Did Your Idol Disappoint You? You’re Reading The Wrong Books

Here’s a confession – I read my children’s books. And I actually do enjoy some of them.

Their books are colorful, they’re full of interesting facts and details – and they’re just plain fun.

Good books versus bad books

I find that good children’s books are a lot like good books for grown ups. They’re factual, they give you a sense of history, they have biographical details, they’re not overly speculative and the truly well-written ones have a plot that keeps you interested in what’s going to happen next. This is true even when the book is non-fiction.

The quickest way for me to tell that a book is bad is when it started veering off the road of normalcy into the land of idolizing.

You know what I mean. It’s when it starts building the pedestal of the man overcoming incredible odds to become the truly titanic person he is today, or was, before he died.

Did Your Idol Disappoint You- You're Reading The Wrong Books

We’re supposed to read with rapt attention, hoping to achieve that level of success. It makes us work harder, longer, because we want to emulate that person we just read about.

Or so the story goes.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happens. What usually happens is that we either see through the story because some detail sticks out at us and makes us skeptical or because this larger-than-life person fails to impress us and motivate us because he seems hollow.

And he seems hollow because, indeed, he is. He is two-dimensional.

But that is the better of the two scenarios. Because the flip side of what could happen is that you decide this person was truly remarkable and you can’t possibly be like him.

Bring Your Heroes Down to Earth

Now I’m not saying there are not people who live remarkable lives or that we shouldn’t be inspired by them. I’m just arguing for nuance.

There has to be something more to a book – even a children’s book – than just the individual overcoming obstacles. If there isn’t, it reads like just another Disney movie telling people to “follow your dreams.”

There’s nothing wrong with following your dreams, but without a sense of the time, the place and the truth, these books meant to inspire us just end up creating idols.

And idols have the annoying tendency of disappointing us.

Did Your Idol Disappoint You- You're Reading The Wrong Books

Has Your Idol Disappointed You?

If you are constantly bombarded with only the best details of someone’s life, chances are you won’t be motivated, you will be disillusioned.

And yet, there are books upon books that cherry pick the events in a famous person’s life, flatten them to the shape of a cardboard and then present it in the form of a book, a very bad book, that offers nothing.
Chances are, you’ve run into a few of these.

Chances are, you’ve read some of these as a child, given to you perhaps by a well-meaning adult. And now, with a slightly more mature view of history, you’ve realized that it couldn’t have been true or if it was, that it’s been heavily tampered with, that like most history-based movies.

So if your idol has disappointed you in some way lately, be motivated by the fact that he’s a real, flawed human being. If your hero was cut down to size, you can still rejoice in his victories.

We don’t need two dimensional stories to motivate us. We need real-life people who have done amazing things, even though we find out that they are not perfect. It’s okay to find out that they have messed up sometimes.

It doesn’t ruin their successes. It just puts them in relief.

Did Your Idol Disappoint You- You're Reading The Wrong Books

Wrong Books = Bad Worldview

The more insidious problem with bad books and the idolizing they create is two-fold.

For one, books tend to be overwhelmingly about famous people. Many of these people are currently in power or have been in power in the past. Putting them on a pedestal convinces us that they were truly amazing super-humans bestowed upon us to drag us into a better life. We could never aspire to be like them because they were made of something else that we mere mortals could never be, right?

Wrong.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. – C.S.Lewis

And secondly, the problem that proceeds from the above is that we think people like this are still running the show, that the leaders, the innovators, they are made of something different, something better than us – the child reading the book.

“I could never do that because I am not that,” is an easy conclusion to draw.

Call me an iconoclast…

…but I love it, when in the middle of a good book, I find that one of my favorite authors has made a typo. I’m not – mind you – rejoicing in his failure; I’m just happy that he’s like me and if he can be successful, so can I. He’s just worked harder and longer at it. So can I.

