I recently had an investor friend of mine reach out to ask what my opinion on Homeschooling is, especially as it relates to investing in the many startups building products/solutions for the space.
Given the current situation that the world finds itself in – locked down, learning & working at home – there is definitely increased attention on the concept with many parents considering it a viable alternative to the uncertain future of in-person learning. I will add that this has been a growing trend for a while now; been reviewing relevant companies for more than a year now.
My concerns re. the homeschooling market are:
- Courage – how many parents will be comfortable pulling their children out of the conventional school system? It’s a tall ask for a lot of the parents, especially since most of them may feel that the future prospects of their child are impaired by homeschooling.
- Cost (monetary and time) – a majority of children attend public schools because that’s what their families can afford. The current cost of alternative schooling is prohibitive. Also, schools also serve as day care due to the paucity of parental time. If you’re a double income household, there’s no time for a parent to supervise at or contribute to homeschool.
- Scale – only 3% of US students (2M) are currently homeschooled. While there is scope to grow, I don’t think this will be 7M (10%) in the next 5yrs. Additionally, the best way to achieve massive scale would be to expand to Asia (China, India, Indonesia) but all of those countries hold conventional schooling in high regard due to cultural reasons.
Just to be clear, I’m bullish on the idea of homeschooling in general. I see multiple opportunities in the space:
- Customization – each students is unique, wrt the subjects they enjoy and topics they grasp quickly. Homeschooling gives them the opportunity to dedicate time as needed. They also have the agency to build a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ curriculum journey
- Flexibility – learning never stops and the best homeschool instructors (parents, often) find a way to incorporate daily experiences and insights as learning experiences.
- Stronger relationships with adulting – there is a lot of value in children interacting with working adults, incl. parents, on a regular basis. Children begin to learn what real-life skills are, what work looks like, they appreciate more the qualities of responsibility, accountability, money management, etc.
- I’m a venture capitalist, so I look at all business opportunities with an investment lens. Which is why I think 7M students is not a big enough market size.
- Also, I’m not a parent – so my views are based on second-hand views gathered through conversations with parents, company founders, industry operators. I’d certainly hope that I have the courage to pursue alternative education methods with my children, when the time comes.