National Home Education week is coming up (November 21st-25th of November) and to help spread the word I am going to be doing a series of Home Ed based blog posts that will explain our home ed journey as well as providing links and resources. For more information on National Home Education Week please visit the Australian Homeschool Network. They will be running free online chats about home education as well as park days and get togethers during Home Ed week where you can find out more about home education.
Ok So we have discussed our journey, some contacts and homeschool camp & socialisation. Now I am going to review some home ed books for you. I have read a grand total of three books on home education. I love books – but I do tend to prefer the immediacy of the internet age. If I need to answer a question I want it answered right then and there. So I am not the most well read on the subject when it comes to books…but I promise you I have researched my butt off on the topic.
The first homeschool book I read is called “Getting Started With Homeschooling: Practical Considerations for Parents of School Aged Children” It is written by Beverly Paine who is arguably Australias Home Ed Guru. From the information I could find it was first published in 1997. When I first came to the Rockpool and asked for help a lovely member asked for my postal address and a few days later this book arrived (it was suppose to be on loan, but I ended up buying it off her as she keeps a few copies to loan out to new homeschoolers…for the most part this is the community I have found – helpful and genuine). It was filled with information from Legalities of homeschooling to developing a curriculum right up to a big list of materials she recommends homeschoolers have on hand. The thing I found most useful about this book is that it was written by an Australian. It would definitely be the first book I recommend any family thinking about homeschooling their children. Beverly also sells a number of resources on her website.
The second book I read is probably one of the most popular home ed books and is called “The Well Trained Mind: A guide to a classical education at home” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer – a mother and daughter team. The mother started homeschooling a lifetime ago and her daughter now also homeschools her children. The book is an explanation of what is a “Classical” approach to education (very rigorous and heavily into classical literature, history, maths and science as well as a large focus on latin. I won’t go into a classical approach in detail here but this book is solid. This book will also freak you out. It will make you feel initially as though you are the most hopeless homeschool parent ever as the curriculum as set out in the book seems impossible to achieve without extra parents, one child only and 40 hours in a single day. But once you get past your initial shock of “there is no way in hell I can do this even though it seems like the best education for my child” and realise it is a guide only – and that it constantly reminds you in the book that you are only human and to do what you can do – you can relax a bit and take in all it is saying. In an ideal world this would be exactly how I ran my “homeschool” but given that homeschooling is beyond what I want and more about my children I have let go a little bit. I still love this book and use it when I am in planning mode. It has 3 sections according to age groups, and what each age group is capable of from a child psychology point of view followed by examples of how to implement a rigorous study plan for each age, stage, subject ect. Then after each subject it lists a bunch of recommended resources and curriculum. Highly, HIGHLY recommend this book if you are thinking of homeschooling because you think the school curriculum is too easy or not very good.
The last home ed book I have read is by THE homeschooling Guy. I don’t know much about him as we are still at the start of our journey, but he seems to be the Homeschooling Guru from the 80’s. The book is called “Teach Your Own” by John Holt. It is a pretty radical book (In my very conservative about schooling opinion). To quote the back of the book
“Rather than proposing that parents turn their homes into minature schools, Holt and Farenga demonstrate how ordinary paretns can help children grow as social, active learners. Chapters on living with children, “serious play,” children and work, and learning difficulties will facinate and encourage parents and help them enjoy each “homeschool” day. John Holt’s warm understanding and hiis passionate belief in every child’s ability to learn have made this book the bible of homeschooling families everywhere”:
I honestly expected to scoff at most of the book, but instead found myself nodding along, feeling guilty for things I have said and done to my children and really making me think. I have changed some of my behaviour and thinking since this book, but one of the things that made me not take all of it on board is that John was a bachelor. He never married and never had children of his own. That doesn’t make any of his research and opinions less valuable – it just meant I really assessed each piece of information more on the basis that our family is unique and won’t fit into any particular mold. It is definitely worth the read and I honestly couldn’t put it down – but it is pretty much the polar opposite of the “Well Trained Mind”. My particular edition is also a revised edition with notes and excerpts from a man who worked closely with Holt which is a nice addition as the book was originally published in 1981 and a lot of the laws, rules and regulations have changed dramatically since then.
As for other books – there are hundreds. Everything from ebooks written by homeschool parents to books printed and printed and printed again due to their popularity. One thing I have noticed is a large majority of homeschooling books are resources are highly Americanised and also quite Christian based. I assume this is because the greatest majority of homeschoolers are based in America and a large number homeschool for religious reasons. Some books and resources go to a point I am not comfortable with (where the mother is to submit to the father in all decisions ect.) but I am more than capable of just ignoring those parts and moving on. I have no problem with people homeschooling for religious reasons, in fact it is quite the opposite. I believe as parents we have an obligation to teach our children according to our own moral code and compass and that is different for every family.
Unfortunately for the most part you will need to special order these books as I have discovered there are very few, if any home ed books stocked in libraries in Australia. But if you want to just read some of them – I recommend joining a homeschool group as someone is bound to be willing to loan them to you.
yup – still more to come! Overcoming objections – including that pesky “But what about socialisation”, styles of home education and the first ever long term study into homeschooling – prepared to be shocked (in the best possible way) at what they found.