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Starting a homeschool/homeschool consulting business

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I promise I have read the user agreement and am not trying to advertise, but I need to tell a little about what I am trying to do in order to get some feedback and suggestions, so let me know if it's too much.

I am done with teaching in public school (for various reasons), but I am a proven, passionate educator, and I would like to homeschool my own child as well as gather a few other like-minded folks for a "school" of sorts. In Georgia, you don't need a business license for fewer than five kids, and a parent can hire me as a "tutor" for their child (I've done a little research).

I would also like to advertise myself as a curriculum developer and consultant for people who are ready to leave the public school. I specialize in gifted students and students who don't quite fit in the lockstep, low-standards curriculum. I figure I can do online delivery and a weekly class or two as well as well as some full-time students. Ages 9+.

What is the best way to start getting clients? Just networking? What are some things I need to screen for, and help me think of legal issues or anything that might complicate this.

Again, I am not trying to advertise here, but I am trying to cobble together enough business to not sign my contract thisyear, and I need some help (including things you might wnat if you were looking for something along these lines; what other services are missing in homeschool?). TIA!!
post #2 of 26
Are you part of any local homeschool groups? Natural/green/sustainable living? AP? Just thinking that those are generally the parents more likely to consider walking away form public school. Might be a good place to network.

There's always Craig's List
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
I did a post on craigslist but haven't gotten any bites.

I have started to network a little, starting with the only mom I knwo who is homeschooling, but I think I need to get a little more widespread. I will ask her for some info on the groups she is in, but I don't want to seem like a troll.
post #4 of 26
We homeschool and I lead a local homeschool group, so I'm pretty familiar with the reasons why people homeschool. In my experience, most homeschoolers fall into 1 of 2 categories

1) They homeschool for religious or philosophical reasons. (this includes those who are very religious and those who are very secular). I think many of the people in AP/green/natural/sustainable groups would fit into this category, as well as though who homeschool because private school is too expensive (since many of them are interested in religious or philosophical private schools).

2) The schools didn't *work* for their child. They may have had to deal with bullying, bad teachers, the school couldn't meet their child's needs (whether the child is gifted or special needs). These families may often have some children at home, and some in school.


I think most of your clientele would come from families who fit in category #2 (if I'm understanding what you want to offer correctly).


From my experience, families in category #1 would likely only want to hire an outside tutor or curriculum help if you were talking about specialized topics (like calculus, biology, chemistry, foreign language, music, logic etc). You might be able to find people who are interested in a challenges/problem-solving, class (similar to what they would do in a gifted program in school).

Also, keep in mind that if you are talking about ages 9+...in my experience there are way more children homeschooled in elementary grades (k-6) than there are for 7th grade plus. I would strongly consider taking younger students, if you really want to make this sustainable.

I would suggest you network with the most "inclusive, mainstream" homeschool groups....and not so much the ones that are mostly religious or philosophical in nature.

Also, you probably want to make your name known in "gifted circles" and you would want to stay involved with the public schools, If you are able to work with special needs or those with learning difficulties, that would help you out a lot as well.

I'm been very heavily involved in our local homeschool community for the last 4 years (leading the homeschool group for 3 of those) and in all my time I've never come across a family that was homeschooling because their child was gifted. I've mostly come across people who do it for religious or philosophical reaons, or because their child was having problems in school (bullying, bad teachers, unsupportive administration, school wasn't helping with learning difficulties, etc.). Of course, I will admit that it is possible that those who do homeschool because their child is gifted might not be as active in the homeschool groups, so I may have not come across them.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but I wanted to give you a realistic picture of homeschoolers.

ETA: I would defintiely make a point of networking with gifted groups, even online yahoo groups, or message boards, and if you are able to do a lot of your work online (wiht people who might not be local to you) that would hel you a lot.
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Ameliabedelia (love the name!), thanks for the advice/commentary/etc. You are correct; I am interested in families from category #2. I am definitely open to all the other reasons those parents might homeschool as well (bullying, don't "fit," etc). I have been doing many of the things you suggest and will continue along those routes.

I am not discouraged. AS education for gifted students continues to spiral downward, I guarantee there will be a market for my services. The writing is on the wall: with pay-for-performance coming down the pike for many states, teachers will be shooting straight for the middle. I think there are more out there, and I intend to find them!!
post #6 of 26
You could take out an ad in a local paper or Pennysaver. You could network and let guidance counselors from local schools know what you're doing; they may be able to refer students whose parents are pulling them out of school but don't want to homeschool.
post #7 of 26
For the past two years my son has been involved in a two day a week, 9:00-3:00 program that focuses on fun projects. They make soap, candles, plant trees, tend bees, play cool games, make things with led lights. Cool interesting educational tidbits are added throughout the day.

We are in category 1: and the draw for me with this group was that these fun projects have been a nice addition to our learning at home. I don't always have the time, skills, inclination to do everything this woman does.

