Complete Idiot’s Guide to Homeschooling by Marsha Ransom

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Homeschooling starts out snobbish and goes downhill from there.  First Ransom says that although homeschooling parents call themselves homeschoolers, they are not.  Only their children are.  She further explains that homeschooling is the wrong term and it’s home education or home-based learning because that’s what real homeschoolers call themselves.  Really.  As someone who has homeschooled several children for over a decade, I can say that’s completely wrong.  Yes, there are some homeschoolers who are really snobs like the mean girls in public school who have an exclusive club and make fun of everyone else.  Ransom apparently is one of them.  But there are far more people like me who consider a new homeschooler just as important as the ones who’ve been around for years.  It’s not a club.  It’s a lifestyle.

I won’t go into detail about the other distinctions Ransom makes about homeschooling and homeschoolers, unschooling or deschooling, except to say that she defines a lot of terms very subjectively based on her own personal opinions and not the actual definitions, which makes the rest of the book suspect.  Obviously she has an agenda.

Another gripe I have with this book, and it’s a biggie, is that she divides the book into chapters based on a child’s age.  That defeats the entire purpose of homeschooling.  Children learn at their own speed.  That means your child might learn to read at two years old or eight years old or at any point in between.  It’s perfectly normal.  According to Ransom, it’s not.  She has pigeonholed certain milestones for certain ages.  Uh, no.

Back to the mean girls analogy.  Ransom brings up the prom several times.  After the third time, I started to wonder what was going on.  Out of all the things your child could possibly miss about public school, prom is really low on the list.  Group activities that are difficult to do with a small group are at the top.  Think choir, volleyball, soccer, and band rather than prom.  It’s easy enough for a group of homeschoolers to get together and arrange their own prom.  I guess it was really important to Ransom, but ill-placed so many times in a homeschooling book.

Overall grade:  F

This book was far from complete and was inaccurate in way too many places.

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