Did Your Idol Disappoint You? You're Reading the Wrong Books

If my children get that glazed over look when talking about a historical person or even a famous person today, we make it a point to talk about his flaws as well.

This is not about dragging famous people down into the dirt and it’s not about revisionist history. This is about giving them the right tools with which to see the world.

In OutliersMalcolm Gladwell says, “Everything we have learned in Outliers says that success follows a predictable course. It is not the brightest who succeed. Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”

Give yourself and your family the gift of the right worldview, the right books, stories of successful people warts and all, so that when the opportunity presents itself, they are not fearful or lacking in courage or self esteem to have the strength and presence of mind to seize it.

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Do Easy Things

We make learning harder than it should be. We favor difficult curriculum over what we perceive as easy.

We value grit.

The ability to tolerate adversity and thrive in spite of it is a good life skill. However, I wouldn’t try to inculcate it in my children through daily drudgery.

The Best Advice

My son was staring down at three workbooks yesterday. (He has recently decided to work at night so he has the day for more play.) He was beginning to get that overwhelmed look that said, “I’m not going to get anything done because I’m going to wish myself away and then cry because I’m not getting anything done.”

So I gave him the best advice I could: “Do the easy stuff.”

He stared at me.

“Do the easy stuff first,” I repeated. “Then tackle what seems hard.”

There is a time for grit and learning to do hard things, but usually the way to it is through the easy things. Sometimes, the key to grit is simply through momentum.

Working toward difficulties

When it comes to homeschooling, I often hear there are two extremes – 1. life is drudgery, get started now (grow up!) or 2. you’re a child (stay one!) and just do what I tell you.

You can sidestep both these extremes by just doing easy things until you have built up enough momentum to tackle hard things.

Dave Ramsey, debt guru & author of Total Money Makeover says to begin paying down debt by paying off the smallest debt first and building momentum. Michael Hyatt, author of Living Forward, simply fills in the titles of chapters as a first step to writing a book.

Easy, basic stuff first seems to be the key to success.

The best piece of advice I got for tackling my to-do list was simply 1. make a list of things I needed done, then 2. pick the easiest one to do.

Doing this enough times gets it all done.

Element of play

The reason this strategy works is because it brings the element of play into our everyday lives. Play includes a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment.

Sometimes, in our attempt to teach grit, we forget to teach (and learn) play. Play is every bit as important to adults as it is to children.

In Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’sRay Kroc says: “…for me, work was play. I got as much pleasure out of it as playing baseball.”

Play and gamification as concepts have exploded in recent years. You can find tons of apps to do chores or exercise more often.

The simplest way to gamify life however is just to begin with the easy stuff.

So if you want to do big monumental things today, don’t get overwhelmed. Remember to begin with the easy stuff. Teach your kids to do the same. Before you know it, you’ll be scaling those mountains.

Now, go. Do the easy thing.

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Excellent Homeschooling Advice

Things can always suck less. See if you can figure out how. – Isaac Morehouse

I’ve been reading Don’t Do Stuff You Hate, which if you have not read, you should go pick up a copy now.

You ought to read it as a favor to yourself and your family – especially if you’re homeschooling.


Now why would I say that? Clearly, it’s not a book about homeschooling or even about unschooling.

But it is a book about trying to change your life as much as you possibly can. It’s a challenge to reinvent what you can.

Part of the reason I’m the odd bird of a classical unschooler is because I’ve always been one for reinventing our homeschooling. I like blending opposites. I like being eclectic and picking and choosing things from here and there. I like quitting things that don’t work.

Does it get hard? Yes, of course it does. Do I question myself? You can bet every single time I see perfectly organized annual curricula by one of my friends who follows the more traditional classroom model, my heart skips a beat.

But in the end, it all comes down to honesty. I don’t want to have my children – pencils sharpened – at nine a.m. at the dinner table, for school. I don’t think it’s ideal for us.

I like classical unschooling. In fact, I absolutely freaking love it.

