Having recently acquired an addiction to podcasts, I find myself listening to them when I’m doing the mundane chores of life; dishes, making cob (or other natural building tasks) hanging and folding laundry, etc. I have also recently acquired a passion for homeschooling. This fall (2016) we’ll be taking our son out of public school and beginning his at-home education. So, I have been researching out the wazoo all that we’ll need to do in this home-school adventure. I’ve purchased and read books, joined all the Facebook groups and forums, and of course, I’ve been mainlining all the homeschooling podcasts I can get my ears on!
One detail stands out to me after all this information-gleaning. Most, and when I say most, I mean a vast majority of homeschooling information out there is religion based, and most of that is Christianity. Long story short, we prefer a logic-based approach to home education. And we’re not the only ones. Over 18,ooo people follow The Secular Homeschool Group on Facebook. Many of these families feel like homeschooling and being secular means that we’re a minority within a minority.
I haven’t found any other blogs or websites that have a list like this, so hopefully I am saving some home-school families some time by having sifted through the many podcasts available. My aim is to find as many good-quality podcasts as possible that steer clear of any faith-based repertoire and get right to the heart of home education. So without further ado, here’s my list of the top secular (or nearly secular) homeschooling podcasts. Clicking the thumbnail images will take you to their websites.
My Personal Favorites:
Stories of an Unschooling Family
Unschooling mother, Sue Elvis, has contributed an immense amount of personal experience and stories about her family and life. She lives in Australia and has a beautiful and positive voice that reflects her principles about educating her multiple children, which are to trust, respect, and love unconditionally. She offers advice, stories, tips, and general musings about life. She seldom mentions her choice to become Catholic, in very few recordings. In addition to the 50+ podcasts, she also maintains a website, blog, and video interviews with her children.
A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief
Julie Bogart’s “One Thing Principle” had me hooked. She is the CEO of Brave Writer, a writing assistance program/classroom/blog/support group that fosters “peace and progress in the writing process.” Aside from her ultra-informative podcasts on helping us parents aid our children in writing, we also hear stories and wonderful ideas about homeschooling her 5 children, 1 of which is regularly on the podcast. While there are currently only 10 podcasts to listen to, they are well worth your time, particularly if you’re raising a reluctant writer.
The Luminous Mind Podcast
Don’t let the cheesy intro music scare you away. Rebecca Bohman gets right to the point in her interviews with people who matter to education. With no sign of stopping anytime soon, there are already over 120 podcasts with topics ranging from the science of how our brains are wired, to homeschooling (of course), nutrition, family issues, and mindful, holistic approaches to confidence and creativity. These interviews last anywhere from 20 to 120 minutes, but each one is packed with information.
Read Aloud Revival
While Sarah Mackenzie’s book, Teaching from Rest, is Christian based, the podcast she hosts is not. (Well, occasionally it is). However, I feel that there is so much beneficial information that it’s easy enough to tune out the religious aspects. She has indispensable book lists for your trips to the library or used-book store, interviews with very important people, like Susan Wise Bauer of The Well-Trained Mind, and Andrew Pudewa of IEW, and tons of tips for reading aloud with kids of all ages. Her 35+ episodes range from 30-60 minutes and are high-quality audio. She has some serious enthusiasm for reading aloud, which always sparks creative ideas in my mind and inspires us to continue our family tradition of read aloud time.
The Arts of Language Podcast
The Institute for Excellence in Writing and it’s founder, Andrew Pudewa keep these podcasts concise. He discusses everything you could imagine about teaching writing, whether in a classroom or a homeschool situation. He and his wife homeschooled their 7 children, by the way. Many of these podcasts are split into 3 parts, so I recommend starting with a topic of interest, and be sure you’ve playlisted them in order.
Homeschool Snapshots Podcast
Pam Barnhill interviews the “homeschooling moms nextdoor” including Susan Weiss Bauer, Melissa Wiley (author of the Prairie Thief) and many other inspiring home-educators. She has a unique way of interviewing, by asking some multiple choice and two-option answer questions. It is interesting to hear many moms recommend the same books, yet have very different answers for what type of homeschooling they ascribe to. These interviews typically highlight the ups and downs of homeschooling and may be beneficial to parents who need some inspiration. I always feel like I am part of larger network of loving, homeschool moms when I listen to these. Some interviews are with religious homeschool moms.
Other Secular (Or Nearly Secular) Podcasts:
101 Practical Homeschool Ideas
Brian Ricks is an intelligent male voice in the homeschool network. The title says it all. He has interviews, stories, and some great advice. The only reason he’s not in my favorites is because he’s not a right-to-the-point kind of speaker.
Homeschool Adventure Show
Having the only African American voice I have heard on any podcast related to homeschooling, Ericka Joseph brings a unique style to the scene. She and her daughter, Akili, host the show together and talk about subjects that they’ve learned. People call in to the show and talk to Akili, at her young age of 6 and ask questions and share thoughts about what its like to be homeschooled. It is quite a cute show, with some great ideas here and there, but the audio quality isn’t the best. While the Josephs haven’t created any new episodes in 7 months, there are about 50 that you can enjoy.
Savvy Homeschool Moms Podcast
If you are looking for more of radio-show kind of podcast where you feel you are literally sitting and chatting with some moms, you’ll enjoy this one. They spend a few minutes at the beginning of each show talking about their own homeschool lives for a while and then, get into product and book reviews, curriculum and field trip ideas, interviews, and organizational tips. After listening to a few of these, I found that they do give you a “time code” so that you can skip the “chit chat.” This one is definitely secular, interesting, fun, and entertaining.
Simply Charlotte Mason
Sonya Shafer has the most clearly enunciated speech I have ever heard in my life. She should be a speech pathologist. That being said, she presents very organized ideas for homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method. If you have done any research on CM, you’ll know that she is Christian based, but these podcasts only go into the religion aspect if it is mentioned in the title. I like to listen to these on shorter car trips because they are only 5 -7 minutes in length.
Real Life at Home
Angie Kauffman describes herself as a domestically challenged, thirty something Catholic Convert, but she rarely talks about this latter aspect. Mostly, she tells real life stories about homeschooling her 3 kids, one who has special needs, and gives tips and advice for how to do this. Her episodes are typically under 15 minutes, so they’re also great for the in-between times of life.
The Wired Homeschool
The only other male voice I’ve found in the homeschooling podcast community is John Wilkerson. I don’t listen to many of these simply because I find them a bit dry. But, I’m just sure that someone who reads this will need this podcast, either because they are unsure of how to fit technology into their homeschool, or they are a Star-Wars loving parent who needs a male voice in podcast land. Either way, maybe you will really enjoy this secular homeschool podcast.
Keep in mind that I am in the research phase of our homeschooling adventure and not a guru with years of experience in homeschool. You may also find it helpful to know that we are leaning towards a more Classical approach with a hint of Charlotte Mason (secular-style) of course, but keeping our options open as well. My tastes may change after a year or so of homeschooling, at which time I plan on updating this list. Of course, new podcasts may present themselves and some of these may disappear, so I hope you’ll check back in here to see my updates. You can subscribe over there in the right side bar. And, if you know of any great secular podcasts that I’ve overlooked, please feel free to comment below. Happy Homeschooling!