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Library Chicken Special Edition: Novellas!

Library Chicken Special Edition: Novellas!

I am here to tell y’all that we are living in a Golden Age of Novellas and if you haven’t yet discovered the awesomeness of these short-but-still-substantial reads you are in for a treat.

Best of HSL: Best Cities for Homeschool Families: #2: Chicago

Best of HSL: Best Cities for Homeschool Families: #2: Chicago

[We're gearing up for our updated list of Best Cities for Homeschool Families this fall, so we thought it would be fun to publish the three best of 2014 on the blog—number two on the list is the homeschool friendly city of Chicago.]

“Chicago is the pulse of America,” Sarah Bernhardt famously said, and you can feel the rhythm of the city pumping in your blood as soon as you set foot on the sidewalk. 

Chicago feels like a city you’ve imagined, with dramatic architecture mixed in with old-fashioned buildings, crowds of people who smile when they pass you on the street, and the kind of energy that you only get in a center of culture and enterprise.

And for homeschoolers, the magic of this Midwest city is delightfully accessible. The Museum of Science and Industry lets homeschoolers explore its galleries for free every weekday. Homeschool parents can get free admission at the Art Institute of Chicago every time they visit. If you call the Chicago Zoological Society, you can set up a free visit to see the animals. On the University of Chicago campus, you can pick up cheap tickets for cutting-edge art exhibitions, film screenings, and theatrical productions. And you can score day-of tickets to plays and musicals on Chicago’s theater row for as little as $5 per person.

In every season, you’ll find street festivals and block parties going on around the city—the Printers Row Literary Festival is a must for book-lovers, and the golumpkis at the Taste of Polonia festival may just make your kids appreciate cabbage. You can browse for hours in the stacks at the enormous, three-story used bookstore Myopic Books in Wicker Park, or find the next great indie comic or chapbook at hipster hangout Quimby’s. Pick up a slice of Chicago-style pizza and take a Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour. In late spring and early fall, you can have the sprawling beach of Lake Michigan almost completely to yourselves, and there’s plenty of room to play outside in Chicago Athenaeum’s International Sculpture Park (no admission charge) and the Adams Playground Park. The point is, you can have a ton of fun in Chicago without making a dent in your budget.

In fact, Chicago may be the most budget-friendly big city in the United States. In neighborhoods like Edgewater, the median selling price for condominiums is just $150,000—and you’re right by the Red Line for easy access to public transportation. Expect to pay a little more for groceries here than the national average, but less than you’d pay in a city like New York or Los Angeles. Costs for gas and utilities here are right around the national average. Chicago’s a sprawling city, but you can get by with a single car if you get comfortable with the public transportation system and live within walking distance of a transit stop.

 

IN BRIEF

Homeschool Requirements: None. If you’re withdrawing your child from school, the state recommends notifying the school, but you don’t have to file any paperwork, meet any attendance requirements, or participate in any standardized testing.

Community: The Chicago Homeschool Co-op meets on Wednesdays and is a great place to find out about other Chicagoland homeschool resources from other group members.

Books: Quimby’s is the coolest bookstore in town—and the place to find small-press zines, chapbooks, and comics.

Resources: Admission is free on weekdays for homeschool families at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Zoological Society; explore the galaxy at the Adler Planetarium; play outside at the Garfield Park Conservancy; build sandcastles at Foster Avenue Beach; get inspired at the Printers Row Literary Festival

Number of Museums: 74, including the Field Museum of Natural History, the Mitchell Museum of the American indian, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

Number of Libraries: 80, with a calendar of regular activities including arts and crafts workshops, gaming sessions, and author events

Median home price: $270,900 

Population: 2.71 million

 

This was originally published in the fall 2014 issue of HSL. Information was correct at time of publication but may have changed since then.


Best of HSL: Best Cities for Homeschool Families: #1 Austin, TX

Best of HSL: Best Cities for Homeschool Families: #1 Austin, TX

[We're gearing up for our updated list of Best Cities for Homeschool Families this fall, so we thought it would be fun to publish the three best of 2014 on the blog, starting with the homeschool friendly city of Austin, Texas.]

As any homeschooler who’s blown up a Coke bottle in her backyard can tell you, sometimes, you’ve just gotta embrace the weird. Which may just be why Austin and homeschooling are a match made in heaven. This city—which takes it graffiti promise to “Keep Austin Weird” so literally that it’s got a Museum of the Weird, complete with Bigfoot mummies, downtown on 6th Street—can handle whatever even the most out-of-the-box life learners hit it with.    

