I just got the new Homeschooler magazine and it is terrific. This issue is the best I’ve seen in years. The range of articles was great.”
~Rebecca, Southern California
Words of Wisdom
Getting Tech Savvy
Minecraft: Teaching the 3 R’s
Hot Links for Homeschoolers
Let’s Go To a Conference!
For 25 years, the Homeschool Association of California (HSC) published The California Homeschooler. Every member of the organization received a copy of this publication, showcasing the lives of homeschooling families in the state of California.
That magazine has been expanded, redesigned, renamed and is now available to subscribers across the United States. Our writers, while many live in California, also come from around the country.
HSC knew that other states were not as fortunate as California with its plethora of options for homeschoolers. For years, various regional, state, and local organizations used HSC’s strong support components as prototypes for creating options of their own. Camping trips, email lists, newsletters, support liaisons were all duplicated around the country.
Susanne, Managing Editor
Sue has been married for 27 years during which she homeschooled three children in Texas, Alaska and California. Her children’s interests took the entire family on a variety of adventures over the years and now she lives with her husband in a little suburb outside of Austin, Texas. The kids come and go. One is in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, another is an actress in L.A., and the third is a hair stylist and recently married. She was a founding board member of the National Home Education Network and was active in homeschooling communities at the local, state and national levels. Sue joins The Homeschooler with considerable experience in writing, editing and publishing. She is currently working on a book, sharing insights from homeschooling teens and grown homeschoolers. Online, you can find her writings at Lifelong Learning.
Willow, Content Editor
Writer, instructor and activist Willow resides in the Bay Area with her amazing son, loving husband and adorable puppy. Her goal is to fill each day with laughter, compassion and empowerment. She can usually be found hiking fantastic trails, knitting on
is a non-profit quarterly national magazine filled with helpful articles and resources for homeschoolers and anyone interested in children who learn outside of a conventional school environment. Readers will find articles that will inspire, encourage, and support their choice to homeschool.
For 25 years, the Homeschool Association of California (HSC) published The California Homeschooler. When that magazine was expanded and redesigned to appeal to a wider geographic audience,The Homeschooler was born. It is now available to subscribers across the country. This magazine is unique because it is published by a non-profit volunteer-run organization. The Homeschooler is sure to be appreciated by all kinds of homeschooling families nationwide!
M-F: 8am – 4pm
The News & You
Unschooling in the World
The Most Repeated Unschooling Questions of All Time
Nurturing Number Knowledge
Getting Past Your Own Math Anxiety
The Homeschool Therapist Column
Dealing with Anger
One common theme you will find among homeschool moms is frustration with the lack of resources available to them. There are a number of ways for a homeschool mom to obtain the help she needs. In this article, I will share one particular tip that I have used to help me with my frustrations. However, I do not recommend this tip to parents who are homeschooling young children. If you are not raising young children, this tip may work well for you. It is for the homeschool mom who is frustrated and confused by the limited amount of homeschooling resources available to her.
My trip begins with an examination of our culture and education system in our society. Too often, our educational system emphasizes what the government can teach us. Too often, we are left to our own devices to learn the material we need. The homeschool mom is often the forgotten member of the family. This can lead to frustration, confusion, and even depression.
If you homeschool your children, then you understand the necessity of keeping them healthy and safe. You also understand the joys and challenges of homeschooling. Yet, at times, you may feel overwhelmed and inadequate when faced with the demands of homeschooling. The good news is that there are many other sources of homeschooling information.
The first source should be your local library. I know that this seems like the logical place to look for many things. However, keep in mind that you want to be able to properly reference materials. The internet can be overwhelming for a new homeschooler. If you only have access to a library with books and minimal online resources, your learning experience will suffer.
Another great source of homeschool mom advice comes from other homeschoolers. You can find both positive and negative homeschooling experiences through the internet, in blogs, and on other homeschool websites. Take the time to really examine the advice that you can collect and really consider how applicable it is to your situation. There are many things that you can learn from others who have been where you are now and found success with homeschooling their children.
A third excellent source of homeschooling advice should come from your local church. There are likely many homeschooling churches in your area. If you are active in your church and the homeschool activities are on good follow-up, you might be able to talk with the pastor or the church office about homeschooling. They may even be aware of someone in your local area who is homeschooling. If not, there is no reason why you cannot research online and find contact information for several people who are knowledgeable about homeschooling.
If you feel that you are doing a good job as a homeschool parent, then homeschool information websites might not give you the source you were looking for. One of the best ways to get accurate advice is to talk to actual homeschool parents who are successful at homeschooling. You will be able to learn about what works best for your child, what they would recommend if you need help, and hear directly from the source. You might also learn something new about the homeschooling industry that you didn’t know before.
One last source for homeschool mom advice should come from other homeschooling professionals. This is perhaps the most useful form of homeschool information out there. You can approach other homeschooling professionals with a concern about a particular aspect of homeschooling, whether it is learning a new curriculum, finding a homeschool curriculum that works well, or whether your child is actually being homeschooled correctly. In many cases, you can network with these professionals for free, and you will benefit from their experience and insight into the homeschool industry. Just because you need homeschool mom advice doesn’t mean you have to turn to homeschool experts for the answers!
