I smiled to myself remembering those days. Was I ever a young mom who didn't need to reach for her reading glasses to check a writing paper or look at the numbers to explain a math problem? How wonderful those early years were when we enjoyed making volcanoes of papermache and going to the zoo for a field trip.
"I need all the wisdom I can get," my new young friend interrupted my thoughts.
"Well, have I got a book for you!"
Though I have read many books on homeschooling over the past twenty years, this was my first time reading The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell (sent to me by Apologia Press to review).
Debra homeschooled her children and built friendships with other homeschooling families. She mentions the support group, coop, and homeschooling friends in her book over and over. As she mentions her family, you can tell that she values relationships. Her lives, and the lives of her children, have been changed in these relationships.
Reading this book was not only a time of equipping for me, it was like having tea with a kindred spirit who loves homeschooling too! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, "meeting" Debra, and hope that you will consider reading it too.
Here are some topics that Debra covers in her guide to homeschooling. She covers these topics realistically, practically, and honestly.
- Advantages of Homeschooling
- Ingredients of a successful homeschooling
- Learning Styles
- Husband's role in homeschooling
- Choosing curriculum
- Home management
- Can I homeschool my kids?
- Support Groups
- Setting up a learning environment
- Preventing burnout
- Lesson planning
There is a constant reminder to make learning relevant to real life. Learn computer skills with blogging. Start a family business to learn about economics and business. Learn about government and politics by participating in an election campaign.
She also has many suggestions to avoid burnout such as the following:
- Raise your children to be independent learners
- Teach your children to be responsible and work around the house
- Go on some fantastic, fun field trips
- Plug into a support group or coop
Raising the Reluctant Learner
Another insightful chapter was the chapter on learning styles. Unlike most other reading I have done on learning styles, this looked at learning from a personality profile perspective. She gave practical examples from her family that made the learning styles clear and easy-to-understand.
Homeschooling & House Beautiful
Here is a favorite Debra Bell quote that is honest and insightful.
"If you choose to homeschool, forget about being in House Beautiful. Creating a learning environment that invites invention, inquiry, and discovery is pretty much incompatible with clutter control. Most of the homeschooling houses I frequent have books, art projects, science, apparatus, insect collections, etc. sharing space with all available seating. Good conversation is easily had, but standing-room-only is the standard," (p. 154, Debra Bell, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling)
Many homeschooling moms need to read this paragraph (and the entire chapter too!) because we try to maintain a perfect house and create a nurturing environment at the same time. Not that it is impossible, but it is just improbable. In the long run, I would agree with Debra that books, maps, art supplies, musical instruments, freedom to create, and supplies to experiment with will be more important to our child's well-being.
In my own home, I cannot seem to get rid of paper piles and no matter how many book cases I buy, there are never enough to house all the books we own. And, of course, I just buy more and more. Our home is never ready to grace the covers of a magazine, but it is clean and is filled with things to stimulate learning. I think Debra would approve.
The overall tone of the book is light-hearted and joyful, but don't let that fool you. Inside the books front and back covers are wisdom from a homeschooling mom who's been there, done that. Her advice is worth its weight in gold.
If you are looking for a book to inspire you and give you a dose of reality at the same time, this book is for you!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)