Do you incorporate magazines in your homeschool as part of your curricula? Are so caught up in the world of textbooks and workbooks that you are missing the rich experience of real world materials for your child to learn from?
For tweens and teens in particular, well selected magazine subscriptions can expose your learner to the entire world, and really well written reading material, regardless of topic, can help build vocabulary, keep one abreast of current events, develop higher level reading skills, and can even be used to increase critical thinking.
Think outside the typical checkstand fare of People and Newsweek.
Do you have a child interested in government, business or economics? How about The Economist, Governing, Forbes, Wired, Bloomberg Business Week, Fortune, or Inc? Oh my goodness, the wealth of ideas and information for future entrepreneurs there is staggering!! Read about current business leaders, their successes and failures, and how they impact the economy both here and abroad.
Do you have a child interested in science? How about Scientific American, Discover, Nautilus (Our son LOVES this one and bought his own subscription!), Popular Science, and MIT Technology review?
Do you have a child interested in history and geography? Well, there is the good old standby National Geographic (shouldn't EVERY homeschooling home have this on their coffee table?) but there are many others including Smithsonian (another real "must have"), Civil War Monitor, American History, Archaeology, and more.
There are special interest magazines for just about any niche hobby or passion, all available to find with a quick Google search. Auto mechanics, hot rods, dolls, genealogy, fiber arts, and just about anything you can think of is available in some print form!
And if you are concerned about the ideas your child might be exposed to that counter your own world view, what better way to teach critical thinking than to have them read something, then be able to offer solid arguments for or against what they have read! Remember, we do not need to miss out on learning opportunities solely because something doesn't totally align with our world view, we can use them to solidify morals, values, and ideals by discussing them, analyzing perspectives, and supporting opinions. Some of our very best homeschooling experiences that have firmed things up have been when we have read something we thought was total bunk, and then proceeded to spend an hour dissecting it and explaining why! That is important learning happening!
The point is this, having good literature around, regardless of format, is incredibly important to developing self-taught learners. Magazines are sometimes far better than textbooks because: A) The writing is intended to be engaging...readers don't have to purchase a magazine, and advertisers don't have to advertise, so the product had better draw subscribers! That alone means a probability of better content than the average textbook that no one has a choice about! B) More images means more interest...the liberal use of art, photos, and graphics helps the reader to engage with the material more readily, and to get the point more quickly. Don't we all love info-graphics that quickly tell us more than a 40 page book can? and C) Essays and articles are often written by the best in their fields, the ones proven most persuasive, most literate, most able to articulate ideas in writing clearly and concisely. Better writers means better reading material! The Atlantic, Oxford American, and The New Yorker come to mind as examples of some of the finest writing available to read.
As Steven King says, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot, and write a lot." If you want an easier time teaching your son or daughter to write, something many of us struggle with, one surefire way to simplify the task is to have loads of excellent reading material of interest to them sitting around the house. Two or three magazine subscriptions is far less expensive than a pricey writing curriculum!!