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premiere issue!

liFe begins aT home

home|school|life 101 FRESH IDEAS FOR SPRING HOW ARE YOU DOING? Making sense of your year

Become a story teller The UlTimaTe Field Trip


Hiking tHe appalacHian trail


at-home art inspiration


raising a nature lover


Dinosaur vacations

look inside!


fresh ideas inspiration 15 101 iDeas activities for national poetry month; great science biographies; feng shui your school room; fascinating people to study; and more

community 26 you askeD answers to your questions about focus, statements of faith, and more 29 our Way Up-close and personal with smiths 30 curriculum Junkie an art history program for all ages 32 Book nerD The well-read day 34 hanDs-on science raising a nature lover 36 art start get inspired by paul Klee 38 Balancing act making peace with your mess 40 one suBJect | Four Ways Four approaches to U.s. history 41 career path What a would-be chemist should know 42 making the graDe age-specific advice for your homeschool

Whether it’s your first year homeschooling or your fifteenth, you’re your own best inspiration.






What It’s Like

What’s in a Story?

Real homeschoolers share real stories about the ups and downs of dealing with depression, sending your child off to college, learning on the road, educating a gifted child, and more.

Stories have the power to instill confidence, improve comprehension skills, stimulate creativity, and encourage vocabulary development. And you—yes, you—are ready to start telling them.

Wrapping Up the Year



You don’t have to wonder how you’re doing as a parent-teacher. Our practical end-of-the-year guide walks you through assessing your year and planning ahead.

47 ultimate FielD trip hiking the appalachian Trail 50 roaDschooling Yosemite; dinosaur destinations 52 calenDar notable events and exhibitions

obsessed 72 stuFF We love pens, pencils, and binding machines

8 a note From amy 10 voices 74 the toolkit 78 unsocializeD

bonninTUrina | FoTolia

Wrapping up the year | page 66

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inspiration |

5 Fascinating Reasons to Study Nellie Bly Elizabeth Jane Cochran—who used the pseudonym Nellie Bly during a time when journalism wasn’t a ladylike occupation— exposed political and social corruption, traveled around the world, and changed society’s ideas about what a woman could do.

1 2 3 4 5

She blew Phileas Fogg out of the water. Bly blasted Jules Verne’s fictional around-the-world-in-80-days record by crossing the globe in just 72 days. Read all about it in eighty Days: nellie Bly and elizabeth Bisland's history-making race around the World by Matthew Goodman.

She helped create investigative journalism. Bly famously went undercover at a notorious New York asylum, in an ungoverned box factory, and in a politically corrupt Mexican city to expose conditions. Learn more about the history of muckraking in muckraking: the Journalism that changed america edited by Judith and William Serrin.

She normalized the notion of female reporters. Bly stubbornly refused to write about ladies’ fashion, fund-raising tea parties, and other “women’s news.” Bly shares the stage with twelve other worldchanging women in rebel in a Dress: adventurers by Sylvia Branzei.

She was famous for being famous way before the Kardashians came along. By her 20s, Bly was one of the most famous people in the United States and known around the world for her adventures. See how far her influence stretched by watching american experience: around the World in 7 Days.

She changed the idea of what women could do. Women like Nellie Bly helped reshape the definition of “women’s work” and contributed to the growing movement for women’s rights, which would influence everyone from 1900s suffragettes to 21st century executives balancing work and family. Read more in Bonnie Christensen’s the Daring nellie Bly.—a.s.

hungry minDs

Beat the Breakfast Blahs stuck in a “mom, i’m hungry” morning rut? mix things up with three easy breakfast upgrades. Full recipes on —a.s.

insteaD oF: oatmeal try: maple-blueberry quinoa pudding

carry on bly traveled around the world with only one bag to show up a male coworker who claimed women traveled slow because they packed so much stuff.

insteaD oF: cereal with milk try: homemade granola with yogurt and figs

insteaD oF: scrambled eggs and toast try: Fried egg pizza




inspiration |



Musical Numbers make every road trip roam schooling fun with these playful, math-themed tunes. —a.s. Finite simple group (of order two) klein four

nonagon they Might Be giants

the one safe place By Tania Unsworth In a dystopian future, young Devin thinks he’s lucked out to find a spot in a home for abandoned children with unlimited food and toys. But the place is hiding something.

mandelbrot set Jonathan coulton

tesla’s aJic By Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman Shusterman’s new trilogy kicks off with a bang—or at least a toaster to to the head, as fourteen-year-old Nick discovers his new home is full of secrets planted by scientist Nikola Tesla.

pi kate Bush

that’s mathematics tom lehrer

West of the moon By Margi Preus Young Astri and her sister, armed only with a book of spells and a possibly magical hairbrush, set off to join their father in America, wandering in and out of Norwegian myth and folklore on their journey. twelve minutes to midnight By Christopher Edge Intrepid heiress, thriller writer, and 13year-old detective Penelope Treadwell sets out to investigate the eerie goingson at a Victorian asylum.

