Beyond the Basics: Real Life Homeschooling
The homeschooling adventure is filled with joys and challenges, successes and failures. We've filled our pages with support and information for parents facing special challenges: homeschooling a large family, caring for babies or toddlers while homeschooling, single and working parents who choose to homeschool, military homeschooling families, special needs homeschooling, home educating teenagers, and educating the gifted child. We also take a look at the practical side of homeschooling--how to make it fun, how to get organized, how to save money, how to prepare for college, and much, much more!
Real Life HSing
Homeschoolers sometimes face unique situations. It is helpful to connect with others who have the same life experiences as you do. And there is no denying that challenging situations arise in the best of circumstances. Sometimes the best support you can receive when dealing with a challenging situation is knowing that others have dealt with it too. Homeschooling in general can be challenging--homeschooling in special circumstances can feel overwhelming. But there is help and information for almost every situation. We've compiled the best resources for homeschoolers who face unique situations: working and single parenting, homeschooling with little ones in the family, military homeschooling, home educating a gifted child or a child with special needs, and homeschoolers who are incorporating religious or ethnic ideals in their homeschools.
Making It Fun
If workbooks are getting boring, and cabin fever is setting in, it might just be the right time for you to add some fun to your homeschool. Games, contests, and more can break up any monotony you are facing. You'll find ideas for field trips and extracurricular activities. And you may find that your kids think "doing school" is funner than anything else they can imagine!
Practical HSing
Any homeschooling family knows that the process of learning takes up most of your time. Getting things organized may the key to success for some families. We've compiled tips and ideas to make your homeschooling practical and a good fit into the rest of your life. As a bonus, we take a look at some of the ways you can save money while learning together as a family.
High School
Homeschooling through the teenage/high school years offers several different challenges. You may need to meet specific requirements and you may find that you are teaching subjects with which you are not familiar. In addition, many parents don't begin homeschooling until their child reaches high school age. To help navigate this sometimes new territory, we've put together helpful resources to help both parent and student successfully homeschool during the high school years.
Colleges & Careers
More and more universities and colleges welcome and encourage applications from homeschoolers. We'll help you understand the process of applying for college and the special needs of homeschoolers, including preparing transcripts, entering college early, and working with institutions that may not be used to unconventional learning models.
What's Popular
Henson Robinson Zoo
The Henson Robinson Zoo is located in Springfield. More than 300 animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America find refuge at the zoo. Come and view the naturalistic exhibits that house more than 90 species of native and exotic animals. Enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the lagoons and watch mischievous spider monkeys at play on monkey island. Delight at the river otters. Marvel at the grace of the cheetahs and the deceivingly cuddly appearance of the Asiatic black bear. Then take...
Homeschooling and Custody
The biggest problem with the issue of custody battles involving homeschooling is that both parents have to agree to the educational choice, or the judge is most likely to order a public school. In this article, the author discusses some strategies for affecting a good outcome for parents and children.
Glen Oak Zoo
The Glen Oak Zoo is an AZA accredited facility located in Peoria, Illinois, and is home to more than 175 animals from around the world.
Long Grove Confectionery Company
Located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, the Long Grove Confectionery Company Chocolate Factory Tour takes you under the Antique Stained Glass Dome in the 85,000 square foot Long Grove Confectionery to begin your tour of the specialty chocolate kitchen. The tour includes a short video on how cacao is grown and processed into chocolate, a history of the family-owned business, giant sculpted chocolate, and a viewing of the production and packaging of thier chocolates. Includes a visit to the factory st...
Miller Park Zoo
Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo features a walk through Wallaby exhibit, the new ZooLab exploration center, which includes an indoor butterfly and birds exhibit (butterflies from April-October), sun bears, snow leopards, red wolves, Sumatran tiger, a Children's Zoo, and a rain forest exhibit.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is one of the nation's oldest zoo and one of the last free zoos in the country. More than 1,000 animals make their home here. Rare and exotic species, as well as more familiar animals, are exhibited in environments that reflect their habitats in the wild.
Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo is home to animals representing more than 400 species. This magnificent collection inhabits nearly 20 naturalistic exhibits within the zoo's 216 acres.
Scott AFB Homeschoolers
Scott AFB Homeschoolers is an online email and discussion group for military Families (Active, Reserve, Retired) at or near Scott AFB, IL. This is not an official Scott AFB group or site and they are not sponsored by the base. They are a group of Christian homeschooling families living at or near Scott AFB.
Goal-Based Planning for High School
Student's goals are very important when planning for high school and the future. This guide will give you information on putting together a high school plan, early graduation for homeschoolers, goal-based planning, electives, and transcripts. 
John G. Shedd Aquarium
The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is the world's largest indoor aquarium. The facility houses nearly 8,000 aquatic animals representing some 650 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from waters around the world. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium attracts nearly 2 million visitors a year.
Scovill Zoo
From cheetahs to spider monkeys, giant toads to pygmy goats, you can journey around the world at Scovill Zoo. See animals on the verge of extinction as you take a spin on the Endangered Species Carousel, journey through the zoo on the Z.O. & O. Express train, feed the goats in the petting area, and search for the glass lizard in the herpaquarium. Located in Decatur.
ILHomeschools
A Christian email support list for Christian families who plan to or are currently homeschooling in the state of Illinois.
Cosley Zoo
Located in Wheaton, the Cosley Zoo is situated on five acres and exhibits domestic farm animals and native Illinois wildlife. You can enjoy sitting by the picturesque duck pond, get close to a 2,000 pound horse, and if you're lucky, hear the coyotes howl. The 1887 railroad station, antique caboose, and a 125-year-old barn provide visitors with a piece of local history.
Catholic Homeschoolers of Wisconsin
This is a private list for leaders of Catholic homeschool support groups within the state of Wisconsin (or in border towns in Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, and UP Michigan). It is a place to exchange information that may be of interest to Catholic homeschoolers throughout the state. It is also a forum for the dissemination of statewide invitations to various Catholic homeschooling events, such as conferences, graduations, dances, etc.
Chicago Area Homeschool Field Trips
A group of homeschooling parents dedicated to providing local field trips and group classes in the Chicago Metropolitan Area by taking advantage of discounts and special privileges given to groups versus individuals. Parents volunteer to organize events geared towards the age, interest and benefit of their students. Each event or part of it is usually aimed at a specific age or grade range. Any member may organize trips, and post events sponsored by other groups.
Resources
The Well-Ordered Home: Organizing Techniques for Inviting Serenity into Your Life
Organizing the home is one of those desirable and beneficial activities that remain elusive for many. This practical guide explains the many benefits - physical, emotional, and spiritual - of an organized home and shows how to attain them. Breaking down the process into 50 steps, the author uses her own experiences as a psychologist and professional home organizer to help readers clear away not only the physical clutter but the psychological blocks that encourage it and hinder organization. She tells where to start, encourages small steps, and explores the psychology of organizing. Next she addresses fundamental principles, including keeping tools where they will be used and making the most of active storage space. Finally, she shows how to get rid of excess stuff, including how to attack those never-ending piles and junk drawers, and stem the inflow of junk into the home. These easy exercises, tips, and stories will truly help readers organize their homes for efficiency, peacefulness, and well-being.
Educational Travel on a Shoestring : Frugal Family Fun and Learning Away from Home
Educational Travel on a Shoestring shows parents how they can help their children learn–and have a blast–while traveling. From researching destinations to sharing activities that both teach and entertain, this priceless guide offers practical information for parents who want to have more fun with their kids, build closer family ties, and enjoy richer educational experiences–all without spending a fortune.
Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy
Save Thousands of Dollars a Year

