This means you aren’t literally teaching science, but instead are introducing concepts and allowing your student to make observations, form opinions, and reach conclusions.
The comprehension questions at the end of each chapter will show you how well they absorbed the information.
With our Science Through HIStory courses, you can present information as slowly or rapidly as your student desires.
Each course includes enough lessons for you to schedule science every other day or twice per week and cover the entire course in a standard school year.
If you have a science fan in your family, you can go even faster!
IMPORTANT: We encourage you to provide a notebook for each student each year to record observations, questions, answers, and to draw, paint, color, or otherwise illustrate the ideas they learn.
For an every-other-day science schedule, let’s say you plan a science lesson on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The elementary lessons should only take a few minutes. You’ll introduce the topic and the hands-on experiment, then allow your student to make observations.
Encourage your homeschooler to add what they’ve learned in their notebook.
The review questions will uncover any areas you may need to explain.
And that’s it! You’ve covered science for the day.
Of course, if your student enjoys the topic and wants to explore more, let them! Offer library books or science videos on the topic, head out for a related field trip, or just sit back and see what activity they design on their own.
Elementary homeschool science can be enjoyable for the whole family when you keep lessons light and spend plenty of time allowing pure observation to build enthusiasm.
Junior High Homeschool Science
As your homeschooler moves into junior high, you can move forward with confidence using our courses designed for them.
One thing you’ll need to stress is good math skills as they progress into more difficult topics. This will prepare your student for higher level science, which of course, requires higher level math.
Typically, you’ll cover one course per year unless your student needs to go at a slower or faster pace. You’ll also provide a clean notebook for each course as a repository for concepts and observations throughout the year.
Since junior high science lessons are a bit more in-depth than earlier courses, you may need to schedule time for science every day, including hands-on experiments.
Experiments can become the highlight of the science lesson since your homeschooler will have an opportunity to see the concept as a concrete activity.
Help your student maintain their enthusiasm for science by allowing them to think critically and make their own observations and connections, building on what they learned in earlier years.
Fun topical books, videos, and activities will make science enjoyable for the whole family.
We also offer online classes and self-paced recorded classes for a customizable science experience.
The review and comprehension questions at the end of each chapter will help you and them know what they’ve grasped and what may still need to be investigated.
High School Homeschool Science
Some homeschool parents get nervous when their student reaches high school and is ready for higher level sciences.
We’re here to help with that!
Continue to stress higher math skills. These are crucial to understanding the concepts taught in biology, chemistry, and physics.
Notebooks will also be quite useful to help your student corral all the information they are receiving during their science lessons.
To cover a high school science course in a year, you may need daily science lessons unless your student grasps a concept quickly and wants to move on.
Chapter review and comprehension questions are critical to helping both you and your high schooler understand what material is clear and what is not.
For students who learn better by listening, we offer audio courses. In addition, we have online courses for those who prefer an in-person science experience.
In your school year, also plan to include additional books, documentaries, field trips, or other learning experiences to help your student make the most of their homeschool science adventure.
Homeschool Science With Berean Builders
We’re confident you and your student will enjoy our science courses. With Dr. Wile’s conversational manner of introducing a topic, the straight-forward experiments offered, and the gentle review questions at the end of each chapter, Berean Builders will help your student become a critical thinker in science, and in life.
And as always, if you have questions or need resources or reassurance, we are more than happy to assist as you and your student explore God’s creation with Berean Builders.
Notebooking may seem like a recent invention for homeschoolers, but did you know natural philosophers and scientists from long ago used notebooks? Just look at Leonardo da Vinci’s wonderful collection of pages he used to capture his thoughts and ideas!
The term notebooking is another way of describing journaling. If you’ve ever written your thoughts down in a blank book or dabbled in scrapbooking, you understand the concept of notebooking.
What notebooking is not: a stack of worksheets in a binder. Busy work may seem like a learning tool, but lessons presented in a boring, rigid format don’t allow for free thinking and creativity.
How does notebooking work as a learning tool?
Just like scrapbooking creates a visual representation of the memories you had of an event, notebooking helps your child organize and process what they’re learning to turn their working knowledge into a concrete, visual representation of what they remember from their lessons.
In addition, science tells us that writing down questions and answers creates synapses in the brain that help learners retain information longer. This hands-on approach makes learning personal and fun.
When should students begin using notebooks for science?
Any student can use a notebook to help them record what they see and experience while learning new concepts in science.
Even elementary students can draw pictures or create designs with pieces of paper and glue, just like scrapbooking.
For those students who think faster than they can write, you can take dictation and record their thoughts on pages they can illustrate.
As students move up through more difficult sciences, they can use their notebooks to help them think through ideas and record their theories and the outcomes of their research and lab experiments.
Our preference is for each child to have their own blank, lined, spiralbound notebook for each of our textbooks. This notebook would be used to record study notes as they’re reading/doing activities, copy any questions asked and their answers (lesson review, comprehension checks, chapter review, and practice problems).
Unstructured notebooks offer plenty of room for your student to draw pictures or diagrams, paste in cutouts, or write their own personal thoughts which will further their understanding of a topic.
A blank notebook allows them the freedom to write as much or as little as they want (or make a drawing as big or as little as they want) rather than being constrained by a preprinted box or number of lines or feeling inadequate because they didn’t use all the space available.
But don’t let us restrict creativity! An artist’s sketchbook, a scrapbook, or any other creative journal can be the perfect repository for your student’s science adventure.
Remember, students don’t have to be creative writers to jot down what they observe. But if sometimes the “blank page syndrome” rears its ugly head, and you prefer a preprinted notebook experience, Berean offers free PDFs you can download and print.
Students who use notebooks for questions, answers, diagrams, sketches, and random thoughts recall more about the topic and remember it longer than students who use worksheets or other passive learning tools.