As a homeschool teacher, do you think of science as a “hard” subject, that is one that requires serious learning and deep discussion? If your goal is to get your kids excited about science, then you are going about it the wrong way. Because young children are instinctively curious about the world around them, it’s natural that they prefer poking and prodding and testing and testing it – in other words playing with science. And that leads to the wonderful ideas that promote science discovery and help them learn more about the process of science.
Play versus Learning Facts
In the traditional science classroom, children are taught to memorize facts; the focus is on rote learning. It’s no wonder that so many kids today are uninterested in pursuing science topics above and beyond what is required in the classroom!
Unfortunately, the rote fact teaching methodology does not involve real science. It is concerned more with helping kids return the right answers in a passive learning framework which involves no risk, no decision-making, and no demands on a child’s inquisitive nature.
Real science has a tangible substance. Real learning of real science involves active participation and teaching kids how to use science by learning the process, not the facts. It encourages them to think, compare, investigate, and experiment. And that can be considered “play” because it’s fun and exciting for kids to learn science in this manner.
Teaching Science In a Playful Manner
When teaching your kids about science, it’s important to get them involved both mentally and physically. There shouldn’t be any concrete answers in their science textbooks and workbooks; instead the curriculum should encourage questioning and help students probe for their own answers based on experimentation and observation. As E. Duckworth states in the 1987 work The Having of Wonderful Ideas and Other Essays on Teaching and Learning, “Any wrong idea that is corrected provides far more depth than if one never had a wrong idea, to begin with. You master the idea much more thoroughly if you have considered alternatives, tried to work it out in areas where it didn’t work, and figured out why it was that it didn’t work, all of which takes time.”
Children want to try to understand the world around them. As they make observations, they will come to conclusions, some of which will be right, others will be wrong. Science becomes fun when kids can take their beliefs about the natural world and compare them to the way things really work, as noted through experimentation. This allows them to play with science and observe the results to form factual conclusions that get them excited about learning more. This teaching methodology encourages kids to let their imagination run wild with new ideas and promotes the continual use of curiosity to form other hypotheses they can test.
Inquiry and discovery lie at the root of the process of real science. This is how scientists work in the real world and it works well for helping your kids get excited about learning science in a homeschool setting.
Many parents believe it is easier to teach homeschool science using the more traditional curriculum that focuses on rote learning. Actually, the reverse is true. A science curriculum that helps the homeschool teacher and student together discover whether or not a hypothesis is correct allows both of them to apply the process of science to everyday life. And that results in real learning of real science.
Pre-existing knowledge is always a factor in how a student learns something new – it’s just how we, as humans, are wired. Even babies, with their very limited knowledge, use what they already know to learn new things, such as basic concepts about spatial relationships, movement, and facial expressions. Previously learned information functions as a filter through which all new information must flow. During this process it is categorized and connected – sometimes accurately, sometimes not – to fit into the existing framework of knowledge.
Knowing that all students – even our own kids – have very personalized ways of thinking about things based on prior experience and knowledge, the homeschool teacher can use it to his or her advantage in the classroom. Here are three ways that students’ pre-existing knowledge can positively affect homeschool teaching.
The setting in which a child learns influences how information is processed. For instance, if you have set aside a particular room in your home for teaching or perhaps even a dedicated space where science experiments take place, that association is important to your child. It is up to you, as the homeschool teacher, to ensure that the associations with this space are positive and do everything possible to encourage investigation, exploration, and “what if” questioning.
Another way you can use the learning environment to your advantage is by taking your child out on “field trips” to places associated with science and other school subjects, such as a museum. Your child’s pre-existing knowledge tells him or her that this place is for both fun and education and that association is a positive one upon which you can build by using innate enthusiasm.
When teaching children, it is important that the methodology helps them properly organize new information to fit with pre-existing knowledge. This helps them transfer the new information learned to future, unique situations.
This can be achieved through a building block process of learning where the student is given a strong foundation of core concepts. Only after those core concepts are firmly in place should advanced learning occur so that students know how and where to organize complex information. The solid foundation becomes the pre-existing knowledge to which new information is added over time.
And finally, the way a teacher manages the homeschool classroom (consciously or unconsciously) also has a bearing on the application of pre-existing knowledge to new concepts. Teachers who rule their classrooms strictly and do not encourage exploration set that norm. It could be that you expect so much from your children they are reluctant to ask questions when they don’t thoroughly understand a concept you are teaching. When it comes to science, this is often reflected by parents setting a goal of rote memorization (the periodic table, the solar system, etc.) when it’s really much more beneficial to help your kids learn scientific inquiry. When you make this the expectation in your homeschool classroom, it will come easily to your students and allow them to expect the freedom to experiment and investigate science.
Pre-existing knowledge always plays a part in learning. Homeschool teachers who discover how to take advantage of this fact by providing the right environment, a learning structure that encourages organization, and a set of expectations congruent with exploration will do the greatest good in helping their children learn.