Jonni McCoy and her family are proof that you live on one income. The McCoys made a successful transition from two incomes to one while living in one of the most expensive parts of America: the San Francisco Bay Area.

Her Miserly Guidelines will help you save thousands of dollars a year on everything from groceries to electricity to insurance and household cleaners—as well as reveal the hidden costs of holding a job and common money wasters. Her practical, proven cost-saving techniques, strategies, tips, and recipes will help you live frugally without feeling deprived.

Smart Mouth
Ages: 8 years and up; For 2 or more players

Smart Mouth is a quick-thinking shout-it-out hilarious word game that helps build vocabulary skills. It includes variations of the rules for category play and for younger players. Players slide the Letter Getter forward and back to get two letters. The first player to shout out a word of five or more letters using those letters wins the round. The game includes tips for teachers. This is a fun game to play with children and adults together.

Homeschoolers' Success Stories : 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives
Despite their growing numbers, many homeschoolers still find their experience somewhat isolating. This collection of short biographies aims to alleviate some of that loneliness. While the stories profile modern-day homeschool grads and students, famous homeschooled personalities from the past are offered up early in the book for historical inspiration. John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, photographer Ansel Adams, poet Robert Frost, and songwriter Irving Berlin join the long list dug up by author Linda Dobson. And just in case there were any doubts that fame has eluded today's homeschooled, Dobson throws in actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the Hanson singer siblings, and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. The people whose stories are told here are successful entrepreneurs, Ivy League students, and athletes, such as Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and U.S. ski team member Todd Lodwick. But to Dobson's credit, she unearths a healthy array of "regular folk" as well. Their stories are no less interesting and, most importantly, they dispel the notion that homeschooled children are over-the-top achievers and freaks of nature. Among the subjects here are an Arkansas state trooper, a private chef, an art gallery owner, and a Cost Guard Reserve seaman.

Each chapter begins with a photo and yearbook-style sketch of the personality, complete with favorite areas of study and a memorable quote. The biographies are short and insightful, with the author often injecting her own thoughts. Dobson, the mother of three homeschooled children, has written numerous books on the topic (The Homeschooling Book of Answers and Homeschooling: The Early Years, among them) and is a news editor and columnist for Home Education Magazine. In her casual, succinct writing style, she brings to life personalities that have little in common beyond their method of education. Some were taught at home completely; others for only a few years. They offer advice, warnings, and fond memories. And their overriding message is that homeschooled people are just as diverse and interesting as the students found in traditional schools. "We are not alone," is the cry heard from these pages. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

The Work-at-Home Sourcebook
This indispensable directory contains information not found in any other book on the subject. The Work-at-Home Sourcebook is the only book available which gives specific information for finding, applying for, and getting home work with AT&T, J. C. Penney, and more than 1,000 other companies that routinely hire qualified home workers. Contact information, job descriptions and requirements, and details on pay and benefits are included. Other chapters cover handicrafts, franchises, telecommuting, learning how to work at home, and ideas for businesses that can be started from home with a minimal investment. All information has been updated, and over 150 new opportunities are included.
Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families
From a bedroom community in Nebraska to a farm in Vermont, from families who rely on workbooks to those who have sworn them off, this in-depth examination of the lives of homeschoolers covers a wide range of people and methods. When author Nancy Lande started homeschooling more than 10 years ago, this is the book she wanted that didn't exist. What better way to create your homeschool than reading about others and picking and choosing the styles that appeal to you? Lande has corralled a variety of homeschoolers and, with some deft editing, allowed them to speak for themselves. Every chapter features a different household on any given day. Many of the writers are mothers, but a stay-at-home dad and several children tell their tales as well. Their detailed descriptions start in the waking hours of morning and get down to the nitty-gritty information of everyday life in a homeschool: how moms fit in showers, how chores are divvied up, how reading and research are gently initiated, how parents set aside time for themselves.

These writers invite the reader into their homes and advise, "Don't mind the mess." Their passages are often funny and unflinchingly honest. They aren't embarrassed to tell you they whipped out SpaghettiOs for a hurried lunch or stole a peek at CNN while ignoring the chaos in the playroom. Some of the families have created highly structured school environments within their homes, with desks and sharpened pencils. Others promote freestyle learning, with their children sprawled across the house working on projects or reading in between walking the dog, playing games, and riding bikes. The majority of families here live in Pennsylvania, the author's home state, but one writes from as far away as Scotland, another lives on a mountain in Alaska, and yet another checks in from a college town in Texas. Their learning logs, reading lists, and journal entries, along with family photos, help illustrate the book. The quilt they piece together is a great service to those wondering how to approach homeschooling. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It
Confused and intimidated by the complexities of homeschooling, many sincere parents never get past the "thinking about it" stage. Now Lisa Whelchel - herself a homeschooling mother of three - introduces fifteen real families and shows how they overcome the challenges of their unique homeschooling situations. This nuts-and-bolts approach deals with common questions of time management, teaching weaknesses, and outside responsibilities, as well as children's age variations, social and sports involvement, learning disabilities, and boredom. Seeing a wide variety of successfully homeschooling families in action will give parents the confidence to make their own dream of home-based education a reality.
Morning by Morning : How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League
Home schooling has long been regarded as a last resort, particularly by African-American families. But in this inspirational and practical memoir, Paula Penn-Nabrit shares her intimate experiences of home-schooling her three sons, Charles, Damon, and Evan. Paula and her husband, C. Madison, decided to home-school their children after racial incidents at public and private schools led them to the conclusion that the traditional educational system would be damaging to their sons’ self-esteem. This decision was especially poignant for the Nabrit family because C. Madison’s uncle was the famed civil rights attorney James Nabrit, who, with Thurgood Marshall, had argued Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court; to other members of their family, it seemed as if Paula and C. Madison were turning their backs on a rich educational legacy.

