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Popping In...Update on me and ? Anyone teach classes for homeschoolers?


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So It's been a while. I broke my right foot (the metatarsal) 2 months ago. It is still not healing. I may need surgery on it later this year. I really miss driving!!

I was elected chair of the STEM Committee of our county 4-H. My oldest is a county Ambassador for 4-H. I am now a club leader for our local 4-H club. And the younger kids still love it. 

If you remember my previous posts  , well things haven't changed much. My oldest is in therapy for depression,it's a lot. But I am still trying to work on a plan. And right now, I have an opportunity to maybe teach classes for homeschoolers. 

There are charter schools here and my friend who uses one initially asked me to teach her kids science classes. I looked around and apparently there is a need here. The only 2 vendors that teach science classes are in the county over (45+ minutes if no traffic, 1.5-2 hours with traffic). I looked at tutoring before, but the pay per hour was not that great and they wanted certs I don't have. I would much rather do classes of 15. (I figure 4 classes a week, 2 afternoons, with 15 kids per class.) The classes here (due to charter schools footing the bill) charge $800-$1000/year on average for a lab science.

I did the math and even renting a place and getting an umbrella insurance policy, it would be good $. Of course, the 1st year would be an outlay for lab supplies, etc. And would require the most time with new curriculum, etc.

I thought I recalled someone here doing that? Anyone have experience?

Anything you as a homeschooler would look for in classes? Things to be aware of? Since most of my students would be through Charter schools, they are a bit more serious and have someone holding them accountable. I know to have a well spelled out syllabus and expectations for parents and students to sign.  Anything else you can suggest?

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I have a business teaching science classes to homeschoolers.   I rent a storefront space and teach 15 classes a week (3 a day with 30 minutes between classes).    We are a state with no rules so most people are looking for casual classes.   I cover the background for each lab during the class session, but also provide a syllabus and suggested readings and links for those people who are interested in taking things further. 

I've been a 4-H leader for a while (plus homeschooling 9 years) so I had a lot of equipment and materials already but the start-up costs were quite a bit.  Science equipment is pretty expensive.   I'm just finishing my first year in my own space (I sub-let last year to test things out) and I"m covering my rent and utilities with the tuition.  Still not making much money and of course, haven't covered those start-up expenses but things are going very well.  

I limit my class size to 6 kids for the K-2nd graders, and 10 kids for the older ones.   Since my classes are all hands-on (and often very very messy), this is a good number for me.   Larger classes would need more space, more equipment, more supplies, and labs would take longer to do.

I have had to put in a ton of time preparing for classes this year.  I use Powerpoint to present class materials and developed my own curriculum using various resources.  Next year should be a lot easier because many classes are repeats.  While I"m doing some tweaking, I won't be starting from scratch except for a couple new classes.  

I was surprised that the youngest kids classes were actually the most popular.    People don't want to do the messy stuff at home.   I do also have quite a few teenagers.

 

Edited by Where's Toto?
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I've taught a variety of homeschool classes and done tutoring.  Mostly in a co-op setting.  I've also PAID for a lot of classes for my own 2 kids and one is just graduating.  A few observations. 

  • Are you thinking of this for this fall?  In our area, many of those classes have registration open and in some cases full now.  If you want to get something rolling for fall, I'd maybe just come up with a price point and general idea for a couple classes and start advertising or at least trolling for interest ASAP.  
  • 15 is a large class size for a homeschool class.   Especially for hands on and messy. The classes I've taught have run with about 6-12 students.  I think it's good to have a firm minimum and maximum you'll run the class with.  
  • Use age limits (rather than grade levels) and be firm with them.  If you offer high school Chem for example and a parent with an advanced 10 year old wants in, it can potentially change the whole focus and tone for the teens in the room.   I really think it's unfair to the other students if you advertise a class as say 6-10 and then let in a 4 year old sibling.  You may have more people that semester but you may turn off people for further classes.
  • That said, given the above, I've had much better luck with classes both in teaching and with my own kids who are advanced academically that are more open ended and project based.  For example, bring in a poster and demonstration showing photosynthesis.  Kids could demonstrate that at a variety of levels.  Vs. here are some work sheets to fill in before next week.  I taught a programming class where some kids just demonstrated some simple animated graphics as a final project.  And a couple kids had a full fledged interactive video game to demonstrate and play.  I used about the half the class period to talk and I threw as much out there as I could for kids that were ready for it.  And used half the class for independent work and consulting on individuals questions and projects.  
  • One of my favorite high school science classes that I paid for was designed to go with a science course on CK12 online.  The teacher had a google classroom she would update every week with links and what to work on between class periods.  And they did a lot of messier and hands on lab stuff in class.  It really felt like a rich class.  And the homework was more open ended and project based.
  • Definitely have parents and students sign off on a behavioral expectations document of some kind.  Warn parents that they may need to stay with their child if they have problems with classroom protocol and behavior.   Have a warning and exit policy spelled out.  
  • Spell out your refund policy clearly too.  
Edited by FuzzyCatz
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Thanks both of you for all that info!

The case here in CA with the charters is kind of unique in that I would have a curriculum laid out as the classes have to be a-g certified since these are basically public school and they want those classes certified. All the high school courses have to be a-g in the charters so even if I taught math, I would have to pick from the pre-approved curriculum to use basically. I mean I could come up with my own plan and submit it to get a-g approval, but why reinvent the wheel. Like chem I would probably use Holt Modern Chem and the resources that go with it.

