This nonfiction book outlines the basic questions parents have about homeschooling, from the most basic “why?” to the more in-depth “how?” Unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure who the intended audience for this book would be — Some of the statements made in the book make it all too apparent that the author believes homeschooling to be the very BEST way to educate a child, and that anyone who disagrees is “unenlightened.” Yet, anyone who already is in solid agreement would find this book too basic and broad to be a useful resource.
The main idea that I got from this book is that as a parent, you can do pretty much whatever you want, however you want, and don’t worry, you’re awesome, because you’re homeschooling. The secondary message seems to be that the government and their schools are horrible, and it’s okay to look down on them, because, well, they stink. The bias was incredibly severe, and not exactly what I was looking for to help in my personal decision-making.
Some of the things that the author advocates don’t fit into my idea of an ideal homeschooling situation. For instance, don’t take advantage of free programs or tests from the public school system because “if you go through a school system, you risk being put on the school’s radar screen… for many, the risk that they might be harassed or pursued by the educational authorities is not worth the risk of a free test.” Really? We’re that paranoid about the “educational authorities”?
She also advocates that when you go on an outing with a homeschool group to a place where the staff is used to school groups, that “it might be worthwhile spending some time around the staff explaining the differences they will see when dealing with homeschooled students… The staff will not understand that homeschooling children by and large aren’t socialized into a classroom environment.” Wouldn’t it be easier to teach your children that it’s polite to raise their hands, sit quietly, and show them how to deal with a different environment, than to expect others to automatically change the way they do things every day for YOUR benefit? This seems like an entitlement issue to me.
Another thing the author encourages is that “if you want to steer your children away form learning about the latest fashion trend, TV show, or rock band, think twice about putting your child into a group setting. All it takes is one exposure and your carefully constructed walls could come crumbling down.” So apparently, other homeschooled kids wouldn’t know who Spongebob is, but if you put them with those nasty, awful public schooled kids, next thing you know, your angelic little Johnny’s going to be quoting all of Spongebob’s latest poop and fart jokes.
The most ridiculous part, however, was the “College and Beyond” section. Not only does she recommend not getting a diploma (or printing one out yourself that you make up), but instead of a transcript, she recommends that the parent should send along a letter outlining all of the reasons their kid is so wonderful. Also, “There is no right or wrong, only what you feel comfortable justifying to a college admissions board or other authority some day.” Her sample letter was about three pages. (Like any admissions department is going to actually read that.) The focus of this section is almost ENTIRELY on what the PARENT should do to get their child into college and/or the job market, which strikes me as really odd… isn’t one of the goals of homeschooling (or any school for that matter?) to become independent adults who don’t need mommies and daddies sitting next to them holding their hands for job interviews? But instead, she says, “allow your child to be a part of this process” and then agrees that they should be the ones driving it… as kind of an afterthought, even as she prattles on about what parents should do to “get the ball rolling.”
Overall, I don’t know who I would recommend this book to. The appendix had some interesting information about different types of homeschooling and ideas for co-op classrooms, but the rest of it had such an air of “we’re better than you are!” that I would be embarrassed if anyone thought I had the same attitude.