The easy question to answer, Morehouse claims, is what you hate and try to eliminate it or see if you can at least work toward what you love. In the beginning, it’s harder to find things we love, so begin by eliminating the things you dislike.

“As both you and the world change, the possibilities are untold. Don’t sweat finding that one thing right now. Figure out where you’re not in the zone. The sooner you ditch panhandling for fool’s gold, the faster you can start mining in places likely to have a mother lode.”

This is great advice. And it can apply to everything from picking a career to homeschooling to budgeting to running a household.

Think about it.

And, yes, read the book.

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Slow and Steady Does Not Always Win The (Education) Race

My sincere apologies to Aesop, but since he can’t defend himself, he and I will just have to agree to disagree.

I recently read the story of the turtle and the hare to my youngest. To my surprise, I found myself not liking the story very much.

What changed, I wondered. It was always one of my favorite stories as a child. A nice, dependable one to lean on when I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Slow and steady, I told myself. Slow and steady wins the race. And shelved it away.

And then recently, when I read the story again, it hit me as false.

Slow and Steady Does Not Always Win The (Education) Race

Slow and steady after all does not always win.

I mean, come on, think about it – wasn’t the hare the worst mascot ever for speed? He goofed off, spouted off, showed off. He was arrogant and incredibly rude. Anyone’s money would be on the turtle.

Anyone could ask, well, what if the hare had been diligent? What if he hadn’t been proud and foolish?

Would how fast he ran hindered him then? No? Then his speed wasn’t a problem, was it? His liabilities lay elsewhere.

They lay in his attitude.

Imagine your child is thrilled that he is learning something new. He has hit upon his passion and he’s going for it. He’s learning at breakneck speed. He’s in the flow. He can’t wait to learn more. He ignores every other subject because he focused on his favorite.

Do you purposely slow him down? Do you make sure he “catches up” with everything else before pursuing this singular thing? Worse, since we’re talking of hares and all, do you hold it as a carrot for him?

Or do you let him take off and take over?

Slow and Steady Does Not Always Win The (Education) Race

Apply that same principle to anything else – opening a business, for example, or even losing weight. If you succeed at first, do you go for it or do you temper your emotions and then sabotage yourself in a misplaced attempt at false humility?

Who would do that? How about the entire system of education?

Think of grade levels. Children are assigned a grade by their age and age alone. They are judged and tested by age and age alone. Basically, they are asked year after year after year if they are a turtle or a hare. And, if they are lucky, or so they are told, they are assigned to a track.

The institutions of education have all bought in to the story of the turtle and the hare.

But slow and steady does not always win. It does not win because education, if it is a race at all, has no finish line. See, when you buy the idea of grade levels, and the fact that someone is giving you this privilege of education, you force yourself into being a turtle or a hare.

Slow and Steady Does Not Always Win The (Education) Race

There is no finish line. Education is not a race. It is only possibility. It is potential. Slow and steady does not always win, but can. The fastest does not always win, but might.

Winning is not defined by public accolades; it is defined by personal satisfaction.

If your child wants to obsessively learn some one thing, let him. If you hit upon a business venture and want to pour your soul into it, go for it! If your friend is excited about a project and can’t stop talking about it, don’t tell her to slow down.

“Pace yourself” may be one of the most annoying two words in the English language I have ever heard.

You are not a public school. Stop thinking like one. Stop selling your education and the education of your children short by buying a lie.

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You Don’t Need Feedback; You Need Self-Directed Learning

You know that old saying about when the student is ready, the teacher will appear? I never put much stock in that one.

There’s a wonderful lie out there against self directed learning; it’s the lie of needing feedback. You may have heard it. It goes something like this:

“Oh, I’d love to learn something, but I can’t because I don’t have someone teaching me. I don’t have feedback.”

To get the basic objection to my argument out of the way, let me just admit that to some degree this is valid. Yes, you need some feedback. You need to know if you’re on the right track, you need basic help and some interaction. Mainly, you need someone to stop you when you are trying to do something and doing it wrong.

