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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

“12 Cool Startups Catering To The Homeschool Crowd


Entrepreneurship in the education sector is probably almost as old as the education sector itself. Yet the homeschooling community’s unique set of needs often leaves it outside many benefits provided by business owners. Sad, too, considering how movements beyond the mainstream so frequently prove rather lucrative. But the following startups and small businesses prove it’s possible to tap into the oft-overlooked market and find something rewarding waiting on the other side.
  1. Math•U•See

    Steve Demme, a homeschooling father, launched this initiative when tasked with teaching groups of his contemporaries’ children using homemade worksheets. From there, he set up a small company dealing in videos and workbooks meant for homeschooling, co-op, and special education parents looking for quick lessons — or at least lesson supplements. Math•U•See is ideal for families with more than one young child to educate, and they can take advantage of its online resources like customized worksheets, drills, sample videos, calculators, forums, and more.
  2. ScholarSquare.com

    Although it doesn’t exclusively target homeschooling moms and dads, this oft-overlooked website certainly offers them plenty of videos expounding on a plethora of different subjects. Each one comes pre-screened, and instructors and parents pay a small fee to use them for the time allotted by the uploader. Some, however, are available for free and actually specifically address issues faced by parents who elect to homeschool their kids, such as balancing life and work. Because of its right-wing Christian bias, however, this isn’t exactly the place to go for science advice, though its reading, writing, and art lessons are pretty solid.
  3. Hschooler.net

    Both parents and students use Hschooler.net as a social network for Christians who opt out of the public and private school system. Founder Russ McGuire is no stranger to startups following this theme, with Christian Homeschool Network, which runs Hschooler.net, standing as his third such business. Participants use the site to trade advice and lesson plans, though the site provides them with quite a few of their own as well.
  4. Keepers of the Faith

    Most homeschool-oriented startups seem to focus almost exclusively on the lucrative Christian market, which happens to also form the crux of Keepers of the Faith’s customer base. For more than three decades, it has encouraged consumers to set up clubs and purchase its extensive selection of books, craft materials, and other educational items. In addition, homeschooling parents can use the forums to trade advice on viable strategies for getting the most out of both the organizations and the items for sale.
  5. Eclectic Homeschool Online

    Run by the Eclectic Homeschool Association, this online startup is actually a nonprofit operated almost entirely by volunteers. It acts as an Internet-based magazine covering homeschooling issues big and small, hoping to cover as many (mostly Christian) perspectives as possible. Consider popping in here as a veritable one-stop shop for articles, reviews, advice, directories, class materials, and plenty more.
  6. The Academic Advantage

    The Academic Advantage aims to provide personalized instruction to students in their own home, making it relevant to the interests of homeschooling and nonhomeschooling moms and dads alike. Because of its high degree of flexibility, however, the services are ideal for small and large instruction in the independent classroom. Currently, Academic Advantage’s services are only available in parts of California, Illinois, Florida, and New York.
  1. Home School Incorporated

    Former Motorola employee Thomas Morrow established this company to make it easy for homeschooling parents to keep track of digital files. Rather than risking losing their kids’ work, they upload backups to the Home School Incorporated site. Which, by the way, also happens to host a book store, forum, and a “web-based homeschool planning system” meant to help novices and seasoned veterans alike navigate the often difficult task of setting up an effective, efficient home classroom.
  2. Heritage Homeschool Academy

    Whether looking for online or traditional homeschooling curricula, this startup sells packages suitable for kindergarten through 12th grade, complete with parents’ guides and accredited high school diplomas. Enrolling students in their programming buys them a Christian-centric education complete with testing resources. It encourages participants to learn and grow at the pace most comfortable for them without compromising on quality and comprehensiveness.
  3. HomeSchoolReviews.com

    A homeschool startup that will, on occasion, review the offerings of other homeschool startups. For the most part, though, it sticks with covering books and other educational resources with a particular eye on how well suited they are to homeschooling scenarios. Parents can browse their extensive archives for suggestions or network with one another via the provided chats, swaps, and forums, meaning they receive a broader look at what all is available.
  4. Our Story Publications

    Nicole Eutsey’s experiences with homeschooling gifted children inspired her to relaunch Our Story Publications in order to reach out to parents and educators dealing with similar scenarios. Everything the publishing house prints up is completely original and encourages literacy, with plays, worksheets, and toys available — although they do sell books from other companies as well. Be sure to check out the accompanying blog for even more tips, tricks, and news regarding homeschooling and the needs of exceptionally intelligent kids.
  5. ePals Learning Community

    National Geographic invested in this valuable networking tool, which explicitly caters to both mainstream classrooms and homeschooling families alike. Because it connects teachers, students, schools, and parents worldwide, it encourages both collaboration and a wonderful way to soak up cultural lessons inaccessible without an Internet hookup. Check out the website for some amazing examples of how innovative users have been taking advantage of ePals’ extensive resources and get inspired.
  6. HomeschoolClassifieds.com

    Like the website’s title says, homeschool classrooms now have their very own Craigslist for trading, selling, giving away, and inquiring about everything from materials to curriculum advice. Every grade — up to the college level, even — and academic subject is available, meeting most (if not all) secular, religious, and special needs out there. They also post monthly articles covering lifestyle, health, and scholastic news and views readers will find most relevant.


Contacts and sources:
Larry Dignan

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