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Homeschooling: The Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8- Year-Old Child Paperback – August 11, 1999
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Nothing beats seeking the voice of experience if you want to join the estimated 1 to 3 million parents who teach their children at home. Here's a guide that comes direct from the experts: a mother of two homeschooled, now-grown children and 83 homeschooling families she surveyed. Their stories make reading this starter kit on teaching ages 3 to 7 worthwhile. For those ready to take on what author Linda Dobson calls "a natural extension of being a good parent," the manual provides at-a-glance boxes of insightful anecdotes called "How We Did It," as well as lists at the end of each chapter of helpful books, magazines, Web sites, software, and computer message boards that connect homeschooling households. The straightforward writing covers the basics on reading, writing, and math; different teaching approaches; organizing a curriculum; even how to deal with skeptical relatives and spouses. There are no specifics on each states' homeschooling requirements, which vary widely. But as a primer for parents starting out, the book serves as a confidence builder and an inspiring how-to guide. --Jodi Mailander Farrell
Discover the Rewards of Homeschooling Your Young Child
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Dobson begins with a survey of 66 homeschooling parents and presents continuum information about eight variables: motivation for homeschooling, financial expenditures, level of structuredness, assessment technique, technology use, physical space, parental involvement and outside assistance. I found this interesting just to see what others were doing and, though not reported in great detail, I thought it was a promising way to begin the book.
Chapters include information on getting ready to homeschool, curriculum options, teaching reading, teaching writing, teaching arithmetic, teaching other subjects, tailoring your approach to your family, resources, computers, accommodating younger learners, running a household (and sustaining a marriage) while you homeschool, part-time homeschooling, dealing with naysayers and enjoying the experience. Each chapter ends with an outline of the major points and a list of resources, which may include books, programs, magazines, catalogues, web sites or organizations. Chapters include practical advice as well as a series of personal anecdotes from the survey respondents called "How We Did It" with specific ideas that might be helpful.
It would be simplistic to say that much of the book is cheerleading, as the author spends a lot of time telling you why this is a good idea, the benefits of your choice, and the positive effects this decision will have on your child(ren). But considering how much grief you will probably get from relatives and acquaintances, someone to cheer you on isn't such a bad thing. You won't rely on this volume for specifics, but it is inspirational and contains a lot of information about where to find more specifics. I found this book very helpful.
In my opinion, the author spends too much time on general "homeschooling is GREAT! Rah! Rah!" and not enough time on the issues of substance [like, how exactly DO you homeschool an "early years" child?]. I would like to have seen more meaningful information shared - like evaluations of curriculums, more of what did and didn't work for other homeschoolers, and more practical advice. [The author goes into some of this to a very superficial degree, but does not delve deeply into any of these issues]. The advice on teaching subjects was also very general, though it was still helpful. The section on using computers and the community as resources were very good.
The "statistical" chapter that was included that places all the survey respondents on a continuum based on their homeschool style in several areas was particularly bad. The statistics are given but no discussion of why different families chose these styles or what they like or don't like about them. The chapter was also somewhat confusing - not helpful at all to me. [And I usually find that kind of stuff fascinating].
Like an earlier evaluator, I also felt that this book was unrealistically positive about Homeschooling - I agree that Homeschooling IS a great choice and overwhelmingly better than the public school alternative. However, there ARE some down sides [mother burn out for one!] and I would have appreciated a more honest discussion of these issues. The reader can't make a good decision without ALL the information - including the negatives.
So, for someone just beginning to investigate homeschooling, this would probably be a great book. If you've already investigated it and have been convinced to homeschool, you may want to skip this book - you may not get that much out of it.