Home School Dads






Home-school Happenings: Useful books for home-schooling

Source:  Ashevilles Citizen-Times
By:   Nicole KcKeon
June 5, 2012
After you’ve been home-schooling a while, you realize that certain books, materials and websites are “old standbys” — like reliable friends, you can always count on them to help you out when you need help.

In our store, I find myself recommending the same things over and over to new home-schoolers, as well as experienced but overwhelmed home-schoolers who need a “reboot.” I’d like to share them with you, and I hope you will find them helpful.

I also hope that you will learn through these resources that it is not necessary to spend tons of money on expensive box curriculums. I am dismayed at how often I receive emails or meet folks who believe they cannot home-school because they can’t afford it.

I am a firm believer that with an Internet connection and a library card, you can successfully home-school your child through high school. And, from the amount of used curriculum I buy in my store that is unused, and started out as part of a “box” curriculum, I am pretty sure that the fancy boxed curriculums are not the solution for every family.

The best $20 I spend all year is for my membership to the website Enchanted Learning (www.enchantedlearning.com). This website is fabulous. Not only does it offer the basic reading, writing and arithmetic stuff that we all need to supplement our kids’ learning, but it has tons of other help, as well.

From coloring pages of George Washinton to make-it-yourself books, from maps of ancient Egypt to easy crafts and recipes, it’s a one-stop shop for all your supplemental needs. It’s especially helpful for unit studies. And at $20 a year, it’s a bargain. All you need is a working printer. (I recommend getting a cheap black and white printer to use for this kind of stuff.)

If you are just starting out on your home-schooling journey — before you buy anything — purchase John Holt’s book “Learning All the Time.” While you’re at it, pick up “How Children Learn, How Children Fail and Teach Your Own” — inspirational, informative and reinforcing the belief that, yes, home is the best place for your child to learn.

When you are done reading these, take a trip to www.fun-books.com, and check out the Living is Learning guides. Thanks to a dear friend, we discovered these last year, and now use them as a way to track our learning in a useable and relatively easy manner.

My copy of “Home Learning Year by Year” by Rebecca Rupp is worn out, underlined, highlighted and indispensable. This book is a jewel, as it gives you a complete overview of how you can design a home-school curriculum for your child from preschool through high school. It gives specific ideas for each year of learning, along with great recommendations for many different books, websites and manipulatives to use each year.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff the author includes for each year; pick and choose what will work for your family, and don’t feel locked into the grade suggestion. I especially like this book because it is one of the few that is written from a secular point of view, which is helpful for those of us who are not home-schooling from a religious world view.

To go along with this book, get a copy of “Homeschool Your Child for Free” by Laura Maery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski. I sell at least one of these a week, and I use mine all the time. Tons of free stuff online, well-researched, subject by subject. You will never regret having this book on your shelves.

Along with Jim Trelease’s book “The Read Aloud Handbook,” pick up “Books Children Love” by Elizabeth Wilson. This is especially helpful for picking out great read alouds and designing literature-based curriculum for kids who love to read, as well as for those kids who are simply not interested in reading. (For those kids, I recommend a trip to the library for every Roald Dahl book you can find, and watch their eyes light up! )

For encouragement along the way — something we all need, especially on those days when you are considering running down the school bus and throwing your children aboard — I recommend David Alberts’ “And the Skylark Sings with Me,” as well as “Whole Child/Whole Parent” by Polly Berrien Berendt. Both have spiritual meat and drink to offer the hungry and thirsty home-schooling parent who is at the end of her or his rope!

These books have been like dear friends to me. I go back to them over and over again, to encourage myself, and oftentimes to just remind myself for the millionth time that our choice to home-school is the right one. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. You can. Surround yourself with friends and tools that encourage you along the way.