The moment I began considering homeschooling, I immediately started reading everything I could get my hands on on the subject. I poured over homeschooling websites and blogs and read every single homeschooling book available at our local library.
I still love reading about homeschooling, though most of the info I’m looking for now I can find online or through social media. But I’ve been asked before what books helped me most when I began homeschooling and which ones I recommend first to those who may be considering educating their children at home. While I suggest people do as I did and read everything they can get their hands on, these four books are without question my favorites:
This 500+ page book by Debra Bell was a treasure to me when I began researching homeschooling. I found it at our local library, read it nearly cover-to-cover, and then bought it from Amazon so I could have a copy of my own. And I still refer to it from time to time!
This book covers everything, from why you should consider homeschooling to how to choose curriculum to organizing and planning for your homeschool. It even includes a large section on preventing burnout, and another dealing specifically with homeschooling teens. It’s really a great reference tool for anyone interested in homeschooling or trying to find ways to improve their current homeschool.
It was really the first book I found that answered my most specific questions about homeschooling. Any time people ask, this will likely be the very first book I recommend.
This book by Clay and Sally Clarkson is written specifically for Christian homeschoolers and offers a wealth of advice and encouragement when it comes to discipling and nurturing children in the Christian faith, as well as giving them the best education possible. I love its emphasis on character building and value training, but there are also so many wonderful tips for boosting creativity, developing a love of learning in your children, and making your home an environment that encourages learning. The book has a very Charlotte Mason flavor to it, which is probably part of the reason I like it so much.
Though Educating the Whole-Hearted Child is remarkably different from the first book I mentioned, it includes a lot of the same valuable information, presented in a very different way. There are plenty of time management tips, ideas for organization, and advice for creating a working homeschooling routine. There are some great resources in the back as well. I love the book lists with great ideas for read alouds or age-appropriate personal reading, and the forms section, filled with examples of calendars and planners, task lists, and family chore charts.
I’m not strictly a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, but I definitely lean CM, and this book by Karen Andreola answered so many questions about the whys and hows of educating in that style. In the beginning I was intrigued by the gentle approach of a CM education, especially where my dyslexic/LPD child was concerned, but I had no idea how to implement it in my day-to-day school routine. This book laid it all out for me very clearly. Even someone who feels more drawn to a traditional or classical approach to homeschooling might benefit from a perusal of this book and the ideas it offers.
This was actually one of the very first books I read on homeschooling and to this day it remains one of my favorites. I brought it home from my local library expecting to find lots of information about things like curricula and scheduling and record-keeping.
What I found was something very different, and what’s ironic is that, while this book wasn’t what I was looking for, it was exactly what I needed at the time.
Sue Maakestad includes some very helpful advice about things like scheduling and managing family and housework while homeschooling, but her book is also a collection of “heart-gushings” about homeschooling. She talks about both the good and the bad, about her own weakness and about God’s sufficient grace for each day. Struggling as I was early on with the decision to homeschool, having relented to do it, but not at all with a willing heart, I found myself weeping my way through this book.
For me, it was a Godsend. For a person who is discouraged in their homeschooling, or who feels inadequate and unequipped for the job, this is the book for you. And if you don’t want to homeschool, EVER, this may be just the book for you, too. 🙂
And now a few of my honorable mentions. While these books don’t necessarily qualify as my absolute favorites about homeschooling, they were nonetheless influential to me and I highly recommend them:
This isn’t a homeschooling book, per se, but it was very eye-opening for me and helped me let go of a lot of the public school thinking that caused so many hang-ups for me in my early homeschooling experience. It’s not written from a Christian perspective at all, (just a word of warning there,) but it exposes so many of the completely nonsensical practices we accept as a part of the educational process in traditional schools, whether those practices are really logical and effective or not, and how they do more to discourage learning and stunt creativity than they do to inspire it.
And for the skeptic thinking John Taylor Gatto must be some wacky, nut-fringe writer with no real experience in education, he was New York State Teacher of the Year once, New York City Teacher of the Year three times, and was a world-renown speaker on the issue of education reform.
Again, I’m not sure that this exactly qualifies as a book about homeschooling, and yet it is in that it urges Christian parents to take the lead in discipling their children, including taking responsibility for their education. Voddie Baucham addresses homeschooling in some depth and gives some practical advice toward doing so successfully. Some of his practical suggestions for teaching our kids those subjects we find difficult to handle ourselves, (like math!) have actually been very helpful to me.
I would not classify myself as a classical homeschooler at all. In fact, I take issue with some aspects of the classical approach, and yet this book by Susan Wise Bauer was very helpful to me when I was in search of basic information about what I should be teaching my children and when, particularly when I was ready to move away from a boxed curriculum and to start putting together my own from various sources. The “hows” of the classical process I didn’t find very useful, partly because I’m mom to a child with a learning disability for whom things like rote memorization don’t often work, and because I’m not convinced a rigorous education is always necessarily a good education.
But there were book and resource lists I found very helpful, and plenty of common sense advice I could apply to my homeschool, no matter the difference in my methods and theirs.