I have been reading an interesting book, lately, "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum : Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach For Your Child'" by Cathy Duffy. Of course I had heard of this book, but never picked it up to read it because I had already figured out what curriculum I was going to use. What a shame!! The first five chapters of this book are a gold mine for any homeschooling mom...and even for those moms who only have a passing interest in homeschooling - wow! What a lot of good information!!
She goes through, step by step and helps you understand why it is important to have a "philosophy of education" (she defines philosophy as 'common sense dressed up in fancy clothes'), how you think learning should happen in your home, and how you want to teach or 'run your school'. She also spends a good amount of time helping you understand which educational approach is right for your children, and how to mix approaches.
For example if you come from a background where formal education is very important to you, and all the "feel good fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff that you see gives you the heebie-jeebies, then you might choose the Classical approach. If you have lots of wiggly boys who learn best when their hands and their brains are involved, then you might like the Unit Study approach. In all, she covers nine different approaches.
Mrs. Duffy then goes into helping you figure out what is going to work for your family, by talking about your confidence level, the time you have to give to schooling, how much money you have to spend and how you want your religious beliefs to impact your schooling. One of the things I loved was that she gives examples of all of these things in Chapter 3, so that you can see exactly how to use the technique she is presenting.
But, I have to say that chapter 4 is my favorite chapter! I can't tell you how many times I have had people say to me "I can't homeschool because...my kid needs structure....my kid needs the social interaction...my kid argues about everything...my kid won't be still". Guess what? We all have kids like that! I have three of those in my house...the wiggly one, the arguing one and the structured one. Mrs. Duffy wrote that she thinks God gives us kids that are different from us to stretch and grow us. Can I hear an AMEN!!
So, Chapter 4 is all about learning styles and teaching styles and how to take your strengths and weaknesses and your kid's strengths and weaknesses and put it all together into something that will work for your family. It was like a light bulb going off for me. Personally, it helped me to understand my littlest one better, for example why he gets so upset when I ask him to do something that he 'already knows'. It's part of his personality, the way God made him...and it is my job to help him understand that sometimes we do have to do things over and over, and sometimes it is okay to move on.
Then, in Chapter 5, Mrs. Duffy goes on to help the reader understand "who should learn what and when?" - a great chapter to teach you how to determine what needs to happen when and how to tailor it for each specific child in your home - because really, one of the things that is so amazing about homeschooling is that you can tailor your child's education to your child.
And then the rest of the book gives Mrs. Duffy's Top 100 Picks for curriculum, which becomes very easy to sort through once you have done the work in the first four chapters.
Anyway, whether you are a seasoned homeschooler, or a mom who is wanting to know what all this 'homeschool talk' is about, I highly recommend this book - especially the first five chapters. And if you are a mom who just wants to understand her kids better, and would like to have a glimpse into working with your child's personality instead of against it - then just read Chapter 4. If you read it, let me know what you think!