If you think "teenagers" are cryptids on the order of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, you might need this book. If you've spent time looking through the DSM-5 to see if fear of teenagers is a clinical phobia, you probably need this book. But if you've got kids at home whom you're intending to homeschool through high school (or trying to decide whether you'll homeschool them through high school), you definitely need this book.
Some titles promise much more than their authors can deliver. Debra Bell's The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens, suffers (if it suffers at all) from the opposite problem: the title is too modest. This isn't the ultimate guide, it's the only guide to high school homeschool, or at least the only one that spends plenty of time asking the right questions. But this isn't just a big questionnaire, because Bell spends just as much time answering those questions and helping her readers do the same.
While this is more of a reference than a cover-to-cover read, everyone should start with Part I: Making the Decision—even those who already know they want to teach their teens at home. This section puts everything in perspective as Bell emphasizes the main reason her family decided to homeschool, i.e., to raise children who loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But there's plenty of practical advice here too, like how to ensure your kids are academically challenged, where to get the money, etc.
Subsequent sections cover the ultimate goal of homeschool high school, preparing teens for the real world, how to prepare middle school students, what to teach in high school, enlisting help for difficult subjects, earning college credit, keeping records, choosing and entering a college, and more. There's also an extensive appendix that covers using the Internet, assembling a resume, making a reading list, questions to ask when visiting a college, resources for further study, and much more.
Bell includes many personal stories about her own family's experiences homeschooling through high school. She also emphasizes throughout that the ultimate goal is to train young adults who will pursue careers and family responsibilities as servants of Jesus Christ and heralds of his gospel. These angles help parents maintain the right focus, ease some fears, and provide guidelines for helping you make the right decisions for your own family.
Parents aren't left on their own to implement any of this stuff. Questionnaires, checklists, charts to fill in, etc. appear frequently throughout the text to help readers cement their ideas and plans, visualizing the concepts they've been reading about. Bell talks rather than writes, making often complicated and scary prospects understandable and less frightening. You can start at the beginning and end at the end, or just read the sections you need help with.
Sometimes it's hard to find something good to say about a book; in other cases it's hard not to gush. This book certainly falls into the latter category. Bell looks at things other writers don't even think about, like taking a teen's changing physiology into account, preparing for high school in middle school, and finding apprenticeships and internships. If you want your kids to excel spiritually and academically in high school and do it all at home, you need this book.
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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