By Andy Harris
This month’s theme is “homeschooling on a budget.” In my family, that’s the theme every month. Life is expensive enough, and this homeschooling habit we’ve all picked up can get pricey. This month I want to show you one area in which you can save real money without having to compromise quality at all.
Within the last few years, a new type of software development has been making a major impact on the computing world. In addition to traditional commercial software, teams of talented professionals often work together (sometimes with corporate sponsorship and sometimes out of pure love of creation) to build free clones of popular software packages. You may think these tools could not compete with the efforts of major corporations, but you might be surprised. The tools I recommend are extremely well designed, have been thoroughly tested, and have all the features of their commercial counterparts. They generally work on every major operating system, and they are entirely free. They do not have ads, and they will not require in-app purchases for full features.
Before you buy commercial software for your homeschool, look into these options: (more…)
By Jessica Hulcy
As a high school junior, I was a foreign exchange student to Northern Ireland, experiencing the ultimate field trip by living in Ireland. My Irish father was a butcher raising cattle, so this city girl learned to drive a tractor, pitch hay bales, and tend cattle. I was the first female ever to want to visit the slaughterhouse. I learned about socialized medicine and witnessed the Catholic/Protestant conflict that dated back centuries. I baked tea cakes once a week with my Irish mother on a cast-iron stove. I traveled to Scotland with my Irish father and brothers to buy the smallest car I had ever seen. I learned Irish songs and dances. My Irish grandfather took me to climb the Giant’s Causeway, a geological wonder . . . and the entire family and friends watched me water ski in the North Atlantic in a wetsuit, thinking this Texan would love it. All I could think about was Jaws! What an incredible, unforgettable, living unit on Northern Ireland.
The Sandwich Approach to Field Trips
Fast forward: When I first began homeschooling, I remember a homeschool mother telling me how wonderful it was to go on field trip after field trip, seeing sight after sight. I grimaced. Why? Hadn’t I loved my Irish experience? Why the grimace? Then I began to remember my fresh-out-of-college, public school teaching days when I piloted a hands-on science program that taught children strictly through experimentation—with no lectures. What I thought I would love, I hated, until I realized what the program was lacking . . . wrap-up or summary. The science program was very different from my Irish experience. Pre-Ireland, I read about the country extensively, and then I had plenty of wrap-up through journaling and speaking engagements post-Ireland. (more…)