These days there are so many options for homeschool families (including awesome websites) that it's hard to imagine the primitive "pioneer days" when parents had to cobble their own curriculum from whatever was available and experiment with teaching methods. David and Micki Colfax's Homeschooling for Excellence reminds us of those days....and just how good it is to simplify.
Pioneers in more than one sense (David, Micki and their four sons homesteaded in rural California), they began homeschooling all the way back in 1973 when it was still illegal in some states. Teachers themselves, the Colfaxes observed from the inside the bankruptcy of the public school system and wanted a better (even a sufficient) education for their sons.
All of whom eventually graduated from Harvard. Which, the authors are quick to point out, was not the intention behind teaching them at home. Rather, the goal was to provide each boy with an education specifically tailored to his needs and abilities, neither holding him back nor forcing him to work at a level he was unable to comprehend. They also relied heavily on practical education, enlisting their sons to help build a house, raise animals, etc.
This is an account of 15 years of homeschooling before the internet, before massive curriculum fairs and conventions, before support groups, before books about homeschooling. If you think such a book can have nothing valuable to say in this more sophisticated era, think again—the simplicity of the Colfax approach reminds us that a good education is more about a good foundation than gadgetry and flashy programs.
David and Micki reveal how they taught their sons. They make no pretense of espousing educational philosophies, assume you're reading the book because you want to homeschool (they don't try to convince anyone to homeschool), and offer advice and resources to new and veteran homeschool families alike. Articulate and engaging, Homeschooling for Success still makes excellent reading long after the homeschool frontier has been settled.