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Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home Paperback – April 1, 2002

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Some 1.5 million children are being homeschooled today, a figure that is expected to double by 2010. This book offers a personal and close-to-home perspective on how homeschooling works and how to get started, with tips from families to make the journey easier. Barfield (Feed Your Family for $12 a Day), who has homeschooled her four children for nine years, uses the stories of 21 families who teach their children at home to create this solid resource. She includes families from 18 different states and a variety of ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles in such chapters as "Motorcyclists, Clowns, and Zookeepers," "Working Their Dream Careers," and "Home-Schooling with ADHD Children." These accounts do not gloss over the hard work that homeschooling entails but do convey the idea that it is not overwhelming. Readers who need practical ideas in outline form may find this narrative account less helpful and should consult Mary Griffith and Lisa Cooper's Homeschooling Handbook. Barfield's volume is highly recommended for education collections in both public and academic libraries and for all libraries serving homeschoolers. Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach Lib. Dist., FL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Barfield, who has homeschooled her four children, interviewed 21 families for this fascinating look at a growing trend among families disaffected with the education available in the nation's public and private schools. Their motivations for homeschooling their children range from religious convictions to safety issues to concern about discipline. Barfield begins by profiling the families--size, location, the best and worst advice they were given about homeschooling, and their favorite quotes and resources. Barfield then tells why and how the families--representing a cross section of race, economics, and politics--started homeschooling. The families provide details on how they structure curricula, obtain educational materials, provide for social and cultural activities, deal with issues of socialization, conduct sports activities, and handle accountability to state and other agencies via standardized testing. This book goes beyond the political debates, offering nitty-gritty advice and insight for parents trying to decide whether or not they want to embark on homeschooling. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original ed. edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743442296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743442299
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,900,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
The author interviewed 21 American families and then the author wrote a summary of how they homeschool. Because the author did the writing, the writing style and length of each chapter is consistent throughout the book. However I felt that lost in this process was a real emotional voice of each family. Half way through the book I didn't even want to finish it (but I persevered hoping it would get better). For example sometimes they tell why they homeschool but there just is no real emotion there. I was unable to really feel the flavor of some of the families and I had trouble feeling empathy for them. Each chapter is more like a summary of what some key points are in their lives (religious beliefs and if that affects homeschooling, curriculum used, what style of homeschooling they consider themselves, etc.).
Another reason I was disappointed is that it is mentioned which curriculum is used but the reasons for choosing that brand over another is often not given. Also reasons for not using other brands is missing as well as if they tried a brand and it didn't work out and they switched brands.
The majority of the families in this book had 4 children and more, one had 9 children and two families have 11 children. Completely lacking in all the chapters is anything that really acknowledges what life with so many kids is really like. I have two children and honestly cannot even imagine life with 11 children let alone homeschooling 11 children! I wanted to hear more details, more real information and perhaps why and how a family comes to a decision to have so many children.
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Format: Paperback
While I generally enjoyed reading about different families and their homeschooling lives (particularly that of the single mother homeschooler and those families with special needs children) I would have preferred a more balanced cross-section of perspectives. Most of families interviewed seemed to fall into two camps: 1. the overwhelming majority were conservative Christian, presumably homeschooling for, though perhaps not exclusively, religious reasons (there was only one Jewish homeschooling family--no Muslims, Buddhists, pagans, or atheists, at least they did not identify themselves as such) and 2. "unschooling" secular families. I fall into neither of these groups and I know there are many others like me. As a would-be homeschooling parent interested in home educating for academic, family, and spiritual (though NOT religious) reasons, it would have been helpful to hear from more families that would speak to my/our condition. These two groups--particularly the first--have long had a strong voice in the homeschooling movement and their perspectives have been well documented. Better to seek out the quieter, often-less represented voices of homeschooling families.
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Format: Paperback
The vast majority of the homeschoolers interviewed were fundamentalist Christians using pre-planned curriculum and often rigid scheduling. This was certainly not, by any stretch of the imagination, an example of the rich variety of choices to be found within the homeschool world. There were also some rather pathetic innaccuracies within the text describing the Jewish family. Just one example is the word "sabbath" capitalized as "Sabbath" (for this family, "sabbath" would be a common noun) while the word "Shabbat" is not capitalized (Shabbat is the Jewish sabbath.) I wonder if the families represented were even given an opportunity to check the author's representations of their lives. If you want to read this book, buy a cheap used copy.
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Format: Paperback
Even though I'm an experienced homeschooler, I found this book informative and enjoyable. Barfield worked hard to find a wide spectrum of homeschoolers - they vary in family size, religion, race/ethnicity, reason for homeschooling, location, and homeschooling philosophy. This book is a good introduction for people who want to learn more about homeschooling but are afraid that they aren't "the homeschooling type", because it shows that there is no one homeschooling type.
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