in there that if your kid is learning at the stereotypical grade level, they can probably do this class on their own. If they are working stereotypically below grade level, they can do this class but parents are probably going to have to help. Anything that you can list, for accommodations, like if you really care that a student reads the book instead of an audiobook, list that out. If you’re fine with a kid listening to an audiobook, if you’re fine with a kid using talk-to-text to work on their essay, list that sort of stuff out. It just helps parents make an informed decision.”
Trick 2: Break down longer classes into multiple parts
If you have a yearlong class or curriculum that you want to teach, break it down into shorter weeks of roughly 6 to 8 or even 10-week parts. Breaking down longer classes is a great strategy educators can use for families financially and creates a funnel for learners to move on to the next part once the requirements are met. Homeschool families also enjoy the flexibility that homeschooling provides, including their weeks off. Keep this in mind when creating longer classes.
Trick 3: Build community
Because homeschooling families look to places like Outschool for socialization, it’s incredibly important to create a strong classroom community. If you didn’t already know, this is also one of the three pillars of Outschool’s ACE framework. Offering multi-day classes allows the same learners to be a part of a group for longer periods. For some homeschoolers, this might be the only interaction with kids their age they get that day.
Finding success within the homeschool community
Part of her success as an Outschool educator is due to looking at what best fits her own needs and skills.
“I worked it out and locked it in, by looking at my family’s schedule and said, ‘This is the time that I can teach,’ and I teach those hours.”
Timing and scheduling are important to your success at Outschool. If you’re not a morning person but Outschool’s recommended schedule suggests hosting a class at 6 am on a Sunday, are you setting yourself up to miss a class and potentially ruin your reputation? Make sure that you’re offering classes at a time that works well for you and your students.
One of the other things that Martha has found to be helpful is connecting with other educators on Outschool. As a part of Outschool’s community, Martha can collaborate with other educators. She finds this to be a helpful way to provide customer support care to learners who she cannot teach because they are looking for someone outside her age range or schedule by suggesting other educators who may be available. Doing this builds her reputation within the Outschool community and with families who know she is always willing to do what is best for the learner.
Marketing to homeschool families
Strong customer service and communication are key to attracting homeschool families. Why? Because as Martha put it,
“Homeschool parents talk to other homeschool parents.”
In the homeschool community, it is common for families to share ideas on curriculum, methodologies, what is working and what is not, along with which online programs and educators they like.
Martha noted that when her enrollments are good, those times when she has full classes across the board, she does not market off-platform. When creating new classes, or in between classes restarting, she focuses on the larger homeschool groups and communities online through Facebook and word of mouth. Being a homeschool community contributor, answering questions, offering helpful advice, and recommending classes on social media also contributes to enrollments.
She recommends not getting lost in offering Facebook ads or posting paid social media. Start by being an active member of the community.
How YOU can tap into the homeschool market
Want to know more about targeting homeschooled families at Outschool? Check out these articles and start building homeschool classes today:
Now it’s your turn. Take the tips and tricks Martha has used to grow her online teaching business and apply it to your own. Happy teaching!