Monday, April 7, 2014

How to reach homeschoolers, and other questions from readers.

Since launching this blog I have received a variety of questions via email related to my posts, and have answered each one directly. However, I thought some of them that are broader in scope might be of interest to others - whether my answers are also of interest is to be determined.

Below are just a few of the recent ones I have received.

1. How can we reach homeschoolers?

I have written about this in several of my blogs already:

Why homeschoolers are not listening to you
Marketing to homeschool moms
What is the common core to homeschoolers?
Why homeschoolers are not listening to you (Part 2)
Reaching homeschoolers in 2014

I won't rehash all of those blogs here, but the main item to keep in mind here is that this is really such a vague question. "Reaching homeschoolers" carries with it the assumption they are all the same, and they all think alike. Just because you carry the title "Mom" doesn't mean you think and act like all other women who also happen to be mothers.

So, the first thought here is to understand what homeschoolers you are wanting to talk to, because you cannot reach all of them due to their diversity of thought.

2. Are all homeschoolers conservative?

Short answer is No. There is a homeschool spectrum that exists with conservative ones on one side, and liberal ones on the other side. Between the two lies the full array of thoughts and beliefs that mirror the overall population. There are secular homeschoolers, Muslim homeschoolers, and so on that make this community a true mosaic.

Even within the "conservative" side of the spectrum lies diversity -- young-Earth Creationists and old-Earth Creationists. There are some who believe the Bible instructs them to homeschool while others homeschool by choice, not mandate.

3. Why do all homeschoolers distrust the government?

First of all, not all homeschoolers do. (see the answer to #2 above) Just because a group is loud does not mean they are a majority, it just means they are vocal.

However, for those that do distrust the government, it is a very emotional issue that cannot be addressed satisfactorily with logic or reason.

4. Do homeschoolers really perform better on standardized tests than their public school counterparts do?

Research indicates that those homeschoolers who take the standardized tests do perform better on average than their public school counterparts. However, it could have as much to do with selectivity as it does with performance because not all homeschoolers take these tests.

5. Do you believe the Common Core will lead to further growth in alternative education such as homeschooling?

Fear is a great motivator (election cycles remind us of this all the time), and change breeds fear many times. An issue as galvanizing as the Common Core could actually lead to an increase in homeschoolers because parents will move toward safety -- when homeschool becomes safer than Common Core in the minds of families, it could lead to greater movement to the former.

6. What do you mean when you say "mainstream homeschoolers"?

My use of the word "mainstream" has more to do with the reasons behind their choice and the way they interact in the world than it does with any philosophical, spiritual, or political bent. In my view you can be mainstream and Christian, mainstream and Muslim, mainstream and agnostic or atheist.

There are over 2.4 million homeschoolers in America, and growing. My contention is the majority of them are quietly educating their children at home because they believe that is best for their situation. For them, education is the primary motivator in the decision though faith and values are also important to them -- whatever their faith may be.

And, they engage with the world in manners similar to what we find across all other target markets -- they shop online; they visit local zoos/aquariums; they go to movies; they shop at Target, Macy's, or even Wal Mart; they participate in sports, activities, and clubs; they own multiple computers (even iPads) and carry Directv or DISH -- in essence they do what everyone else does, they just happen to homeschool rather than private school or public school.

More questions to come in the future. Now back to our regularly-scheduled blog post.

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