Fun fact: I was a homeschooler once! I read a lot–like the librarians asked my mom if I actually read all the books I checked out, and she had to convince them that yes, I did–so I was always at the library. Think about it–you have a whole subset of teens who are available during the day for programs! And their parents are usually super-involved! They’ll bring friends! Let’s do this!
So, order of the day is to find those homeschool groups on Facebook. We have a very active one in my community. Reach out to them. Let them know what you offer, but also ask them what they need. What would they like to do at the library or get out of the library that they can’t do themselves? For us, tech programming was key to generating interest with our homeschool families.
We originally started a Coding Camp for elementary school students, and I expanded it to include teens. It’s really nice, because if you can get the scheduling on point and have the space, you can run teen and elementary simultaneously or at least back-to-back, and then the whole family comes to the library for programming. We use the code.org lesson plans, and supplement with the robots and tech toys that we have purchased ourselves. The teens really love Spheros!
This past fall, I started a book club for homeschool and e-school students. Traditionally, book clubs haven’t fared very well at my library, but I did have some students come. Our first book was To Kill A Mockingbird (their choice!) because they had never read it. As with any book club, guidelines about respect and tolerance are crucial for good, critical discussion. This week, we’ll be talking about the ARCs they chose from last month to read and discuss.
But don’t feel limited to tech or books. It’s really easy to replicate the programs that you do later in the day during the day for a different group of kids. However, I always encourage my homeschooled teens to attend all of our events.
For marketing, we chose to create a separate brochure just for daytime programs aimed at homeschoolers and other non-traditional students. It really makes them feel valued and appreciated–something just for them.
Have you tried any programs specifically marketed toward non-traditional students?