Reaching Out to Homeschool Communities

Erin said: Oct 5, 2015
Erin Ellis
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Brooklyn, NY
4 posts

I’m interested in reaching out to homeschool communities in my area, and was wondering if anyone has done so and has any advice?

Many thanks,

Erin

Carrie said: Oct 6, 2015
 
Suzuki Association Member
58 posts

I found the best results by offering to teach at the coop meeting. Unfortunately, part of the deal was to have a ridiculously cheap price. When I started teaching only at my home, all the students came , but I did not get many new students from the group. I’ve tried advertising at the groups and putting the name of a group member/student as a reference with no success.

carebear1158

Pam said: Oct 6, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

In our area there are organizations that support homeschoolers. They fund music and other elective and I charge regular tuition. I works for the school year and parents choose if they want to pay for the summer months.

Pam

Blessings,
Pam

Pam

Sharon said: Oct 7, 2015
 Voice, Piano, Violin
Eagle River, AK
4 posts

In my area there are many homeschooling. Most currently seem to be funded by homeschooling groups that are given anywhere from $2,000 to 4,000 with some limits as to how much they allocate towards extra curricular activities. There are even small allotments given for preschoolers. Parent referrals bring in the students.

It has been very much a part of my studio to work with homeschooling families. They are so rewarding and appreciative. A homeschooling parent often times knows how their child learns and motivates best. Learning how to be a Suzuki student and parent carries over into attitudes beyond just music. Though there are extra challenges that I have had to except that are not typical to a non homeschooling family. I realized that the parents are also learning how to teach and support other course work as well. Many of them have very large families. I have found it not practical to always teach in my studio. It is often more productive to teach in their home because the parents pick and choose their away from home time very carefully. Often times they have a new baby to fit into the current picture. Then they need older children to be on task with younger children so that they can attend to a music lesson. When in this situation, what this amounts to is that you have to really be supportive and affirming until life gets a little less chaotic.

You have to spend more time being a good parent educator. I give them a way to observe other parents who do well attending to the lesson. A parent being on task is my biggest challenge. They must be committed to daily work and listening. (They must not be just listening to older siblings practice as a substitution to the CD daily or working outside of the parent triangle if student is still young. Although often times the younger student learns on their own from an older sibling. It is best if you can teach parents first and get them inspired. They need to understand that they will put as much time towards this time as the student. My best students don’t have parents with much multitasking going on during the lessons.

Although I have shown and facilitated sort of mini group lessons with a family it is rare to have them doing this well in the home. They tend to move at different speeds and seem to enjoy working independently most often. My students do best if they can come to group weekly. Realize that they don’t get a general music class, so they need to spend time developing concepts that would be taught in these programs. I do Orff type of lessons along with Suzuki repertoire to teach large motor skills, music rudimentary skills, reading and leaning how to collaborate with other children in a musical setting.

Sharon Theroux

Debra Smoller said: Oct 7, 2015
Debra Smoller
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Berlin, VT
4 posts

I teach in Vermont and one home school family that I teach recommended that I post a notice with the state homeschool network listserve. I did this and an email went out to hundreds of homeschool families in the state. I’ve gotten some recognition this way.

In other places that I have been, I’ve found it hard to reach out to homeschoolers. Seems it helps to be part of their network, so going to meetings, teaching an early music class to pre-schoolers would help people get to know you. I’m learning that its all about relationships!

Debra Smoller

Melanie said: Oct 7, 2015
Melanie Barber
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Maple Valley, WA
24 posts

Do you know anyone who homeschools or teachers who have several homeschool students? Word of mouth spreads like wildfire, especially in homeschool communities. Just from one home school contact, I ended up having 14 students from 4 families over the past few years! I’m not looking for students right now, but a friend who homeschools teaches a music class at her coop. In her class she was looking for someone to come in and teach about violin for 15-20 minutes and play for the kids. Another teacher friend of mine is wanting to get more homeschool students so I’m having her come with me to try to spark a connection with her and the families of the coop.
At the beginning of my teaching career (only 4 years so far) , I volunteered everywhere in the community I could think of except for public schools. I really feel that all of that volunteering continues to pay back years later.

Lori Bolt said: Oct 7, 2015
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I home schooled by two children, and still assist with a home school program, though my two are young adults now. I see the biggest challenge promoting your studio as being the cost for home school families. Many private (non-Charter, non-co op) home schooling families are one income families. The home-based Charter schools that I’ve encountered require that one of their families request you as their teacher, then the school invites to become a “vendor” for that school. You can’t usually get on their list another way. These are the schools that provide funds for families to use on music, sports, dance, etc. I’m a vendor for one such school, and charge full price for lessons.

I think the suggestions offered in this discussion are good things to try.
Good luck!

Lori Bolt

Alan Duncan said: Oct 9, 2015
Alan Duncan
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
60 posts

As homeschool parent and primary practice parent for a young Suzuki violinist, I’d endorse all of the advice given.

I would just add that you should look closely at all of the different homeschool organizations in a given area. There’s a mistaken impression that homeschoolers are a monolithic bunch. In fact, in a large enough community, you’ll find organizations the support charter school kids, co-ops, religious groups, secular and inclusive homeschoolers, etc.

My guess is that it mostly builds organically unless you want to affiliate with an organized group. Homeschoolers often want atypical hours (which is good I think—not the after school rush hours.) If you are accommodating, I think the word will spread.

There’s such a close affinity between homeschooling and Suzuki that it’s often a good fit. In fact, our decision to homeschool was based on how well our daughter did in Suzuki (and the fact that she was too tired after traditional school to even contemplate practicing as much as she would like.)

Best of luck.

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