Looking back at my first year as a homeschool blogger

I actually created my original homeschooling/unschooling blog, Our School at Home, on the day we filed our homeschooling paperwork: Feb. 29, 2012.

My intent was to make notes about what we were doing so that portfolio time was easier, and hopefully keep friends and family members up-to-date on this new life change with occasional photos and updates.

I’m not good at doing things a little bit. Maybe because I blog professionally (it’s the key part of both of my paying jobs), I wasn’t content with, “Oh, here’s a basic template and here’s a post.” I kept tweaking… reading other homeschooling blogs for ideas… working on graphics for posts…

And somewhere along the way, I made friends. I found a community of people who really “get” what it is that matters to our family, and how we believe learning happens.

And, bit by bit, I carved out my own spot, here, as a voice in this awesome community of homeschoolers online. I joined the iHomeschool Network. The local newspaper where I work part-time started including posts of mine about homeschooling in print and online.

It’s been a hectic year in so many ways, and I truly didn’t expect to add “managing a blog I’m not paid to manage” as part of my task list. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Today, I’d like to look back at some of my most popular posts in the past year, and look ahead at some ideas I have for the coming one! (Please note that these all originally appeared on a blog called Our School at Home, but everything there and then some has moved over here to Unschool RULES now, and that domain is now owned by a totally different homeschooling family with a very different style!)

Top 10 Unschool RULES posts for 2012

10. 5 ways to constructively deal with your kids’ mood swings
Ah, the joys of homeschooling with Asperger’s – or, really, any preteen daughter, many people would say! This post is full of advice I have to go back and read myself on occasion, to remind myself what NOT to do.

9. Family field trip to Assateague and Chincoteague
This was a late-October post, so it thrills me that it ranked in my top 10 in views for the year. We took some amazing trips this year, and this format was a great way for me to both share our experience and, hopefully, help others who want to learn about the area, whether they can visit in person or not!

8. Real-world math resources you’ll love
This was the final post in a 5-day iHomeschool Network series, in which I covered 5 days of real-world math. I really like math. You can’t tell or anything, can you? (You can read the whole series here, where I talk about how math doesn’t have to be icky.)

7. A homemade skateboard from an old bookcase and used Roller Blades
Talk about creative! This is what happens when Ashar gets to decide what she wants to do. This was an awesome, fun and cheap project – even though it didn’t hold up long-term, it was still well worth doing!

6. Super science with stuff around the house
The science in here is neat. But the truly best part is how this post recaps a day that would NEVER have happened pre-unschooling.

5. From homeschooled student to homeschooling mom: Going full circle, Part 3
This is the conclusion to a set of posts I wrote about, well, why we are where we are. This was HARD to write, especially this installment. I had to relive a whole bunch of times I really would rather not, but in the end, the support we received, and the understanding we gained, made it well worth it. (You can read the rest of the series in Part 1 and Part 2.)

4. A great day to play outside and learn about the Titanic
Ah, Google. So when you write a post all about how cool the Titanic is, in the year of the 100th anniversary of the sinking, it does well. Makes me wish I’d written it as a “real” Titanic post, not just a rambling set of thoughts on what we were doing that day.

3. Making our first sensory tubs: Rainbow rice, fuzzies and dice
Coolest thing about this: I got to spread the word that sensory tubs are fun WELL beyond the preschool/early elementary age group!

2. The unschooled version of a seventh-grade-ish curriculum plan for 2012-13
Want to know the types of things an unschooling family learns, and how? Apparently, so did a lot of other people, as this August post I wrote as part of the iHomeschool Network’s Not-Back-To-School blog hop was hugely popular.

1. The ultimate guide to homeschooling as a working mom
I don’t even come CLOSE to having it all together. Honest. But I am living proof that you can work (full-time  plus, for both my husband and I!) and homeschool. This post was actually laboriously hard to write. I’ve never worked that hard on something. It seems to have paid off, as it was the most-viewed post for 2012!

What’s the blog plan for 2013?

Keep doing it, is the short version. I’d like to find a good balance this year between really meaty posts, like a lot of those above, and short updates on our day-to-day life.

The goal when I started was to post something daily about something we did or learned – and I kind of like that. Not because I have to be “perfect” at it, but because it keeps me focused on paying attention to what we’re doing.

Today’s the kind of day where I could easily be oblivious and say we didn’t “do” anything, but Ashar spent hours playing her new Titanic “Hidden Mysteries” game she got for Christmas, and downloaded Minecraft for her phone. That’s the sort of stuff I forget, but that is super-cool when you stop to notice it.

On a purely “I’m a geek” note, I did hit 50,000 total pageviews right around Jan. 1, 2013, which is, like, zilch compared with my main work blog, which gets more than that in a week. But I was proud of it, because I did it starting from zero, and I’d like to think that at the rate things are growing, I could hit 200,000 total pageviews by the end of this year!

Also, between Chris’s blog, Papergreat, and mine, we make enough money in Google Adsense and Amazon affiliate revenue to more than pay our operating costs, which is amazing – and something we want to continue to grow. My real dream is to have that blog and this one be our primary sources of income!

Anyway, here’s to our first full calendar year of learning at home, in our own way. I’m so thankful that you’re along for the ride, and I can’t wait to keep going.

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2 thoughts on “Looking back at my first year as a homeschool blogger

  1. I am so glad I found you Joan. I love reading your posts and seeing all the amazing things you and Sarah are doing! I can’t believe it hasn’t quite been a year. You are a homeschooling PRO. 🙂

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