We do not live life alone, in a vacuum. We are part of community, and these days have the added advantage of being part of not only a skin-n-bones face-to-face community, but also virtual communities.
Even before computers we had access to ideas through books, and in the early days of our parenting, this was our main source of learning.
We don’t follow any one guru religiously – we’ve become an ecclectic mix of philosophies and styles. Please allow me to introduce you to some of the folks, who have contributed ideas on our journey.
My most recent acquaintance is Ann Voskamp of holy experience.
I LOVE what she writes. If you look at nothing else, I’d really encourage you to wander over to her site when you have a lot of time, scroll all the way down to THE CATEGORIES and click on homeschooling. For a start anyway! You will be challenged and encouraged. And I bet you end up reading other posts too.
In the early days, we had to relearn what education is. A range of people helped us to do this:
- One of the first was Barb Shelton. I worked through parts of her Syllabus for the Season of Re-education and Renewing of the Mind, and spent many minutes savig her pages offline to be able to return and read when the internet was disconnected (those were the days!)
I turned to her again, and particularly her Senior High: A Home Designed Form-U-La, when thinking about what our kids would learn as they got older. Much of the BIG KIDS’ STUFF owes her a big thank you.
- But it was to be many years before we were at that stage! We “met” Raymond and Dorothy Moore through their books Better Late Than Early and Homegrown Kids just before our third child “should” have been learning to read, and in spite of the loose approach in the Moore’s writing (a bit too much “research says” kind of stuff without concrete evidence), we took to heart what they were saying and it provided us the confidence – and idea – to let our lad develop at God’s given rate for him.
- John Taylor Gatto, confrontational and irrepresible, informed our thinking further through Dumbing Us Down and A Different Kind of Teacher.
- The Clarksons with their many books helped us to think about education as discipleship. Although their approach is far more “schooly” than ours in the early years, we grabbed hold of many of the ideas presented in Educating The Whole-hearted Child.
- Two influential books which claim to be about homeschooling, but are (in my opinion) selling themselves short by limiting their market (coz they actually apply to all of life and not just home education) are Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell and The Heart of Homeschooling by Chris Clicka. Both of these had a profound effect on us.
- For many years I read books ABOUT Charlotte Mason, my alltime favourite being Karen Andreola’s A Charlotte Mason Companion. Recently I have begun reading the original series (and initially was quietly disconcerted to find she had some wacky ideas that are not present in any of the books about her!!!!) Over the years I have returned to Andreola’s tome time and again for gentle inspiration.
And I’ve used Ambleside Online (a free homeschool curriculum based on Charlotte Mason’s work) for book suggestions.
- A couple of websites rounded out our thinking. Ignite the Fire and Lifestyle Education Through Discipleship. Back when I was reading the LED stuff for the first time I felt it was the very thing I had wanted to write myself! Ignite the Fire just used a different analogy for the same ideas! Had it been a possibility, I’d have purchased all their materials on the spot – but they hadn’t developed anything back then! And God’s plan was for us to learn to lean on Him and not a special programme or methodology – just like the authors were saying.
- We used various online resources to find good books: The Elijah Company (no longer operating as a homeschool resource company, but you can get their book and a CD set that I am told includes all their good material) – Greenleaf Press (these guys taught us about learning history) – Sonlight (they used to put out a little catalogue of a few good books – now they’re a swish company with complete programmes – can I encourage you just to look at their book lists?) – 1000 Good Books List –
- One online article augmented our thinking – and made us wonder why we wouldn’t teach maths. The same author provided Seven Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling.
- For a few years we just got on with the task of learning together, then our eldest children started heading towards *older* and we wondered and prayed about how our approach should change. We were expecting them (if the literature we had read was anything to go by) to become more formal in their studies, and indeed this started happening. This brings us to our most recent influencers; Oliver and Rachel van DeMille, primarilly through the book A Thomas Jefferson Education. Now we know Thomas Jefferson was not perfect (let’s face it, he rewrote the New Testament leaving all the God bits out so that he was left with a moral code), but the materials the DeMille’s have put together are acting as a lamp illuminating the next steps of our path (and in some cases shining back on where we have already been too)
- We didn’t need any convincing, but for those who are thinking they really can’t do it, Tamara and William Eaton provide arguments against ten anti-homeschooling excuses.