Explains Common Core standards, educational methods, and special needs homeschooling. Advice on record keeping, socialization, and more. Discusses how to make homeschooling affordable.
Advocates a relaxed approach, but it still speaks authoritatively to other styles.
Encourages an open-minded approach to children pursuing their interests. Author gives real-world advice on organization. Tips for keeping things fresh and focusing on a love of learning and relationships rather than rote facts.
Some find this book overemphasizes a child-led approach to learning.
Gently encourages burned-out parents to not neglect themselves. Discourages perfectionism and self-doubt. Reminds you that education is a journey, not a race, and it's one you've chosen to walk together as a family.
While encouraging, it's questionable how well this approach would work for upper grades.
Helps create a clear vision of your homeschool calling. Reminds you to start with your goal in mind and stay focused. Practical tips for challenging situations such as wide age gaps, distracting toddlers, and special needs learners. Even veterans can benefit from this refresher.
Gives some practical advice, but focuses more on faith than concrete details of schooling.
Detailed method that progresses in a specific linear way as child's mind matures. Updated version includes curricula recommendations and new math and science considerations. Addresses modern standardized testing, high school-level education, college transcripts, and related issues.
Very long, and some ideas seem a bit dated. Section on special needs and learning styles is not terribly helpful.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Homeschooling was once a fringe activity practiced by just a few families, but it has surged in popularity in recent years due to concerns about education quality and safety in schools. If you’d like help with your homeschooling endeavors, you’ve come to the right place.
The guidance you require depends on your own degree of experience and comfort with educating a child. Some parents seek answers to curriculum-related questions. For example, what sort of science lessons are appropriate for a second grader? an eighth grader? But curriculum isn’t the only element to consider when setting up a classroom at home. Some parents wonder how to create the right learning environment in a space normally reserved for lounging and video gaming. Some seek advice on how to juggle the roles of teacher and parent while keeping boundaries clear.
A solid approach to reining in homeschool stress lies in educating yourself. Reading books by experts is reassuring and allows you to fine-tune your own practices. This buying guide introduces you to the homeschooling guidebooks that can help you on your journey.
Schoolteachers regularly engage in professional development to keep their skills sharp. It makes sense that homeschool teachers should do the same. When choosing a book to read about homeschooling, reach for one that tackles the issues important to you. Here’s a look at several broad issues you’ll find in these books.
A curriculum is a set of learning targets and associated lesson plans that lead to the ultimate goal of education. If you aren’t a college-trained teacher, you may feel hesitant about selecting a curriculum. Fortunately, many before you have done the job of assembling lesson plans and learning targets into prepackaged curricula. As a homeschooling teacher, you are also free to cobble together your own curriculum based on your goals for your child.
Personal values: Although you are free to choose a curriculum, that’s little comfort if you feel overwhelmed by the number of choices. Finding a guidebook that resonates with you philosophically will help. For example, if your aim is to create a Christianity-centered classroom, a book by a Christian author with similar values may serve you well.
Age appropriateness: Choosing a curriculum isn’t just about your personal values; it’s also about age appropriateness. A curriculum for a kindergartener looks far different from a curriculum for a fourth grader. A few homeschooling guidebooks offer a detailed curriculum you can follow from kindergarten to twelfth grade, but this would be a thick and comprehensive book indeed. It’s more likely that the book you choose will point you in the direction of online or print curriculum resources for individual grades.
Pacing: Homeschooling guidebooks are likely to offer you advice on how to pace yourself through a curriculum. Homeschooling offers great flexibility, but of course you want to make sure you neither overwhelm nor bore your kids. Many homeschooling guidebooks focus on creating a pace that helps maintain a sense of wonder and excitement so kids never tire of learning.
Learning styles: “Differentiating instruction” is a hot term in education these days as teachers strive to personalize learning for each student. Every child has unique strengths and weaknesses. To use another buzzword, every child has their own “learning style.” For example, some kids are visual learners: they are more inspired by visual stimuli than printed words or auditory input. Some kids are physical learners: they must frequently move their bodies in order for information to stick.
