Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling


HenJenca at Home Is Where You Start From had recommended this book after I reviewed some other homeschool books.  I have to say, I don't know why, but I never take The Complete Idiot's Guides seriously; yet, when I read them I am always impressed!

This book, like all Idiot's Guides, is written with an extensive table of contents, so that the reader can pick which topics interests them and just read those pages.  There are also little boxes throughout the book called Learning Links or Learning Lookouts, which pull out important facts for the skimmer.  The  Speaking Educationese boxes explain what certain homeschooling concepts mean.  The Spotlight on Education boxes contain stories about successful homeschoolers.  There are also handy checklists in the beginning of the book.

Inside this book you will find:

* the answer to"What is Homeschooling?",
* data on how many homeschoolers are in the US(homeshooling grows at an average of 15% per year!),
*details famous homeschooling speakers and authors
* answers to beginners' questions
* approaches
*support systems
*information on choosing curriculum
*ideas for projects with different age groups
* ideas for working with special needs children
* standardized testing
* assessments to measure progress other than testing
* record keeping
* avoiding burnout
* helping children to become independent learners
* dealing with doubts
* homeschooling communities
* cyber learning

...and there are exhaustive appendices on support groups and programs.

My favorite part of the book was the section on standardized testing.  Standardized testing is the #1 reason why my family decided to homeschool and Marsha Ransom does an excellent job of explaining the issues (MY issues) with standardized testing.  "...the primary purpose of many standardized tests is to rank students, determining who will be successes, failures and mediocre (the majority)....teachers spend a lot of time going over material that will be on the test, practicing test taking skills and preparing for the test, the scope of materials covered in the classroom narrows..."  I could have written that myself, so when I read it in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling I knew that the writer, Marsha Ransom, and I shared some beliefs, which made me really pay attention to some of the other parts of this book and the advice she gives.