Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling

If this were a twelve-step program, I would introduce myself and confess that I was a book-aholic.  Don't stand between me and a used book sale.  I won't say I'm rude enough to knock you down to get in first, but I could stumble over you because I couldn't see over the stack of books I leave with.  I like to collect the old treasures that libraries and schools are throwing away from lack of interest: Landmark books, Junior Illustrated Library, Winston Adventure Series.

I also have a shelf  I call my Homeschooling resource center.  There are "how to" books, encouragement books, and reference books.  A new book was added to the shelf this past Christmas, Debra Bell's The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.   This one book can truly be your guide at all seasons of your homeschooling walk.

Perhaps you're just considering homeschool as an option.  The first seven chapters are directed at you.  

  1. Determining Your Destination

  2. The Advantages of Homeschooling

  3. The Challenges of Homeschooling

  4. Do I Have Time to Homeschool

  5. Single Parents, Special Needs, Careers, and Other FAQs

  6. Six Ingredients of a Successful Homeschool

  7. But I Don't Want to Homeschool

And if you haven't figured out what questions you need to answer for yourself to determine if homeschooling is right for your family, the section ends with a worksheet of questions to do just that.  I'll confess, I wasn't able to determine my Schnickelfritz's learning style from the sample profiles provided but the book does say these styles don't solidify until age 9 or 10.

Perhaps you've made the decision and are gearing up for your first year.  You'll find what you need in following sections.  Part 2 has five chapters on choosing curriculum.  Part 5 is full of lists, what to teach--when & how. Part 3 covers organization and planning.  I'm not usually one to compare myself to other moms on either teaching, organizing  or maintaining a home (since I started with a confession, I'll also say I'm a messy).  The educational plan that the author provides for her third grade twins left me on the floor.  Here were 11 pages of Objectives to be met in the school year.  She had to do it to meet state requirements.  I will be looking up her home state with a mental note to NEVER move there. 

 At some point, the homeschool road will get tougher and you may question whether you've made the right choice to homeschool.  Part 4 holds five chapters to prevent burnout.  Part 8 deals with specific challenges: schooling with a toddler underfoot, transitioning from school to home, motivating a reluctant learner.

And if you persevere, at some point you'll be homeschooling teens.  As you near the end of the race you have to consider transcripts, college admissions,  what to do about sports, etc.  That's when we turn to the four chapters in Part 6.

This book is truly a guide.  It provides some information but also steers you to other sources when you need more research.  I love the list of 150+ books that you should be able to get through the library (remember I'm a confessed book-aholic).  It's organized by subject: Art & Architecture, History/Geography, Mathematics, Science, Music, Language Arts & Reference. Like the "Dummy" series, there are icons in the margins to direct you to other books, websites, anecdotes from the other and experienced homeschoolers.  The wide margins also leave plenty of space for you to add you own notes.

 This updated edition of Debra Bell's guide is available from Apologia.  (For you veteran homeschoolers: Yes, that's the science company but they're expanding their product line).   The book retails for $20 but it's a book you'll be turning to again and again as you enter new seasons of homeschooling or you just need a pick-me-up.  To see what other homeschooling families think of this title, click here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling for the purposes of this review.  I received no other compensation. 

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