magazine update

What’s happening at home | school | life

Our secular homeschool podcast, online classes, book club, new bloggers, and more--a little update from HSL

We’ve been so busy this summer, I thought it might be a good idea to round up all the cool things that have been happening here at home | school | life into one post, in case you’ve missed anything while you were busy with your own summer adventures.

We have a podcast! (It was Suzanne’s idea.) The Podcast with Suzanne and Amy is a fortnightly podcast about the places where home, school, and life intersect, plus lots and lots of book talk. We’ve recorded five episodes so far; you can listen to them here or on iTunes.

We offer a smart, eclectic mix of online classes for late middle school/high school students. We set up these classes to be interest-driven and intellectually rigorous—two things I know I’m always looking for as the parent of a newbie high schooler. I’d love to see them all fill up with awesome kids — for us, these classes are as much about community as about learning about Hamilton. (Not that we’d ever knock our five-dollar Founding Father!)

And speaking of community, we’re pretty thrilled to introduce home | school | life reads, a middle grades book club led by our resident Book Nerd Suzanne Rezelman with optional weekly assignments and a monthly online meeting. We’re kicking things off with The Westing Game as our September read—you should join us!

We’re making a small change to our group subscriptions deal: You can still get a subscription to home | school | life magazine for $10 per person when you subscribe with a group of at least 20 people, but we’ll only be offering the group subscription option in September and January.

We've been adding new stuff to the subscribers’ library all summer. If you’re a subscriber, when you log in, scroll down past the current issue to see what else is available for free download. (And if you’re not a subscriber, you can become one right here.)

You may have noticed that we’ve added some terrific new writers to our blogging team. If you’re catching up on posts, start with the ones from Molly, Carrie, and Cate. (And of course Shelli, Rebecca, and I are still posting, too.)

Because we recognize that we may overstuff your library list now and again, we’ve added a little section to the site where we can let you know when books we’ve recommended on the blog or in the magazine are on sale. We’ll only be posting book deals for books we’ve actually recommended, so it’s not just a willy-nilly books-on-sale list. (Though we appreciate those, too!)

We’re also in the process of updating our Best Cities for Homeschool Families list for 2017—and we’d love your input. Nominate your favorite homeschool city here.

And, of course, we're also hard at work on the most important thing we do here at home | school | life: We're well into work on the fall issue of HSL and look forward to sharing it with our awesome readers in October.

And finally—want to know whenever a new post goes up on the home | school | life website? We've set up a Bloglovin feed that will shoot you an email when we post something new on the blog. There's a sign-up link in the right sidebar, and you can also sign up right here:

Follow

Everyone Loves a Sale: 10% Off HSL Online Classes

It's a Flash Sale! Save 10% on HSL homeschool classes for two days!

It’s a 48-hour flash sale! For two days, you can register for any of our awesome online classes for just $247, -- 10 percent off the regular class price. Each high school-level class (we provide a written evaluation and transcript grade at the end of the class) is 12 weeks long and includes one, one-hour online class session per week and 24/7 access to a private class discussion forum. Classes are fun, intellectually engaging, and taught by passionate mentors with strong educational backgrounds. So here’s your chance to:

 

Register now! This sale ends Saturday, August 13 at 9 a.m.


9 Reasons I Love the Summer Issue

9 things I love about the summer issue of home/school/life, my favorite secular homeschool magazine

Now that the summer issue is out (hooray!), I look forward to the email that starts to trickle in from readers, telling us what articles you loved and what ideas inspired you. (Please never stop sending this email.) The truth is, I look forward to reading the finished issue every season, too! If you’re a subscriber, you can skip this and just go read the summer issue yourself, but if you’re interested, these stories were some of my summer issue highlights.

 

  1. Working on the summer reading guide is one of those gigantic projects that I look forward to all year. (“Sorry kids, I’m reading for work!”) I loved working on every part of it, but finding readalikes for Anne of Green Gables and The Fault in Our Stars was especially fun.
  2. Patricia’s column about her nearly two decades of park days with her homeschool group made me cry. In the good way. But also kind of in the envious way because I really wish I had that kind of group in my homeschool life.
  3. We had so much fun doing our first homeschool makeover—helping Jenn and Ian shift gears to make their homeschool less school-y while still keeping up with their academic goals. 
  4. You know how when your kid gets really excited about something, and you’re trying to figure out how much you should do to encourage that excitement—where do you draw the line between supportive and pushy? Shelli has some great thoughts on how she’s found a balance through her son’s passion for birds.
  5. I always want to steal Amy’s art project ideas, but now I really want to steal her relaxed attitude about teaching art, too.
  6. This issue features an article by our youngest contributor ever: the talented 10-year-old Catie Burrell, who has Opinions about what musicals should be in your movie marathon.
  7. I learned SO MUCH working on our summer boot camp feature for this issue, which is all about things you can do right now to make homeschooling this fall so much more fun. I am probably not going to be taking a sabbatical any time soon, but I am definitely adding more rituals to anchor our days.
  8. We got to answer that question that plagues so many homeschoolers: How can an always-homeschooled kid get into college? 
  9. It’s made me pretty excited about summer! Now that the summer deadline is behind me, I’m looking forward to planning next year’s science classes, having a Roald Dahl-inspired readathon, using Star Trek to study politics, cleaning out the clutter in my homeschool space, and reading lots and lots of books by the pool. I hope it gets you excited, too!