But read that last line again: you need someone to stop you when you are trying to do something and doing it wrong.

You are the one doing it. You are the one deciding to do it. You are the one in the driver’s seat, so to speak. You should be the one driving the car.

Unfortunately, when someone says they can’t learn anything because they don’t have feedback, it’s because they can’t envision themselves actually in the driver’s seat. They don’t want to be there. They want someone else driving the car for them – after the car has been brought to them. They want to copy, to follow.

They want to be taught. They say, in essence, You do it. Then, I’ll learn.

See the difference?

Education should not be something someone bestows upon us. It should rather be something we actively pursue.

When I hear the argument of needing feedback, I think, no. You’re just arguing for your own limitations and making them yours. When you’re starting out, you don’t need that much feedback from other people.

Especially as an adult, you are free to participate in self directed learning without needing to be pushed, goaded and cajoled. We are in the information age, after all.

You don’t need feedback. What you need, maybe – and that’s a big maybe – is accountability and interaction around the new activity you’re undertaking. You want to remain interested, have a chance to share what you’re learning and sharpen your skills. (And yes, as mentioned before, someone to stop you when you make mistakes.)

The problem arises when you think you have to pay someone to get this. You don’t.

That’s institutionalized, coercive, public school thinking.

It gets you efficiency, I’ll admit – 12 lessons on piano in 3 months for x amount of dollars, for instance – but you cannot mistake mere efficiency for education.

“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.” – Sir Walter Scott

Seriously, what’s your hurry? Embracing a lifetime of education, a lifestyle of learning can mean learning at leisure, at your own pace; it can mean individualized, self-centered (in the best meaning of the word) education. Why would you trade all that and pay someone for the benefit of just efficiency? Why would you miss out on all the fun? For some sort of certificate?

 

Not too long ago, when public schools were non-existent, (incidentally, contrary to popular opinion, it is public school that is an experiment, not homeschooling) people did learn on their own. In fact, in that list are mingled autodidacts of today – people who were basically self-taught.

The feedback argument is tired and worn.

When you use needing feedback from people as an argument against self directed learning, what you’re saying in a very safe, sort of covert way, is that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of learning something new.

And that’s not a bad thing, really. Because you know what’s worse?

What’s worse is not learning.

What’s worse is waiting and waiting until the perfect teacher stops by and decides to teach you, to put you in that car, hold your hand, show you how it’s done and expect you to follow.

That’s worse.

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Self Directed Education Means Never Having to Ask for Permission

One of the nice things about having homeschooling multiple children is that I get to see – firsthand – their budding personalities emerge. I get to experience how different they are from each other. Sometimes when I get compliments on their behavior I have to remind myself that it’s not my mothering – these traits were present all along. (Sometimes, in their worst moments, while correcting them, I have to remind myself of the same thing.)

And yes, of course, they each learn differently, with their own learning style.

No such thing as learning styles? Hogwash. I don’t care how many “experts” they can gather to swear that, I teach each of my children differently. I have watched them thrive (and fail), each in their own distinctive way.

When it comes to self directed education, the kind we are working toward, the most important thing I want them to learn is that self directed education means not having to ask for permission.

I’m not talking about raising your hand before speaking (although that’s a factor). I’m also not referring to needing permission to use the restroom in the middle of desk work (although, again, that’s an aspect of it.) I’m talking about being endlessly interested in something enough to not wait for someone to ask if you want to learn more about it. I am referring to wanting to do something so badly that you get ahead of your teacher.

I’m talking about being frustrated with being spoonfed and donning the apron yourself and turning on the oven to do something about it.

The problem is that, for some temperaments, this kind of self-directed education can be a hard sell.

For instance, I have one child who will do things without needing to ask permission. I appreciate that about her. I depend on her without having to remind her. And, yes, occasionally, when she gets into things she should not, I have to stop her.

