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Homeschooling for Excellence Paperback – October 1, 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (October 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446389862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446389860
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Role models for a generation of homeschoolers, David and Micki Colfax are teachers turned ranchers who taught their four sons at home in the 1970s and '80s and schooled three of them into Harvard. Isolation on their northern California homestead forced them into the experience, but this resourceful family eventually discovered all kinds of advantages to home education. Like a modern-day Little House on the Prairie, the Colfax children learned about geometry while constructing outbuildings on their ranch, explored aspects of chemistry and biology as they improved their livestock and garden, and generally discovered the value of self-reliance as they went about life without TV or neighbors. Their world is described in clear, warm words that illustrate the fondness these parents and children possess for each other. Family photos grouped throughout the book show the boys working and learning together.

The Colfaxes don't purport to be experts; they don't prescribe a formula for their success. Rather, their experience is described as a trial-and-error effort, with some of their mistakes offered up as lessons for others. The value of critically examining textbooks in advance, for instance, is learned after one son falls behind in algebra using a schoolbook that touts "new math" principles. The Colfaxes' philosophy is that every child is gifted. Parents don't need to be certified teachers to teach them (although it does ward off doubters). But, despite the contention of some homeschoolers, the Colfaxes do caution that teaching at home requires much time and money--and they don't advise it for single parents or most working women. Any parent interested in connecting with his or her child, however, will find the Colfax take on life an enjoyable and enlightening read. The couple closes the book with an appendix of suggested references for building a family library and a delightful list of their children's favorite books. --Jodi Mailander Farrell


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Customer Reviews

It really underscores the fact that children WILL learn without being forced into a one-size-fits-all box.
Amy M. Earls
When we were considering how best to give our own children a thorough and safe education we read this book and learnt much from it.
In Memory of W. G. Simms
He went on to graduate Harvard and them medical school, as well as becoming a Fullbright Scholar to New Zealand.
Beth DeRoos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By M. Burnes on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I bought "Hard Times in Paradise" and "Homeschooling For Excellence" in 1988, I was pregnant with my only child. I did not think that a federally controlled, compulsory education was healthy, nor did I think that small children should be removed from their parents' care at such an early age. I was hungry for information that would give me a perspective on what to expect. David and Micki Colfax have done a wonderful job of explaining the hits and misses that comprised the raising of their children outside of the standard educational systems. The long term successes of their sons are enough to inspire any parent. Also, the landscape of their homestead is a wonderful backdrop to their lives. I can't recommend their books enough.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Beth DeRoos HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ok I admit we are friends of the Colfax family even if we have STANFORD as our university of choice. The one thing about their book which other books fail to share is the whole lifestyle issue. Since home schooling is a lifestyle choice and not just an educational choice. David it should also be noted ran and was elected to their local school board so this is an added plus since they are not writing a book about how evil public education is, but more an issue of poor educational choices overall.
They write about how they used their California homestead as a teaching tool. And in this day and age of the need (or so it seems) for electrical gadgets galore, they write about teaching their sons valuable life issues, like working and saving for the future. They built their home from the ground up, and a few years later they boys strung the power lines from the road on up to the house, which not only taught the boys valuable construction skills but also issues dealing with money and saving expenses.
They raised their own food, and over time they also started raising goats and other livestock. It used to make me so mad when Grant was accepted to Harvard when I would read about the "Goat Boy" at Harvard as if he was some mountain hermit discovering the big city. He went on to graduate Harvard and them medical school, as well as becoming a Fullbright Scholar to New Zealand.
Another excellent point the books shares is that environment does play a MAJOR role in a childs life and ability to succeed. Two of the sons are adopted, and are minority race, and yet they soared as high as the other sons. I even hate mentioning the adoption and race issue, but do so only because the book PROVES that any child can succeed and that home schooling is not just a wonder bread middle class ideal.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By VictoriaLorene@yahoo.com on July 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
We put to use the same reading program they had mentioned in their book. It has been such a blessing to see my children beg me every day to do their school work. We had previously use Hooked-on-Phonics, a disaster. The children hated it, as did I and my husband. It was so awful.
"Homeschooling For Excellence" has been such a help. I never realized that children could love to learn as much as they do!
Don't just read this book. Take their advise! The difference it has made in our lives is amazing and wonderful!
To the authors: Thank you so much.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on February 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I very much enjoyed reading this book. I didn't look at it so much as a how-to book but more of an inspirational book for anyone homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling. The authors don't tell you want to do - they just relate what they did, why they did it, and how it worked.

I loved many of the ideas they presented and we have already put one into practice - the idea of having the children write daily in a journal - or even just draw if they can't write yet. This is a big hit with our six year old who every night writes in her book something special that happened that day. What a fun way to learn writing, spelling and grammar skills and we'll be able to look back in later months and years and see how she has progressed.

Even though this book is dated - most of the information and processes are very relevant to today.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
When we were trying to decide whether to homeschool our children or not, this book pushed us over the edge into the exciting adventure of home education. The authors' comments and insights about the state of modern public education were eye-opening. The gentle hands-on approach to education they used with their boys enabled their children to attend Harvard University! This is a great book to lend to your skeptical friends and relatives when they start questioning whether homeschooled children will be adequately prepared to function fully in college, the work world, and society at large. Does homeschooling REALLY work? You bet it does! And the Colfax's show you how....
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "lmmirabella" on August 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was the first book about homeschooling I read and all the rest have been disconcerting in comparison.
The Colfaxes present, in matter of fact fasion, how they taught their own. Their motivation for doing so was practical rather than ideological. They don't pretend to tell you how to teach your own children - just how they managed to teach theirs.
The only drawback is that some of the references are out of date - the Colfaxes taught their children in the 70's and 80's. However good sense (I don't say common, because I don't believe it is) will lead interested readers to updated references: Enyclopedias on CD-Rom rather than in book form, for example.
A great book for intelligent parents who suspect that they can teach their child(ren) more effectively than any overworked and underappreciated teacher can.
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