Friday, November 20, 2009

Where to Begin?

The Internet is a tremendous resource for gathering information on any subject. Actually, "tremendous" may be an understatement. The Internet is a gargantuan resource, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis. I have always learned in a linear fashion. I can learn how to do just about anything from a textbook, video or hands-on exercise. However, if you put me in a workgroup or send me to a website, I get lost very quickly. Most websites are designed to fit as much information as possible on each page. To me, all of the text and links are just a bunch of white noise that I must filter out before I can make any sense of it. I literally feel like every line of text is screaming at me to "look over here" or "click me, click me". I drive my wife crazy when I am running the keyboard while we navigate websites "together". She can instantly focus on the places she needs to go, while I tend to read everything before I proceed. Finding what I need can be frustrating and time consuming. If you find yourself in the same boat, I'm hoping that I can help you skip some of that frustration by sharing my favorite pages of some of the best websites.

Today's sample comes from They have a seemingly endless amount of information on their site. I will most likely be sifting through it for many weeks. For now, here are my three favorite pages from their site:

1. Free Podcasts - That's right! Free! They have hours and hours of MP3's that you can listen to directly from the website, or you can download them to listen to offline. So far I have only listened to the first one, featuring Rhonda Barfield. From this one podcast, I have already learned new terms like "unschooling" and "school-at-home". Learning this new vocabulary will help me focus my searches on the methods of homeschooling that interest me the most.

2. Homeschooling Approaches - This page lists some of the most popular "styles" of homeschooling. Each link provides a brief description of that style. These descriptions should help you decide the method (or combinations of methods) that you can use as a starting point. You may be surprised to find that homeschooling is very flexible and can be customized to meet the needs of your daily routine.

3. Local Support Groups - This is the first place that I have found that has a list of support groups by state. I have yet to contact any of the support groups, but I will be doing so next week. It may take some time to separate the good from the not so good, but it's always great to have a place to start. If you are wondering what a support group does exactly, you are not alone. As I find out I will post what I learn. I am hoping that they can help with things like, for lack of a better term, "play dates", as well as a place to collaborate on group field trips.

It may seem odd that I would direct you away from my blog to another site. The sites that I recommend could easily become your favorite resource, leaving me in the shadows. That's fine by me, as long as you are finding what you need. If you ever lose your way, please return here to see if I have covered the subject you are looking for. If I haven't, send me an email and I will see what I can dig up.

- Ryan

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