Though nearly two million Texans call the state’s capital city home, Austin still feels more like a small town that’s had a growth spurt than a shiny metropolis. On any given day, you might spot a ragged crowd of kayakers paddling across Lady Bird Lake in the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a seven-mile stretch of public green space along the waterfront. Or you might run into a group of young artists balancing sketchpads on their knees in the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, which lets kids twelve and younger in free every day. Line up for a Harry Potter marathon at the Alamo Drafthouse, and there’s a good chance your kids can drum up a friendly conversation with a fellow Dumbledore fanatic wearing her house colors. Even the line for Franklin Barbecue—which would be frankly ridiculous if that first bite didn’t make you forget how long you waited—can be a kid-friendly lesson in supply and demand. Alternative education opportunities abound in Austin, from the fairly traditional (homeschool day at the Bullock Texas State History Museum or classes at the Austin Science and Nature Center) to quirky niche activities like engineering Maker groups and survivalist training weekends. And kids can choose their next favorite bands just by walking down the street, especially during the city’s annual South by Southwest music festival and conference extravaganza.      

On top of all that, living in Austin’s cheap—at least comparatively. Houses in up-and-coming East Austin had a median price of just $219,000 this spring, and even ritzy hoods like Lakeway have plenty of homes selling in the mid-$300s. Food, utilities, and transportation costs in Austin all fall below the national average—a big plus for homeschool families stretching one income. Thanks to dedicated bike lanes on more than half of the city’s streets and continued bike path development—the city aims to have 900 miles of bike lanes by 2020—Austin is a reasonable place to live without a car. 

 

In Brief

Homeschool requirements: None. If you’re withdrawing your child from school, the state recommends notifying the school, but you don’t have to file any paperwork, meet any attendance requirements, or participate in any standardized testing.

Community: Austin Area Homeschoolers is a friendly resource with discussion groups, field trips, new homeschooler resources, and a weekly co-op.

Books: Book People has an awesome children’s book collection—and they’re so passionate about good reads for kids that they’ve teamed up with local authors to put together a Modern First Library of new kids’ lit classics.

Resources: Check out homeschool programs at the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Austin Nature and Science Center; get creative (with real tools) at the Austin Tinkering School; learn outdoor survival skills at Earth Native Wilderness Survival School; check out David Foster Wallace’s manuscripts and letters at the Henry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin; play outside on the Barton Creek Greenbelt

Number of Museums: 25, including the Mexic-Arte Museum and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

Number of Libraries: 35, with regular book clubs, poetry nights, gaming sessions, and performances

Median home price: $318,854

Population: 1.8 million

This was originally published in the fall 2014 issue of HSL. Information was correct at time of publication but may have changed since then.


Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling High School

Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling High School

Expensive doesn’t mean better, but some things are worth paying more for. Do your research before you commit your resources.

Take lots of pictures. You may not run into as many obvious photo opps as you did during the early years, but you will treasures photos of your high schooler at work. 

Don’t feel like a failure if your teenager decides to try traditional school. Giving him the freedom to come to that decision on his own totally counts as success.

Keep quarterly records of classes and reading lists.

Let her stay up late. Let her sleep in.

Travel as much as you can, as many places as you can. 

You will realize sometime during your child’s senior year that you left a hole somewhere in his education. Let it go. Everyone’s education has some holes.

Take your time. The worst thing that can happen is that your child graduates later than his public school peers. That’s not so bad.

Sign up for a community college class, just to get a feel for what it’s like.

Stick to what has worked. Don’t feel like you have to break out hardcore curricula or make your daily work time serious business just because your child hits high school. 

Give your teen freedom to set his own goals and schedules. Let him mess up.

Make everyday activities, like budgeting for groceries or doing laundry, part of your curriculum. Your teen will thank you later.

Plan like your teen will be going to college. Expect that he might decide to do something else. You’ll cover your bases and minimize senior year stress.

Do not stop taking field trips and baking cookies together.

Give lots of feedback. Your high schooler needs to know how her work measures up. 

Don’t panic. Yes, suddenly it seems like there is so much to do and so little time. There will be even less time in six months when you realize you just spend the last half-year freaking out.

Take a few SAT prep tests. Don’t take an SAT prep class unless your teen is applying to a super-competitive school.

Invest in what your child cares about most. If that means scavenging free math curricula and grammar lessons to pay for drama lessons, that’s okay.

Do not get so caught up in the this-should-be-on-your-transcript checklist that you suck all the fun out of homeschool.

Keep quarterly records of classes and reading lists.

Find a way for your child to do real labs. Even if she’s not a science person.

Visit lots of colleges.

See as many concerts, plays, ballets, poetry readings, films, and other performances as you can.

Plan ahead for timing-matters issues, like college applications and driver’s license testing.

Make plenty of one-on-one dates with your teen. These years fly by so quickly, and you’ll be glad you made the time when she’s not living at home anymore.

Help your child define what a successful high school experience for her would be. Then help her find ways to achieve it.

Talk seriously about technology and social media. Give your teen freedom to find her way and information to guide her.

Bask in your own glory. You did it. And you did great. 

