Some education resources are obvious, some are under utilized by homeschoolers, and some just don’t make the average homeschooler’s radar.
Every December and May Scholastic has a warehouse sale for Book Fair volunteers, school employees, and teachers–that includes homeschoolers. Everything is discounted up to 80% and there will be thousands of items less than a dollar. The selection will include everything from cookbooks to craft kits to atlases to science fair books to classics to trending celebrities. Be prepared to spend a lot of time browsing the aisles of the warehouse. It is a warehouse so make sure you go early in the day during May. There really isn’t any good way to describe the selection and prices–you just need to go!
San Antonio is incredibly fortunate to have the Children’s Fine Arts Series. The series began as a community project by the Judson Montessori School in 1982 and became an independent non-profit in 1988. The goal of the program is provide an introduction to the arts through a series of quality programs designed for children. The programs are no more than an hour each and have included puppets, theater, music, and dance. The programs are at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater or Trinity’s Laurie Auditorium. The website includes study guides for the various programs as well as recommend ages for attendance. Group rates for ten or more for daytime shows are only $4.00 each. Many of the local homeschool groups have someone who coordinates the group purchases each year.
The Witte is my favorite museum to visit. It’s a perfect combination of natural and cultural history packaged for San Antonio and south Texas. The immediate interest for homeschoolers is the HEB Science Treehouse. I don’t think you’re ever too old to learn about simple machines. Then there are the more traditional exhibits of Texas ecology, dinosaurs, ancient Texans, mummies, and more. But perhaps the resources most underutilized by homeschoolers are the environmental workshops. These are workshops geared to students in grades four to eight and are held in the Witte’s lab classroom. In “From River to Sink, What’s in My Drink?” students investigate water chemistry and learn lab skills. There are also history and art workshops available. The cost is $2.50 per student for the 2.5 hours workshop. It would be nice if the Witte would simply set up programs for homeschoolers like the Houston Museum of Natural Science does, but they don’t so you’ll have to have someone organize a group to take advantage of the workshops.
Home school high school juniors and seniors are eligible to take dual credit college classes at the Alamo Community colleges. Currently, students can enroll in two classes and pay only for books–their tuition will be waived. This is a great deal since in other community college districts, homeschoolers have to pay half or even full tuition. Students must have a qualifying Accuplacer score, submit the application by the deadline, and provide a notarized transcript. The deadlines and courses available vary by school so you need to check with each school. Also be sure to check on your ability to have transcripts sent to colleges. Some homeschoolers have not been allowed to request transcripts until they have actually graduated from high school which obviously does not meet most college application deadlines. You can take these classes on campus or online. You can take classes at other colleges, both public and private, as dual credit but you will probably pay regular tuition. If you find the class selection at the community colleges limiting, you can enroll as an early admission student which will allow you to take any class and you’ll go through the regular registration process. However, you will also pay the regular tuition.
Once a month, the San Antonio Zoo offers programs just for homeschoolers. The home school programs are for grades kindergarten to five and include biofacts, animal presentations, themed activities and a topic related tour. Parents are not required to stay. Last fall the zoo offered an overnight program for homeschool familes. The zoo offers other programs that homeschoolers would be interested in although they are not designed specifically for homeschoolers. Students can learn conservation and natural history as part of the zoo’s Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Chapter (Ages 8 to 12). S.A. Fari Kids is for kids ages 5 to 7 to explore animals around the Zoo while building relationships and skills. The advantage of these zoo programs is that it doesn’t require someone to organize a group for the program.