I was asked to do the book review at our homeschool group's Mother's Night Out tonight. I was a little hesitant because, being new, I don't know what books have already been talked about and I don't want to be repetitive. But the woman who asked me said if they're good books, it will be good for the group to hear about them again. So, I scanned my bookshelves to see what I wanted to share with the group and found a theme emerging. I picked four books that I tend to come back to review, sometimes yearly, to remind myself of the big picture -- of who we are, where we're headed, how we get there, and all that.
So, is anyone interested in the books I picked? Hmm? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.
The first is Discover Your Child's Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson. Figuring out my kids' learning styles probably made more difference in our homeschool than anything else because they each think and learn very differently than I do. There are probably many other books about learning styles, but I like this one because it is very thorough. It's not just about audio/visual/kinesthetic and all. For example, I learned from this that Leslie likes to learn by drawing pictures. So, I often incorporated that into projects for her; like, the last few multiplication facts that she had difficulty mastering she drew crazy pictures to remember. I review this information frequently, for one thing, because I need to remember how they learn so I continue to teach them effectively.
More than that, though, I know that eventually they will be in a classroom where no one will give a flip about their unique learning style -- so I need to teach them to learn to adapt to the dominant teaching style of our age. So with Leslie, for example, early on I had her draw pictures of what she was learning. Then I had her draw pictures and explain the concept behind the picture. This year she'll be writing notes and drawing little pictures beside them . . or imagining the pictures in her head. The idea is to affirm how her brain works but also help her figure out how to adapt that to the typical classroom.
My second book: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. If it didn't sound so sacriligious, I would call this my homeschooling bible. I heard Susan Wise Bauer speak about classical education at a state homeschool convention and was sold on the concept. This is a MONSTROUS-looking tome of about 800 pages that would frighten away many people but it is full of invaluable information. It has excellent overviews of the three stages of classical learning (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and what to expect and require of a student at each stage. It also has very thorough lists of resources the authors recommend. The main reason I check this book out again every year is for the book lists; they recommend classic books from every historical period and specific editions that are appropriate for each age group. A homeschooling essential.
Next: Life Skills for Kids by Christine Field. The author has chapters on all the various kinds of life skills a person needs -- money management, people skills, space organization, spiritual habits, etc. -- and suggestions for when and how to teach them. I skim this book regularly just to remind myself of what my kids still need to learn. Then I usually pick one or two skills a year that I'm going to be intentional about working on with them that year.
And finally, The Family Manager by Kathy Peel. The author talks about managing your family and household as efficiently as you would manage a business. She divides a Family Manager's duties into eight departments and discusses all the different things to consider in how you run each department in your own home. I use to re-read this book every January when the girls were tiny -- because the girls, and therefore our family's needs and routines, changed so frequently when the girls were tiny, I was constantly needing to re-evaluate how I did things. It's not as cold and left-brained as it sounds -- it's very light, easy, practical reading. I would recommend it to every wife and mother, but particularly to every mother of young children.
So, there you go. Four more books to put on your to-read list. Because I know you all are freakish bookworms with burgeoning to-read lists like me, right? Of course, you are. Why else would you have read this post? :)