So age limits, etc. would be pretty strict, just because charters will not pay for the class for kids who can not count the credit. There may be an advanced 8th grader who could take some a-g classes in 8th, but I can put requirements, like must have completed Alg 1 for Chem with a min grade of C. Those like me, who homeschool under the private school affidavit, are not my target audience. I am 99% confident that I can fill my class just from the 5 charters I know of in the area. If someone wanted to come and pay privately, there would have to be the same admission requirements. 

My plan was to do something similar to what @FuzzyCatz mentioned with kind of reversed classroom: assignments, readings to do on my site and we meet 1x a week for the 20 minutes of explanation, then the bulk would be labs, demos, etc. That is what I did for my Forensics Sci class this year. I had 22 kids and we did 1/2 powerpoints and discussion and 1/2 hands-on and labs.

I currently am teaching usually classes of 18-25 right now, so 15 kids sounds lite to me, but I plan to keep it there unless I find I can handle more and there is demand. But the minimum students is an excellent idea.

I can rent a place here (as a resident of my city) for $90/3 hours, so I planned to do 2 classes an afternoon, 2x a week.

I did not target the younger kid's classes as there are learning centers here for the younger kids and parents here are typically not that interested in classes for that age other than things like horseback riding, art, sports, etc.  Plus the pay rate for younger ages is much less..... a weekly 1 hour class is maybe $50/month versus $100/month for high school. I mean I have tons of material, I could easily do a science class for K-3rd. I will have to look into it a bit more. 

I already have several parents who will give me great reviews (I tutored their kids or the like). But I am not thinking to start this year, just because of my broken foot. I may need surgery in Dec and until then, I am just planning.  Checking costs, insurance, etc. The refund policy I need to figure out. 

@Where's Toto? Thanks for the info, that falls in line with what I had in mind. 

@Where's Toto? would you say $5K initial cost for Chem and Physics equip is realistic or too low? I will also need to invest in a way to transport as I would not have a permanent location. Are your summer camps and kid's night out popular???

Let me ask anyone reading this, if the high school class some weeks did not have labs, but hands on demos/explanations, like I am thinking manipulative for atomic structure modelling in class (like this maybe), would you be disappointed? Especially Chem and Physics, it would be parts labs and parts explaining and making sure the concepts were grasped.

 

 

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58 minutes ago, Um_2_4 said:

 

@Where's Toto? Thanks for the info, that falls in line with what I had in mind. 

@Where's Toto? would you say $5K initial cost for Chem and Physics equip is realistic or too low? I will also need to invest in a way to transport as I would not have a permanent location. Are your summer camps and kid's night out popular???

Let me ask anyone reading this, if the high school class some weeks did not have labs, but hands on demos/explanations, like I am thinking manipulative for atomic structure modelling in class (like this maybe), would you be disappointed? Especially Chem and Physics, it would be parts labs and parts explaining and making sure the concepts were grasped.

 

 

For just equipment, $5,000 is probably a realistic estimate.  We had about $13,000 to get set up but that included furniture and initial deposits for rent and utilities.  

Last year I had to transport and it was a royal pain.    I just used tote bins because I had to haul everything up stairs and had to keep it on the lighter side.  Having my own space is 10,000 times better.  

Summer camps are pretty popular so far, but it's hard to know how it will look at the end.   Homeschoolers don't need summer camp so tend to only do a week here or there, or even just a few days.  I'm not really known among the non-homeschoolers yet.   Kid's Night Out has been a mix.  It started out strong and I had a couple with lots of kids but then others, like tonight, I ended up cancelling for lack of interest.     Workshops have been a mix as well, some were very popular, others cancelled.    This is my first full year though and so much around here depends on word-of-mouth that it can take time.  

I have done some demonstrations or modeling in classes rather than labs with certain topics.  Nobody seems to mind, it's just the way it works out sometimes.  Usually that's with the older kids and they understand why it's done that way.   I have molecule building kits that we use a few times.  I've also done some modeling with candy and that's always popular with the older kids. 

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Thanks @Where's Toto?

Yeah, I am used to some lugging of stuff for weekly 4h project meetings. My main thing would be organizing it all at home when not in use.

I will research more into what middle school classes might work. And maybe workshops that the charters would cover. 

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I did it for years through a local group. I wanted group science for my own kids and to be able to afford other classes that they offered, so it worked. I did grade school science classes and always had a waiting list. I made it experiment-focused and did a lapbook with them. There was no homework.

Make sure that you have clear behavior guidelines and consequences. I had a student who had been kicked out of public school for hitting a teacher, and he was really hard to teach. Ultimately I had to kick him out of class, and I refunded the parents the fee. 

Require a non-refundable deposit so parents actually commit. I didn't do that the first year, and registration was chaotic. Then be specific on when payment is due and enforce it.

So fun. There were many times after that where I wished I could do that again, but Classical Conversations wiped out the local classes. That group shut down for lack of demand. And I'm at a different point in life.

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On 6/7/2019 at 8:17 PM, Um_2_4 said:

 Let me ask anyone reading this, if the high school class some weeks did not have labs, but hands on demos/explanations, like I am thinking manipulative for atomic structure modelling in class (like this maybe), would you be disappointed? Especially Chem and Physics, it would be parts labs and parts explaining and making sure the concepts were grasped.

I think you just need to say the class will include 10-12 labs over the semester or whatever it may be, and perhaps list a few. 

Regarding classes for younger kids: if you're willing to do these out of your home, you can make more money. 

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