Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Favorite Homeschool Resources

There are millions of books out there about homeschooling. Even here in Singapore, where homeschooling is akin to a freak show, you can find books on how to homeschool. My favorite title is "Homeschooling for Dummies." Should dummies really be homeschooling? A question for another post, maybe.

Homeschooling is a mystery, especially for those of us without a degree in education (does having two parents with education degrees count?). I read a few books before I started, but as I flush out what this really looks like, my hunger for wisdom has grown and I've found some real gems that have helped me. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Things We Wished We'd Known: This is a collection of short articles by homeschool parents, many of whom have written the curricula that's out there. Many times I turned to a new chapter, took a look at the giant family in the picture all dressed in their Sunday best, and all clutching musical instruments and thought, "I don't think I fit in with these people." But I keep going back to their advice, because for the most part it is, "Relax. Love God, love your kids. Enjoy learning with them."

2. 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, by Cathy Duffy: This book is invaluable! How on earth can you possibly choose what curriculum to use when there's so much and it all promises to make your children into creative genuises? Cathy Duffy helps you decide what learning style you and your kids have, and then has a chart of her top 100 best reviewed materials categorized by learning style, homeschool style (i.e. Charlotte Mason, classical) and other helpful categories.

3. How Am I Smart? by Kathy Koch: You maybe have heard of the eight intelligences before, but Kathy Koch writes about them from a Christian perspective, showing how sin weaves in, and how we approach God from the perspective of our intelligences, among other things. Did you know that kids usually get in trouble in ways they are intelligent? Oh, so that explains why my logic smart son wants to take everything apart, and why my word smart daughter knows exactly how her words can cut like a knife. On the other hand, she can turn around and say the sweetest blessings to everyone, and he can actually fix those things he takes apart. This has been helpful not only for homeschool but for understanding my kids in general.

4. Homeschooling Year by Year: I just picked this up from Borders, and it's been a very reassuring book. It outlines what kids should be covering in each year of school, so you can see where you might have gaps or be behind. It's particularly valuable if, like me, you don't think public schools necessarily twist children into mindless, insecure, hell bound people, and you might someday put your kids in one of them. It also gives lots of suggestions for other books and resources that are helpful at each level. I'm happy to see my kids are on track and even ahead in some ways.

The Best Advice I Ever Received

Are you ready to hear the best advice I've ever been given about homeschooling? Now, I haven't had all that much (not because I don't need it) because I don't live in an area where there are a lot of homeschool moms who could help me. But this came from a mom whose kids are now in school (one just graduated actually). She said, "Be prepared to waste money."

I can't tell you what freedom that has given me. I started homeschool using Sonlight, which seems to be the place where most Christian moms who are clueless begin. It's a good place to start, because it gives you an idea of what homeschool should/might encompass. But the problem with any curriculum is that it might not work for your kids because of learning style or temperament. Instead of plowing through it, causing hair pulling (you) and hatred of school (your kids) just buy something else. I've been through three science curriculums, two history curriculums, two math curriculums, and at least 3 or 4 language arts programs. Right now in all those subjects, I'm using something that my kids and I love.

So if you're homeschooling, don't feel guilty about leaving that book at page 3 if it doesn't work for you. In the long run you won't remember the money, but your kids will learn, and that's what's important.