On the other hand, I have another child who waits. A little more cautious, he prefers to wait for direction. To make matters worse, sometimes correcting child #1 can have unintended consequences on child #2 by causing him to shrink a little more.

What’s a mom to do?

I have, as all of us at some point, made a list of general rules for myself to get my children to take control of their own learning. As a classical unschooler, my goal in homeschooling has always been to encourage self directed education while giving them a strong base.

Here’s my list of five practical things you can do to keep your homeschool focused on self directed education.

Deschool yourself

One of the most important reminders I need is to deschool myself. I can’t tell you the number of times I have begun our homeschooling day energized and excited only to fall back into remembered patterns of classrooms and how things “should be.”

Learning almost never looks as it “should.” I have to remind myself of that.

I learn in snippets, in places I didn’t think I would, in random situations and from people whose names I can’t remember. There are only short periods of memorization or recall – and blessed aha! moments – when things come together, but for the most part self directed education does not look like a school classroom, nor should it.

Don’t scold initiative

When either of my aforementioned children do something of their own accord that leads to an accident, I have to often bite my tongue. Yes, I want a clean, tidy home. Yes, I encourage them to clean up after themselves, especially in the kitchen. But I don’t scold initiative.

This does not mean, of course, that I don’t correct them at all. It just means that I don’t punish the desire to try something new.

I will absolutely scold my son for the carelessness and inattention that led to spilled milk, and I will always ask them to clean up after themselves, but I do not try to do it for them. And I definitely do not discourage them from doing something because it might make a mess.

Have rules

Some of my unschooling friends are surprised when I mention that we have rules. Aren’t you an unschooler? is usually what I hear. But as I have written in my book, I do not shirk from rules. The old story about children playing in the middle of a field without a fence is true. It is just as true as cars that will drive toward the middle of a mountainous road if there aren’t guard rails at the edge.

Rules are just guideposts to keep my children from slipping off the edge. Guideposts are there for direction and they grow with the children, but never disappear completely. Without direction, we wouldn’t know where we were going.

Our family rules are a general map of the terrain, they are not a guidance system to a destination. We are free to trace out our own journey with their use.

Schedule/ have expectations

do have expectations of my children just as they have certain expectations of me. I do expect certain work to be done by a certain time and I expect that they will do it. Our homeschool schedule helps immensely with such expectations and how we get our work done smoothly.

My children have lately decided that they want to spend their day time playing. So they have taken to getting their school work done before bed at night. They work independently in their rooms before going to sleep. (nightschooling, yeah!)  If they have problems, I help them in the morning, right before we do our readaloud or Science or Bible reading together.

Our schedule keeps us on track and leaves plenty of room for them to pursue whatever else it is they want in their free time, which, owing to their current inclination to work at night, is almost all day. Boredom alone sometimes propels them into self-directed learning.

Strew & Encourage

If you haven’t read my post about how to use strewing in classical education, you should go read it now. I love strewing and I use it as a way to introduce new passions and subjects. Once these interests are awakened, I do everything in my power to keep them alive. Like planets? Let’s go find books about it, let’s watch a movie about it!

With all this however, I also remember to back off a little. It’s easy to slip back into my “should-ing” ways and take over the education. That is perhaps the hardest part of all.

If self-directed education shouldn’t require asking for permission, it also shouldn’t require my constant prodding. It’s a difficult balance because sometimes it requires waiting and doing nothing.

Encouraging self directed education is sometimes an education in itself.

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A Lesson in Homeschooling From The Walking Dead

Sigh. The Walking Dead madness has finally caught up with me.

I just happened to watch one (count it – one) episode of the current season with my husband and I just happened to mention that I would – someday – maybe – like to watch the show from the beginning.

And then, before I knew it, that was that.