But ultimately, Paula and C. Madison felt that they knew what was best for their sons. So in 1991—when Evan was nine and twins Charles and Damon were eleven—the children were withdrawn from the exclusive country day school they’d been attending.

In Morning by Morning, Paula Penn-Nabrit discusses her family’s emotional transition to home schooling and shares the nuts and bolts of the boys’ educational experience. She explains how she and her husband developed a curriculum, provided adequate exposure to the arts as well as quiet time for reflection and meditation, initiated quality opportunities for volunteerism, and sought out athletic activities for their sons. At the end of each chapter, she offers advice on how readers can incorporate some of the steps her family took—even if they aren’t able to home-school; plus, there’s a website resource guide at the end of the book.

Charles and Damon were eventually admitted to Princeton, and Evan attended Amherst College. But Morning by Morning is frank about the challenges the boys faced in their transition from home schooling to the college experience, and Penn-Nabrit reflects on some things she might have done differently.

With great warmth and perception, Paula Penn-Nabrit discusses her personal experience and the amazing outcome of her home-schooling experience: three spiritually and intellectually well balanced sons who attended some of the top educational institutions in this country.

What we learned from home schooling:

-Use your time wisely.
-Education is more than academics.
-The idea of parent as teacher doesn’t have to end at kindergarten.
-The family is our introduction to community.
-Extended family is a safety net.
-Yes, kids really do better in environments designed for them.
-Travel is an education.
-Athletics is more than competitive sports.
-Get used to diversity.
-It’s okay if your kids get angry at you—they’ll get over it!

-from Morning by Morning
Homeschooling on a Shoestring : A Jam-packed Guide
So you want to homeschool but don't think you can afford it. This book is a compendium of ideas for the family that wants to start or continue homeschooling on a tight budget. Includes ideas for making money as a stay-at-home mom, sources for inexpensive curriculum, affordable teaching tools, and ideas for low-cost field trips. Also discusses ways to run your household more efficiently and with less cost.
The Letter Factory Game
Teaches Phonics! The race is on! With two games in one, children play together and learn letter names and sounds with actions and music. Wacky Professor Quigley guides players every step of the way so no reading is required! Games automatically adjust to skill level, to keep children learning at just the right pace! 2 Games in 1: Counting Colors & Letters: Learn letter names and sounds by matching color cards to move around the board. Leaping Letters: Listen to the name or sound and then find the card that matches it! Includes: interactive card reader, game board, 26 letter cards and 4 playing pieces.
LeapPad Game - Mind Wars Jr. Interactive Game
Bring a friend and try this brand new way to play with your LeapPad! Race around the board in this fast-paced, wonderfully wacky game. Be the first to close all five windows and you will become the Mind Wars master and learn important 1st and 2nd grade skills in math, language arts, life science, physical science, and social studies!
LeapPad Game - Mind Wars Interactive Game
Bring a friend and try this brand new way to play with your LeapPad! Travel around the board in this fast-paced, head-to-head game as you hit your buzzer before your friend can steal your question! Be the first to close all five windows and you will become the Mind Wars master and learn important 3rd-5th grade skills in math, language and fine arts, science, history, and geography!
One Thing at a Time : 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day
Simple, effective ways to put things in their place

Those piles of papers, clothes, and other things you thought you'd successfully de-cluttered have returned, and this time they brought friends. What's the use of trying to fight the clutter? Is there a better way?

This powerful and useful guide delivers solutions that work, no matter how overwhelmed you feel. The answer isn't an elaborate new system, or a solemn vow to start tomorrow. Instead, psychotherapist and organizer Cindy Glovinsky shares 100 simple strategies for tackling the problem the way it grows--one thing at a time. Here's a sampling of the tips explained in the book:

