I’m applying to become a member of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I learned about this exciting program through Heather, a fellow homeschooler, whose wonderful blog (Only Passionate Curiosity) I follow. The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew is a team of homeschool bloggers who are given curricula and other homeschool-friendly items to use free of charge, in exchange for their honest, well-documented opinions. Even though I had seen many such reviews around since we started homeschooling a little over 2 years ago, it never occurred to me I could be part of that team. I’m really excited about the prospect though, it’s an opportunity to enjoy wonderful products that we probably wouldn’t get a chance to do otherwise (there’re so many things out there, it’s impossible to know them all). That alone is enough motivation, but they also offer a lot of support and hand-holding with not only the actual review process, but with blogging management and improvement, and of course the chance to share and get to know other families just as passionate about homeschooling.
Part of the application process includes my review of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (November/December issue) published by TheOldSchoolHouse.com, which I am happy to share with all of you here today.
My First Impression
The Old SchoolHouse Magazine is a free family education magazine with a Christian perspective published bi-monthly. I appreciated the ease of access to the magazine, one can either use the web version or the very convenient app available for iPhone/iPad, Android, Kindle Fire or Nook. I used both, the web and the iPad at a later moment to finish browsing through the magazine, which I read cover to cover.
My first impression was very positive. The quality of the graphics and layout is that of a very professional magazine, with big, clickable, featured headings spaced throughout the front cover. Had I been unaware of its Christian slant, I would have known immediately by looking at the Bible passage transcribed at the bottom of its front cover.
Exactly the same as the very popular, mainstream magazines, its format includes quite a few full-page color ads immediately after the front cover. These ads are intertwined with a nice welcome by the editor, an attractive “In This Issue” table of contents with clickable thumbnails next to the text portion, which also linked to the actual content, an introduction of all contributors along with headshots and short biographies. Not a thin publication by any means, there is a great number of articles that would appeal to both, beginner and experienced homeschoolers alike. There is a lot of ads in all sizes overall. The ads, however, are very targeted, they introduce curricula or other services to homeschoolers, such as field trips abroad to Europe (sounds fantastic!), services to parents of children with special needs, and special offers to magazine readers.
I found the content to be very meaty with thought-provoking articles on all sorts of topics. I particularly enjoyed the following:
- Show and Tell – Freedom from the Four Walls – Learning could be as close as walking out to your backyard or as far as traveling the world. I believe that after a little while, we homeschoolers “really get” that learning happens anywhere, anytime and with anything, but there’s always something especially satisfying about seeing other families going through the same experience.
- The Engaging Homeschooler – History in the Baking and Eating. What a fun topic to include on the eve of the holidays. Who knows the history of turkey dressing, pumpkin pie, gingerbread, fruit cake or candy cane? I sure didn’t, and totally appreciated this light-hearted theme to spice up our learning (no pun intended).
- The Classical Homeschooler – Prepare for College Classically – Latin and Greek have the unique capacity to supercharge critical thinking, analytical skills, writing accuracy, vocabulary, and plain old linguistic mastery. I appreciated this research-based article, specially since we’ve been studying Latin in our own homeschool.
- The Ordinary Homeschooler – Using the Library to Create Your Own Curriculum – I always believe in including the children in the selection and planning of the instruction as much as possible. I couldn’t agree more, this is the hallmark of our homeschool. I’m extremely happy to see the confidence my 8-year old son has developed by actively making decisions about his own learning path.
One Last Note
A strong –or very strong at times– Christian perspective permeates most of its articles and ads. If you maintain a secular homeschool like we do, this magazine might not be your cup of tea. Still, I found most contributions to be quite informative, interesting and/or motivating. There are always good tips coming from all types of sources, and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is certainly one source worth checking out, even if you end up deciding it wouldn’t work out for your family.