Students can use notebooks as a place to capture out-of-the-box trains of thought when they are investigating a new topic.
Students hone their skills through notebooking. Creative writing, technical writing, capturing their thoughts into words, realistic drawing, and recording observations are all skills that will develop or improve within the pages of a science notebook.
Creating a personalized documentary of their progression through a science course complete with their writing and drawing helps students own their learning experience.
Review and Study
Notebooks contain the knowledge your student has gained during the course organized in the way they best understand it. This becomes a valuable tool for review and study.
When a topic causes your student to think of a random unrelated question, the notebook is there to help them record their query to prevent it from interfering with their current point of study.
Follow Up and Evaluation
You will be able to look through notebooks to gauge your student’s comprehension of covered topics. If there is a clear issue, you can review that topic, or pass on the notebook page to someone else for their opinion.
Bonus Benefit: Memories
Avid notebookers have amassed libraries of their thoughts and sketches. How wonderful for your student to have a collection of everything they’ve learned in homeschool science.
How to get started notebooking
The good news is there’s no one right way to use notebooks in your homeschool. Your kids can write, draw, paste, cut, fold, paint, and color their way through their science lessons. All of this creativity and self-expression leads to learning and understanding.
When your student begins a new science course, provide them with a fresh, clean notebook. You can help them decide how they will keep their notes by offering suggestions, then let them continue with their own ideas.
Encourage them to copy comprehension and review questions from each chapter into their notebooks followed by their answers.
Your student can also use the notebooks to study for the tests at the end of each chapter, or a year-end review if you wish.
These notebooks will document science lessons throughout the years and will not only help for standardized test review but may offer fond recollections of their favorite topics.
Get creative! Maybe your student wants to keep a scrapbook-type binder or create fancy folded mini-books. Whatever helps them learn should be encouraged.
If they have an artistic streak, their drawings may become framed decorations for your walls!
No matter how your student proceeds, you and they will find notebooking to be an outstanding way to learn science.
Dr. Wile has joined with Dr. Paul Madtes, university biology professor and lead author of the text, to bring you the latest in our science courses: Discovering Design with Biology.
As he explains in this blog post, Dr. Wile observed the original and second edition of the book Exploring Creation With Biology needed a refresh, but circumstances arranged themselves to allow for Dr. Wile and Dr. Madtes to write a completely new biology text that is lab-based and prepares your student for college level biology.
And because the lead author is a biologist, the book “builds biology from the ground up” beginning with molecules and cells and progressing through to animals, plants, and the ecosystems and biomes they inhabit.
You will find beautiful full-color images, easy-to-understand explanations, and user-friendly experiments in every chapter. The experiments are designed specifically to increase understanding of the biological concepts in the text.
Some of the experiments require particular items available in the optional lab kit. Follow this link for a list of materials included in the kit for the lab experiments, as well as the items you’ll need to provide.
Let’s explore the chapters and the science contained inside.
The introduction contains a thorough explanation of how to get the most out of your Discovering Design with Biology book, experiments, and worksheets and how to incorporate science study in your homeschool schedule.
It covers the importance of including hands-on learning through experimentation. It also stresses the need to keep up with notes and record the results of experiments performed.
We want to make sure your student has access to as much support as needed. Dr. Wile is available to answer questions through a dedicated website for students that also contains searchable questions and answers.
Chapter 1 Introduction to Biology
Chapter 1 explains the layout of the units in the book then dives into the basic definition of life. Each section further explains the characteristics living organisms have and how biologists organize these features, including how they come up with the names of organisms. Your student will get a review of the scientific method and how to conduct experiments, plus discover how energy flows through the living world. Finally, the chapter discusses natural selection’s role in biological adaptation.
Chapter 2 The Chemistry of Life
This chapter explores the chemical building blocks of life from atoms to compounds and how these chemicals are arranged in living organisms. There is a section devoted to water and its characteristics, and the chapter introduces groups of molecules and their functions necessary for life.
Chapter 3 Cells
Building on the previous information, this chapter explains the complexity of cells and how they are made up of complex molecules and biomachines. It investigates the multitude of cell types and their functions in living things including energy exchange, protection, and osmosis, all pointing to an intricate design that allows cells to function properly.
Chapter 4 Cell Division
Once your student understands cells, they are ready to explore how cells divide and reproduce. This chapter takes them through the cell cycle and discusses the differences between animal and plant cells. It also discusses chromosomes and the human life cycle. There’s even a section on AI and the difficulties robots would face trying to replicate themselves.
Chapter 5 Genetics
This chapter breaks down genetics and how traits are passed down from parent to offspring beginning with the simple experiments of Gregor Mendel and working through nature vs. nurture. Your student will discover how each can affect the outcomes of reproduction including mutations and other genetic abnormalities.
Chapter 6 Biotechnology
Our bodies and all living creatures have systems in place to protect from biological invaders such as viruses by destroying important parts of the molecules. Science has created technology that they use to take apart and reconstruct biological molecules to engineer compounds and processes that can keep us healthy. Some topics include insulin, cancer treatments, and gene therapy, plus the bioethics of this technology.
Chapter 7 Microbiology – Archaea and Bacteria
Now the course dives into the world of microbes and investigates their hidden world via a microscope. Your student will get to culture some bacteria in an experiment, then go on to explore organisms that live in extreme environments as well as those microbes that can make us sick.
Chapter 8 Microbiology – Protists and Fungi
This chapter introduces your student to the “miscellaneous” section of living organisms and explain why they are so difficult to categorize. It also explores different types of protists and fungi and explains their characteristics, such as amoeba, plankton, algae, yeast, mold, and mushrooms. It finishes up with symbiosis in the fungal world as well as diseases caused by fungi.
Chapter 9 Invertebrates
Time to move on to organisms without backbones and get a brief overview of their characteristics: corals, jellyfish, worms, starfish, snails, shellfish, and insects. This chapter covers the biological makeup of these creatures and their likely habitats, then gives your student a chance to dissect a crayfish.
