Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Apologia: Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell



Apologia is under new ownership, and they're expanding their company's vision.  They are well-known for publishing quality Christian science curriculums.  Now they are also publishing other books to encourage Christian families, especially homeschoolers.  One book they have re-published is an updated version of Debra Bell's Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.  This was one of the first books I bought in 1999-2000 when we first began to homeschool our oldest daughter in preschool.  It was an excellent resource for a new homeschooler, and it helped me find my direction as I was venturing into new territory with little outside support.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I didn't need it any longer.  I passed it on to someone else.  When I received a copy to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I thought I'd re-read it and pass it on to someone else again.  But then I discovered all the wonderful information for homeschooling the upper grade levels.  What was I thinking when I got rid of my original copy?  Obviously, I didn't have a high schooler at the time!




The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling
has been divided into 10 parts.  The first 9 parts contain 34 chapters, and the tenth part is a resource guide.   The book is divided into the following parts:

  1. Homeschooling:  Is it for you?  (7 chapters)

  2. Choosing a Curriculum  (5 chapters)

  3. Organization and Planning (2 chapters)

  4. Preventing Burnout  (5 chapters)

  5. What to Teach -- When and How  (2 chapters)

  6. Homeschooling Teens  (4 chapters)

  7. Computers in the Homeschool   (3 chapters)

  8. Creative Solutions  (3 chapters)

  9. Measuring Your Success  (3 chapters)

  10. Resource Guide



It's a huge book, with 509 pages, but thankfully it has a detailed table of contents and an index to help you locate the information you're seeking.  Many of the chapters close with additional resources on that topic, so your reading list can just keep growing.  The chapters are well-planned and easily read, with a comfortable font size to read and nice margins for note-taking. 

Debra Bell walks you through the process of deciding if you should homeschool, choosing your curriculum and defining your child's learning styles.  She lays out guidelines for what to teach in each subject in different grades, how to plan a high school course of study, and navigating college admissions.  She shares tips for motivating the reluctant learner, assessing your student's progress, and preparing your child to do well on standardized tests.  That's only a small amount of the information provided in the book.   

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised by its bright orange cover.  (Although it used to be a rather bright shade of yellow, too.)  I do prefer the new cover with the cute artwork.  My children were quick to spot that the word homeschooling is spelled out by children forming the letters with their bodies.  They quickly sought to do the same themselves and we have been treated to several performances by the 8 and 10 year olds!

One word of caution is that Debra Bell does write with a bias against traditional textbooks and packaged curriculum.  Although she does present the benefits of such curriculum and when it is beneficial to use them, she also presents a viewpoint that it can suck the life out of a subject.  Just be aware of this bias, and recognize that different family situations and teacher preferences are always going to affect choice of curriculum.  Just as different family situations will affect how your homeschool functions, whether you join a co-op or not, and what you can afford to spend on curriculum.  I have to smile at her checklist for deciding if you should homeschool or not ... because many of us would not be homeschooling if we took that list literally.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (softcover book) can be bought for $20.00, which is an excellent price for a resource that can take you from kindergarten through graduation in your homeschool.   I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is considering homeschooling, planning to homeschool, or already homeschooling their children!

This item was provided free for our review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  We received no other compensation, and this review is our honest opinion.  Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner at the top to read more reviews on this product by other Homeschool Crew members.

Trusting In Him,
April

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