Over five and one-half years ago, a young mother of thirty-three once jumped on the homeschooling bandwagon because her son was miserable in private school. Advice from her experienced home educating friends were and still are greatly appreciated, but if she could go back and start anew there are definitely some books she would have read first. Maybe if she would have read some of these wonderful and informative books, to be outlined shortly, from the beginning she could have saved herself much time and trouble and worry and frustration and money. So, before you take the plunge and just start homeschooling, as I first did, only to find yourself butting-heads with your strong-willed child and lie awake at night contemplating whether you are doing the right thing…you may want to consider adding one or more of the following books to your homeschool’s library:
-The Well Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling, by Rachel Gathercole. A comprehensive book based solely on the issue of socialization, or as known within the home schooling community, the “S” word. You are not only treated to Rachel’s thought-provoking words but you will meet numerous home schooling families and get a peek into their social lives. This is a “must-have” book for anyone thinking about or beginning the home schooling journey and feels uneasy when it comes to the issue of socialization. When you are finished reading, you will feel empowered and ready to take on the naysayers with the your new arsenal of knowledge. If you have concerned family and friends, they too will benefit from reading Rachel’s book.
-Learning All the Time: How small children begin to read, write, count, and investigate the world without being taught, by John Holt. Mr. Holt, may he rest in peace, helped me to see that not everyone learns the same way or even progresses at the same rate; it was not that I was not already aware of such a fact but rather I was of the mentality that the only way for me to succeed as a home educator was to teach our children in the same manner as children are taught in the school system. His genuine respect and adoration for children helped me to completely change the way we home school our children. We are relaxed home schoolers not unschoolers; however, when you can understand the learning process of children and can see past the “schoolish” thought process, the relationship between you and your child will be positively affected no matter what homeschooling method you implement.
-The Original Homeschooling Series, by Charlotte Mason. Though completely opposite from John Holt when it comes to requiring structure and learning, she too felt that children were intelligent and capable human beings, and her respect for children is apparent throughout her writings. Even if you can only get your hands on Volume 1: Home Education, you would benefit from the wisdom to be gleaned from within its pages. Living book suggestions and how-to’s for geography, literature, spelling, nature studies, history, arts, and humanities…if you feel inclined to follow Ms. Mason’s philosophy, or even if you don’t, you will have yet another perspective on how to educate children and view them in a different light.
We are a secular homeschooling family but I could not eschew Charlotte’s writings, with her clearly Christian influences, because of it; there are secular Charlotte Mason groups online if you would like to learn how to tweak this method to suit your family. You can read all six volumes of Charlotte Mason’s series, for free, at Amblesideonline.org. These volumes should not be rushed as there is a lot to chew on…even for the most avid and advanced reader.
-The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12, by Linda Dobson. The title says it all! If you and your children find yourselves needing a break from the “same old, same old”, this gem of book will leave you with plenty of fun activities, crafts, games, and more on any given subject from which to choose.
Knowledge truly is power. Understanding how children learn and having socialization fears put to rest does not mean you will never second guess yourself, we are human and it will happen. However, you will be able to reflect back on what you have learned, smile, and again find yourself at peace with your decision to homeschool. May you and your family enjoy homeschooling to its fullest possible extent, I truly hope the best for you.