Chapter 10 Vertebrates: Fish and Amphibians
The next group of animals the course explores includes fish, frogs, toads, and salamanders, plus takes a look at their habitats, eating habits, and reproductive cycles. It also considers the evolutionary model that suggests fish evolved into amphibians and why this may not be possible.
Chapter 11 Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals
Now the course investigates the vertebrate groups of the snakes, lizards, turtles, dinosaurs, all kinds of birds, and mammals from mice to whales, plus the characteristics of each, and the varied environments they inhabit. The chapter also covers reproductive cycles including hatching eggs, pouch-dwelling offspring, and placental mammals and investigates the problems with the evolutionary theory of dinosaurs becoming modern birds.
Chapter 12 Primates and Humans
Finally, this chapter covers the last of the animal classes, primates. It discusses the characteristics of apes, monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas. And while humans are indeed considered primates, they are described separately. The chapter breaks down the major systems of the human body and discusses the importance of each and ends with a discussion of what it means to be created in the image of God.
Chapter 13 Plants – Anatomy and Classification
The course moves from animals to plants in this chapter and describes their cellular and tissue structure of leaves, stems, roots, and flowers, and how plants are classified. It also explores the varied ways plants reproduce themselves.
Chapter 14 Plants – Physiology
Once your student understands the structure of plants, they’re ready to learn how plants behave. From photosynthesis to pollination to germination and growth, this chapter reveals the physiology of plants throughout the days and seasons. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how some countries have bestowed certain legal rights to flora under their control, and why this does not align with biblical teachings.
Chapter 15 Environmental Science
Now that the course has covered the living creatures in our world, it moves on to discuss how the physical world impacts the organisms in it and vice versa. It covers the ecological pyramid and explores how energy flows from one group to another. Next up, the text covers global biological cycles that stem from weather and the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous around the globe. It also discusses climate, soil, and biodiversity, which contribute to the availability (or not) of important natural resources, and the various stresses and threats to nature.
Chapter 16 Ecosystems
Finally, the course takes all the separate parts it presented in the previous chapters and blends them to help your student understand how living organisms interact with their surroundings in different biomes. As species live either independently, cooperatively, or competitively, they thrive or decline according to the resources in their ecosystem. The chapter refers back to concepts presented to tie all the biological information together.
There are a total of total of 38 experiments that require roughly 40 hours of laboratory work. Of those experiments, 17 use household items. These include extracting DNA from fruit, determining the effects of temperature and pH on proteins, exploring reflexes, and exploring the effect of surface area on diffusion.
There are 14 experiments that use a microscope kit, including identifying different stages of mitosis, examining bacteria cultures, studying blood, and studying invertebrates. The other 7 experiments use a dissection kit and include the earthworm, crayfish, fish, and frog. See the complete lab supplies list here.
Get Started with Discovering Design With Biology
In addition to solid science and thought-provoking questions, this set includes printable Worksheets as well as a Student Notebook for exploring questions and keeping track of chapter review answers.
How can we apply that philosophy to further describe our worldview?
Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
To be a Berean is to search the scriptures to find out what is true.
When we approach science through a Biblical lens, we can focus on God’s revelation, which reduces the chance of misunderstanding.
When we understand the world around us as much as we are able, we are less likely to misinterpret the wisdom of the Bible.
The books by Dr. Wile take a holistic approach to science.
By gaining a thorough knowledge of how Christian thought has changed over the ages, students can have a better view of what is important in our world today.
And by using scripture as a focus for science, they can synthesize and formulate conclusions.
A worldview is based on the collection of things we know.
Scripture addresses many issues but is silent on others.
Science addresses many issues but cannot address every question we as humans have.
It is our goal, then, as Christians, to learn the Bible to the best of our ability and to learn about God’s gifts to us in order to create our worldview.
Building Bereans Through Critical Thinking
Students who are encouraged to think critically about science and the world around them are able to stretch their reasoning based on what they know.
In his science texts, Dr. Wile has presented both sides of certain theological beliefs.
This in-depth consideration allows students to figure out their own understanding of a concept. And this understanding allows them to form their own worldview on the topic.
It is our belief that a proper understanding of the world around us begins with scripture.
The Bible is God’s revelation to us as an infinite being communicating with us finite humans.
Having the Bible as an anchor and a focus allows us to comprehend the world around us as much as we can, making us far less likely to misinterpret the scriptures.
Including God In Science Books
Dr. Wile has been asked why he chose to include God in his science texts.
“It was never my intention to proselytize through my books. If a student found God as a result of my instruction, wonderful. Instead, I realized including God in my texts was simply the right way to teach science.”
Far from claiming any particular doctrinal belief in his science courses, Dr. Wile presents different sides, often opposing, of those beliefs Christians have considered throughout history.
Even prominent men such as C.S. Lewis and Henry Morris, although pioneers in Christian thought, had radically different beliefs.
Students are able to learn these different beliefs and weigh them on the scale of science instruction and hands-on lab work to form their own opinions based on what they discover, both through science and through a study of the Bible.
Through these discoveries, the world of science is open to them, tempered by the Word of God.
The latest earth science textbook by Dr. Wile is here!
Written in his warm, conversational style, this book is a spectacular introduction to earth science. Filled with stunning images, detailed descriptions, and awesome experiments, this book has it all.
These experiments are designed specifically to increase understanding of the concepts introduced.
Some of the experiments require particular items available in the optional lab kit. You can take a peek here at the list of materials included in the kit for the lab experiments, as well as the items you’ll need to provide.
Let’s explore the chapters and the science contained inside.
Dr. Wile gives a thorough explanation of how to get the most out of your Discovering Design with Earth Science book, experiments, and worksheets and how to incorporate science study in your homeschool schedule.