 

This list is adapted from a feature in the summer 2015 issue of HSL.


Related Posts

Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling the Middle Grades

Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling the Middle Grades

Between 5th grade and high school, your child will discover her passions and her own voice.

Provide plenty of physical outlets for your child’s energy. Organized teams, private lessons, or even a new bike can help set tweens on a healthy route toward adulthood.

Give your child plenty of freedom now so that he can learn to use it responsibly. Now is a good time to make mistakes.

Give your child lots of opportunities to express himself. Write papers, make movies, create petitions.

Set deadlines and goal without serious consequences. These are the years to teach your child how to follow through on a project or assignment, but you don’t want to create homeschool stress by setting the stakes too high.

Some days, your child will act like a toddler. Some days, he will act like he’s in college. This is normal.

Your child is navigating big emotional changes. Try not to take it personally.

Schedule plenty of time for hanging out with friends. Kids this age care about social relationships more than almost anything else.

Let your child set up and decorate her learning space however she wants.

Plan lots of hands-on projects and activities.

Take dance breaks.

Travel whenever you can, wherever you can.

Make rules together. Talk about them. Enforce them. 

Try lots of different activities. See which ones stick. 

Keep reading together.

Make time for volunteer work.

Be as patient with yourself as you are with your child — and vice versa.

Explore other options, like charter schools or private school, to see what they offer. You can borrow some of their good ideas.

Take more field trips. By high school, scheduling will be a challenge.

Focus on teaching your child how to learn, not on teaching her a set of facts to memorize.

You will have bad days. Move past them.

Take some personality tests — such as the Myers-Briggs test or an emotional intelligence test — together, and compare your results. Use the opportunity to get to know each other and the best ways to work together.

Keep a reading log. Looking back at it will remind you that you really are doing a good job.

Resist the urge to compare your kid’s progress to anyone else’s.

Listen to your child’s favorite music in the car.

Take the day off sometimes, just because you can. 

Hug your child every chance you get. These years will fly by. 􏰅

 

This list is adapted from a feature in the summer 2015 issue of HSL.


Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling the Early Grades

Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling the Early Grades

From kindergarten through 5th grade, your goal is to instill basic skills and cultivate a love of learning.

A schedule is great, but don’t tie yourself down. Some of the best homeschool adventures happen spontaneously.

Play outside. A lot.

Read books. Kids can learn math, history, science, philosophy, grammar, and everything else from stories — and some of those lessons go down a lot easier than they would with workbooks and bubble tests.

Keep a homeschool joy journal. The time flies by, and your memories of hatching butterflies and visiting Cherokee pow-wows will start to fade.

Let your child take some tests. Don’t make them a big deal. Don’t even grade them if you don’t want to. But give him the experience of sitting down to communicate his knowledge

It’s okay to stop doing it if it’s not fun. You can always come back to it later.

Find a library system that works for you fast, or you’re going to be paying a lot of fines down the road.

Don’t spend a lot of money on curriculum items for the future. You will change your mind at least a dozen times about what you want to do before then.

Take every field trip you can. Making time for field trips gets harder as kids get older.

Forget grade level. It’s okay if your 2nd-grader isn’t ready to read or if your kindergartner is reading 4th-grade books. Don’t pin yourself down with a preconceived list of things your child needs to learn at a certain time.

Make me-time. It’s essential to your wellbeing. 

You will screw up sometimes. It’s okay. Be nice to yourself about it.

Play audiobooks in the car. 

Pay attention to what your child enjoys. There’s a good chance that the activities she engages in with the most enthusiasm are indicators of her natural learning style.

You will sometimes waver between feeling like you are doing way too much and like you are not doing enough. You are probably doing just the right amount.

Buy more pencils than you think you need.

Don’t be afraid of screen time. Documentaries, interactive games, and even Phineas and Ferb can be learning opportunities.

Once in a while, take a day off for no reason.

Buy more bookcases.

Accept that you will sometimes succumb to the midwinter blues, when everything about homeschooling makes you feel tired, depressed, and unsuccessful. Promise yourself to take time off and not make any big decisions till the daffodils bloom.

Incorporate housework into your daily routine. Your kids can help. Your kids should help.

Resist the urge to move on to the next thing if your child is in love with a particular subject or activity. You don’t need to rush.

Some day, you may have to push through difficult subjects until both you and your child are reduced to tears. That day is not today. There is no need to force a piece of learning at this stage.

Write down your child’s stories and poems. You will forget them, even though it seems impossible that you could ever forget a poem about a renegade cat with a band of angry inkblots.

Some days, your children will be annoying. Some days, you might not like them much. That’s okay. Tomorrow will probably be better.

Remind yourself that homeschooling is a lifestyle, not just an educational plan.

Your child will amaze you. Pack tissues. 􏰅    

 

This list is adapted from a feature in the summer 2015 issue of HSL.