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on June 30, 2010
Free Range Learning is born from the idea that a child learns best naturally. If one is able to harness a child's natural bent toward learning then one can instill not only a love for learning but a curiosity about the world. Children and teens blossom academically when the restrictions are lifted and they are free to learn. This book also emphasizes how homeschooling takes center stage in allowing this type of academic freedom. While Laura does an excellent job explaining her position she is backed up by an array of experts from neurologists, historians, child development experts and more. The book is filled with hundreds of stories from the experience of homeschoolers around the world.

So what did this homeschooling mom think? Well, let me start off by saying that I ascribe to a Charlotte Mason/Eclectic method of homeschooling. I am by no means an unschooler or a free range parent. I am a bit of a free spirit and a rule breaker yet it is tempered by a desire for organization and routine. I also believe in a firm hand of discipline when raising children.

Am I doing a good job keeping you guessing? Well....ahem....I have to say...that...well....Laura Grace Weldon's book is RIGHT ON! I was not sure what to expect but when I opened those pages to read how a child learns and how to encourage a child to retain a curiosity and a love for learning, I was hooked. This book is NOT about some free willy nilly way of spending your days in the sun in hopes it teaches your child science. This book promotes the freedom to learn and express yourself naturally and creatively. A child is free from restrictions of traditional means of learning which has been proven to be less than educational. This book teaches you how a child learns and how to nurture a child through his learning experiences. No matter what your homeschooling style is, this book can benefit you as an educator. This my friends should be required reading for those who consider themselves teachers. Once you understand how a child learns you will better understand how to teach. This book is not intended to take you off your Charlotte Mason, Classical, or Unit Study, etc. method of homeschooling but to guide the path to a deeper understanding of how to educate your child. It may prompt you in a unschooling direction or it may not....the information is presented, examples given, practical exercises given, and stories to read from other homeschoolers experience. I have found a wealth of information in this book which is well written and presented. Free Range isn't for chickens anymore!
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on August 27, 2010
I am a public school teacher who has, over several years, become more and more disenfranchised with public education as a means for truly opening childrens' minds and allowing them to reach their potential. I have arrived at the point in life where I am thinking of having my own children, and have realized that despite my love of teaching, I don't want my kids to grow up in a "traditional" classroom where conformity and test taking are key elements. So I began to look at alternative options.

I fell in love with Laura's book right from the onset. Her book is an excellent combination of real-life "case studies" - home-schooled kids and their parents talking in their own voices about their experiences - and scientific data gathered over a number of years to support this style of learning and teaching.

In addition, as a foreign language educator, I have spent a great deal of time working to understand "learning" versus "acquiring." Learning, in this context, is what we do in a controlled classroom environment. Acquiring, on the other hand, most closely resembles how babies and children learn about the world - not only speaking, but all modes of behavior. They are immersed in experiences and take everything they can from it. Why is it that in traditional schooling, we reach a point where we decide that tests and worksheets should replace actual experience? Acquisition has been shown over and over to be a far more effective means of conveying any subject matter. Homeschooling offers far more opportunities for students to acquire the knowledge they need, and this book is an excellent place to start.

In my opinion, the ultimate goal of any educational experience should be to learn how to think - to analyze, synthesize, and create novel ideas and world concepts. Free Range Learning is an excellent guidebook for helping our children achieve this goal.
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on August 5, 2010
i am new to the homeschooling community and had some difficulties finding a book/movement that spoke to me and the way that i want to school my children. luckily, this book did just that. i wanted a happy medium between unschooling and the classical method. i can't be too loosey goosey, but the idea of a rigid, orderly system wasn't for me either. this book gave ideas, explanations, and examples for a very organic form of homeschooling. i would recommend this book to anyone with children, homeschoolers or not. it portrays a beautiful way to raise and educate children.
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on July 19, 2012
I've surprised even myself with the decision to homeschool this year and I've read many books in preparation (Amazon loves me). I've just got to tell you - your book is by far the greatest inspiration. Finally, I'm overwhelmed by opportunity and not curriculum choices! Everything that I have felt that led to the decision to homeschool is in this book and you put it in such a simple way to grasp. I am in awe and believe that no one could read this book and not want the same for their children. I will be making my first Amazon review in appreciation.
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on July 23, 2010
The way learning is discussed and described in Free Range Learning has never sounded so right, not to mention refreshing. As a former public school educator who is now considering homeschooling, I can confidently say that Laura Weldon accurately (and sadly) describes much of the tension and pressure that is placed on students of all ages who are in various school systems. Weldon helps us understand more about the natural learning process that takes place in young minds day in and day out in contrast to a more controlled method of learning. As I've just started my own investigation in homeschooling, this was the perfect book to guide my thoughts, answer some questions, offers ideas and suggestions and to raise other thoughts and ideas that may not have come to my attention otherwise. I also gleaned wisdom from the priceless experiences of others through the hundreds of quotes submitted by individuals from across the globe.