He covers the importance of including hands-on learning through experimentation. He also stresses the need to keep up with notes and record the results of experiments performed.
Dr. Wile wants to make sure your student has access to as much support as needed. He has created a special online library including videos and links to incredible online resources hand-picked to add more understanding to each concept.
Chapter 1 Basic Concepts Required to Study Earth Science
Dr. Wile presents the essential concepts students need to understand how to study earth science. From phases of matter to measurements, each topic is spelled out clearly and demonstrated with concrete, hands-on experiments. Students learn different ways to measure matter and the reasons behind each. He goes on to show how different units are used in scientific study with easy-to-understand equations. These basics are applied throughout the rest of the book.
Chapter 2 It’s a Little Crusty
This chapter introduces the layers of our beautiful planet with its defined sections of atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. Dr. Wile digs into the soil to show the makeup of the geosphere and how it is affected by different physical events. He also begins his comparison of uniformitarianism and catastrophism, along with definitions of each and how they compare. These two comparisons continue throughout the book with a fair and balanced approach.
Chapter 3 Minerals
Continuing his exploration of the crust, Dr. Wile makes minerals the focus of this chapter. He explains chemical compositions of rocks and explains how they are formed. There is a section on how we use minerals in our everyday lives to bring the science to life. The experiments help solidify these concepts so students have a wonderful hands-on experience with the rocks provided.
Chapter 4 Rocks
Expanding on the previous chapter, Dr. Wile talks about the different types of rocks and how they are formed, along with discussions of major rock formations. He describes the rock cycle so students can see how each type is connected. He also compares and contrasts the views of uniformitarianism and catastrophism. Many of the concepts in this chapter flow into those following, which makes the topics much easier to understand.
Chapter 5 The Lithosphere
Now the book concentrates on the whole crust with its continents and oceans. Dr. Wile takes students through a description of Earth’s magnetic field and its effects. Plate tectonics, the movement of the continents, and crustal displacement feature in this chapter. Again, hands-on experiments make the broad concepts much easier to understand.
Chapter 6 More About Motion in the Lithosphere
Continents move, sometimes slowly, sometimes violently. Dr. Wile explores these movements in this chapter with clear explanations of earthquakes and seismic waves. He weaves in concepts learned in earlier chapters to deepen students’ understanding of the different results on our planet such as mountains and rifts.
Chapter 7 Fossils in Rocks
Now Dr. Wile discusses the once-living plants and animals present in different rock formations. He explores the different approaches taken by uniformitarianism and catastrophism to explain the presence of tell-tale evidence of life long past. He also includes cautionary tales of fossil interpretation and introduces the geological column. The lab kit contains fossils students can explore up close and in person.
Chapter 8 Interpreting the Geological Column
In this chapter, students learn about radioactive decay and how this process is used to date rocks and once-living organisms. Dr. Wile touches on the differing viewpoints of scientists using radioactive decay in determining the age of the earth and those things found on it.
Chapter 9 Uniformitarianism and Catastrophism
Using a solid compare-contrast approach, Dr. Wile explores both the uniformitarianism and catastrophism ideas used to explain the evidence found in the geological record and discusses the bias each side holds. He introduces evidence from both sides that strengthen their viewpoints, but does not push one over the other. He encourages students to investigate both sides for themselves and draw conclusions from their own research.
Chapter 10 Water and Hydrosphere
Now Dr. Wile moves from the land into the oceans, lakes, and rivers. He dives into the polarity of water and how water behaves. He includes wonderful hands-on experiments to demonstrate the exceptional properties of water including the stark difference between freshwater and saltwater such as density and freezing points. This chapter includes a detailed explanation of the hydrologic cycle.
Chapter 11 More on the Hydrosphere
The beginning of this chapter focuses on the oceans, their currents, waves, and the effects of the sun and moon on tides. He goes deeper into global oceanic currents and explains how and why they are so important to life on earth. He then talks about the freshwater on the earth and where it is located in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
Chapter 12 The Atmosphere
Up into the air, Dr. Wile now explores our atmosphere. One of the experiments dramatically demonstrates air pressure. He then goes into the composition of our air and the different layers of our atmosphere. He includes an investigation of ozone, pollution, and an acid-base tangent that leads right back into the effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere and the pH of the ocean.
Chapter 13 Weather, Part 1
Expanding on the previous chapter, Dr. Wile goes into a thorough exploration of weather by beginning with a breakdown of the different types of radiation and light coming from the sun. He describes the tilt of the earth during its trip around the sun and how this creates our seasons. He introduces wind, temperature, global wind patterns and trade winds as some background information before heading into a detailed review of clouds.
Chapter 14 Weather, Part 2
Now, Dr. Wile gets into the detail of weather systems and describes weather fronts and how to read a weather map. He talks about precipitation and humidity, then talks about severe weather systems such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Chapter 15 The Earth’s Solar System
This chapter heads into outer space to discuss gravity and our neighboring planets. He touches on comets and asteroids and explains why the heliocentric view of the solar system replaced the geocentric view.. Then he focuses on the sun and moon and their properties and behavior.
Chapter 16 Earth’s Solar System and the Universe
Dr. Wile teaches about parallax and its use in determining some distances throughout the universe. He covers the heliosphere and explores the vast tapestry of stars and their colors, brightness, and classifications. Then he describes our galaxy and others in the universe and shares breathtaking images of some of them.
In fact, every page of the book has incredible images or detailed illustrations to help further understanding. Dr. Wile sums up his wonderful earth science book with this passage:
Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who live in it. For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers.”
We hope you will add this text to your library and enjoy it not only for a season, but for years to come
.Get Started with Discovering Design With Earth Science
In addition to solid science and thought-provoking questions, this set includes printable Worksheets as well as a Student Notebook for exploring questions and keeping track of chapter review answers.