There I was, watching The Walking Dead from the beginning, getting upset at bad decisions as if I was watching sports, crying over babies been born and children growing up in nightmarish scenarios and generally making a mess of my evenings binge watching the show. And, oh by the way, thinking up ways The Walking Dead isn’t really that different from my comfortable, suburban, homeschooling world after all.

I know, I know. Overactive nerdy brains, unite!

So, yeah, you already know that I like to get my inspiration where I find it. And this particular time it was in Season 3. (No spoilers, please. I’m barely at the beginning of the fourth season.)

It was at the moment when the main character, Rick, is losing his grip on reality after his wife dies. The other people depending on him are understanding of his need to mourn, but in their rather, er, unnatural situation, their patience runs out and there are added dangers and complications which have to be solved. They need him. So they give him a singular perspective. They repeat to him what he has told them earlier when asserting his leadership.

“This is not a democracy,” they remind him, nudging him to regain his mental balance.

That phrase spoke to me.

As a homeschooling mom, I have used that phrase, often in jest, with my children.

“This is not a democracy, kids!”

“This is NOT a democracy! It’s a benevolent dictatorship.”

“Not a democracy. Do it because I said so.”

“You don’t always get to do what you want to. You don’t always get to pick. This is not a democracy, guys.”

I have said it more times than I can count with a scheduling chart.

The Walking Dead brought it into stark perspective. If it isn’t a democracy, that meant someone is in charge and that someone is me (and my husband, of course.)

On a daily basis, it is up to me to lead. As a classical unschooler, I am guided by my children’s needs and interests, but I am still required to steer, to know where we’re headed, to make decisions that affect all of us. I am required to lead.

It’s not just a good idea, it is absolutely necessary.

Our family isn’t a democracy. Neither is our homeschool. We have a leader. And it’s me.

It is a sobering, sobering thought. And a good reminder.

Who said watching TV was a waste of time?

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Rhymes and Songs for Disciplining

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I tend to be more of an unschooler with classical tendencies (or a homeschooler with unschooling tendencies, depending on how you see it.) I have written before of how it took us a long time to get to where my daughter began to enjoy read aloud time. We spent most of our early preschool days on doing craft activities and some math because she seemed to like that. My son did not mind being read to but they have both had a desire to be taught to read for themselves. 

My youngest is nothing like that. He is my first child that loves being read to. Seriously, people, what a joy it is when a child wants to be read to and will sit while you read and at the end of the book, say, “Again! Read again. One more time.” Oh, my heart. (And my voice, but that’s another matter. Haha!)

To get back to the point I’m trying to make though… I’ve discovered that it doesn’t hurt to wait. Now my daughter – yes, that same one who wanted nothing to do with being read to – has not only read every fairy tale, easy reader and short chapter book I can get her for herself, but insists on me reading to her as well. She loves good audio books. We’ve read countless read alouds. And we memorize. What do we memorize, you ask? Poetry, songs, history timelines, hymns, church creeds, you name it.

Putting what I know now about my children together, I recently hit upon a way to get my children involved in disciplining themselves. It went something like this: I got tired of repeating the same instructions which they seemed to forget, so I thought they should spend some time repeating them, not me.

Repetition, I thought. Repetition… aha! That’s what we did every single day when we memorized. That was the answer!

So  I made some rhymes that I’m posting here. Feel free to use them with your own children. People, these work! When the kids start acting up now at the grocery store or before bed, I ask them to sing the song I taught them. And they do so. And in saying it, they repeat my instructions without me having to say them. This is like some serious magic. 

Here are the two rhymes I’ve made so far. (And I know there are more coming. Because, well, kids.)

The Grocery Store Song

(Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)

When we are in the store
We walk and do not run.

We will not climb or fight,
We’ll play when we are done.

We will stay with the cart,
We will help find things,

We will not block the aisles,
We’ll act like human beings.

Time For Bed

(Sung to the tune of Hot Cross Buns)

Time for bed, time for bed,

Half past seven, almost eight, time for bed!

Time for bed, time for bed,

Brush my teeth, change my clothes, time for bed!

