I was homeschooled for the vast majority of my 12 years of school. But it wasn’t until my wife and I started homeschooling our own children that I realized just how stressful it can be. To put it simply enough, homeschooling can be intimidating. This is a fitting point for me to stop and give a huge “thank you” to my parents for sticking it out. Thanks Mom and Dad!
It’s fairly intimidating to know that you are responsible for your children’s education, and not just in the sense of making sure they do their homework before school the next day. It’s knowing that you have to actually find the material they’ll need to study and then teach it to them. With all the decisions that need to be made – what curriculum, if any, should we use? should we do school four days or five days of the week? what if we just can’t handle it? – making the decision to homeschool your children is an incredibly daunting prospect.
Sonya Haskins has written a very helpful and insightful little book, Homeschooling for the Rest of Us. The subtitle is a good indicator of what to expect: How Your One-of-a-Kind Family Can Make Homeschooling and Real Life Work. The key emphasis here is the “real life” part and is perhaps the best part about the book. Haskins points out the stress that many families experience of living up to other’s – and sometimes even our own – unreasonable expectations of perfection. Expectations like: our children must be the smartest kids in town, must be able to read by age 2, finished all literary classics by age 10, & understanding and calculating quantum physics by age 14 – all the while with a perfect, spotlessly clean house. Instead of focusing on such unrealistic expectations, Haskins encourages the homeschooling family (or prospective homeschooling family) to first and most importantly develop positive parent-child relationships. She also addresses the topic of routines, academics, extracurricular activities, and the seemingly all-pervasive concern of socialization.
Perhaps the one minor negative point worth mentioning are the sidebar quotes with letters other homeschooling families have written to Haskins. While some readers might benefit from these, overall I found them distracting and not adding much at all to what Haskins had already said. But on the other hand, my wife said this is one of the things she liked the most about book, reading about other families’ experiences.
I was very encouraged by Haskins down-to-earth approach. As I read, I found myself reading bits and pieces to my wife until I finally said, “You should just read the book for yourself. It’s quite good!” She is over halfway through and completely agrees with my recommendation. I am glad that we read this book close to the beginning of our homeschooling journey, receiving the benefit of Haskins wisdom.
(Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.)