The Scoop on Our Online Classes

home/school/life :: online homeschool classes for high school students

Back when we first started homeschooling, I interviewed a woman named Andrea Hermitt for an article I was writing about homeschool budgeting, and her words have stuck with me: “You should spend money on what inspires your kids’ passions,” she said. “Scrimp and save in the subjects that don’t get them excited.”

Because, really, isn’t this the whole point of homeschooling—the ability to go where our passions lead us and to dig in, as deep and as long as we want to? There’s learning for learning’s sake and learning for passion’s sake—and I know which side of that equation I want to end up on.

So when we decided this winter that we wanted to think about offering online classes through home|school|life, passion was our byword. Like so many of our homeschooling projects, this one started a little selfishly: My daughter starts high school in the fall, and researching classes wasn’t turning up anything interesting. Classes were either core-curriculum-generic topics (British literature, U.S. history) that would be easier and more fun to do at home together, or super-casual academic-lite classes that are fun for meeting people and getting an overview of something but not really very dig-in-able. So we thought about what kind of classes we wanted for our daughter’s high school experience: smart, fun, rigorous, obsession-worthy. And we decided, what the hey, let’s build some. Maybe we’re not the only ones wishing for these kinds of classes. Maybe our daughter won’t just find the opportunity to explore topics she’s fascinated by under the leadership of amazing teachers. Maybe she’ll also extend her circle of friends to include people who share those passions. 

So that’s the idea that launched home|school|life passion projects—our online course offerings that you won’t find in any traditional class catalogs. We’ve teamed up with some incredibly knowledgeable, incredibly passionate people to bring these classes to life—and really, not just classes but a whole online community where students can interact with their teachers and each other between scheduled class sessions. Over the next weeks, we’ll be sharing more details about our summer lineup—which we view as a fun sampler of offerings that will give you a taste of what you can look forward to in our semester-long classes this fall. Feel free to chime in with questions and ideas for future classes!


Minding Our Business: Group Subscriptions to HSL

home|school|life magazine :: secular homeschool magazine offers discounts for group subscriptions. (Great perk for co-op members)

One thing you may not know about home/school/life is that we offer group subscriptions at a pretty nice discount. If your homeschool group of 20-plus folks wants to subscribe to the magazine, we can hook you up with a deal that lets each individual subscriber pay just $12 for her — or his! — subscription. (If you want to price it out, that’s the equivalent of getting two issues for free, so it’s a pretty good deal on a pretty great homeschool magazine.) Note: Group subscription price increases from $10 to $12 on September 1, 2017.

We see this as a win-win: We think homeschool groups are awesome. If you don’t belong to one, it really is worth the effort of stalking email groups and making awkward park visits until you find your people. We like to think that super-affordable subscriptions are a little perk we can give to support something that we see as a pretty integral part of a well-balanced homeschool life. And for us, it’s pretty terrific to reach a whole group of homeschoolers at once. We kind of love knowing that our group subscribers will always have someone to talk to about the latest issue of home/school/life when it comes out.

If you want to take advantage of a group subscription, all you need to do is appoint a point person for your group to email us with your list of at least 20 people. (We don’t care if you’re an email list group, a meet-at-the-park-twice-a-week group, or a Facebook group. If you consider yourselves a group, so do we.) We’ll send you an invoice via PayPal, which you can pay after you’ve collected the money from your group, and then we’ll send you a free download code to share with your group as each issue becomes available. It’s easy for you, easy for us, and a way to get a pretty nice discount on the subscription price.


Minding Our Business: "Why Don’t You Have a Print Edition?"

home/school/life is a digital secular homeschool magazine.

Probably once a month, we get an email from someone asking why we don’t publish a print edition of home/school/life. “I like to be able to hold a magazine in my hands and flip through it,” someone will say. And Amy will say “So do I.” So why don’t we just publish a print edition? The reason, frankly, is cost. Say that every single person who currently subscribes to the digital edition of home/school/life decided to take advantage of the print edition. It would cost about $22 per issue. That’s just the cost of printing — it doesn’t include any mailing costs, and it doesn’t include any profit for the magazine. It’s just the straight-up cost of printing the magazine for the number of subscribers we currently have. We think that’s a bit too much to ask someone to pay. (Though we will order you a print copy if you want one — just email us for the price of a particular issue and shipping.)