a song about pi lucy kaplansky

9 Fresh-Off-the-Press Books to Add to Your Spring Reading List

panic By Lauren Oliver The author of Delirium pits teens in a dystopian future against each other



Hunger Games-style in a high-stakes game where the victor wins a ticket out of their dead-end small town. leonce and lena By Jurg Amann In this Shakespearean comedy of errors, Leonce of Popo and Princess Lena of Pipi both flee their arranged marriage to each other, only to meet and fall in love while in disguise. lindbergh By Torben Kuhlmann This gorgeously illustrated book tells the story of a determined mouse who builds a fantastic flying machine to escape to America, avoiding the cats and owls who hunt mice on the big ocean steamships. the loch ness monster By Jean Flitcroft The kick-off to a new series, the Cryptid Files, this premiere adventure sends young Vanessa to Loch Ness, where she is determined to continue her mother’s research into legendary animals. chasing the storm By Ron Miller This non-fiction book follows real-life storm chasers, detailing their methods and equipment, plus suggesting athome projects, like building a backyard weather station. —a.s.




high school

Mission Possible Everything you think you know about homeschooling high school may be wrong— and that’s a very good thing. Once upon a time, homeschoolers were more likely to turn to traditional schools when high school rolled around—fewer than 17 percent of the 210,000 homeschooled kids reported by the U.S. Department of Education in 2001 were high school students. There are lots of reasons parents may choose not to homeschool their teens through high school, but don't let false fear be one of them. myth high school is too difficult for the average parent to teach Fact you don’t have to teach everything In many ways, homeschooling high school can be much simpler than the early years because your teen is more than capable of independent study. The trick lies in being honest with yourself: What are you capable and willing to teach, and what do you need to outsource? There is absolutely no way I am ever going to teach higher level math. The thought of teaching calculus causes me to break out in hives, but literature or history—no problem. Source out subjects you don’t want to teach by utilizing a co-op class, tutor, community college, or even a great online curriculum. All of these options are usually far less expensive than private school. Your job will shift from teacher to educational coordinator—listening to him and guiding his class choices and extracurricular activities to prepare him for the college and whatever career path he's interested in. It also means keeping track of classes for his transcript, staying on top of testing deadlines for standardized and achievement tests, and helping him start to hone in on the best people to ask for letters of recommendation.

proved curriculum. And remember: just because you take an AP class doesn’t mean you have to take the test.

myth homeschoolers can’t take advanced placement (ap) tests Fact homeschoolers can take ap tests—whether they take official ap classes or not AP is a brand-name—like Kleenex or Band-Aid—which means the College Board gets to decide whether or not you can call your child’s course an AP class. (The College Board has a fairly straightforward process for getting your class syllabus approved on their website, and few homeschoolers run into problems getting their class approved.) You can build your own AP class using the materials and test examples on the College Board website and call the class “Honors” or “Advanced” on your transcript—and your child can take the AP test in that subject as long as you sign him up on time and pay the test fee. (Homeschoolers have to find a school administering the test willing to allow outside students, which may take some time. You’ll want to start calling well before the deadline.) If you’re nervous about teaching without an official syllabus, you can sign up for an online AP class or order an AP-ap-

myth you need an accredited diploma to apply to college Fact you need outside verification of ability to get into college Just a decade or so ago, many colleges didn’t know what to do with homeschoolers, and an accredited diploma helped normalize them. That’s not true anymore. (In fact, you may be interested to know that not all public high schools are accredited—only 77 percent of the high schools in Virginia, for example, have accreditation.) What you do want your child’s transcript to reflect is non-parent-provided proof of academic prowess. This can come in the form of graded co-op classes, dual enrollment courses at your local college, SAT or ACT scores, awards, etc. Most colleges are not going to consider whether your child’s high school transcript was accredited or not when deciding on admissions and financial aid.



myth a portfolio is superior to a transcript. Fact the common app makes transcripts a beJer choice Portfolios used to be the recommended way for homeschoolers


myth it’s hard for homeschoolers to get into college Fact homeschooled kids may actually be more likely to go to college than their traditionally schooled peers This may have been true 20 years ago, but not anymore. Researchers at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) found that 74 percent of homeschooled kids between age 18 and 24 had taken college classes, compared to just 46 percent of non-homeschoolers. In fact, most universities now include a section on their admission pages specifically addressing the admissions requirements for homeschooled students. In 1999, Stanford University accepted 27 percent of its homeschooled applicants—twice the rate for public and private school students admitted at the same time. Brown University representative Joyce Reed says homeschoolers are often a perfect fit at Brown. "They've learned to be self-directed, they take risks, they face challenges with total fervor, and they don't back off."

