For parents who are interested in homeschooling or are even already on the journey, the amount of resources surrounding education can feel large and overwhelming. Each style and method has its own roots and research. Depending on the parent’s learning background, one might find it difficult to begin at all. Of course, friends and local groups are the best resource for this, as you can interact, ask questions, and observe. Beyond your local resources, reading and researching online is the next resort. This is where the parent begins modeling (even for the youngest children), we never stop learning. Even as adults, we forge our own paths and research in decision-making. Although this is not a finite list, here are a few of the reads that have impacted me the most during our seven years of homeschooling.
The Homeschooling Option by Lisa Rivero
When people tell me they are considering homeschooling, I always suggest this book first. Rivero, a homeschooling mother and engineering professor, offers a broad look at homeschooling, from styles and methods to specific resources and common questions. Her writing is engaging and easy to follow and the layout is equally simple and neatly divided for reference or quick browsing. She offers a variety of content, covering more common concerns of socialization, sports, and prom to quieter conversations on homeschooling children with special needs or knowing your state’s laws. At the back, she includes a list of advocacy groups and websites divided by state.
The Well-Trained Mindby Susan Wise Bauer (co-authored with Jessie Wise)
Susan Wise Bauer is a strong voice in the classical niche of homeschooling. She is a mother/homeschooler of four, writer of several books and curriculum, and also a professor at the College of William and Mary. For parents looking for an academically rigorous education for their children, this book is for you. In it, Wise gives a background to classical education and then offers a guided outline to follow pre-K through 12th grade. She has divided the book into loose age groups based on classical learning–grammar, logic, and rhetoric–and offers several of her favorite curriculum choices with descriptions all along the way. Parents who prefer more structure and want educational thoroughness will adore this guide.
How Children Fail and/or How Children Learn by John Holt
John Holt is often considered a forerunner in the “unschooling” movement. Written in the 1960s, these complimentary books are separate and distinct in content. The titles are almost self-explanatory–one focused more on his observation of childhood learning, the other more focused on the situations that caused failure (think of failure more as disengagement, not grades). Although they are both slow at points, Holt’s writing is more intrinsic than practical HOW-TOs. I read these books at the very beginning of our homeschooling journey, and although I would not consider myself an unschooler, they have shaped how I observe my children and how we learn together.
Weapons of Mass-Instructionby John Taylor Gatto
Gatto is a former New York public school teacher, who resigned 30 years of teaching (the same year he received Teacher of the Year for the state) in the op-ed section of the Wall Street Journal. He currently travels and speaks, advocating for school reform. As one might guess from the title, his writing is witty and zealous. He writes from experience and research, detailing the history and purpose of public ed or “compulsory schooling”–a shocking revelation for me. His writing is at times a bit eccentric and rife with controversy, but you will never be bored with this read. It will stir you to think of education in a new manner, and most importantly, you’ll feel empowered as a parent, regardless of your educational choice.
Teaching Montessori in the Home: Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock
While we have never solely followed the Montessori approach, I appreciate the use of manipulatives and the emphasis on independence, ingenuity, and connection to environment of her theses. Hainstock, certified in Montessori pedagogy, offers practical and accessible activities for little ones in this book. I used it often in my children’s early years, applying the activities to all areas of our learning. I also adapted what Montessori refers to as the “prepared environment” in our home: open shelves and containers and specific age-appropriate pots that were more accessible for independent learning. For families of older children, consider the book Montessori Today by Paula Polk Lillard.
Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash
I am currently reading this book, a telling sign that a homeschooling parent never stops learning and recreating their homeschool. I’ve always gravitated toward reading and writing in our curriculum, but over the years have noticed the gap of incorporating art and hand-work into the same subjects. I love the way Waldorf holistically approaches this, and this read is a simple and easy-to-follow introduction to this style of learning. I can already tell it will certainly impact our homeschool.