There are ways we could make a print edition more affordable. We could be less picky about advertisers, or trade reviews or coverage in the magazine for money that would help cover the cost of subscriber copies. But we feel like that’s not the way we want to grow this magazine. We like knowing that our readers can trust that the products we review in our pages are the ones we honestly think are the very best. We like knowing that the companies who advertise with us are companies whose products we can wholeheartedly support.

We could also reduce the size of the magazine — if we cut the number of pages in each issue in half, we’d cut the price of printing in half, too. But we like that every issue feels like a book’s worth of content — we want to give you enough reading material to carry you through the season until our next issue comes out.

Ultimately, we’ve decided to be patient. We put out a magazine that we think stands head and shoulders above other homeschool magazines. We hear from lots of readers who say it’s “the best homeschool magazine” they've ever read. We’re going to trust that we’re doing the right thing with the magazine and trust that — eventually — our readers will find us. (Some people have mentioned a Kickstarter campaign, and that’s definitely something we’re going to look into.)

Because there is a magic number where the cost-per-issue for subscriptions drops dramatically. (If you’d like to help us get there, tell your friends about home/school/life — encourage them to check out a free copy of the summer issue and to subscribe if they like what they read. The more people who read the magazine, the closer we get to offering a printed version.) Ultimately, the things we feed are the things that grow, and we want to feed home/school/life in a way that will make us proud of what it grows into. If that means it takes us a little longer to produce a print edition, we're okay with that. We hope our readers will be, too.


Minding Our Business: How We Use Affiliate Links

HSL's affiliate link policy

We believe that companies should be as transparent as possible about their financial dealings. At home/school/life, we’ve tried hard to find ways of supporting the magazine that we feel good about, and we will never trade editorial coverage for money, period. We know we're pretty picky about things like advertisers and product reviews, but we're comfortable with that. We pay our writers, buy photos, and keep our website up and running in a few different ways. We don’t make a lot of money from affiliate links, but because they can be so controversial, we want to be upfront about our affiliate links and how we use them. You probably know that affiliate links work a lot like referral fees: If you click on a book recommendation on our blog and buy the book through Amazon, a small percentage (usually less than $1) from your purchase goes into the home/school/life account. Do you have to click on the links? Nope — see below — we try to give you enough info so that you can Google the product yourself if you prefer not to support the magazine this way. But we sure do appreciate it when you do use them.

In the coming months, you’ll see a few more affiliate links in posts — and you’ll know that you’re seeing them because there will be a note at the end of every post that contains them, letting you know that there are affiliate links in that post. Why would we start including affiliate links when we haven’t used them much in the past? Well, we’d like to be able to hire another full-time writer for the magazine and possibly start moving toward putting out a print edition, and we’re hoping that these kinds of links might help move us closer toward that goal.

 

Here’s what we promise about affiliate links:

- We only support affiliate links with companies that we have personal, positive experience with.

- Any time we use an affiliate link in the post, we will let you know that post contains affiliate links. (If you aren’t sure, hover over the link and look for an amazon at the beginning — those are giveaways that the link is an affiliate link.)

 

Here’s what we won’t do:

- Give vague information that forces you to click on an affiliate link if you want to see what we’re talking about. (We’ll say “Possession may be Amy’s all-time favorite book” or "this grass green bulky (superwash, yay!) yarn" never a sneaky “This may be Amy’s all-time favorite book" or "this yarn." We're not going to force you to click on an affiliate link to follow the conversation.

- Not link to something if we can’t use an affiliate link. We love these grammar mugs, the podcast On Being, and pretty much every knitting pattern Martina Behm has managed to come up with, and we're going to talk about them even though none of them are home/school/life affiliates. — We’ll only use affiliate links in situations where they happen to exist for something we’re writing about anyway.

 

Here’s who our affiliates are:

(We’ll update this list if we add or drop affiliates in the future.) 

  • Amazon :: This one is probably pretty obvious, but we’re big fans of the variety of books and movies available on Amazon.com. And, you may have noticed, we recommend a lot of books.  

