November-December 2005 Selected Content
Your Homeschool Blog - Andrea Rennick
Did you know a homeschooling blog can help you make new friends, influence people, enrich your home learning environment and keep your distant family happy? It may not help keep your kitchen any cleaner, but blogging your way through your homeschooling experience could become a part of your day, like it has for thousands of others.
What is a blog? It's the most recent Internet buzzword to go mainstream. A combination of the words "web" and "log," a blog is a cross between the personal web pages of old, combined with interesting links the author has found.
The people behind the scenes of homeschooling-related blogs are moms and dads, just like you and me. They post about a variety of issues, ranging from problems with math, sharing the look of joy on their child's face when they finally "get it," the family reading list, to what they had for dinner or their own thoughts on recent news reports featuring homeschooling.
One of the most useful aspects of a blog is the commenting feature. Not only can you publish your thoughts at the push of a button, your readers can offer feedback, share a laugh or even offer virtual hugs for support.
Dawn Jackson, of jacksonfour.com, credits blogging with helping her and her daughter. "Blogging has helped me get through my first year of homeschooling. I was able to sit down and vent my frustration or happiness via the blog and had fellow homeschoolers immediately help or affirm what was going on for the day. This past year my daughter chose to start skipping work. I had a hard time dealing with this and when I blogged about it, several different homeschoolers commented and left ideas about what may be wrong and how to fix it. It saved my daughter's life!"
For some homeschoolers, blogging hasn't added to their workload; in fact it has helped. Homeschool bloggers use their blogs to record the day's events, to keep track of books read, to keep Dad informed if he is away working and to add accountability to their plans. The blog format lends itself well to this, as one does not have to learn any web programming at all. Signing up and posting to your very own blog is now as easy as using any free, web-based email service. If you can fill out an online form and click a button, you too can have your very own blog.
A popular blogging site is www.blogger.com. Set up an account, choosing your very own username and password, then you can pick a name for your blog. Blogger will even host your blog for you, which means it lives on their servers, and will end in blogspot.com. Your blog will have an address like myhomeschoolingblog.blogspot.com, except with the name that you choose. Did I mention this is free? After your account is set up and your blog is named, you just pick a template (how your site will look) and you can start posting right away. Posting to your blog is as simple as typing what you want to say in a text box and clicking the "publish" button. You did it! Now you are a homeschooling blogger!
Some bloggers have found the longer they blog about their homeschool experience, the more reasons they have to keep going. Christina Routon of http://routonhomeschool.blogspot.com says it best: "Right now I would say my goal for the blog is to show that homeschooling is a lifestyle, not something separate that a family does. Yes, I use a curriculum and there is a time planned for book work, but it's something normal in our family, like brushing your teeth or doing laundry. We're always together and that's just how we are."
So blogging can even help represent homeschooling as a normal option, certainly helpful when distant relatives wonder what the kids are doing all day. Blogs read by family members have helped lessen the distance between them and brought assurances homeschooling is the right thing.
"I'm so happy you blog," my aunt emailed me. "I would never have known Emma otherwise." Readers of my blog have followed along with our adventures, from Emma's birth and toddlerhood, to temporarily sending my oldest back to school for two years, Addison's return back to homeschooling, and lately, a blogged announcement about his acceptance into college and his new job.
But most of all, blogging has done wonders for the homeschooling community. The longer you blog, the more you find yourself seeking out other bloggers, leaving comments at their blogs. People visit your blog and leave comments, with a link to their own blog, and the circle widens. Many bloggers have found out about methods and curricula they never knew existed. The power of a wide circle of bloggers has also known no bounds. When one of my favorite bloggers, spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com, idly mentioned having a homeschool blogger convention featuring blog posts on homeschooling, the idea quickly grew. In the end, Spunky highlighted over blog 50 entries and authors back in April, 2005, and the entry still gets read.
More importantly, homeschool bloggers have found others to share their experiences with--others with which to laugh, to cry, people who just plain understand what they are going through. Along the way, they've learned some computer skills, brushed up on writing, found their voices and strengthened their resolve. It's a world-wide support group, always open and waiting, sharing information at the speed of light.
So come online and join the fun! Drop by my blog and leave a comment, and I'll be sure to come visit you at your brand-new shiny blog.
© 2005, Andrea Rennick
Andrea Rennick has been homeschooling for over eleven years, and blogging for over six. She and her husband have three teenagers and a preschooler, whom you can read about at the family blog, http://atypicalife.net/blog, updated at least daily. She also maintains an ecclectic homeschooling site, http://atypicalhomeschool.net.