Must-Read Books for Parents New to HomeschoolingFeb 14, 2023
Since there has been a major shift in the last few years toward choosing to homeschool, I frequently get people asking about our routines, which curriculum we use, and so many other homeschooling related questions. If you know me at all, you know that I firmly believe that there isn't ONE perfect path that applies to all people, and that especially pertains to homeschooling. Instead of giving you a direct answer about the curriculum and materials we use or what our schedule looks like, I'd much rather direct you to this list of books that inspired me and empowered me to build a structure that works for my family.
There is SO MUCH information out there regarding homeschooling. As with many life choices that go against the mainstream, it comes with a lot of UNLEARNING to do before you can start building. Many of the books on the list below will be centered around unlearning your indoctrinated beliefs about what school should look like and what learning looks like so that you can formulate a far better learning environment for your own children.
When it comes to homeschooling, there are so many different methods and philosophies. Most homeschooling families mix and match these to fit each of our family’s needs. I think that’s the most important point to make — every family is different. Every child is different. So everyone’s homeschooling methods should look a bit different. The whole point of homeschool is that it is flexible and adaptable, so it is better able to meet you and your child’s specific needs.
Another thing to expect when you get into homeschooling is that the school hours are generally shorter. You don’t spend all day from 7 am til 4 pm work work working. Since you are able to give your child(ren) more 1:1 attention, the lessons and assignments are more efficient. There is more “free time” for self-directed study and play. Did I just say play? YES, play! Tinkering, exploring, and playing are important, emphasized parts of the homeschooling experience. We like HANDS-ON experience and activities. Things like baking, sewing, sculpting, painting, building, etc. Kids learn so much through playing and doing. And it’s FUN.
Which leads me to my next point... homeschool should be (mostly) fun. It shouldn’t feel like a chore. It shouldn’t be forced. Force creates resistance, and reduces engagement. Engagement is necessary for true learning to take place. The beauty of homeschool is that we can follow the hearts desires of our students. We can allow them to explore their interests and facilitate learning that way.
To me, homeschooling is about freedom and passion. It literally gives us the freedom to explore our passions! It fosters independence and free thinking. It can be challenging at times, but it is also so rewarding.
Like I said before, every homeschooling family is different. Therefore, I do not want to only share what we do here; I want to share the books I read that prepared me to find the curriculum and routines that work best for our family.
I highly recommend joining local or country-wide homeschooling groups on Facebook to have a community to consult and learn from. There are many groups for every philosophy of homeschooling. There are “Secular” homeschool groups (a keyword that I was careful to always include since I knew I didn’t want any religious materials) as well as religiously affiliated groups. There are “eclectic” homeschool groups, which means they feature a mixture of methods. Then there are method/philosophy specific homeschool groups, such as “Charlotte mason” inspired groups and “Montessori” home school groups. You can also search by the age group your children are in (kindergarten homeschooling, high school homeschooling). You name it, you can find it.
Here are the books that inspired me and introduced me to homeschooling in a way that allowed me to form my own philosophies and routines:
1. The Call Of The Wild and Free by Ainsley Arment
This is by far my FAVORITE book about homeschooling. Reading it lifted a huge weight off of my chest as a homeschooling mother. It reminded me of all the reasons I homeschool and reassured me to follow my own intuition when choosing how to school my children. It introduces the reader to the many different homeschooling philosophies in a gentle, uncomplicated way. Inspired by the spirit of Henry David Thoreau—”All good things are wild and free”—mother of five Ainsley Arment founded Wild + Free to facilitate a community of mothers and families want their children to receive a quality education at home by challenging their intellectual abilities and nurturing their sense of curiosity, joy and awe—the essence of a positive childhood. Wild + Free is not only a book, it is also an entire community of parents. There are local meet-ups all over the place, and I encourage you to connect with the group in your area (or create one) once you have read the book! Find more info about the community on their website: https://www.bewildandfree.org/.
2. Learning All The Time by John Holt
John Holt has been a staple in my homeschooling library. He reminds his readers that learning is as natural as breathing for humans. Holt is widely considered the father of the modern-day homeschooling movement because he grew to believe that schools stifle the learning process. In this book, he presents his own observations and philosophies to show how young children can be encouraged to learn everything from reading and math to music and science without being coercive or having to “talk down” to them. He encourages reading aloud and discovery through play.
3. How Children Learn by John Holt
I just love everything from John Holt! In this book, Holt shares his personal observations as well as his research on the subject of childhood development. He emphasizes the importance of parents establishing positive connections with their children and providing them with resources that facilitate learning. He discusses how the “one size fits all” model of public schooling may be more harmful than beneficial, and how it is important to adapt lessons to children’s abilities and aptitudes (which homeschooling allows). This book illustrates how a child may achieve a quality education without going through the mainstream school system.
4. The Homeschooling Book of Answers
This thorough book answers all of the frequently asked questions about homeschooling. Questions such as: What is the cost, and can I afford it? How many hours each week will I need to commit? How will my child make friends without attending school? How will I motivate, teach, and even test my children? How do I educate my special-needs child? Can I homeschool through high school? What if I want my children to attend college, can I still homeschool? …. and MORE! This book seriously answered so many questions for me when I was just beginning to research whether or not homeschooling was right for us. I still have it on my shelf to refer to when new questions pop up.
5. A Literary Education by Emily Cook
Emily Cook is actually the author of one of the curriculums that I use with my children (Build Your Library), which is how I found this book. This book is a WONDERFUL introduction for how to implement a Charlotte Mason Style homeschool routine in your home, while adapting her original philosophies for the modern secular homeschooler. It is a fabulous read if you are interested in creating your own curriculum based on “living books,” or if you plan to use Emily’s curriculum, which is based on “living books.” Living books are books that are (usually) written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive,” unlike textbooks and encyclopedias which tend to be didactic and dull to read. Charlotte Mason emphasized the use of living books instead of textbooks. She also stressed the importance of outdoor time, play, crafts, and exposure to art. Her original philosophies included Christian studies, but Emily Cook did an excellent job of adapting Mason’s original philosophies for families who love the idea of schooling based on living books and nature studies but want a secular education for their children. This may or may not speak to you. Homeschooling is so personal, and each family will have a style (or a mix of styles) that fits them best.
6. The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart
Ok I’ll admit I have not read this book YET but I just downloaded it on Audible so I thought I’d include it. I know SO MANY homeschooling parents who have been enormously inspired by this book. They tell me that Julie Bogart makes suggestions that are practical, yet thought-provoking and motivating. Along the same lines as many of the other books I’ve suggested, Julie Bogart encourages a culture of joyful homeschooling (rather than pushing children to do what we want them to). She shares helpful tips and tricks for making learning fun and reducing friction in the parent-child homeschooling relationship.
I’m so thrilled that more and more families are looking into homeschooling as an option. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out! You can comment here or send me a message on instagram.
And because everyone always asks:
We use the build your library curriculum.
Then we supplement with mathematical reasoning workbooks for math (which can be found in my amazon storefront under “homeschooling.”)
We are always moulding our homeschooling curriculum to fit our needs and preferences— I highly recommend it! There is no need to stick to one thing forever if it’s not working for you and your family.
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Kate Rose is a holistic birthkeeper and birth photographer who serves expecting women both locally in the Texas Knobby Hill Country and online through her holistic childbirth prep program, Birth Alchemy. She also mentors up-and-coming doulas and birth keepers in her virtual apprenticeship program.
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