10 Great Things You’ll Find in Our Spring Issue

Our spring issue is all about getting a little fresh air — literally (we have so many awesome ideas for outdoor adventures!) and metaphorically (in the form of ways to shake those I'm-doing-this-wrong worries that sneak into your head). By now, you probably know the kinds of things you'll find in every issue of home/school/life — intelligent reporting, thought-provoking columns, tons of book recommendations, and all kinds of resources and ideas to make homeschooling a little more fun. And yep, you will find all of that in our spring issue! But here are a few things we love that you'll only find in our spring issue: -- Tips for growing carnivorous plants in your own backyard

-- Step-by-step guidance for creating your own homeschool group

-- 6 Twilight Zone episodes that legitimately count as philosophy class

-- A science-minded guide to the history of space exploration in film

-- Practical ideas for carving out a little me-time in your busy days

-- Outdoor activities to make green hour part of your everyday life

-- The ultimate anti-Muzak playlist

-- A version of “Let It Go” inspired by Dante’s Inferno

-- Good advice for explaining your homeschool choice to people you love who just don’t get it

-- And Amy's favorite: a little Shakespeare for your first-aid kit

(If you're not a subscriber but now you wish you were, snag the spring issue here.)


Peek Inside the Winter 2015 Issue

There's so much good stuff in the winter issue that we thought we'd share a little sampling here. To read the rest (including a step-by-step guide to creating your own curriculum, awesome columns on art, science, Waldorf materials, and kids who love games, tons of book recommendations, and some of our favorite tools for getting organized), subscribe! :) Click to enlarge. If you don't see the sampler, try refreshing your page.

 


We Meet At Last

The home | school | life team at the first National Alliance for Secular Homeschoolers conference

Believe it or not, Amy and I (Shelli) have been working together for over six months, corresponding on an almost-daily basis, but we had never met face-to-face! (We have talked on the phone a couple of times though!)

Well, that has changed. This past weekend I was able to meet Amy and her husband, Jason, at the National Alliance for Secular Homeschooler’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We were there to promote home / school / life magazine, and it was fun to watch people flip through the print copies of home / school / life and tell us what a beautiful resource it is – chock full of information for homeschoolers and other conscientious parents!

We were asked what set home / school / life apart from other homeschooling magazines, and Amy said something that I think is important to impart. Not only do we offer lots of useful lesson ideas, how-tos, encouragement, first person narratives and interviews with other homeschoolers, we offer real reporting on subjects that are important to homeschoolers, such as how to cope with loneliness, financial stress, or what steps one needs to take for a certain career path. We do a lot of research and interviews to write our features. In short, we offer real journalism. And it’s in a beautiful format to boot!

I love meeting new homeschoolers, but yesterday, I had even more fun meeting and chatting with Amy and Jason. They are incredibly sweet people, and it was a pleasure getting to know them a little better. I already know they are hard-working people, and it’s great to be part of this team.

We enjoyed talking about home / school / life and its future, and I thought I would share some of that with you.

  • First, we congratulated ourselves for putting together such a beautiful magazine with such a small staff! Amy does most of the writing and all the layout and other nitty-gritty details, and I do a lot of writing, proofreading and the social web stuff. We also have a few columnists whom we rely on, and their work makes the magazine sparkle. If you look at any other masthead on another magazine, you’ll see they have much bigger staffs! (So now you know why our Facebook and Twitter page is very quiet, especially while we’re in production. It’s hard to do it all!)
  • Jason is our advertising and promotion man, and he’s been working hard recently to get the word out about the magazine. For example, members of N.A.S.H. will be able to subscribe to home / school / life for a discounted price -- that should be available soon. We are reaching out to other associations and conferences as well. If you want to partner with home / school / life, Jason is your man.
  • Our fall issue is turning out to be another great issue. We’re going to tell you what the best cities are to homeschool in in the United States, how you can become a better photographer, and give you some important questions to ask yourself about your homeschool journey as well as lots of unit studies and inspiration to get you through your day.
  • We had a few print copies of the magazine, and oh my – they are beautiful! But we need a lot more subscribers before we can make them available to you. If it’s something you would like, please tell us. Of course, we don’t have to have a print magazine – being able to click on all those links in the digital issue is pretty cool too – but if the demand is there, we will make it an option!
  • Pretty soon we’ll be introducing you to some new staff writers! It’s very exciting to bring new people on board with their fresh ideas, but I’m going to save those details for the newsletter and future blog posts.
  • After the fall issue comes out, there are a lot of things Amy and I want to turn our attention to. One of those is revamping our website. Though we plan to keep it as simple and beautiful as possible, we want to be able to do more with it. For example:
  • We’re going to have a store! We will be selling home / school / life magazine issues and more….
  • And that’s the other exciting news: we’ll be working on some extra resources that we think you will find useful on your homeschool journey.

With such a small staff and budget, we can’t do everything as fast as we would like, but I am like that turtle in the story – going slow but sure can yield the best results! This is only the beginning of home / school / life. I know it will take time for us to make the website, store, hire more staff, and get more resources out to you, but it will happen. I hope you will join us for the journey.

We always welcome your ideas and comments. E-mail us.

And if you like what we do and want to support us, please consider subscribing, renewing or giving a subscription for a gift for only $15 a year. That’s not much for four awesome issues, coming straight to your inbox every season.