Drawing on Local Resources
Homeschooling doesn’t mean staying home every day! In fact, many families find that one of the best things about homeschooling is the opportunity to take advantage of local resources such as museums or zoos. Each geographic area has its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of what is available, but even if you live in a particularly rural area, you should still be able to find some of the following local resources:
- Public libraries. Public libraries have fiction and nonfiction books you can use for language arts, but they typically have a much wider variety of resources available than you might think. They often have storytime, arts and crafts projects, public lectures about interesting topics, a variety of technology tools, clubs for teens, and much more. Public library events are often free.
- Colleges or universities. Many colleges and universities are home to small museums, galleries, greenhouses, or observatories which may be open to the public. In addition, individual university departments may host events, concerts or shows, open houses, or workshops for the community, or maintain lists of upper-level undergraduates willing to tutor high school students. You may also find that university science departments are willing to host a tour for your homeschool group. University libraries can also have useful curricular resources, particularly for older teens.
- Public parks. Public parks—which can include national, state, and local parks—have, at minimum, opportunities for physical education and recreation. However, they also typically have events and classes related to biological and earth sciences, and sometimes history and social science as well. Investigate the programs that the park makes available to kids.
- Historical societies, local history museums, and house museums. Individual towns and cities might have local history museums, where students can learn about social studies. They may also offer community lectures on interesting topics. House museums may also offer education programs that incorporate art or architecture.
- Children’s museums, nature centers, science centers, zoos, and aquariums. These organizations typically offer paid admission to families and often provide educational tours and classes related to science and social studies.
- Arts centers and art museums. These organizations often combine displays of art in galleries with educational opportunities to learn about or make art. They often offer classes in ballet or ceramics, as well as choirs and community theater. They may also offer the opportunity to attend arts performances.
- Makerspaces. These community-led organizations offer access to expensive tools for sewing and crafting, wood shop, 3-D printers, etc., as well as classes or training on their use.
- Community gardens and historical gardens. These organizations, which may be run as co-ops or may offer private admission, often offer education opportunities in the biological and life sciences.
- Community centers, rec centers, and YMCA. These community organizations often offer opportunities for physical education and recreation, as well as classes on interesting topics, and youth clubs.
- Nonprofits and social services. You may have local organizations devoted to offering services to the community, such as school supplies, bookmobiles, service-learning opportunities, etc.
And this is just a small selection of the local resources that may be available to you! Many homeschooling families take advantage of these resources during daytime when other children are in school. In fact, some of these centers and institutions may offer classes or workshops for homeschooled students during regular school hours.
While you may already know about many of your local resources, there may be others that you haven’t heard of yet. As you are investigating your local resources, here are some of the places you should use to look for information:
- The internet. Try googling “makerspace near me” or similar search terms and see what comes up. You can also try using search terms like “museums near me” in your favorite map app.
- Friends and family. Ask your friends and family for advice about educational opportunities your children might benefit from.
- Homeschooling groups. Because these groups are often local, they are likely to have good suggestions from homeschooling parents who are searching for the same opportunities.
- Networking. Many of the organizations listed above interact frequently with each other as they serve the community; educational directors at these organizations may be able to tell you who in your region is offering similar or related services. Your local library is another good place to ask for information about local museums and educational resources. In fact, some libraries allow patrons to “check out” museum memberships free of charge!
- Community message boards. Public bulletin boards at your local library, school, grocery store, gym, doctor’s office, etc. are likely to include information about local resources, as are social media groups local to your region.
As you investigate local resources, you may want to keep track of what services they offer and how they fit into your homeschooling curriculum. You may also find it useful to maintain a log of your visits to museums, community centers, and cultural institutions. This log can become part of the permanent academic record you maintain for each child you homeschool—and it can also serve as a reminder of when it’s time to plan another visit!
Don’t forget to read the other articles in this section!
— Homeschool Resources & Support
— Public and Charter School Partnerships
— Access to School District Resources
— Joining a Homeschooling Group
— Homeschool Umbrella Schools
— Drawing on Local Resources
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