November 8, 2009

Homeschooling Book Reviews

Here's the list for those who are interested! I've linked each book to its Amazon site, so you can see what each book looks like, read other reviews and descriptions, etc. I got these through the Minuteman Library system, unless otherwise noted. The library is one of the most amazing resources! The ones that I decided to buy, I purchased through Abebooks.

Homeschooling for Dummies by Jennifer Kaufeld (February 2007)

I got this book when I first got interested in homeschooling a couple of years ago. I had NO idea where to start, and figured there had to be a Dummies book out there! It was useful for teaching me that there were many different approaches to homeschooling from classical to unschooling. I don't remember too much about it, really, other than it was a good place to get my feet wet. But it is long and probably provided me with too much information for the research stage in which I found myself. After this I didn't do much reading about homeschooling; I just have been overwhelmed by all the options! (If you find yourself in this place, you're in good company. Hopefully this list will help you narrow things down a little.)

Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp (May 2008 & June 2009 ... then I bought it!)

This book is not one you read cover to cover. It is, however, a wonderful resource book. The author goes year by year and suggests what kids should know by the end of each school year in virtually all of the possible subjects one could study! Since we're not following a specific curriculum this year, I'm using this book (in conjunction with other more method-based books) to stay on track. As you may have noted, I bought this one to have on hand for lesson planning. At the end of each section, Rupp also includes a list of resources to aid your teaching of each subject.

The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child
by Linda Dobson (February 2009)

Linda Dobson's books are so upbeat and encouraging. Of course, she's pro-homeschooling, but her enthusiastic attitude is contagious. This book is particularly useful because she synthesized surveys of hundreds of homeschooling families and offers helpful hints for getting started on the right foot with realistic expectations. What really stood out to me about this one, and started leaning me toward a more relaxed approach was a line that showed that people often way over-bought and over-exerted themselves, then gradually chilled out over time. My personality tends toward over structure; this information was a good warning to me.

Homeschooling, the Early Years by Linda Dobson (February 2009)

This is another of Dobson's books. (By the way, this woman is not related with the famous Dr. Dobson; they just share a last name.) I'm pretty sure I didn't finish this one, because I renewed it too many times and planned to buy it, but never did! It's more specific to the first several years of school, up to third grade/age 8-ish. I remember liking this too, but at the time, I didn't need as many specifics as it offered. I think I'll be requesting this one again soon to refresh my memory.

Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles ed. Paul and Gena Suarez (August 2009)

I would highly recommend this book if you're looking for a thorough and positive overview of many different homeschooling methods! It is written from a Christian perspective, (just so you know beforehand; it's not indicated very obviously until you start reading). Each chapter focuses on one method and has 2 or 3 articles written by leading proponents of that style. I found this more helpful than the Dummies book because it wasn't as long and the editors didn't write anything but a short summary at the beginning of each chapters. They simply put together helpful essays for the curious, written by experts with thorough perspectives. In addition, there's not bashing of other methods, despite the fact that each author clearly supports his/her preferred style. This book would be good for someone who's decided they're going to homeschool and is stuck at that "where do I begin?!" point.

The Three R's by Ruth Beechick (August 2009, borrowed from a friend and then bought)

I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. I came across Beechick in the above book and then was able to borrow it from a friend. After a read through, I bought it right away! Ms. Beechick discusses and gives teaching tips on instructing early elementary children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. She's firm in her belief that children should be doing a little of each every day, but relaxed in her approach - do what the child is ready for. This suits my personality quite well because her overarching principle is structure without undue pressure, and in the book it's accompanied by teaching methods and content suggestions. You're left feeling equipped and able to teach your child how to read, write, and do basic arithmetic! This would be a book you'd want to read before purchasing curriculum; it's amazing how much you can do with resources you have at home and the library and without spending much money.

Learning at Home by Marty Layne (September 2009, given to me as a gift)

This is a story of one mother's unschooling/relaxed homeschooling journey, full of tips, ideas, anecdotes, and encouragement. The blend of all of these things makes for an easy-to-read book that leaves you feeling that homeschooling can be fun and fruitful, without exasperating your children or losing a sense of self. Her attitude is positive, but realistic - there's even a chapter about burn out! Of course, it is one woman's story, so there may be some things that resonate with you and others that you may completely disagree with. Overall, though, I think you'll be glad to have read it. Every homeschooling family is unique, but many ideas and experiences are universal. It's good to hear from as many people as possible along the way!

The Wholehearted Child: Home Education Handbook by Clay and Sally Clarkson (currently reading, purchased used - not in library system)

This is, as the title indicates, a handbook. It was put together from slides, worksheets, and notes from Wholehearted Child conferences. Thus, this reads more like a manual than a story and it is very specific to the Wholehearted Child homeschooling method, good to read if you're looking to learn more about this method. What I like about the Clarksons is their desire to educate the whole child, starting with the heart and using Scripture and classic literature as a springboard. They've also produced resources specifically for parents. I currently am awaiting two books by Sally, The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood. I don't know anyone who uses this approach, but they offer conferences throughout the year that I'm considering attending some day.

(My apologies if there are any spelling or grammatical errors. I'm ignoring and being rude to my kids in order to get this finished - I started it ages ago; I have to quit now, so it is as it is!)


  1. i can't believe how many books you are reading! good for you! i'm sure between all the suggestions in the books you are a great teacher and mom, and that elizabeth (and eventually brian) will gain a lot from all your work! you are totally inspiring!

  2. Thanks for the great book list, Heather! I'm curious about all the styles (methods?) of home schooling, I may check out the collection of essays you mentioned!

  3. Wow, what a thorough list of books and your personal reviews! Good work, Heather! You are an inspiration!