My family has homeschooled for only three short years, and have recently just begun our fourth. We are also a family who has a very slim homeschool budget, so we are always on the lookout for 'freebies' and good deals. I use a curriculum that, while initially is pricey, it lasts for many, many years... making it one of the most affordable curriculum I have found. During the four years surrounding our homeschool quest, I have read quite a few small, thin publications written for the homeschooling society. They have been interesting and informative, and even helpful (especially to a then newcomer to the world of home education), but they never inspired me to pull out my checkbook and subscribe (unless it meant getting in to a homeschool convention for free). This is why I have never sought out The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, even though I had heard that it was a first rate publication. I thought it would be like all the other homeschooling magazines... mostly advertisements (of the same companies who's fliers fill my convention bags each summer), and a few articles that, while helpful, are not something I would want to keep and re-read again.
I have to admit, once I found out that a few of my friends who were blogging had been offered a copy of the magazine for free if they would only read it and review it online... I jumped on the band wagon. I was also excited to find that they were offering free gifts and discounts on products that I already was using. I had no idea what to expect before the magazine arrived in my PO Box. I was impressed by the weight, thickness, and glossy cover (complete with a very professional photograph of an old, abandoned schoolhouse). It looked fancy enough to sit on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. I was pleased with myself for offering to review it. It no longer seemed like a chore, but rather, an intriguing way to spend my free time.
Life happened between the first few days of receiving my magazine and when I finally opened it up. Selling a home, packing, and moving... and starting school in the middle of it all, kept me from having any time to myself. So, I tucked The Old Schoolhouse Summer 2005 edition in my travel bag and planned to read it the next time I was stuck in the car or at a hotel (where I seem to find most of my "mommy time"). Once I was able to read it, I was so impressed by how professional, engaging and informative the articles were, I was glued to the pages for hours past my bed-time.
It seems that TOS is a relatively interactive magazine, that is truly plugged in to the needs and interests of today's homeschooling families. They print articles from homeschooling moms and dads who blog, from their readers, and from veteran homeschoolers who have lived the life and have so much to share. They are a quarterly publication, so they are able to save up submissions and publish a polished product that is worth the subscription price. This is also a benefit for me, because I hardly have time to read for pleasure with lesson plans and life keeping my focus until I hit the pillow each night. If I got one of these each month, they would surely stack up in a corner or on a shelf somewhere (collecting dust) like my National Geographic magazines that some well-meaning relative subscribed to in our name. While it is full of glossy advertisements like most other homeschool publications, it also has a wonderful selection of articles on very important topics. Some of the topics they chose for the summer 2005 issue are:
- Blogging (some were written by bloggers)
- Christian conduct and how we come across to others
- International homeschooling (a "look at what's going on" with homeschooling around the world)
- Thoughts from readers (in the "Teacher's Lounge" section - including great ideas, questions, opinions and input from the editors)
- Homeschooling special-needs children (specifically Down's Syndrome and Autism)
- Comparing curriculum (namely Sonlight and Covenant Home in this issue)
- Glimpses into someone else's homeschool (always refreshing!)
- Marriage building
- Using life's distractions as teachable moments
- Akiane the homeschooled art prodigy
- The "Pleasures of Preschoolers"
- Homeschooling active kids
- Young patriots
- Homeschooling entrepreneurs
- Inspiring homeschool valedictorians
- Reading success
- Sign language
- Gifted children and how to spot them in your family
- Encouragement for those who have lost infants and children
- Encouragement for single homeschool families
- Communication skills
- Being a storyteller
- Interviews with long-time homeschoolers
- A nice little Sheep/Wool article (for you fellow Konos users out there!)
- Foreign field trips (I wish!)
- Natural foods and supplements to help in behavior and learning
- Natural medicines
- Contest winners and prizes (lovely artwork by the readers' children)
- Product reviews
- New contests!
- Cute Christian comic strips
The list speaks for itself, and you will not be disappointed in the content.
In a few short words, I would sum up TOS as a fabulous resource for homeschoolers.
I plan to fork over the money for a subscription when mine runs out. It will be money well spent! Hopefully one day, my kids can have their artwork in the pages. They've been begging me to send photos of their Lego creations and drawings to every kid magazine I can think of. I think our first submission will be to TOS!
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