The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling offers guidance starting at a basic level and going from there. The author aims to move homeschooling parents to make choices that are right for their family, using her family and other families from their homeschool group to illustrate how successful homeschool years may progress. This is a must-have resource for every homeschool family.
Debra Bell pulls no punches. She gets right to the point in Chapter 1 when she asks, "Is homeschooling right for you and your family?" While she does support homeschooling whole-heartedly, clearly she knows homeschooling isn’t for every family. For example, some parents don't have the necessary self-discipline to succeed. It would be an injustice to their children to homeschool them in less than a supportive environment.
With 10 parts and 34 chapters, the book can seem overwhelming, but it’s not meant to be read in one sitting. The best way to read this book is in bits and pieces. It is possible over several weeks to understand why you have chosen this path less traveled, and how you’ll proceed into teaching or mentoring your children.
Mrs. Bell highly recommends becoming a part of a homeschooling group. If for field trips, social activities or classes, the camaraderie of moving from phase to phase with others provides comfort that homeschooling isn’t isolating. Mrs. Bell shares stories about the group her children participated with through their homeschool years.
The resource section is packed full of popular and new resources available to homeschool families. Gone are days of scrambling and scrapping for resources. If there is a problem with resources these days, it’s narrowing the field. The variety is marvelous.
Part 1 has seven chapters that walk you through the logical process of deciding whether to homeschool. I find the most helpful portion for the parent thinking about homeschooling is in this first part on page 77, the family worksheet. If you’re honest as you're answering the questions, you’ll know if homeschooling is right for your family.
Part 2 discusses selecting a curriculum: how to decide, determining learning styles, homeschooling on a shoestring, using the library, and surviving a curriculum fair. While I personally disagree with Ms Bell about feeling overwhelmed at curriculum fairs, I understand how a new homeschool mom might feel it’s more than one can take in at once. I’m always energized and amazed by the new points of view, styles of presenting information, and all the new gadgets available, but then I've been homeschooling for a while.
Part 3 helps both the new and veteran homeschool parent with the two of the most talked about dilemmas presented to homeschool families: the learning environment and maintaining control of your day. Debra Bell offers hints about the most debated instrument in a home today, the phone, as well as managing your time and schedule to keep your days sane and productive.
Part 4 talks about burn out. Many homeschool families have trouble with burn out until they learn how to create excitement for learning. It's also important that the children to the best of their ability take control of their learning process. This approach creates an excitement and desire to learn for the child, relieving the parent of energy-draining nagging, arguing, prodding, and other techniques that are destined for failure.
Part 5 answers questions about what to teach and when to teach it. When should a child know how to add and subtract, divide and multiply, or understand algebra? When should a child be able to come up with a composition? Where can I find suggestions for each subject and the information within those subject and grade level parameters? Right here.
Part 6 explains that homeschooling a teenager isn’t as difficult as many people assume it may be. Teens are quite capable of setting goals, researching the appropriate study material, and following through to meet those goals. Sound incredible? Debra Bell did it four times and she shares the journey with her readers.
The next three parts of the book explain how to use computers as a valuable tool for learning, deal with special situations and creative solutions to problems, suggest how to measure success in your homeschool.
Finally, Part 10 contains new and updated resource information that will make your research easier and faster. There are so many choices for homeschool families, it can be dizzying. What with all the various suppliers, organizations, and contests open to homeschoolers, there are so many options it’s wise to learn about the growing number of options available.
In short, you can find the answer to many of your questions about homeschooling in this book. It truly lives up to its name of Ultimate Guide. Whether you're a newcomer or seasoned home educator, you'll find valuable information here.