After thirteen years of homeschooling, lots of homeschool advice books have come and gone on my shelves. I’d like to share with anyone considering home education the five books that have found a permanent home within arm’s reach of my desk. When I take a weekend away each summer to pray and plan through the next year’s homeschool goals, these are the books I take with me for inspiration and guidance.
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling – by Debra Bell. A dynamic, down-to-earth, passionate speaker at homeschooling conventions, Debra Bell has been around homeschooling enough to know the peaks and pitfalls. Her guide is not so huge you’ll never lift it up, but takes the reader through the decision to homeschool, choosing curriculum, planning lessons, preventing burnout and all the way to measuring your success. The Resource Guide alone is worth the price of purchase and her chapters have lots of subheads, bullet points, check points, and margin markers so you can find something you’re looking for without getting lost in prose.
The WholeHearted Child: Home Education Handbook by Sally Clarkson. This is the book that when you mention it to other homeschooling moms they make happy, wistful, sighs and coos if they have read it. For inspiration on how to turn your home into an environment that nurtures learning, there is none to rival Sally’s gentle, loving, admonitions and her organized way of explaining where your heart should be in homeschooling.
You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick. A prolific author of books and magazine articles, Ruth is like the grandmother who says, “Let’s take a look at what we have in the frig and I’ll show you how to make meatloaf out of it.” She believes in education without all the “bells and whistles” curriculum publishers would like you to think you need. Her little basic books on how to teach early elementary reading and math may seem too small to be useful but they are literally all you need. When I start making homeschooling “too difficult” I go back and re-read Ruth to get back on track.
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook: A Creative and Stress-Free Approach to Homeschooling by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore. I was speaking at a local homeschool event the day Dr. Moore died in 2007 and took a moment out of my prepared speech to pay homage to the man most responsible for the homeschool movement of the late 20th century. I heard his famous Focus on the Family radio broadcast back in 1983 and was inspired to homeschool even though it would be seven more years before I even had children! Home educators today will throw out terms like “the Moore Formula” and if you want to be able to discuss homeschooling intelligently, you need to have read something (or everything) by Raymond Moore.
What Your Child Needs to Know When: An Evaluation Check List for Grades K-8 by Robin Scarlata. I also keep tucked inside the cover of this book my state’s typical course of study booklet for K-12. My child may or may not learn certain subjects in the order or in the years listed in these resources but it’s important to know what’s expected so that by the time you graduate your child from high school you can be sure you have covered the expected topics and not left a gaping hole in their educational experience.
I know I promised you five but I’ve got a bonus suggestion for your book bag. The title will differ on your region but almost every place in the country has some variation on the idea of
Fun and Educational Places to go with Kids. My guide for my geographic region of the U.S. is an annual grab-bag of ideas on where to go and when the best time to go there would be. I have found little known treasures and having a guide makes it easier to decide what field trips would support our next year’s studies.
Believe me, time spent with these authors and guides will do more for your homeschooling than five homeschooling conventions and a dealer’s room as far as the eye can see.