Monday, October 5, 2020

So, You Want to Know About Homeschooling...

 It's been a while since I've sat down to write something specifically to share here on my blog! While I have been writing fairly frequently, it's been for other projects that will hopefully come about soon. So here I am, ready to share just a few thoughts on some books that have inspired and informed me on my homeschool journey. There are affiliate links for these books too, just FYI :)

I only chose five books (I only have the physical copies of 4), which I think will keep you busy for a while. These books have all inspired or encouraged me in some way and I'm confident that at least a few will give you what you need to homeschool with more joy and less stress. Be sure to comment below and let me know if you've ready any of these and what you think!

First up, and the first legitimate homeschooling book I ever read (and finished), is For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

If you have never heard of Charlotte Mason, or just want a general overview of the principals and reasons why she saw education the way she did, this is a great starting point! Or, if you want to refresh your mind and need to get your heart back on track toward educating this way, you will find this book highly encouraging. 

Susan gives you the perspective from her own experience as well, so there are pointers along the way of what it has looked like for their family, as well as lots of advice and input that is so gentle and beautiful. This book is worth reading many times over! Not only will it give you tangible ways to interact with your children and approach educating them at home, it will give you the hope and direction you need to help teach them how to set their hearts on Christ. 

Here is another book I read early on. Actually, I had started educating classically before reading this book, then once I read it, I was SO glad that we had chosen this path. This book is from the founder, Leigh Bortins, of the organization we homeschool with, Classical Conversations. It's called, The Core, and is the first of three books she wrote about the stages of development and educating classically, with a Christian Worldview. 

I have read this book almost every year since I have been homeschooling, and each time I gain new insights, fresh ideas, and lots of confirmation about being on this path. She lays out what it looks like to educate classically, how her family got started on this path, and how we can pursue it with our littlest learners. If you want a basic overview of educating classically that is not too "heady" or filled with words you don't understand, this is the book for you! You'll learn, get an example of what it could look like in your daily life, and have the tools you need to start. I can't say enough good things about this book!

If your kids are older and you are just jumping into homeschooling, check out her other books The Question and The Conversation. She gives a short overview of classical education in these books too, so don't worry about needing to read The Core first if you don't have the time. (Note: you CAN get these books on Amazon, but you will find them priced better at .)

Next up is a book I only read recently, and I suppose since it is relatively newer, I shouldn't be in too much trouble about that. But I think for anyone who is looking for alternative approaches to education, it is a MUST-READ! I hope you read those caps right... seriously, a MUST-READ. I had read plenty of other study from Susan Wise-Bauer before; The Well-Trained Mind, The Well-Educated Mind, her Story of the World history books "for children," plus other various curriculum she has put out. All of her stuff is so helpful, and has the perfect balance of enticing and educational. I found this exactly the case with her book Rethinking School as well. 

She goes over a lot of basics about homeschooling rights, testing needs, school's aims, and even how to go about getting your child the extra help they might need while they are in an educational system, private or public. If you are looking for the tangible, real things you can do to pursue educating at home (or supplementing in some way) and you want to make sure you have all your bases covered legally, you will find this book super helpful. There is encouragement tucked in here too, but most of it is through looking objectively at what is expected, required, and what is truly in the realm of possibility for our kids. Hint: there's a lot more out there than you think!

A couple years into my homeschooling journey I read this wonderful little book, but back then it was only available via PDF. You can now purchase a physical copy in various places and even listen to the audiobook (which is what I recently did), and this is definitely a favorite among MANY homeschooling groups. Sarah MacKenzie has quite the following with her business Read Aloud Revival, and for good reason! She has SO many great recommendations and has found an important key for connecting with our kids and helping them connect with the world. And it really does begin with rest. You'll find her book Teaching from Rest such a pleasure and balm to your soul.

Sarah has such an easy way of writing - it really is just like hearing her speak! She is gentle and thoughtful in what she recommends, and most importantly, points us toward truth. It's not in scurrying frantically, or trying to check off every single box, or creating a hectic atmosphere for our kids full of appointments and every single educational endeavor we can cram into their lives. Teaching well must come from faith in the one who sees it all, knows it all, and truly has good plans for our kids... better plans than we could ever make. I find this book centers me and helps me trust that all the interruptions in my day and in my plans have a purpose. Maybe they are all there just to shape me! No matter, her words bring me back to hope and confidence in my Maker, and that is well worth the few dollars you'll spend on her book.

Last is the book I most recently finished. Not only is the book gorgeous and filled with beautiful pictures and full-color pages, the words remind me of the immense freedom I have in educating my children. Ainsley Arment is the founder of the organization Wild + Free, and their core aim is to help parents give their children a quality education while preserving the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood. This organization has SO many wonderful helps, whether it is connecting with other local moms or just being inspired by beautiful projects you can do with your kids, what she has put together is truly inspirational. Her book, The Call of the Wild and Free, offers nothing less.

Whether you are more drawn to a classical approach to homeschooling, unschooling, montessori or other methods, this book still has so much good stuff to offer. It's not always just about the method or overarching plan for your schooling, but more about the mindset. What is your overall aim? If it is to expose them to beauty, have them learning and growing, and give them tools for navigating the world once they fly the coop, you will find encouragement in these pages. It's not always about how, but there are many suggestions offered here that will help point you in a direction you can start walking towards. While I tend to be pretty structured, this book helped remind me to relax a bit, plan in some open space for adventure, and recognize that my children are just that... children! They are growing, and they need some help, but maybe not always the dogmatic instruction I assume will be most clear and best. Sometimes letting them struggle and wade through difficult ideas on their own is best, sometimes they need a guide, and sometimes they need direct instruction. But being open to what they need and different ways of giving that to them will help fuel a family atmosphere that breeds hope, joy, and enthusiasm. 

It was really hard to only pick five books. I love to learn, and learning about teaching is pretty much one of my favorite topics! I won't go into details on these books, but here are a few more that maybe you might enjoy too...

- Consider This and/or Know and Tell by Karen Glass
- A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
- Repairing the Ruins by Douglas Wilson
- The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart
- The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson

Plus these books that are sitting on my shelf, just waiting to be read...

- Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erickson
- Awaking Wonder by Sally Clarkson

I hope this gives you some great places to start! If you've read some of these, leave and comment and let me know what you think! Got any others that have encouraged you lately?

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