Yesterday's conversation with my sister-in-law also started me thinking about some of my favorite homeschool books ... the ones that most affected me in my homeschooling journey. I thought I'd share them here.
Diana Waring's books have blessed me so much. When I began homeschooling, I was very high-strung, to put it nicely. I was stressed. I pushed the children and myself. I had unrealistic expectations. I was just one "freakout moment" after another. I think reading her books Beyond Survival and Things We Wish We'd Known really helped me overcome this way of thinking. They taught me to relax and enjoy the homeschool journey. They also freed me from the traditional school box I was still clinging to.
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola gave me a style of education to try to fashion our homeschool after. A goal to reach for. I have never fully reached a true Charlotte Mason homeschool, because I haven't followed all her methods. But it's still the style I strive for. I want to teach my children using Living Books instead of text books, as much as possible.
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay was another book that I read in my early homeschool years and found direction in. It further cemented in my mind, my desire to use living books and life learning to teach my children. It instilled in me the desire to teach my children from a Christian worldview and reminded me that relationships were first and foremost.
A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola is an annual favorite of mine. I read it at least once each year. It's written in a fictional way, the story of a new homeschool Mom and her family over the course of their first homeschool year. It's set in the 1930s and is very engaging. I love reading about how she overcomes her fears and gains confidence as she learns to follow Charlotte Mason's homeschool methods. It also gives me an encouraging glimpse at how these methods look in real life. And I love reading about how the family adapts their homeschool as they deal with several different crises that arise in their family. It's a book of encouragement and refocus to me, and it's so enjoyable to read.
Carol Barnier's books (How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and Onto Learning, and If I'm Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where Did I Leave the Baby?) both came at a time of great discouragement to me. They have allowed me to embrace the differences in my children and myself. We will never be able to be a "school in a box" family. Their temperaments and learning styles, and my own, will not allow it. We will never look like Sister Susie Homeschool Mom's perfect homeschool. And more importantly, she gave me hope and ideas on ways to deal with our learning issues and my organizational challenges. She gave us hope and direction. Her Refrigerator book is full of games I can use to teach my very active 7 yo to read and other subjects. Her Watermelon book gives me wonderful creative ideas on organizing our home and homsechool in a way that works for us. Mostly she tells me "You can do it!! And your children CAN learn!!"
Now, I am a Managers of their Homes dropout. I have never successfully implemented a schedule. Our family seems to prefer a less structured lifestyle. But, I have found Terri Maxwell's book Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit to be tremendously helpful. It helped me overcome the worries that I let overwhelm me and steal my joy in homeschooling. It helped me learn how to overcome the anger that I let boil up at my children. It helped me identify the sources of the fear and anger, and pointed me to the Bible and God for ways of overcoming it. I am NOT perfect and I admit I still am working on these issues, but I did want to mention this small book as one that has affected me in my homeschooling.
Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson (as well as her other books on mothering) is another one that truly touched my heart. It has shaped my mothering and my homeschooling. It encouraged me to put my relationship with God and my relationship with my children above the nitty gritty details of homeschooling and housework. It was a blessing to me, and reminded me that it's "People first!" Not stuff, not lessons, not chores. People.
A later find in my homeschooling journey, but one I was also greatly encouraged and blessed by is Clay and Sally Clarkson's book, Educating the Whole Hearted Child. It gave more advice on how to use real books and real life to teach your children, and how to do it in a Christ-centered way. I wish I had read this book much earlier.
And I also wanted to mention that Elizabeth Elliott's books and teachings on submission and mothering have been very helpful. Other books that have truly blessed me in the area of being a wife are: Nancy Wilson's The Fruit of Her Hands and Praise Her In The Gates, Elizabeth George's A Woman After God's Own Heart, as well as the book, Me? Obey Him? by Elizabeth Rice Handford, and Debi Pearl's book Created to be His Help Meet.
Why do I mention these in homeschool books? Because homeschooling isn't just about me. My husband and I are in this together and we have to make decisions together. Sometimes, I don't like his decisions. Sometimes he doesn't like my way of discussing things with him. And sometimes I've acted without his permission or against his wishes. Our homeschooling has improved as I've learned to submit and communicate respectfully with my husband. Believe it or not, your husband's not a stupid jerk who doesn't value the education of your children as much as you do and doesn't understand how vitally important this particular book or idea is when he says no. Satan wants us to believe that and will encourage us to have a pity party like that, along with the "he doesn't appreciate all I do" pity party, too. But it isn't true ... at least I assume not in most Christian marriages.
I've found that my husband sees things differently than I do. For one thing, he's not emotionally caught up in the moment or the struggle with a certain student. He's not caught up in the frenzy for a new curriculum. He's much more calm, rational, and sees the truth when I do not. He has kept me from wasting money needlessly curriculum hopping, and he has held me back so I can be sure a curriculum change is really what I want to do before I act rashly. And I've come to value that, although I admit there were times I saw it as him holding me back and being an uncaring tightwad. So, that is why I mention books on marriage and submission as part of my favorite homeschool books.