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Practical Homeschooling® :

There’s Always More to Learn

By Mary Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #91, 2009.

The third decade of homeschooling, and the information keeps coming.
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Mary Pride

Like some of you, I’ve been homeschooling for what seems like a l-o-n-g time. In fact, this year marks my third decade as a homeschooling mom.

Back when our family started homeschooling, there were no curriculum guides, no books about homeschooling in bookstores and libraries, and no glossy homeschool magazines. It was almost impossible to locate a local support group, and there was no Internet (at least, not one that regular people could access at home). Major curriculum publishers refused to sell to individual homeschoolers, and people were still “turning in” their homeschooling neighbors.

Those of us in this first wave of homeschoolers had to figure out what we were doing while we were doing it. There literally was nobody to tell us how to teach a child to read, how to teach algebra at home, how to teach a foreign or classical language at home, how to teach many children in different grade levels all at once, how to meet state graduation requirements, and on and on.

Aware of the need for help, quite a few first-generation homeschoolers started organizations and businesses geared to helping other homeschoolers succeed. Some wrote curriculum. Some started state groups and local support groups. My contribution was to write the first book that included both homeschool methods and detailed curriculum reviews, including what products cost and (very importantly) where to find them.

That book, The Big Book of Home Learning, became the first homeschooling book ever sold in mainstream bookstores. Due to popular demand, it was followed by a second edition which attempted to explain how to homeschool from preschool through high school. This was a pretty good trick, considering my own kids were all babies or in the elementary grades! I was constantly having to figure out-and explain-how to do things we hadn’t done yet ourselves. That meant I started out telling people about options I had discovered and simply described each curriculum’s features. In the next edition I would share more in-depth opinions of those curricula and methods I had been able to try out personally.

Eight years after I wrote my first homeschool book, Bill and I also started this magazine, Practical Homeschooling. Our initial goal was to tell readers all the latest information on how to apply every homeschool method-not just one favorite method. We also wanted a quicker way to share product reviews, news, trends, and so on than was possible with books.

We were still feeling our way along. But now we had the benefit of columnists and other expert writers who could “fill in the holes.”

I probably benefited more from the magazine than any of our readers, as I always sought out articles on the areas in which I still lacked personal experience. At the time, this still included all of what it took to get a homeschooled kid through high school and college.

“Is This Magazine Necessary?”

Five and a half years ago, my first child graduated college.

We had done it!

Now I knew it all, from preschool to college admissions and beyond. Our kids had taken (and aced) the PSAT, the SAT, and the ACT. They had applied at (and been accepted to) military academies, top private liberal arts schools, top state schools, and a distance-learning university. They had beta tested the first online academies and used generations of educational software.

At this point, I seriously wondered if there was anything new to write about for Practical Homeschooling.

After all, we had printed “how tos” on every homeschool method, every academic subject, and every grade level. We had even covered topics such as career planning and home economics.

What more was there to say? Would we just end up repeating ourselves?

Apparently not. Since then, PHS has run articles on:

  • “Shoestring” ways to educate your preschool child
  • The “Maloney Method”: first introduced to homeschoolers in PHS #57
  • How to graduate from law school . . . at home!
  • How to create a yearbook
  • How to teach every math and science topic in a way that will impress colleges
  • How to enter and succeed at major contests
  • How to start and run co-ops and many kinds of interest-based clubs
  • All about “honors colleges”
  • Child labor laws & how to comply
  • Filmmaking for kids
  • The new “rules” of high school graduation
  • Homeschoolers in the military
  • Homeschool sports leagues
  • A whole series of columns on how to get accepted at top colleges
  • and literally hundreds of other useful, quirky, and practical topics

This list doesn’t begin to include the hundreds of new products, news stories, interviews, and much more that PHS has covered in the last five years. As the world moves faster, we at PHS are running full out to tell you what you need to know to make the most of all your opportunities (and avoid the traps).

Oh yes, there is always more to learn!

Mary Pride is the publisher of PHS.

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