A to Z Home's Cool

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So, where do home educators go when they are in need of information about homeschooling? State laws? Lesson Plans? Support? Well, if they are connected to the internet, odds are good that they've run across what is arguably the biggest home education site on the web: A to Z Home's Cool.

Webmistress Ann Zeise began homeschooling her son Scott when he was in fourth grade – Scott is now attending college at the University of Hawaii. But, even with her son off to college, Ann is still enmeshed in the homeschool community. Visitors to her site and those that participate in the A to Z Home's Cool Yahoo group count on her for information. The web site itself is packed full of articles, lesson plan ideas and links to other sites useful to home educators. Ann has written many of the essays and articles that are posted to the site (in fact if you've been homeschooling for long, you may recognize her name from past issues of Home Education Magazine) while others come from guest contributors. Ann is a consistent presence on the A to Z Yahoo group, and provides some amazingly insightful commentary about homeschooling as well as honest advice and friendly support through her participation. Amazingly, Ann also has time to keep up with a second website, www.gomilpitas.com and hobbies such as photography and singing in a choir.

When I invited Ann to participate in the virtual book tour for Team Challenges, she immediately responded that the activities in Team Challenges seemed like they might work well to encourage teamwork within homeschool support groups. And she was right. Though the cover of the book showcases some cute kids, the activities on the inside are just as well-suited to adults as they are to children. Any kind of parental support group can become sidetracked with egos and emotions; home educators are no different. In fact, homeschooling parents may even be more opinionated as to the "best" way to organize a group or educate the kids!

Here's part of what I wrote for Ann:

Forming a homeschool support group can be an onerous task, as organizers try to accommodate the needs and desires of many different families. Gather a roomful of home educators, each with a different reason for homeschooling, kids of different temperaments and ages, a variety of homeschooling methods and the desire to create a homeschooling network, and you may have a recipe for success. Unfortunately, egos and personal agendas can sometimes get in the way.

Before this diverse group of people can be considered a support system, they really must learn to work together toward a common goal. Instilling a sense of cooperation between the organizers, as well as the families participating can create a feeling of belonging and trust, and an understanding that no single person has all of the right answers.

You'll find the entire article online, along with several activities excerpted from Team Challenges.

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