to show off their outside-the-box education, but since more and more schools rely on the transcript-style Common Application, portfolios have become a hindrance. (Obviously, portfolios are still important for students studying art or creative writing, where work samples are routinely requested as part of the application process.) In some ways, this format is even easier to manage than a portfolio—you can record high school-level classes your student took before 9th grade and college courses he took during high school in convenient little boxes. And don’t worry that your student won’t be able to show what makes him special: The application essay remains one of the best places to stand out as an individual. Some schools even include fun questions to elicit personal responses: The University of North Carolina, for instance, asks students what they hope to find over the rainbow. myth homeschooled kids don’t test well Fact on average, homeschoolers outperform their traditionally schooled peers on standardized tests All that emphasis on test prep in schools doesn’t seem to provide kids with a clear advantage come test time. Homeschooled students score 15 to 30 percentile points above the national average on standardized achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of education or the amount of money parents spend on homeschooling. That includes college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. Research compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics shows that homeschoolers scored an average 1083—67 points above the national average of 1016—on the SAT in 1999 and an average 22.6 (compared to the national average of 21.0) on the ACT in 1997. This doesn’t mean these tests aren’t important—good scores can open academic doors—but it does mean you may not have to worry about them as much you’d thought. myth homeschooled kids are not prepared for college Fact homeschooled kids adapt to college life beJer than their traditionally schooled peers This one always makes me laugh. Homeschooled kids probably have more hands-on life experience than their traditionally schooled counterparts. Homeschooled kids are usually more active in their communities, and because homeschooling is a family affair, they are more likely to have everyday life skills—the ones you need to make lunch for yourself or comparison shop for a tablet. Homeschooled teens also tend to be active participants in their own education, figuring out ways to manage their time and workload with their social lives long before they start college. Most importantly, they are able to interact and work with people of different ages, backgrounds, and cultures in a positive way, which is really the most important life skill of all. Perhaps that’s why homeschoolers are more likely to graduate from college (66.7 percent of homeschoolers graduate within four years of entering college, compared to 57.5 percent of public and private school students) and to graduate with a higher G.P.A. than their peers. Homeschoolers graduate with an average 3.46 G.P.A., compared to the average 3.16 senior G.P.A. for public and private school students, found St. Thomas University researcher Michael Cogan, who compared grades and graduation rates at doctoral universities between 2004 and 2009. —m.g.


Balancing act

What Does That Mess Mean? Sometimes, the perfect life looks a little messier than you might have expected. Shelli Bond Pabis explores the surprising beauty of a messy house. there are Four Baskets oF unFolDeD launDry at the foot of your bed. The afternoon light streaming through the window is shining a spotlight on dusty floors. It’s almost time for dinner, and you haven’t even thought about it yet. Other mothers are so much better at all this stuff. They plan meals, keep their houses clean, play with their children and watch prime time T.V. while snuggling with their husbands after the children go to bed. Maybe that is an unrealistic image, but other moms seem so much better at this. You were never a neat freak by any means, but before the children came along, the house was at least tidy. Now the clutter, oh, the clutter that comes with children and—especially— homeschooling. A new neighbor stops by with her son, and you look over your dining room before you answer the door. Only,

it’s a not a dining room anymore. It’s been converted into the “school room,” and it is cluttered with all your homeschooling books, games, projects, and more. The mess is not pretty like the messes you see in parenting magazines. It is cardboard-dust, glue-stains, puzzle-boxes-dangerously-stacked, broken-crafts-crammed-onto-theshelves messy. You wish you didn’t always feel the need to apologize for the mess, but you can’t help it. You do it anyway, and you expect your neighbor to give the routine reply. “Oh, don’t worry about it! I completely understand.” (That’s what you always say.) Instead, she stands there quietly, looking around, and she says slowly, “Do you know what this says to me?” You shake your head. Messes can speak? She says, “This tells me that you spend a lot of time doing activities with

community |

your children. I would like to do more of that.” You feel something akin to light shining around your head. It’s more than a light bulb. It’s a new perspective. You would like to kiss your new neighbor, but you control yourself. No mother is perfect, and every mother has her own talents. Some are good at cooking. Some are good at organizing. Others are good at being spontaneous. Some are good at creating structure. Some encourage messes because they know their kids are creating and using their imaginations. Some mothers and fathers work fulltime or part-time, and some of them do that while also homeschooling their children. Some spouses help out more than other spouses. Every household has its own way of splitting up the duties of making a living, keeping the house clean, and giving the children an education. But listen to this: No matter how you slice it up, something has to give. You are either giving up time with the children, or you are giving up time to take care of yourself. Absolutely nobody can do it all. Make a list of your priorities. What do you want to accomplish? What are the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy quality of life for yourself and family? Put those at the top. (You better put self-care up there. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of your family?) Now, what’s the least important stuff? Think about this. What’s the least important thing that you can let go of? One of these things is surely keeping a clean house. If you are always worrying about the clutter in your house, then you have too much clutter in your brain. Let it go. Make your goal more reasonable. Think “sanitary and livable” but not perfect. Dust bunnies, clutter, and glitter in the carpet can wait. You have more important things to do. On the crazy days when you feel most overwhelmed, go back to your list of priorities. Have you maintained that top one? If yes, pat yourself on the back. When life gets the most harried, that’s what is most important. 4



home|school|life Spring Sampler  
home|school|life Spring Sampler