Gayle Graham's book really actually teaches you How to Home School. But not just how to teach the subjects (that's part of it)—she discusses every practical concern mothers worry about, including how to balance homework and housework, creating efficient (and doable) weekly and daily schedules, establishing godly character in the kiddos, and not going insane.
Assuming mothers will be shouldering the bulk of the home school burden, Graham addresses the book to them, with occasional references to the role of fathers. Her approach is good since it keeps her to topics she's familiar with—she shows mothers what works, she doesn't tell fathers what to do. A strong Christian worldview undergirds the entire text, the author making frequent reference to character-building and possible home-based ministry and missions opportunities.
While she was a public school teacher before teaching her own daughters, Graham says she learned everything she knows about education from home schooling. The three basics—reading, writing and arithmetic—she covers in detail, encouraging parents to teach reading through phonics and by taking every opportunity to help kids practice their growing skill. Reading is the basis of a good education, she affirms, and must be taken seriously but shouldn't be presented in any way as a drudgery.
Writing and math are to be taught as practically as possible. A variety of daily situations, from scribbling out a grocery list to measuring ingredients in a recipe, are excellent occasions for having kids practice both skills. But they also need formal instruction, and Graham offers several suggestions and milestones to keep in mind so that your children are learning what they're supposed to at the right time.
She makes a strong case for unit studies, demonstrating how science and social studies can be integrated with the "three R's" to form a single coherent curriculum that reaches across grade levels. While many have showed the weaknesses of unit studies (too much emphasis on creativity and not enough on facts, for example), Graham seems to take many of these into account in her presentation, emphasizing the importance of keeping subjects distinct even while bringing them together.
An appendix offers resources and advice for choosing the right curriculum, another covers the often frightening subject of standardized testing, and a third provides copy masters for making your own planner pages, study charts, etc. Graham is conscientious about not including a bunch of dated resources (even though the book itself is 20 years old), and most of them are still in print or readily available.
It wouldn't have been a stretch to name this something like The Beginning Home School Bible. The author doesn't spend a lot of time trying to tell you why you ought to homeschool (there's one chapter, and it's highly practical, mostly covering different learning styles), she just jumps in showing you how it's done. Filled with personal stories, highly readable and more informative than many books twice its size, How to Home Schoolis one of the best purchases beginning (and veteran) homeschool parents can make.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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