Education,  Fun,  Motherhood and Parenting

There’s a Podcast for That

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This is a greatly expanded and updated edition of an article I originally published as : “Podcasts: A Treat for Your Earbuds,” in the Greenhouse magazine of NCHE.

Whether I’m folding the laundry, putting on makeup, or walking in circles on the indoor track at the YMCA, I am also almost certainly listening to a podcast.  It thus should not surprise you if you hear the words “I heard on a podcast recently” come out of my mouth within the first few minutes of any conversation.

While in the past many folks followed their favorite blogs, there is now a sweeping move towards keeping up with content through podcasts. In fact, many prolific bloggers are transitioning towards the podcast realm as a way to be distinguished in the saturated online space.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is kind of like a radio program, but you can play any episode of any show at your own convenience and as often as you’d like for free. Some broadcasts are short—under ten minutes. Others last an hour or longer.

Some shows are monologues by an individual.  Others are conversations between two or more co-hosts.  You will even find shows where one host regularly interviews various guests.

As the blogging landscape changes, the development of audio-blogs is also growing, and some bloggers are even recording their old posts as audio content. While most podcasts are merely audio files, more are developing with associated video as well.

Topics are as varied as you can imagine; if you have an esoteric interest, chances are somebody somewhere has a podcast related to that topic!

There's a Podcast for That (1)
A resource of 28+ podcast recommendations for education, mom life, the whole family, fun, and more!

Why listen to a podcast?

I love the flexibility listening to podcasts gives me. I can go for a walk, do the dishes, or clean the bathroom while my mind and ears are occupied by scintillating conversations. Anytime you would ordinarily listen to music, you can also listen to a podcast: in the car, while exercising, or while rocking in a hammock drinking lemonade.

Oh wait! Homeschool moms don’t get to do that every afternoon?

Aside from personal entertainment, inspiration, and education, I have also found that podcasts can be an excellent teaching tool. The kids learn about science, economics, culture and more using a variety of shows. Just like any other source for content, some episodes may be inappropriate for young children. Please use your own family’s discernment and standards as you begin listening to podcasts as a family.

How do I listen to a podcast?

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If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to a particular podcast and all their recent episodes will automatically download to your computer.  You can also download specific individual episodes.  From there you can play your files in the same way you would play your music.

There are also numerous apps available on smartphones and tablets both for Android and Apple users including Stitcher and Overcast. Many podcasts also have a way to stream individual episodes directly from their webpage.

A new method we have just begun exploring is playing podcasts through our Alexa app on the Echo Dot.  You can ask Alexa to “play the latest espidoe of X-Podcast from Tune-In”  Not all podcasts are available there, though, and like many Alexa commands, you may have to try a few variations on your wording before you get it to work.  There is also a Stitcher skill and an AnyPod skill you can try adding to your Echo.  My son has used the Stitcher skill to listen to the IT Pro Show podcast.  If we practice this more and figure out better hacks, I will definitely update everyone!

Some podcasts to get you started:

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts.  Have fun exploring and finding your own favorites!

Homeschool/Education Specific:

Homeschooling IRL

IRL means ‘In Real Life,’ and Kendra, from Preschoolers and Peace, and her husband, Fletch, definitely keep it real on their podcast, discussing topics you “might not hear discussed at your local homeschool convention.” A major theme in their podcast is hope shifting, best defined as when we put our hope for our own or our kids’ salvation or safety in anything other than Jesus.  Anyone who knows me or has followed my writing knows this is right in my wheelhouse. Spoiler alert: homeschooling won’t save your kids.  This podcast is no longer in production, but it is well worth downloading the archived episodes!

Schole Sisters

This is a podcast for the restful classical homeschooling mama, with co-hosts Brandy Vencel, Mystie Winkler and Pam Barnhill.  I almost always listen to this one first when a new episode has dropped into my feed.

Read-Aloud Revival

Host Sarah Mackenzie inspires us to build our family culture around books, interviewing guests like Andrew Pudewa, Jim Weiss, and Rea Berg. My kids enjoy the final minutes of the show with a segment of children from around the world who have called in with their personal book recommendations.

Homeschool Snapshots

This show gives you a glimpse of the homeschooler next door. Pam Barnhill, a prolific homeschool blogger and podcaster, began the show by interviewing homeschooling moms from a variety of educational and family-living perspectives. Recently she has incorporated guest hosts who have continued the interview format.

I also highly recommend Pam’s other podcasts: Your Morning Basket and The Homeschool Solutions Show.

Homeschool Sisters

Kara and Cait are two friends brought together by a common belief that homeschooling is easier when you have a sister by your side.  They always bring a delightful authenticity to my earbuds.  They pursue a creative and eclectic approach to education which always inspires.

A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

If you haven’t heard of Julie Bogart, please immediately check out this podcast!  Julie has a winning, inspiring spirit.  I never listen without regaining perspective and feeling encouraged.

Circe Institute Podcast Network

This network has numerous shows worth following!  Are you Charlotte Mason intrigued?  They have “The Mason Jar.”  Love long rambling discussions of literature? “Close Reads” is for you. Can’t get enough of classical education philosophy?  Try “Forma.”  And these are only a few of their offerings!

Raising Life Long Learners

This is a brand new podcast by Colleen Kessler.  Not only does she have a refreshing perspective on educating our unique children in their own unique ways, but she has an exceptional line-up of guests to be interviewed in this first season.  I especially have enjoyed the ending segment where she interviews the children of the person she interviewed in the rest of the podcast.

Podcasts are for the whole family, too

Brains On!

Here’s a science podcast for the kids that the whole family can enjoy! It is clever and engaging. Be aware that it comes from an evolutionary perspective that comes through more strongly in some episodes than in others, if this is something about which your family is concerned.

Center for Lit

The Andrews have produced a show of depth and insight as they discuss and debate a Christian approach to literature, and more broadly the arts and culture. I could see this being a fabulous podcast to listen to with your high school student and to use as a jumping off point for discussion.

Story Pirates

“Kids write stories.  We act them out.  Kids write more!”  This is the catchy song at the beginning of Story Pirates.  In case that isn’t self-explanatory, kid authors send in their creations which are then produced in a hysterically accurate way by the radio actors, often along with ridiculously awesome music.  Not only is it fun, but it also inspires children to write their own stories!  My personal favorite (I laughed until I cried) was the very first episode I ever heard: “Eat a Spider Day.”

5 Minutes in Church History

Do you only have five minutes? Then you have time for this podcast! Stephen Nichols gives a brief introduction to people, events and places that have played a significant role in church history.

WSJ Tech News Briefing

My tech-loving son thoroughly enjoys this show, and it is short enough that I can listen, too, without getting too bored.  Ahem.

Can’t get enough of podcasts? Here are some other amazing shows:

Aftercast

Simplified Organization and Convivial Homeschool

Homeschool Unrefined

CCEF on the Go

The Girl Next Door

The Mom Hour

Sorta Awesome

Melody, Mystery, and Mayhem

What Should I Read Next

Planet Money

How to Do Everything

The Simple Show

 

What new shows will you discover?


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Amy Sloan and her husband, John, are second-generation homeschoolers by grace alone to 5 children ages 4, 7, 8, 11, and 13. Their educational philosophy is one of humility and doxology, and follows primarily a classical approach. Amy loves coffee, perseveres through half-marathons and weight-training, and starts getting nervous if the stack of to-be-read library books beside her bed is less than 2 feet tall. Get her started on Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Homer, or Hamilton the Musical and it might be hard to get her to stop. Mostly, though, she gets really excited about the Gospel. The Sloan family adventures in North Carolina.

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