Okay, so she uses the word "tutelage" on the back of the book, but Sherri Linsenbach really does include a lot of good information in Essential Homeschooling, particularly of the getting started kind. Also notable are the multiple resources referenced throughout the book and in the appendixes—unlike many homeschool guides written before the Digital Age, she includes websiteswherever applicable.
Though faith-based curricula and support groups are mentioned, this isn't a Christian (or any other religion, for that matter) book. That in itself isn't a bad thing, as there is plenty of crucial information including legal issues and how to notify the local school board on your decision to homeschool, understanding different learning and teaching styles, what skills need to be mastered at each level (preschool, elementary, middle and high school), keeping a daily schedule, and teaching multiple children simultaneously.
The real weakness of Essential Homeschoolingis that it basically shows parents how to transpose traditional (a.k.a., public) schooling methods onto an at-home situation. Chapters on record-keeping and managing to homeschool in a two-income family reveal a typical public school attitude that grades everything and apportions specific amounts of time each day to subjects. Part of this is likely the lack of religious motivation for homeschooling evidenced in the text, and partly it is the desire to meet arbitrary state-mandated standards instead of higher standards of the parents' own choosing.
Essential Homeschoolingis certainly not all bad, however. Of particular interest to many families will be the chapter on special needs education, a topic unfortunately absent from many homeschool guides. As a resource reference and manual for navigating the often baffling waters of educational philosophies it's one of the better books we've seen. Most of Linsenbach's reasons for homeschooling are academics- and scheduling-motivated; if you're a Christian family looking to homeschool, we strongly suggest you supplement her book with one like The Heart of Home Schoolingby Christopher Klicka or Heart & Mindby Ruth Beechick.
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