Time for bed, time for bed,

Get some books, what’s in my head, time for bed!

Time for bed, time for bed,

One last pee and a prayer, time for bed!

So there you have it. I love that these little rhymes work like a checklist, give the children something to memorize and develop habits without me having to nag them. It makes the day that much smoother.

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The Ultimate Reading List for Homeschoolers

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about putting together a summer reading list of sorts for parents who are thinking about homeschooling.

If you’ve read my earlier posts, you probably know that I am a big advocate of new homeschoolers not jumping right into curriculum and taking some time to develop their convictions about why they plan to homeschool and how exactly they plan on going about the process. This isn’t always possible, yes. But if you’ve somehow stumbled across this page, read on for the affiliate links to a fairly large list of must-reads for new and experienced homeschoolers. Some of these books are my favorites, others not so much but I think if you just pick up a handful of them you will be much better prepared for your journey.

They follow no particular order and are not categorized. My advice? Read as many of them as you can. If you already have a well developed reason for homeschooling, you are less likely to get overwhelmed and give up when the going gets hard – as it usually does in something worth pursuing.

So without further ado, here’s the master list:

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Bauer – considered by many in the classical community to be indispensable in a classical education. This is a great handy reference for how to structure a homeschooling day and what to teach, broken down by subjects. Can be a tad overwhelming for new homeschoolers, but worth the read.

Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolph Flesch – an excellent, spirited book on how to teach reading and why the look-say method is a bad idea.

Homeschooling For Excellence by David and Micki Colfax – one of the first books I read about homeschooling. The two were teachers when they decided to homeschool and… well, let’s just say, it’s very inspiring.

Teach Your Own by John Holt – must read author. He has also written How Children Learn, How Children Fail and Learning All The TimeHolt coined the term “unschooling,” but even if you don’t see yourself as an unschooler, don’t be scared off by the title. When he coined it, he meant simply “homeschooling.”


Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich – great, small book to get your mind wrapped around the fact that education doesn’t need to happen in an institution and the institution of school has led to society itself not being able to think outside of it.

The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child by Linda Dobson – I can’t remember if it was this one or one of her other books, but she had a great list of people who were homeschooling in non-traditional ways (for whatever reason) and were doing well. Her other books are Homeschoolers’ Success Stories, Homeschooling The Early Years, The Homeschooling Book of Answers.


For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay – a great book to add to every homeschooler’s library. It was everything I always knew to be true about education but put together succinctly.

Home Education by Charlotte Mason – a good introduction to the Charlotte Mason form of home education, especially for the younger years.

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola – If you’re interested in the Charlotte Mason approach, this is about as complete a book in introducing it as you will find.


The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers – a short essay packed with the ultimate questions (and answers) of education and how to go about it. A must read, especially for those inclined to the Classical school of home education.

The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto – I can’t say enough about this book. If you’ve ever wondered why the American system of education got to be the way it is, you should take the time to read this book. You will never see school the same way again. Gatto, by the way, is another prolific writer and your homeschool library should include a smattering of his books, the best of which are Dumbing Us Down, Weapons of Mass Instructionand A Different Kind of Teacher


Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore – If you think that you need preschool or early childhood education, this is the book you should read. Challenging the myth that early is better, there is a wealth of research cited which indicates that it is better to wait when it comes to school. The Moores have also written Home Grown Kids, Home Spun SchoolsThe Successful Homeschool Family Handbook and others. I would not start homeschooling without reading at least one of their books.


Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by the Bluedorns – Excellent book. I recently happened to come across it at a homeschool conference and intend to pick up a copy soon.

The Readaloud Handbook by Jim Trelease which is always mentioned when reading aloud is spoken about.

The Messianic Character of American Education, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum by RJ Rushdoony – If you’re a Christian who is thinking of homeschooling, you must read Rushdoony. It will help clarify and deepen your understanding of homeschooling and the philosophy behind it.