Free Range Learning has excited me for the opportunity that homeschooling has to help shape my children's attitudes and experiences with daily, lifelong learning.
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on June 21, 2010
Laura Weldon builds an easy-to-cross bridge from last-century's mainstream learning to learning that fits the needs of children today. Amplified by her classy quips and quotes, Laura's confidence in you being able to make the leap to homeschooling empowers your own self-trust. And not only your children will benefit! You will too. Both my daughters were entirely homeschooled, then both graduated from college in France! Their comment about friends who went to school was: "They still don't know what they want to do in their lives. We do!" You benefit by having children with life-experience grounded in their own life-purpose.

Laura is a wise, compassionate, humorful, and brilliant writer who knows what she is talking about. The book is chock-full of practical exercises and experiments to do, with important hints for handling the relational parts of homeschooling. Plus Laura supplies a wealth of further resources to use while releasing your family into free range learning. You will not regret the move to homeschooling, and you will not regret buying this book!
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on October 12, 2010
Laura Grace Weldon, so perfectly named, has graced the Carnival of Unschooled Life many times with her beautifully written, carefully thought out, and inspiring posts. When she sent me a copy of her book, Free Range Learning: How Homeschooled Changes Everything, I was thrilled.

With good cause. Laura has written a new classic. Parents who are contemplating homeschooling, or who have made the decision to homeschool and are looking for good solid resources, will find what they need in Free Range Learning.

I know that as a new homeschooler, I needed justifications--facts and anecdotes to back up my decision, both for myself and for the sometimes intolerant people around me. Laura begins her book with a chapter about natural learning: what it is and how it can be hindered, even by well-meaning people and institutions. As Laura writes, children (or people) are "living ecosystems unto themselves" and "nature teaches us that diversity works." Read such statements is very empowering for any parent new to homeschooling and to the idea of helping one unique individual learn about life.

And that's just the beginning. Laura goes on to explore how parents can nurture learning and how learning happens during play, during work, alone, and in connection with others. She includes many comments from real homeschoolers, and this greatly deepens the impact of the book. Their words, like Laura' words, continually make the point that the path of homeschooling is positive, joyful, and worth taking.

In Part Two of Free Range Learning, Laura delves into actual "subjects," such as Math and History, but her focus is always on how these areas are enriched and redefined by the practice of homeschooling. Of history, she writes,

The magnitude of history can't be confined to books. Travel is equally expansive. Beyond travel, there are engaging documentaries about all time periods, plus interactive websites on nearly any historical topic imaginable. There are also museum displays, preserved areas, living history presentations and historical fiction. History is embedded in the objects and words we use each day.

That kind of detailed presentation, that concern with communicating the depth of whatever it is she is writing about, is why I see Laura's book as a new classic in the homeschooling book genre. It is a resource you will turn to again and again, for inspiration, for ideas, for encouragement, and for a reminder that homeschooling does indeed change everything.

Laura writes that "what might seem like quiet personal decisions have a ripple effect." The practice of homeschooling is part of a much larger benevolent force at work in today's world. Free Range Learning is a guide to understanding, accessing, and receiving the graces of that force--to create a better world for ourselves and our children and their children and so on and so on.

This review also appears at [...]
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on May 25, 2012
While I read this, I gripped my Kindle tightly and couldn't stop reading, it was that good!! I kept thinking of all the people for whom I wanted to buy a copy. This is an excellent collection of research and personal experience on home-based learning that is written with tremendous skill. I have read a lot of books on homeschooling and education, but this is the best.
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on May 30, 2010
Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything is an easy to follow, fact filled book that explains how children learn and so much more. Reading it is like entering a homeschool get-together where factual information is being presented about how children discover their world along with the wonderful stories and support of other homeschool families.
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on August 13, 2011
Do you homeschool or are you considering it? Are you looking for a unique approach to home education? Are you tired of the textbooks or just need to add a little flavor into your homeschooling day?
This book is packed( and I mean packed) with information, resources, researches and studies, and personal experiences from home education families from around the world. The author has definitely done her homework in putting this one together and brings all of her research into one complete book.
No Free Range is not referring to chickens or complete uninvolvement in your child's education. But it does give the reader a new perspective on learning. Discover ways to use teachable moments, utilizing your community and extended families, letting your child study a favorite topic, using technology or nature and so much more. The author gives the reader a vast amount of ways for our children to learn unhindered by societies definition of learning in just one way.
Our children are individuals with unique personalities, differences, likes and dislikes. Each child learns differently; therefore must be educated differently. This book made be look at home education with more understanding. Its not about what grade my child can achieve or how many facts they have memorized; its what they have learned, how they have learned it and how they can continue to learn as individuals.
This book is a wonderful resource for those already homeschooling or considering home education. Even if you don't homeschool this book can guide you in helping your child how to learn through experiences, observations and hands on activities.
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