I like to read at least one book a year on Homeschooling. It usually is read mid-year, sometimes because I need encouragement, sometimes to equip myself further, this was for the latter.
I was browsing through the great lending library at the learning center, where 2 of my kids take piano lessons, and found this book:
Homeschooling for Excellence written by David and Micki Colfax
Any one who knows us, knows that one of the biggest reasons why we have chosen to homeschool is because of the freedom to teach the kids about the God who created them. In this book, with the exception of acknowledging that is a reason people choose to do so, the authors did not discuss the spiritual side of homeschooling. This read was purely for educational pursuits.
It was a great quick book, I blazed through it in a few days, which is abnormal for me... and I was very encouraged by it. It solidified for me, again, what we are academically doing with our kids. The method they used with their own children is very much what we are doing, using the Robinson Curriculum as a guide; basically reading, writing and arithmetic, then allowing the children to focus their extra time on the things that interest them allowing them to grow into the people God is making them rather than being put into a mold. Occasionally I wonder if how we do things is really working. Sometimes it seems too simple . So It was nice to read how it worked for another family and worked well!
Growing up in public school I tend to do my measuring with it, thinking that is what an education needs to look like. This book was yet another reminder that we don't have to follow traditional education to be successful. They had some interesting things to say about traditional schooling. The authors were both certified teachers before deciding to homeschool their own children. A large section of the book was spent discussing the failure of public education, taking into consideration that this book was written in the 80's (when this homeschool movement was beginning), knowing the school system has not largely changed for the better since then, it makes me even more appreciative that we are able to do this for our kids. Here's a few quotes I liked:
The result is that the classroom teacher's freedom to deal with individual differences is sharply limited. This curriculum-imposed suppression of individual differences is one of the most unfortunate consequences of contemporary assembly-line schooling, for if there is anything that early childhood educational research has contributed to our knowledge, it is that children mature at very different rates, have very different aptitudes and vary dramatically in their ability to put information into meaningful contexts. ....a "good" student is too often one who fits or is able to adapt to curricular stereotypes, learning what is given when it is given....What most educationists refuse to acknowledge is that real learning, in and out of the classroom, varies along community, cultural, and class lines, and from place to place and from era to era. For the most part any standardized , official curriculum is largely meaningless, incoherent, and irrelevant to the lives of most children. It is rather a control mechanism, one which interferes with and undermines education.
This was good too:
According to child development specialists, most children learn nearly half of all they will ever learn by the time they are four or five years old. In view of that, it is remarkable that parents--those who have been primarily responsible for their children's growth over those early, learning crammed years--can be made to feel somehow inadequate to the task of educating then as they grow older. The widespread acceptance of the notion that parents become incapable of looking out for their children's interest and education once they reach the age of six or seven is perhaps a carry over from an earlier time, when many parents were illiterate or immigrants who themselves lacked the skills their children would need to function in modern industrial society. But today most parents posses the ability to teach their own children, and to do a better job of it than individuals whose credentials typically consist of a degree or two from a lowly education department in a college of no particular distinction, and whose most redeeming attribute is often the ability to find work in any of several thousand bloated school districts.
And if that doesn't ruffle my/your view of public school education I don't know what will :)
The book was well written, and even though at the time of the writing three of their boys were in Harvard they acknowledged that every one is different, has different gifts and will have different futures, encouraging fellow homeschoolers to not let one curriculum dictate what your child needs to know. It has some good suggestions for applying the simple three R's and has a huge list of resource suggestions in the back.
I was also able to relate to the family because they homeschooled while working their land into a homestead. Which we lean toward and that aspect of the book encouraged me. They have a second book, which I am going to have to get, about their homesteading journey.
Hard Times in Paradise --sounds interesting.