The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson – comes highly recommended by a lot of classical homeschoolers, including some of my blog readers.

The Christian Homeschool by Gregg Harris. Amazon just reminded me that I bought this book when I had a 2 year old and a 3 year old and we were pretty sure we were going to homeschool. I especially enjoyed the part about delight-directed learning.

The Core by Leigh Bortinis is a good, brief introduction to the classical method if you get bogged down by The Well Trained Mind. 

So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel – This was the first book I read that made me think, “Okay, I can do this. If she can, I can.” The book gives you snapshots of the lives of homeschooling families that are doing in their way. It emphasizes that there is no ONE way to do it and you are free to blaze your own trail. Very encouraging.


Feel Bad Education by Alfie Kohn – Clearly, he’s not for everyone and I don’t agree with a lot he says. However, I do read Kohn and take his work seriously. This is a book worth reading about the present state of education in our country.


A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver deMill. This one has recently been brought to my attention by my readers and I have yet to read it, but I wanted to add it because it looks intriguing.

When You Rise Up by R. C. Sproul Jr. – One of my absolute favorite books on Christian homeschooling. I loved it so much, I gave it away. I must buy another copy soon and I’m going to have a hard time not foisting it on someone who should read it. Heartily recommended.

The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori. So, here’s the thing about the Montessori method. I incorporate some of her ideas and I appreciate what she did but when I read the book and found out that much of her ideas were based on Rousseau’s philosophy, she lost validity with me. Still, there are people who really love this method and it’s worth exploring and learning about it.


Boys and Girls Learn Differently by Michael Gurian – I appreciate Michael Gurian’s work and sincerely believe that before homeschooling it is a good idea to take into consideration the personality and the sex of the child. My son and daughter are so different in how they learn and Gurian deals with just this issue so you don’t end up with false ideas and hopes about your children.


And, lastly, you have read my book, right? In case you haven’t, here’s your reminder: The Classical Unschooler by Purva Brown.

Happy reading! (If I’ve missed any, be sure to comment! If there are enough, I’ll add another post.)

 

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I’m Planning Next Year’s Curriculum on Snapchat

Oh look, it happened – we’re out of things to do. Between the motivational chart and the burn out sessions and the readalouds – in the midst of life and whining and being bored, learning happened. We’re done.

We’ve exhausted all our planned, available resources. It’s happened sooner than I imagined. Not that I’m complaining.

So here I am scrambling to find more things to put on the agenda. Okay, okay, not scrambling exactly. While we’re enjoying the easy days of “just one sheet of math” and Minecraft broken in with some reading and writing, I’m beginning to start the search for next year’s (whatever that means!) curriculum. (whatever that means, right?)

In the upcoming weeks, I intend scouring the books/resources I have, checking off what I want them to learn in the upcoming months, gauging where they currently find themselves and working to engage them as much as possible in their education. As someone put it, homeschooling is of course “trying to work yourself out of a job.”

Only this time I’m doing it on Snapchat.

If you haven’t been on Snapchat, you should definitely check it out. The idea is that the content there only lasts for 24 hours. So come find me and watch the videos I put up. They can only be 10 seconds long, so I’ll try to make the most out of each snap.

I’ll provide you with a good idea of how to pull from many places depending on what you and your kids like. And you know I’m cheap, so I’ll do it frugally. If nothing else, you’ll come away from my snaps with your mind bursting full of ideas for your next curriculum planning session.

I’ll show you places I shop and what I buy and don’t buy. And also (to my great sadness) what I have bought in the past that was a complete disaster. And some curricula that looks nothing like curricula but teaches real life skills and even some – sigh – worksheets and flashcards. Because much to my disdain, I have one kid who likes them.

If I’m feeling really brave, I might even let you into the sit down work part of our day. Ten seconds at a time. Eep.

So come find me on Snapchat. Let’s have some real fun planning curriculum! Why should our kids have all the fun?

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