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THE A-to-Z of Homeschooling
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Google for Homeschool Resources

By Ann Zeise

Google.com has become the search engine of choice. I use it to research homeschool information for my website and for our homeschooling. Google has grown to be far more than an ordinary search tool. Here are some tips to make you a power user.

First, set up Google preferences from the home page. I have set up Safe Search Filtering for moderated searching. This will eliminate sites with explicit pictures. If you wish to try the setting that will eliminate explicit text, you will run the chance of filtering out history and health sites.

Next, put Google up in your favorites. Windows users can even put a little search box there! Mac Jaguar users will find that Google is built in to Apple’s new browser, Safari. Make it easy for your family to use this filtered search engine!

Even if your child is not a good speller, Google takes a stab at what might be meant and will either serve up exactly what was entered or add the note, “Did you mean ___?” with the option to check links under the alternative spelling. Also, for words that can be found in a dictionary, in the top blue bar, you’ll see “Searched the web for …” If you click on your search word there, you will be taken to Dictionary.com with a pronunciation guide and dictionary definitions of the word.

Want to find homeschooling news? Go to Google’s News Search Service and put inhomeschool, homeschooling, home education, home school, or add another keyword such as your state name. When the results appear, I like to sort by date to get the newest stories on the top.

Did your homeschool support group website just seem to vanish from its server and you have no backup? Google’s cache has saved more than one webmaster’s day! Just do a search using the URLs of your errant website pages. Only your page will appear in the results, but look down a bit and you’ll see the Google Cache version! Select that, and you can recover the webpages by viewing as source and grabbing the source code (View/Source) and saving the graphics. My home page in Google’s cache.

If you have wireless devices such as a cell phone or handheld you can access Google from anywhere! You could even bring up a map and find your way. In the search just enter a street address, city and state with no punctuation.

You just know for sure that I must have something about penguins on my site, as you were intending to do a unit study about penguins. In the search field of Google putpenguins site:a2zhomeschooling.com and you’ll find all that I have about penguins! Seriously, though, say you just were researching Catholics and homeschooling. You’d search on catholic site:a2zhomeschooling.com and every page on my domain where I linked up something about Catholics in homeschooling will show up.

Google also has some specially narrowed search engines. Say you want to find just government sites that have homeschool law. Search on those words in Google’s Uncle Sam directory! A search dear to our hearts in the spring might be tax deduction for homeschooling!

If you are not finding exactly what you expect in your search, try the advanced search page. This will help you narrow down the search to an exact phrase or to widen it to a set with any one of the words you specify. Teaching your children how to do this will prepare them for learning logic in later years.

Those of you with large families, tight budgets, or in remote areas will appreciate Google’s new shopping directory and search aptly named “Froogle.” This is a great way to shop and compare prices. Just put in the product you’d like to buy and comparison shop without dragging the kids along — or let the teenager do the shopping for you!

Additional Tricks and Tips

Google Alert
Do you perform the same search daily, hoping to find something new? This site will first send out everything google has, and then daily will send you only new items. Might want a dedicated email address for results.

Find out what Google.com thinks of you, your friends, your town or anything! Search for your name here or for a good laugh check out some of the popular Googlisms. Check out what people think of Milpitas!

On-going contest to create a two-word Google query that returns only one result. Recent entries: “inane pilocarpine” and “whippersnapper humdingers.”

Search Engine Spider Simulator
Put your home page and key pages into this simulator and you’ll see what a search engine spider would see. You’ll also be able to tell which homepage links it will follow.

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