Ian Slatter of the Home School Legal Defense Association
(HSLDA), a national homeschool advocacy group, states that up to two million
homeschool students exist in the United States. Their parents spend between
$500 and $600 per child each year on educational materials. Homeschooling
is growing at a rate of 7 to 15 percent a year, and the total market is
expected to top $1.2 billion this year. By 2013, assuming a growth rate
of only 7 percent, over four million children will be homeschooled, perhaps
as many as 16 million.
Homeschooling growth reflects concerns about public education. Parents
are dissatisfied with local public schools, but cannot afford private
schools and still want their children to receive a quality education.
Parents typically put together
a curriculum covering traditional school subjects: English, Social Studies,
Mathematics and Science. Often parents, particularly when starting out,
buy pre-existing homeschool curricula sold by schools.
Texas Home School Coalition
The Homeschool Market
What do homeschoolers buy? "Creative add-ons to a standard curriculum,"
says Slatter. "Homeschools have limited resources and need to supplement
the sciences." Science kits are big sellers, particularly those dealing
with physical sciences: Geology, Physics and Chemistry.
Tim Lambert, who heads the Texas Home School Coalition
(THSC), agrees: "Any electronics kits -- transistor radios, circuits
labs, do-it-yourself projects -- will be appealing." Homeschoolers
tend to appreciate the benefits of hands-on projects.
History-based items, such as models, simulations, books and traditional
toys, are also appealing. "American History is a big thing for homeschoolers,”
says Slatter. "Anything with Christian themes and lessons will resonate.
Many [homeschools] are religiously motivated."
Marienne Daugherty of HEART, a Houston-area homeschool
network, skips local stores for mail order. "They [local stores]
don't have a Christian influence," she says.
Attracting homeschoolers is like herding
cats: They’re an individualistic group, otherwise they would not be
Just stocking products homeschoolers want may not bring in homeschooling
dollars. They must know you exist and where to contact you.
"Reach out to the local homeschool group,” Lambert advises. “The
best way to reach homeschoolers is through the homeschool network."
The HSLDA lists local homeschool networks on their website (hslda.org).
Find local groups there, or try your nearest public library since homeschool
networks often work with the local library -- it is their school library.
Cultivating homeschoolers as customers takes patience. Convince them
that you have something they want and that you can be trusted. Lambert
advises advertising in the local network's newsletter. Better yet, sponsor
For a larger reach, consider advertising in a statewide homechooling
magazine. For example, the Texas Home School Coalition's Review
magazine is advertiser-supported and reaches 60,000 families in Texas.
Attracting homeschoolers is like herding cats: They’re an individualistic
group, otherwise they would not be homeschooling. Attract them, and you
gain a loyal, active clientele -- and your piece of the homeschool pie.
Writer's Bio: When Mark Lardas says something
isn't rocket science, he knows. His career spans both space and e-commerce.
His down-to-earth interests include models and writing. He combines both
of these in articles for modeling magazines and as Boy's Life's Hobby