We’ve talked a lot this year about creating materials with the homeschool market in mind, so it’s important that we know whom that market represents. If we’re going to visualize our ideal reader, there are some things we need to understand. One of the common misconceptions about homeschooling is that it’s done only on the fringes and that a very small number of families choose to educate at home. That was true in past decades, but not any longer. According to Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, “There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010.”1 That’s a lot of families that you can reach with your material! Take a look at a few fast facts:
- The homeschool market is currently a billion-dollar industry.2
- Homeschooling has seen an average yearly growth of between 2 and 8 percent over the last several years.3
- Homeschool enrollment is outpacing traditional school enrollment by seven times as many new students.4
- On average, $400 to $599 is spent annually on each homeschooled student.5
- 68.1 percent of homeschool families have three or more children.6
Christian publishers, as well as general market publishers, are taking notice:
- In August, 2013, Zondervan released the Homeschool Mom’s Bible.7
- YWAM Publishing has released unit studies and curriculum guides (2001–present) to complement its popular Christian Heroes Then and Now series by Janet and Geoff Benge as well as their Heroes of History series and Heroes of History for Young Readers series.
- Christian Book Distributors has dedicated a section of its website to homeschool resources and sends out dedicated e-blasts and catalogs targeting homeschooling customers each year.
- In 2000, Random House debuted a companion series of nonfiction study guides to the popular Magic Tree House books titled the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series.
When you reach out to one homeschooler, you also connect with his or her friends, family, and homeschooling support groups. Homeschoolers love to share news about great resources. Consider that a Google search of homeschooling blogs returned over 2,000 matches from Weebly, over 38,000 matches from WordPress, and more than 79,000 matches from Blogger.8
And the growth of homeschooling doesn’t stop at the US border.
- Canada: An estimated 60,000-80,000 homeschoolers in 2006 has risen to approximately 100,000 today9
- Australia: An estimated 20,000 homeschooling and distance education students in 1995 has risen to approximately 30,000 families in 201210
Writing for the homeschool market is:
- An extremely rewarding ministry
Equally important as understanding what writing for the homeschool market is is understanding what it’s usually not:
- A fast way to self-publish and make lots of money
- An easy market to break into (it’s just as hard as any other market)
- Writing to a homogenous group of people who all share the same dreams, goals, and core beliefs
Homeschoolers are just as diverse as the broader children’s market. They each have specific sets of values, expectations, and goals. So who homeschools?
There’s no one mold that all homeschooling families fit into. Research shows that people from varied ethnic and religious backgrounds are choosing the homeschooling option. According to Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, “A demographically wide variety of people homeschool—these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white.” In addition, Dr. Ray states that “homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo).”11
Families are choosing to homeschool for many different reasons. For some, it’s the desire to shape curriculum and teaching style to each child’s needs. Others have observed that home-educated students typically outperform public-school students on standardized test scores. Some families choose to home educate to share their beliefs and values with their kids and to strengthen family bonds. For others, it’s the concern over things such as drugs, violence, and bullying.12
The key to remember when you’re writing for homeschoolers is to know whom you want to reach. It’s virtually impossible to write for everyone. As it is in writing for the broader children’s market, so it is in the homeschool market. You must know your purpose, your audience, and your call.
Whom are you writing for? Who is your ideal reader, and how are you meeting his or her needs? Please share with us in the comments!
- www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/07/Report-Growth-in-Homeschooling-Outpacing-Public-Schools. See also nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91 and nces.ed.gov/programs/projections/projections2020/tables/table_02.asp.
- Research performed May 17, 2013.
- www.hslda.ca/assets/pdf/summary-final.pdf and correspondence with Member Services, HSLDA Canada, September 6, 2013
- learninfreedom.org/homeschool_growth.html and www.hslda.org/hs/international/Australia/default.asp
Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.