*Declare a fix-it day
*Purge deep storage areas first
*Label it so you can read it
*Get a great letter opener
*Practice toy population planning
*Leave it neater than you found it
Written in short takes and with a supportive tone, this is an essential, refreshing book that helps turn a hopeless struggle into a manageable part of life, one thing at a time.
Visual Brainstorms
Children who love word games, logic puzzles, secret codes, mazes, and math mysteries will stretch their mental muscles with Visual Brain Storms. This set of 100 cards, each of which includes a humorous, full-color drawing, promises "the world's best brainteaser questions." The characters in the questions often have funny names (Professor Pith Bugby pops up often) or faces or dilemmas to solve. The answers and explanations are on the back of each card, along with a related bonus question. Many of the puzzles involve math concepts, spatial reasoning, logic, or sequential thinking, but some can be solved with plain common sense. Here's a sample: "Frank and Helen's annual singles elimination tennis tournament has drawn 18 players this year. How many matches must be played before there is a winner for the year?" Answer: "Every match will produce one loser, and every person other than the winner will lose once and only once. Eighteen players makes 17 losers; therefore it will take 17 matches to have a tournament winner." Visual Brain Storms is a humorous, painless way to improve those higher-order thinking skills. Visual Brain Storms: The Smart Thinking Game is for one or more players. --Marcie Bovetz
Organizing Plain and Simple: A Ready Reference Guide With Hundreds Of Solutions to Your Everyday Clutter Challenges
Desk drowning in papers? No room for the car in the garage? Santa still sitting on the roof in May? A less-is-more philosophy is great, but we all still have way too much stuff. The home office swallows up whole rooms, as does the family computer station. Then there's the home gym, the TV room, and the playroom, not to mention our collections - books, CDs, toys. Time management experts agree that when the minor things that take up space in the mind are eliminated, there is room to think about the big things. The same goes for the home. The visual clarity that comes from de-cluttering rooms, finances, and time promotes mental clarity, peacefulness, and contemplation. When everything is organized, it is easier to enjoy the meaningful things in life.

Organizing Plain & Simple is like a course from an expert teacher, grounded in the fundamentals and enriched with philosophy, tips, anecdotes, illustrations - everything necessary to make home and life run more smoothly. Donna Smallin takes a personalized, nonjudgemental approach to explaining how to assess each individual's situation and suggesting where to start organizing - room by room - and then covers how to stay organized. Then she offers advice on organizing time and finances, as well as organizing for the seasons and for special events - the birth of a baby, combining households, a move, kids going off to college, successful downsizing. Smallin presents a broad range of innovative solutions in the running feature "One Challenge, Three Solutions" that includes tips for solving classic organizational issues from a wide range of professional organizers.

Help for the Harried Homeschooler : A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child's Education with the Rest of Your Life
Homeschooling moms and dads can be overwhelmed by the demands on their time. Between their children’s educational needs; their roles as spouse, parent, and more; and their own individual desires and goals, these mothers and fathers struggle to accomplish all that must be done. In Help for the Harried Homeschooler, experienced homeschooler, author, and mother of four Christine Field offers sound advice for parents who want not only to achieve homeschooling success but also to reach a balance in their lives.
Unclutter Your Home: 7 Simple Steps, 700 Tips & Ideas (Simplicity Series)
Hundreds of practical ideas for sorting, evaluating, and getting rid of all those material items that get in the way of a simplified lifestyle.
Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking

With Jim Arnosky as your guide, an ordinary hike becomes an eye-opening experience. He'll help you spot a hawk soaring far overhead and note the details of a dragonfly up close. Study the black-and-white drawings -- based on his own field research -- and you'll discover if those tracks in the brush were made by a deer or a fox.

In his celebrated style, this author, artist, and naturalist enthusiastically shares a wealth of tips. Jim Arnosky wants you to enjoy watching wildlife. He carefully explains how field marks, shapes, and location give clues for identifying certain plants and animals wherever you are. He gives hints for sharpening observational skills. And he encourages you to draw and record birds, insects, shells, animal tracks, and other finds from a busy day's watch.

Home Schooling from Scratch : Simple Living, Super Learning
Parents learn what they really need, how to find or create materials and opportunities for less money, and how to organize their household for economical, happy learning.
Looking for Another State?
Featured Resources

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this site.

Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo
Only children don’t have to share bedrooms, toys, or the backseat of a car. They don’t have to share allowances, inheritances, or their parents’ attention. But when they get into trouble, they can’t just blame their imaginary friends. In Only Child, ...
Cognitive Styles and Learning Strategies: Understanding Style Differences in Learning and Behaviour
First Published in 1998. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
Secret of Childhood
Maria Montessori describes the child with warmth and the exactness of a scientist. She also discusses the array of materials and techniques needed to release his learning potential.
Should I Home School?: How to Decide What's Right for You & Your Child
Have questions about homeschooling? This book has the answers. The information in this book will help you decide if homeschooling is right for you and your child. 
Visual Brainstorms
Children who love word games, logic puzzles, secret codes, mazes, and math mysteries will stretch their mental muscles with Visual Brain Storms. This set of 100 cards, each of which includes a humorous, full-color drawing, promises "the world's best ...