With each passing year, increasing number of parents are deciding to homeschool their kids. Usually, there are two groups of parents when it comes to homeschooling. The first group of parents are excited to teach their kids in the comfort of their home and spend time with them. The other group of parents feel nervous and worried as to whether they will be able to teach their kids properly. In either case, parents want to make sure that they do not make any mistakes while homeschooling their beloved kids.
In this blog, we will share with you some common mistakes that parents tend to make. Try your best to steer clear of the below-mentioned mistakes when homeschooling your kid.
A local homeschool resource is a valuable asset to the community. Not only do customers have a wide selection of new books and curriculum to choose from, often local homeschool shops offer a place for homeschoolers to buy and sell used materials.
While this variety is important to homeschool families, an even more precious resource resides in local stores specializing in homeschool resources.
Not just any people. Caring current and veteran homeschooling advocates whose sole mission is to help parents and grandparents succeed and thrive as they home educate their students.
We had a chat with Julia Harris, the former owner, and Laura Stowers, the new owner of The Homeschool Gathering Place in Raleigh, NC.
Julia and Jim’s Story
Julia began her homeschool adventure over 25 years ago, back when resources were few and far between. At the time, many home educators passed dog-eared catalogs back and forth as they took a stab at choosing what they hoped would be the ideal science book or math program for their kids.
The only available opportunities to have a hands-on experience prior to purchase were homeschool conventions and the occasional curriculum fair at a local church.
Seeing a gap that desperately needed filing, Julia listened to the still, small voice that urged her to provide a solution. She and her husband Jim began a curriculum consignment shop in their basement. In just 18 months, the business needed more space, so they moved it into a shopping center.
Before the year was up, demand for just such a place had them upgrading their space again, and yet again until they landed in the current location offering both new and used curriculum, resources, and loving support to the community and to visitors from all over the country and around the globe.
Clearly, Julia and Jim created a solution where demand was high.
Over the years, they helped a wide variety of people from brand new homeschoolers testing the waters to veteran home educators who not only shopped at the store, but also offered their encouragement and advice to other customers.
In short, they created a community.
After 24 and half years, they felt the call to pass the torch to someone else. Enter Laura and her husband, Mark.
Laura and Mark’s Story
Earlier in 2021, Mark took early retirement from his corporate job to join Laura. They both felt the urgency to support the homeschool mission through the sweeping changes currently taking place.
Laura says she and Mark inherited a true legacy from the Harrises. Indeed, the Stowers have become the stewards of this legacy and continue to provide a warm community atmosphere for all homeschoolers who enter the store.
While this is just one example of one location, it is a shining beacon of hope and promise to others hearing the call to provide their local homeschool community with resources and support.
Julia offers a word of caution, though. Running a local homeschool shop is not for the faint of heart, nor is it a way to get rich quick. It is a true mission, delivered from the heart and bolstered by the unwavering hand of God.
What’s In It For You To Shop At A Local Homeschool Supplier?
So really, what’s the point of hauling yourself down to the local homeschool bookstore to stock up for next year’s lessons?
The reasons are numerous, and some you won’t expect.
Obviously, the first reason is so you can touch the books and leaf through the workbooks and compare and contrast all the options in real time. You can’t do that online. Sure, you can click back and forth between two math programs on a website, but the limited bits of product descriptions often leave you with more questions than answers.
More importantly, local shops are staffed with experienced, knowledgeable homeschool moms and dads eager to consult home educators on the best options for their families. These people offer their time and expertise at no charge as their personal mission to assist everyone who enters the store with their questions and concerns.
Speaking of consulting, the influx of new homeschoolers has created a wave of parents in need of calming reassurance and the chance to begin their homeschool adventure on solid footing. Local shops graciously provide this support for free. An army of chat bots on a website cannot create that sense of understanding and peace that comes from talking face-to-face with a parent who’s been in the trenches.
A unique feature of some local homeschool shops is a well-stocked, year-round curriculum fair right in the store. Instead of waiting 364 days for the church to host their year-end swap, these shops provide gently used materials at considerable savings every business day.
In addition to physical resources and support, the store acts as a liaison for local co-ops, testing services, and homeschool events in the form of a community bulletin board and word-of-mouth references. This community connection brings together diverse people from around the area to meet and offer support to one another. No online book retailer can embrace the community as well as an in-person location dedicated to homeschoolers.
Why You’re Important to Your Local Homeschool Resource
All the features and benefits listed above are all about what YOU can get from a local homeschool shop.
But what about what your patronage gives back?
Every time a loyal customer supports a local homeschool shop, the shop benefits, and not only financially.
Buying from the store does help keep the doors open. But what about the non-material benefits?
The used curriculum section is an enormous boon to the community. Buying and selling locally blesses other families in your city. You make a bit of money, they make a bit of money, and these funds can be spent on next year’s resources. Everyone wins.
As Laura says, “It’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s a unique model.”
In addition, the veteran homeschool moms and dads are blessed as well by being able to share the wisdom they’ve garnered over their decades of combined homeschool experiences. They have a calling and are eager to support others on their homeschool path.
The shops can host seminars that bring together the “accidental homeschoolers” of the past year or so with the parents who’ve been at it a while to offer support and encouragement. Some parents are struggling, some are thriving, all can benefit from a genuinely caring homeschool community.
Laura tells a story of a gentleman who enjoyed an hour of personalized assistance in her store. He left with an armload of books and materials and a confident step.
Imagine her surprise the next day when the gentleman returned with three 18-count cartons of eggs from his farm an hour away. Just to say “Thank you.”
That is the power and beauty of a thriving homeschool community.
Awesome! So What’s The Problem With Not Buying Local?
Well, we’ve outlined the absolute gift to the community a homeschool shop can be. Unfortunately, not all communities have such an amazing resource. And, according to Julia, providing such a resource takes a special sort of people.
Aside from the geographical logistics of homeschool resource real estate, there lies an ominous dark cloud on the horizon.
