Anyone searching the Internet understands the growing number of web sites and blogs now devoted solely to homeschooling. A simple search today could yield enough reading material for a decade, and then some.
When even experienced users are daunted by the amount of available information, how must prospective and new homeschoolers feel when trying to find simple answers?
I am often asked the names of the “best” homeschool web sites. I am probably asked, “Which homeschooling web sites are the best?” or “What blogs do you follow?” at least once a week. I love to help, but answering these questions isn’t as simple as one might think!
This web site – Quick Start Homeschool – provides answers basic homeschool questions. HOWEVER, I find it important that parents find web sites they like, ones they can understand, ones they are inspired by, and ones that speak their own language — whether or not these sites are the same web sites used by everybody else.
Homeschooling is a job involving research and the gathering of resources. What better way to start this research than by collecting bits of homeschool information from favorite places on the web — ones that offer comfort, support and the specific information families need, at the exact time they need it?
It isn’t a cop-out not to offer help in this way. In my opinion, giving families the tools to find information on their own is the very best way to help!
So, here are my best tips for navigating the homeschool blog-o-sphere:
1) Find a source for basic homeschool information, such as this one here. Mark it for frequent reference and/or subscribe to the feed. Get comfortable with it, and make sure it feels right to you. Or, find another you like. Remember that just because something calls itself the #1 site, the largest site, or the most-visited site, may not be the best fit. Even if it takes a day or two, find the best general information, homeschooling web site for you!
2) Find 2-3 web sites that offer help and resources you think will match your particular homeschool philosophy and lifestyle. This may also take a day or two. If Charlotte Mason is what you’re after, find those place on the web. If Leadership Education is something you would like to try, look for that instead. Mark style-specific sites you like, and visit often for a while. If they disappoint, or if they lead to new ideas, find others to add to the rotation.
3) Find several homeschool blogs you like. These may be blogs written by moms just like you, or by parents very different from you. They may offer ideas, support, encouragement, or examples of homeschool projects. They may support your efforts, or challenge you. However, make these pleasant places to visit, and spend your time. Maybe they’ll even offer a laugh or two! Visit them from time to time, to glean fresh ideas and perspective, or until they are no longer useful to you any more. If they do, find others instead.
4) Review your choices from time to time. Find new places of inspiration, leaving the old ones behind.
5) If none of your favorite web places offers information about homeschool laws where you live, or finding support systems in the area, locate a web site that does, and keep the name handy. While it may not be a place you visit every week, this is a good reference for when you need it.
By all means, never spend time at a computer unless you find it restful, motivational, or fun. Visiting favorite sites and blogs should be satisfying — like meeting with old friends — and should never waste time, induce stress or create frustration.
But, perhaps my favorite tip is this one:
6) Read the COMMENTS left by readers on posts you like. Then, check the blogs of the people who have left those comments! These are often quite related and similar, may lead to new insights and territory, and could be equally worth your read!