The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

This post was written on April 13, 2009.

The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith is the first book I’ve read about homeschooling, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking about homeschooling.  I don’t think it would suit seasoned homeschoolers, but for us beginners, it gives a broad overview of everything we need to think about as we make the decision whether or not to homeschool.

Hopefully I’m not breaking any copyright laws if I give you the Table of Contents.  I think it best summarizes the topics in this book:

Does Homeschooling Really Work or What Do We Tell the Grandparents?

Legal Issues, or Can We Really Do This?

Structure or Can We Wear Our Pajamas to School?

Assisted Homeschooling, or Do We Really Need Any Help?

Money and Other Practical Matters

The Primary Years: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic

The Middle Years: Exploring the World

The Teen Years: Finding a Direction

Evaluation and Record Keeping, or How Do We Know They’re Learning?

Finding Learning Resources

The Homeschooling Community

Coping with the Rough Spots

Special Circumstances

Beyond Homeschooling

There are also four appendices in the back of the book that lists Homeschooling Resources, Homeschooling Organizations, Selected Learning Resources and Colleges That Have Accepted Homeschoolers.

I can’t possibly summarize the whole book, but I can tell you what I most appreciated in the book:

  • She emphasizes that every homeschooling family has to find their own way of homeschooling.  You may hear plenty of advice from other homeschoolers, or you may come across companies who swear their curriculum is the only way to go, but there is no right way to do it.  Try out everything until you find what works for you.
  • In the first chapter, she lists and summarizes much of the academic research that has been done on homeschooling.  There is not much evidence that homeschooling is a bad choice.  At one point she explains that this is largely due to the fact that if homeschooling doesn’t work for a family, then they put their children back in school and no harm is done!  I found this to be very reassuring.
  • In the third chapter she briefly goes over the various theories of learning.  (Examples:  Jean Piaget and Cognitive Development, Charlotte Mason, and Holt and Unschooling.)  I found this interesting because I have no background on any of this.  She also goes over the advantages and drawbacks of different homeschooling styles, such as School at Home, Eclectic Homeschooling, and Unschooling.
  • Throughout the book there are letters and advice from many different homeschoolers.  Each of them seemed to tackle the various topics and issues differently, and it gave me great insight to how current homeschooling families work.
  • I loved the part in which she explains that new homeschoolers might be intimidated to visit a seasoned homeschooler’s house and find that it’s clean and in perfect order.  She says that the seasoned homeschooler probably scrambled to get her house clean just before the visitors arrived!  That is, for every homeschooler, it’s difficult to get everything done!  When I read this, I thought to myself:  “Gee, that’s how I deal with my housecleaning already!”
  • She makes suggestions for what to do if your children decide they’d rather go to school, and she also covers “parental panic attacks.”  That is, all homeschoolers have doubts and moments when they’re afraid they are doing it all wrong.  She offers sound advice and consolation for when this happens.
  • Most beneficial of all are the resources she lists.  Whatever you can think of, she put a list in there: websites, magazines, newsletters, books, organizations.  It’s a great place to start if you are looking for more information on homeschooling.

Furthermore, I found this book to be easy to read (I’m not a big fan of non-fiction), and I read it rather quickly.  I thought there was a good, honest balance between the benefits and the challenges of homeshooling.  Because of this book, Mary Griffith’s other book, The Unschooling Handbook, is now on my wishlist!

You can also read the newspaper column I wrote for the Barrow Journal on The Homeschooling Handbook. Click here to access it.

Please tell me what books/articles you have read about homeschooling.  What would you recommend?

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