What do we mean by this?
As we mentioned in the post about purchasing from homeschool vendors at conventions, many people tend to soak up advice and answers from the person behind the table, then scurry off to purchase the resource from a big box retailer to save a couple of dollars.
We can’t stress this enough:
The pennies you save by clicking “buy now” on your phone are vastly outweighed by the monumental value you receive while interacting with the author or creator of your chosen homeschool resource.
The same heartbreaking scenario plays out at homeschool resource stores.
Imagine spending an hour consulting and instructing a brand new homeschool mom on the best curriculum or program for each of her children based on their learning styles and educational needs.
Now imagine that homeschool mom thanking you while proclaiming, “Now I know what I’m going to buy!” and walking out of the store to save a collective $7 by buying online.
Of course, we’re being facetious about the savings, but you get the point.
The VALUE of the interaction, the support, and the professional consulting is exponentially greater than the mere dollars you perceive you’re “saving” as you walk out of the store (away from the actual products) to click around online and wait by your front door for the delivery truck to arrive.
Do You See The Disconnect Here?
In all fairness, not everyone makes the connection between buying at the local homeschool shop and actually helping keep that shop open and supporting their local homeschool community in the process.
People go out of their way to buy organic vegetables at the local farmer’s market and head to the consignment shop to purchase name brand clothing at a discount.
Both of these actions not only save money, boost health, and make you feel good about your stewardship of your funds, they also help the local community.
It’s no different buying local from the neighborhood homeschool shop. Your purchase, yes, helps the store stay open and pay the bills. Your purchase may also help another local family fund their next year’s homeschool supplies because you bought items they had on consignment.
Perhaps you’re in the store when a brand-new, frightened-of-the-unknown homeschool mom tiptoes in with a basket of questions and fears.
You may be the exact person she needs to hear offering suggestions and may breathe a sigh of relief that she’s in the right place as she forges ahead into a life-altering decision to educate her children at home.
Perhaps you’re at your wits end with questions about a particular resource.
Because of the relationships these local homeschool shops have with the authors and providers of the resources they offer, they can pick up the phone and call the author directly to find answers to your questions.
Wait, you can do that? You certainly can.
Can you do that in a big box store or through a faceless online retailer? Doubtful.
The ultimate goal here is to help all homeschoolers make educational success a reality.
Buy Local. Your Patronage Is Vital.
We want to encourage you to frequent your local homeschool resource store. But more importantly, we want to encourage you to buy from that store.
And no, you don’t have to drop your entire homeschool budget there.
But won’t you set aside at least a portion of your funds to help keep these rare jewels, these educational blessings alive in our communities?
Your homeschool community and your local area will benefit from your contribution.
And if you are called to provide such a beautiful resource in your community, talk to Julia and Jim and Laura and Mark first.
They’re living examples of fulfilling their mission of service to others. And we’re so grateful to know them and share their stories.
“The last five or so year’s worth of sales have been underwhelming for many homeschool vendors. Consequently, more and more of them have stopped traveling to conferences.
Consequently, conference organizers have struggled to make enough from vendor booth fees to be able to pay speakers. Consequently, speakers have stopped coming.
Consequently, the homeschooling community is losing advocates to encourage and equip the rest of us…and even educate the naysayers and policy-makers who make state and national decisions about homeschooling. It’s an ecosystem.
When one part dies off, the rest gets affected.”
Can we boldly say that if convention-goers continue to purchase from big-box retailers after attending conventions, pretty soon there won’t be any conventions to attend?
And what of the desire for homeschoolers to see and touch the offerings firsthand?
And what of the presentations and workshops where homeschoolers learn so much from the vendors who give them?
And what of the camaraderie experienced in the convention setting when homeschoolers and vendors share space and concerns and wishes and encouragement?
What becomes of conventions?
What becomes of vendors when they don’t make enough money selling their curriculum or other products and must close their shops, virtual or otherwise?
If the vendors no longer produce their products, you won’t be finding them on the big-box sites anyway.
We Homeschool For A Better Future
Let’s remind ourselves why we’re homeschooling in the first place. We homeschool to give our children the most amazing educational experience we can provide.
And we do this using books and videos and resources from a variety of companies, many of whom are mom and pop operations.
These moms and pops are just like you.
They’re also homeschooling to give their children the most amazing educational experience they can provide.
And they love what they do so much, they took their experience and knowledge and solidified it into an offering for the rest of us.
We do an enormous disservice to these generous vendors when we glean and gather from their booths or websites or seminars or workshops then hand over our money to faceless corporations to save a buck or two.
Those savings may very well signal the end of mom and pop homeschool shops.
Frankly, we think it’s not worth it.
We need moms and pops and their beautiful ideas to help us maintain the freedom and flexibility of our homeschooling lives.
If we don’t support them, they won’t be able to support us as we journey down our chosen paths.
Remember this as you venture out to homeschool conventions. Do your research, make your rounds, gather information.
Then consider purchasing from the vendors.
As Jamie says, “It’s an ecosystem.”
Your patronage and support of local vendors, of moms and pops standing behind the table with their hearts in their work, will go a long way to keeping the homeschool ecosystem healthy and thriving for years to come.
If you’d like to read Jamie’s inspiring post, please visit:
No matter how long you have been homeschooling, or if you’re brand new to home education, you should attend an annual in-person homeschool convention this year.
Are you a homeschooling parent or interested in one day making the jump into home education? The decision to educate your children at home is not new. Parents today are seeking a more personalized learning approach for their children.
Homeschooling is quickly gaining a large following due to the freedom and flexibility it provides both parents and their children.
What is the best way to learn more about homeschooling?
The best way to learn more about home education is to attend a homeschool convention.
This guide will help you pick the best convention for your family. Plus, you’ll get some help with getting the most out of your experience. Using this guide, you can achieve the goal of a successful and rewarding homeschooling convention trip.