When you differentiate instruction, you tailor the lesson to best serve the learning style of each child in the room. Let’s say you’ve asked your students to do a book report. You might allow one child to simply write the report, another child to create a video dramatization, and another child to create a sculpture or diorama.
Differentiating instruction is a daunting prospect, but there are resources to help. If the homeschooling guidebook of your choice doesn’t provide tips for differentiating instruction, it may point you to websites or other sources that do.
Grade levels: In addition to differentiating instruction for kids at the same level, you may need to find lesson plans for kids at different levels. While there are a handful of helpful websites that tackle the issue of homeschooling multi-age groups, fewer print resources exist on this topic.
Our best advice is to purchase separate curriculum and lesson plan materials for each grade level. That said, a guidebook that offers generalized strategies on how to manage homeschooling life would still come in handy.
Any homeschooling parent will tell you they’ve suffered their share of anxiety and self-doubt along their journey. And although homeschooling is more popular than ever, you still might feel isolated and alone.
Here are some common expressions of self-doubt by homeschooling parents:
A homeschooling guidebook written with the right combination of empathy and expertise can alleviate your anxiety while helping you make sure your greatest fears don’t come true.
Some homeschooling guidebooks focus on practicality, tips, and advice. Some explore developmental psychology to help parents gain a better understanding of what happens in the developing brain. Still others focus on educational philosophy and parental mindset.
Here are a few recurring topics we found in the guidebooks currently on offer. This list isn’t exhaustive, and not every book covers each of these topics.
How to create a routine: You and your kids might relish the fact that homeschool doesn’t have to start at 8 a.m. However, when you allow yourself to stray from standard conventions, it can be tricky to establish and maintain a routine. Some homeschooling guidebooks offer helpful tips and advice.
How to nurture social skills: The question homeschooling parents get asked most often may be, “How do you socialize them?” The fact your child doesn’t sit in a class with 30 others doesn’t equate to social isolation, but there are guidebooks with ideas for building social skills and providing social experiences for homeschooled kids.
How to accommodate special needs: Whether the diagnosis is cerebral palsy, ADHD, dyslexia, or autism, kids with special needs sometimes require special accommodations. Books with a special needs focus provide the resources, ideas, vocabulary, encouragement, and expert advice you need to navigate the terrain.
College prep: Some parents feel comfortable with early-grade material but balk at the idea of navigating high school-level work and college prep. While there are homeschooling books that focus on teaching higher-level math and language skills, we recommend reading some non-homeschooling books that focus on prepping for college entry exams like the SAT if college is the goal.
Ideas, ideas, ideas: Teachers always need ideas. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to feed you a steady diet of them. Some books take a “how to” approach: how to teach chemistry, for example, or how to incorporate music and art into the school day. Some books provide valuable advice about resources, like where to find the best free educational worksheets and videos on the internet. The more ideas a book offers, the better the value it usually is.
Most paperback homeschooling guidebooks with a modest amount of information cost $20 or less. E-book versions of the same are likely to cost $12 or less.
If you opt to purchase a complete homeschool curriculum, which isn’t exactly the type of “guidebook” we’re discussing here but is nevertheless very important, expect to pay a lot more. Complete curricula can cost hundreds of dollars. Single-grade and single-subject curriculum books tend to cost less than $50.
Q. Must I use an accredited homeschool program?
A. No. While home schools aren’t required to receive accreditation, public schools must be accredited: an outside agency monitors the school’s ability to meet certain criteria and standards. That said, if you plan to transfer your homeschooled child to public school one day, it’ll be easier to do so if you can prove the child has earned credits from an accredited program. In that case, you may wish to enroll your child in an online distance learning program at home.
Q. How does the college admission process work for students who were homeschooled?
A. Students who were homeschooled still need a transcript to apply for college. As a homeschooling parent, you are responsible for creating that document. The transcript should include a detailed account of the subjects taught over the years. Plenty of online resources exist to help you with this. Colleges often give greater scrutiny to the ACT or SAT scores of homeschooled applicants, so be sure your student studies for and takes these tests.
Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with Confidence
Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Fourth Edition)
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