I know your focus is on the other group, but I just wanted to share what was the draw for me and maybe would partially be for group 2: intellectual stimulation in a fun, interesting way that parents don't have the time for.
post #8 of 26
I would definetly look at homeschool and AP groups within the area, since you are going to be homeschooling your own child. I don't think they will think you are a "troll", unless you are pimping your business 100% of the time that you are in contact. Also, let your pediatricians office know that you are looking for clients, they may refer patients to you. I've looked for a sitter by using www.Care.com and they have a tutoring section, you could advertise there.
post #9 of 26

Hi! I am so glad to see that another public school teacher is looking for another way to expand their passion! I, too, am seeking to begin a homeschool consulting business in Texas. I was wondering since your last post; have you been able to start your business? If so, can you please inform me of the bumps in the road that you have run into (i.e. marketing, need, etc.)? Please give me any information that may help me successfully begin my own consulting business. Thank you in advance for any advice!

post #10 of 26

I am so glad to see that someone has a similar idea to my own. I, too, am a public school teacher, in Texas, that is looking to begin a homeschool consulting business. I am curious,,,have you started your business? If so, can you please tell me of any bumps in the road that you have encountered (marketing, need in community, etc.)? Also, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 

I did start it, and we are almost finished with our first year. I am now in the process of accreditation as a small private school (no more than 8 students, but optimally 6) and have expanded my online AP class offerings to four (and potentially 6 by the fall). I found it very difficult to break into the homeschooling market, and if I am going to be charging parents to actually teach their kids, I needed more street cred (hence, accreditation route).

 

We have had an incredible (and bumpy) first year; one of the biggest challenges for me was getting out of the public school mindset that gets pounded into you. Pratical advice would include the following:

 

1. Get a business license first. You can be building clients and advertising, but you need to strat the process for your license. I am currently tring to ge tmy house re-zoned so I can have a private school, and that is shutting the barn door after the horse has been out for six months. I can't get a license until I have a re-zoning, and it all costs money.

 

2. Get everyone to sign a contract or give a deposit (non-refundable). I am not a business-y type person and I have been relying on people keeping their word. The universe has been gently reminding me all year that this is bad business practice, and if I don't listen soon, it is going to be ugly. Get it in writing to protect you (and the client).

 

3. Expect to spend a ridiculous amount of time OR a ridiculous amount of money getting your website up and advertising going. I don't have money, so it toook a lot of time. It is at least one or the other.

 

4. Whatever part of education you love, do that. If you want to write curriculum but don't love to deliver it, sell that. If you want to teach but don't want to have to focus on designing curriculum, buy a good curriculum and teach. Try to hire out or pawn off what you don't love/can't do. If I could hire someone to recruit students, I would, and I would just hang out and design curriculum and teach all day (mostly what I get to do, though, so it is beautiful!).

 

5. Fill a niche. I have primarily students who are either gifted and bored, gifted and bullied or are twice exceptional. I design individual curriculum for everyone, and we all get our needs met here.

 

I will not go back to public school (at least in its current state), and I will not put my kid back in there either. Be prepared for that. I should have done this five years ago. The one piece of advice I got when I was trying to decide whether or not to take the leap and quit a stable job was to think about whether or not I was prepared to lose everything. I said yes, and this means losing our house on five acres where the school is and moving back to our townhouse. We are not there yet, but the economy has not helped. I am putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward, though, and doing what I can, and we are hopeful.

 

Let me know if you have other questions, and I will be happy to help!

post #12 of 26

Thank you so much for your reply! I will definitely take your advice on accredidation, planning, and advertising. I will have to look into zoning laws--I amy have to go to clients' homes to get around this one. I fortunately, have money set aside to build a website and possibly advertise with a local Christian radio station. I am very much looking forward to the challenge of shifting my career out of the public sector. I am so disappointed in our current public education system. I have a great feeling and incredible faith that I am making a wonderful decision. Thank you so much for the advice. I will be sure to contact you if I run into any other questions. Have a wonderful week, and good luck to you and your family!--Chelsea

post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 

My website is www.honeyfern.org if you want to take a look at what I have done; you can also contact me directly through there.

 

Good luck to you!

post #14 of 26

Thank you!

post #15 of 26

I am so glad that I came across this site.  I have been wanting to get some information on Homeschooling and how and where to start.  I stumbled across this site by googling and I have been reading all of your posts and have gotten some good information.  Is there anyone here that happens to live in Miami, FL?  If so please contact me by sending me a message or email.  If not, then its still ok we can always exchange information.  Thanks!

post #16 of 26

Where did you get your accreditation? I would love to start this process.

post #17 of 26

I would encourage you to check with your local autism support group.  I know quite a few of them that often have questions about homeschooling and where to turn when the public schools don't work anymore.

post #18 of 26

Hi :  I'm in Mississippi and sent my son to a homeschool group last year, but not satisfied.  I am a Nurse and thinking about starting my own homeschool group with trained teachers.  I have heard of one other person doing it here with 30 students in her group. I am thinking maybe one certified teacher and about 2-3 teacher asst.  Has anyone heard of this model ? Ellen

post #19 of 26

Good Luck getting started Mina !  Let me know how it is going for you.

Ellen

Ellensfuture@aol.com

post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 

I think that a group of 30 with 2-3 teachers is okay but a little big. I am actually changing my focus to a private school, but I will never have more than 8 students; this way I can still keep it individualized.

 

AllyRae, I had a student last year with Asperger's and I do tend to attract students who are twice-exceptional. I have one student who is gifted and incredibly ADHD, and some days he doesn't take his meds and we're fine. I think we will probably do that more often this upcoming year. It is nice for his mom, I think, to not have to drug her kid every day; if she forgets, or he forgets, she won't get a frantic call from the school.

 

EllensBrandon, I would like to hear how it goes for you!

 

I am getting accredited through the Georgia Accrediting Commission.

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