Attending an in-person homeschool convention is like earning an unofficial “crash course in home education” certificate.
To renew this unofficial certification, attend each year to keep your knowledge of laws, requirements, and the latest curriculum! You will learn much from attending whether you’re a new homeschooler or a veteran.
First Things First: Research Conventions In Your Area
Do a little research. Read over what conventions are offered in your area. The state you reside in may have one or more homeschool organizations which offer annual events. There are also conventions put on by groups specializing in multiple conventions across the country.
Take a look at the list of speakers and workshops to see if the topics seem interesting. Do any of the session summaries tackle your burning questions?
Once you determine which convention is your best fit, buy your tickets. Make hotel reservations and travel arrangements if needed.
Most home educators benefit from a general homeschool convention, preferably in their home state.
A state-sponsored convention will keep you updated on current state laws about homeschooling. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to meet new homeschooling families from your area.
Budgeting Both Time and Money at the Convention
Conventions cost extra money and time. You may need to set aside an entire weekend to attend. Hotel reservations, travel, and dining out can be expensive.
In this world of streaming entertainment and one-day shipping, is it worth it to use your valuable time away from home?
The short answer is yes.
You will have greater success as a home educator if you carve out enough time to attend a convention in person.
Remember, most businesses provide training to their employees.
If you treat the responsibility of educating your children as a career, you will need some instruction and camaraderie as well!
Investing in your training is easy to overlook as a homeschool parent, but neglecting your education leads to Burnout City. You don’t want to end up discouraged and frustrated living there with your children!
Scholarships and Volunteer Opportunities
For many families, money is a struggle, but there are many ways to attend a homeschool convention without paying a cent!
If money is a concern, including a convention in your budget may seem out of reach. Yet, the discounts and further education you receive make the experience worth the expense.
There are attendance scholarships available for parents who need further help to homeschool their children. Another option? Volunteer a few hours at most conventions.
State organizations often offer discounts or free attendance if you are a member of the organization.
There’s So Much Information At A Homeschool Convention! What Should Be My Focus?
An essential list of your state’s homeschool guidelines can determine what you will need for each child for your school year.
This is the most valuable piece of information to keep in mind as you prepare for the homeschool convention.
The required courses will provide structure around which you can plan the rest of your student’s studies.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed By Comparing Yourself To Others
In the words of a wise homeschooling mom, keep your eyes on your own homeschool.
Don’t try to keep up with the homeschooling Joneses.
Grab some paper and begin by brainstorming. Describe your ideal homeschool day.
Remember, no two families are alike. In the same way, no homeschool will look precisely like yours.
Using a clean piece of paper for each child, list the subjects they will be studying next year with curriculum ideas. It’s time to take some notes while you learn about your kids and their preferences.
Study Your Children Before Attending A Homeschool Convention
Time to watch your students.
What motivates them?
Look at their favorite subjects and books. Are they colorful? Is the text easy to read and visually stimulating? Ask your kids! You know they have an opinion, so use their honesty to benefit your research.
Why is their favorite subject their absolute favorite? If you are willing to ask, be ready to completely change your mind if necessary if you learn something new about your child. It won’t be the first time your child teaches you something new.
After talking with your students, go back to your papers and then to the internet for research.
Is there a curriculum that presents your student’s least favorite subject information in a manner similar to their favorite topic? Write down your findings.
The more you educate yourself on your students’ needs, the more effective a home educator you will be.
Open-minded and curious teachers create lifelong learners.
I Found A Great Curriculum, But I Want To Look At It In Person
Is there a curriculum choice that you keep returning to online but were hesitant to purchase because you couldn’t interact with the curriculum before deciding?
When you get to the convention, make visiting these booths a priority.
The perfect way to decide which curriculum will benefit your students the most is by holding it in real life.
Look through the table of contents.
Check the topics covered in the book. Are the illustrations engaging or distracting?
Did the publisher leave enough visual white space for your child to process the information presented?
These questions may seem trivial, but all play a vital role in the curriculum’s usability for your student.
The greatest reward of a well-planned convention trip is a smooth sailing school year.
If you were online, you would probably stick to your original plan. A slight deviation from your plan and discovery as you shop for listed items is an excellent balance.
In-Person Conventions: Better By Far Than Virtual
While it may be more convenient to seek online assistance, using the internet as a general research tool before attending an in-person convention will be a much better use of your time than trying to answer all your homeschool questions online.
Save some time. Take your questions to the convention and seek out the people that can quickly clarify your questions and help you plan your best school year yet!
It’s hard for most people to feel the friendliness and solidarity of an in-person convention behind a computer screen.
Face-to-face interaction levels the playing field between you, the homeschool consumer, and them, the homeschool suppliers and experts.
Virtual interaction can be highly one-sided as it unintentionally positions the speaker to appear superior to the audience due to the limitations of a virtual teaching platform.
This vertical approach limits the engagement between the speaker and the listener. Also, the mind wanders or can get caught up in the inevitable distractions no matter how entertaining the speaker may be!
There is less wiggle room to bounce ideas around or ask a speaker questions virtually with time delays, technology glitches, and presentation-focused instruction.
Dr. Wile’s Opinion Of In-Person Conventions
Dr. Wile speaks passionately about the importance of in-person conventions.
As a scientist, he understands the value collaboration plays in reaching a deeper understanding of any topic. Meeting real people in person makes your home education journey so rich.
It seems obvious, but with the online world connecting us so well virtually, we often forget the tremendous benefit of face-to-face interaction.
The Value of Organic In-Person Conversations
The conversation is not organic online. Tone and inflection are challenging to interpret via the world wide web.
Dr. Wile believes spontaneous conversations between families, vendors, and students are the most valuable part of any homeschool conference.
