A Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling by Tamra B Orr

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A Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling is another book that never goes into any real depth on a topic.  The author has collected a series of essays from various homeschoolers given only by their first name and state.  They recount their experiences which are neither helpful nor inspiring, at least not to me.  It’s a boring book.

When I got to chapter 2, I was shocked to find a section devoted to the “Bad Reasons for Homeschooling” and another one devoted to ways to avoid getting sick of your kids.  :O  I don’t know about other homeschoolers but I homeschooled because I love my kids.  I already had a close bond with them and I didn’t want to lose that.  Get sick of them?  Never.  Now if I had left my children in the care of public schools I’m sure by the time they became teenagers I might actually need time away from them, but I’ve never felt that way about my children.  So I have to ask myself, is this woman a homeschooler?  Or an editor who tool several homeschooler essays and wrote a not so helpful book?

The problem with people who actually haven’t homeschooled writing homeschooling books is that they don’t get it.  They can’t imagine well-rounded well-functioning small adults who love to learn because they haven’t experienced it.  And this sounds like a book written by one of those people.

I was further appalled when the author made a list of places parents could look for curricula without explaining what curricula is or stating that you don’t need it.  And the sources for curricula are poor–parenting magazines, library, catalogs, and newspapers.  :O  I’ve never found curricula in any of those places but there are plenty of places online you can look if you really think you need a curriculum.  If, however, you are only concerned about scope and sequence (the author doesn’t explain those either), then you can find that information easily and use it as a progress measurement tool at the end of each year.

The author devotes several pages to starting or joining a homeschooling group.  The difficult thing about joining a homeschooling group right off the bat is that they will each give you different information taken from their own personal values.  And, in most cases, this information will run contrary to your personal beliefs and values.  Sure some if it will be in line with your own beliefs, but it won’t be 100% in line with your own personal values.  So why teach your children according to someone else’s idea of a wonderful education?  If you’re putting in the time and effort, shouldn’t you be teaching them your values and idea of a perfect education?  The best way to start out homeschooling is with no expectations and no rules except that you’ll devote a certain amount of time each day to giving your child learning opportunities in all of the important subjects.  That’s it.  Once you have a few months or a year under your belt, you can branch out and ask other people what they’re doing.  Get ideas but don’t mold your children into someone else’s children.

So let me give a perfect example of why you should be teaching your kids your values and not someone else’s.  In the very same book, on page 187, is the essay of a girl who apparently decided to switch to homeschooling as a teenager.  She still hung out with her public schooled friends, drinking beer and going to parties.  Hmm, not anything my kids would ever do.  Why is this good and why is it in the book?  The girl is 21 now and mentions taking only one college class, a dance class.  Also not my kids.  I read her essay and thought, wow.  If that’s what homeschooling has to offer a kid, I’d be better off leaving my kids in public school.  This is why you homeschool your kids according to your values and not some other homeschooling group parent’s.

Overall grade:  F

This is one of the worst homeschooling books I’ve read.  It should be called the anti-homeschooling book.  I should think it would discourage a great number of people interested in homeschooling their kids.  Maybe that was the author’s intention.  Why else would you include sections entitled “What if my kid never learns to read?” and “From the experts” (which are anecdotes from the author’s daughter, who btw is not an expert on anything).   It’s hard to take an author seriously when she doesn’t take her book seriously.

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