Review: I checked this book out from the library thinking that it would be interesting, but not have any influence on my life. However, I read it, finished it, and then paid $21.27 to buy a new copy of this book on Amazon. I would have bought a used copy, but the cheapest available was $15 and I think this book needs to last me a long time. I’ll probably laminate the cover with contact paper when I get it. That’s how valuable I think this book is. I’m certain I’ve never paid anywhere near this much for a parenting book, but it’s more like a text book than a regular parenting book, so I feel it’s worth a $20 price tag.
Why is this book so great? Well, my oldest child is not even 4 yet and I really had no intention of homeschooling him. Before I had kids I was 100% sure they’d go to public school like my husband and I did. After having kids, but before reading this book I was 75% sure they’d go to public school with the other option being private school. I’d considered homeschooling very briefly and decided it wasn’t for us. It was something I’d be willing to do maybe if regular school wasn’t going well or if there were extenuating circumstances (drugs, sex, bullying, etc.), but really, I thought of it as a last resort. However, after reading just the first chapter I was essentially a convert. After finishing the book, I’m more certain than ever it is the way I would prefer my kids to learn. It’s not that my view of public school has changed. I already knew that tests and grading and forced curricula were not really ideal, but I considered (and still consider) them to be acceptable. What changed was that homeschooling was presented in such a way as to seem amazing. Any concern that I might have had (i.e. Won’t they be socially awkward? What if they just want to play with Legos all day?) was addressed in a way that allayed my concerns using studies to back up the answer. Previously, I had thought homeschooling would be incredibly difficult and that it would be overwhelming to be responsible for even one child’s education. Now I see that with the “free-range learning” style of homeschooling, the role of the parent is really as a facilitator and that it is the child that is in charge of their own education. And who better to decide what any individual should learn than that individual? This way of viewing the whole educational process just seems so kind and respectful, and, if the findings presented are accurate, effective.
The first part of the book is essentially a collection of essays on every imaginable aspect of homeschooling, which I’ll admit, did get a little tedious at times. The second part of the book is ideas for teaching (or rather guiding/assisting/facilitating/not-really-getting-overly-involved-in) several different areas of study. It was really this section that made me order the book. There are so many references, resources, and good ideas listed in this book that I really think I need to go back through it with a highlighter to make the most of what’s offered.
Will I homeschool? I still can’t say for sure. My son really likes the private Montessori preschool he’s in now which offers instruction through third grade. Also, he has friends in public school that are having a great time. However, if he or any of my kids ever expressed any desire to stay home and take charge of their education, after reading this book, I would fully support them (and be secretly pleased). (Personal Rating: 9/10)