“You meet the most interesting people face-to-face.” Dr. Jay Wile
These horizontal conversations offer excellent opportunities for the student interactions he’s enjoyed over the years. Conversations outside the online classroom are enriching for both instructors and students alike.
Often, these interactions uncover an interest or fresh idea the student has that the instructor would not have known without this in-person exchange.
Conversations overheard around café tables often reward the new homeschooler with golden nuggets of information from veteran homeschoolers.
These opportunities are the perfect time to ask questions and get answers real-time. Remember, networking is a two-way street.
In-Person Conventions Can Foster Lasting Friendships
Do you want to meet other homeschool mothers? Online conventions are not the best place to foster lasting local friendships.
While online support bridges the gap during the long school year for home educators, relying primarily upon it year-round is not ideal.
Use the yearly in-person homeschooling convention to make local connections for your family.
While you’re there, ask about local co-ops and regular gatherings.
If you have homeschool acquaintances, attend the convention together for even more direct support.
Making the Most of Speakers and Classes At A Homeschool Convention
There will be descriptions in the program guide next to every seminar, session, workshop, demonstration, or class offered during the homeschooling convention.
Take advantage of these experts and gather the information you need from the learning opportunities available.
However, be flexible. You will not be able to attend all the exciting sessions because there are simply not enough hours in the day, nor duplicates of you.
Prioritize The Sessions You Most Want To Attend
Then, attend the sessions you have prioritized.
Things to remember:
Focus on keynote speakers and anything of serious interest to you.
Build your schedule around the speakers that are the best fit for your needs.
Ask yourself: Which sessions do you think will foster the most interaction between speaker and listener?
Think about the speakers you would most enjoy having a conversation with.
If you and a friend want to attend similar sessions and workshops, divide and conquer. Attend separate sessions, then trade notes at the end of the day.
And remember, most sessions are recorded and will be available for purchase. You can listen at your leisure after the convention, but you won’t have the advantage of in-person follow-up questions.
If there is any speaker you want to interact with, make a point to go to their session.
Even if they do not open the floor up for questions, often they will remain at the front for those wishing to continue the conversation.
If they must hurry back to their vendor booth, follow them! (At an appropriate distance, no stalking.)
When they are available at their booth, ask your burning questions. They will be excited that you attended their session and want to chat more.
Convention Sessions Or Vendor Hall?
Also, be willing to walk away from a session if you need more vendor hall time. The hall will be less crowded during daytime speaking engagements.
If you need quiet time to think and shop:
Use this time and purchase the mp3 recordings of the sessions to listen to at your convenience at home.
Use this precious time to speak with vendors about your concerns and questions.
Give yourself time to learn, digest information, and make informed decisions.
Lighten Up At Night
The nightly entertainment is light on information but heavy on entertaining!
The convention reserves one night as a mom’s night out, and the other night is a family fun night.
Both nights are equally enjoyable. The nightly entertainment is usually an additional cost, but it is worth the price to relax at the end of a day chock full of information and learning.
Let your mind rest, sit back, laugh, and relax.
Mom’s night out can be the first or second official night of the convention.
The most inspirational of the keynote speakers will deliver a message directed at homeschooling or motherhood.
Sometimes chocolate is involved, but there is no guarantee every convention will have chocolate. Bring your own if necessary.
You will most assuredly find laughter, encouragement, and time to visit with other homeschooling mothers. Take the time to strike up a conversation with another mom.
Finding A Community Of Likeminded Friends At A Homeschool Convention
Finding a community of friends is essential at every stage of our lives, and the season of homeschooling our children is no different.
It is always better to have others walking alongside you.
What you haven’t discovered in your never-ending pursuit of the perfect curriculum, another mother might have discovered.
But keep it in perspective. There is no perfect curriculum.
There are always more beneficial choices and less helpful choices based on your student’s learning style.
Women who attend these “extra cost” break-out sessions to meet friends and hang with the girls always come back laughing!
The other night of the convention will be a night to bring the kids or bring the whole family.
All ages will enjoy a comedian who keeps you in stitches with good clean humor.
Other conventions will feature a children’s storyteller. No matter what your literary preference, these talented performers will astound you. You will be on the edge of your seat, captivated by their fascinating tales.
Some conventions open the stage up to family talent as well. The amount of hidden talent in the audience at a homeschool convention is impressive. Bring your talented family, or come ready to enjoy the talent of other newfound family friends!
Bringing The Kids To A Homeschool Convention
If your children travel to the convention with you, they will have a fabulous time.
There are programs for children, teens, and some have childcare available.
If you have babies, they are welcome as long as they are not disruptive.
But there is no need to fret; these parents know the challenge you face.
Smile and look around.
Get your babies settled.
Have your items organized during the session in case you need to make a quick escape.
Rest assured, most of the moms there have been exactly where you are now.
Children’s Programs At Homeschool Conventions
The volunteers and convention staff organize the children’s program to run like a well-oiled machine.
Vacation Bible School-style learning units will fill your elementary student’s day as you take care of needed planning.
Teens are encouraged to volunteer to help out during the convention if there is no set program for them.
Assisting at the convention is beneficial to both your student and the convention. These service hours can be logged as volunteer hours for their transcript!
If you have a child with special needs, choosing a large convention will give you the option of assistance during set times of the convention. You can attend sessions or shop knowing that your children are cared for by well-trained volunteers.
Remembering Why You Homeschool
A refreshed mindset will allow you to approach your school time with renewed energy and perspective.
Attending a convention gives home educators the confidence to approach another year without fear.
They find continued excitement planning the year ahead.
Some years are plain hard, and it is difficult to cross the finish line at the end of the school year.
A weekend away will benefit your children’s future education and bring you headfirst into an exciting adventure of learning together with your children!
You should take the time to attend a conference if your plans for the next year include homeschooling your children.
Bring a flexible attitude, a smile, a friend, and something to carry your purchases- rolling is best.