Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell


While I wouldn't necessarily agree with the title, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling is a big book, chock full of homeschool information.  Written by Debra Bell, a former public school teacher and homeschooling mom of four children (K-12), it was both encouraging and discouraging at times.  Ultimately, I found it to be a good resource that helped renew and re-spark my own homeschool vision.

The book is divided into ten parts; Homeschooling: Is It for You?, Choosing a Curriculum, Organization and Planning, Preventing Burnout, What to Teach- When and How, Homeschooling Teens, Computers in the Homeschool, Creative Solutions, Measuring Your Success, and a Resource Guide

I began reading, taking notes as I read for the purpose of the review.  It began on a down note, my first raw notes read; "Feeling discouraged as I read of her super star graduates and co-op and high school class opportunities.  This type of thing is unavailable to us and I am feeling like a poor homeschool mom before I even get into the book.  :-(  Ooo, but I like the point made in the intro about it being all in the family."  It improved as I got into the next couple of chapters.  "She encourages you to determine your vision, I needed this reminder as I feel I have lost mine." . . ."Loved section about learning at own pace, rather than artificial time table of skills. . .Want better writers? Write.  Better readers? Read."   I soon went from jotting down notes for review purposes and began taking notes that applied to us as a homeschool family.  I stopped reading it as a reviewer and began reading it as a consumer.  By the time I finished reading the book, I was enthused about my own homeschool and started planning changes for the rest of the school year.  This book took a burnt-out homeschool mom and gave her a renewed vision for her family.  That's awesome and due to that, I would recommend this book.

I do have a few caveats though.  There are times you can tell she is a former public school teacher.  Her sample educational plan for her third grader is very overwhelming and a little over the top.  As a former Elementary Education student, I know how to write these types of objectives and IEP's, but have never found them necessary or even profitable.  What I can take away from this though, is the encouragement to write down objectives for the beginning of the year and then a summary of what has been learned at the end.  I know I am always amazed at how much we have accomplished, even in the "rough years".  

I also found some of the advice to be contradictory.  In one place she advocates flexibility in homeschooling, even mentioning that if the kids are up late for an opportunity, they can sleep later the next morning.  A few chapters later she states that you should not allow your children to sleep in but should stay on a regular schedule (Wonder if our regular schedule of sleeping in would count?).
There is much to love here, however.  Her ideas for raising independent learners were great, her encouragement to make learning applicable to their lives now was excellent, her resource list was very helpful. I would highly recommend this book if you can read it without feeling like a failure when you come across areas that you are unable to implement in your home.  Take what you can, and leave the rest.  There is a lot here to be taken, I believe, and I know that it has been instrumental in my own renewed sense of purpose.  For that, I am grateful.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling is available through Apologia for $20. 

*Disclosure: I received this book at no cost for review purposes.*


2 comments:

Debra said...

Lori -- ooh, you are right. That list of 3rd grade goals did look rather public school teacher-ish. I hadn't made that connection.

TerriG said...

I did like her tips on forming a hs-co-op we used this information a few years ago. I'll have to see if this is in the clams system.

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