Sometimes I think I would like to write a book. But, I don't have time. I'm not even sure what I'd write about. I do love homeschooling, though. I love to read curriculum and talk with my friends about what they've found that they love--and what they don't. I enjoy hearing about my friends triumphs and trials in homeschooling. I learn so much from them. I do love to share what I've learned works and doesn't work for our family as well.
A few years ago, I found a book that I was encouraged by, Help for the Harried Homeschooler, by Christine Field. When several of my friends considered homeschooling, I recommended this book. Ms. Field talks about being on the same page with your spouse about homeschooling, structure, discipline, schooling multiple children, the challenges of homeschooling, and more. There is only one caveat that I make when I recommend this book. It is this: though I recommend this book, I do not agree with one of the authors she recommends--Michael and Debi Pearl. I have found Debi Pearl's writing to be one that I actually warn people about--my husband was offended by her book on marriage. I rarely feel so strongly about authors.
Recently, I read another book that I just loved! If I were to write a book, it is just what I would want to write. In When Homeschooling Gets Tough, Diana Johnson shares what she has learned in her 25 years of homeschooling. At one point, she says that in years 1 and 2, one struggles and then in years 3-5 you feel like you know what you're doing and often give advice that you have to eat later. After year 5, you realize that homeschooling is a constant work in progress--each year has its own challenges to tackle. Since I am at year 5, I suppose that would make me potentially one who would need to eat my words. But, I found that what I have said to other friends is exactly what she shares in her book. I agreed with all of her advice and it reinforced in my heart that I am on the right track in our schooling. I have been blessed to have friends ahead of me in the homeschooling journey and I often ask their advice and for ideas. I have learned many things from them which have opened my eyes to the realization and appreciation that all of our families are different.
If you are in your first or second year of homeschooling, I would highly recommend this book. I wish I'd read it then! If you are thinking about homeschooling, I would also recommend it. The middle of that first year can be especially tough and Ms. Johnson has a great chapter on planning a realistic curriculum program. She also addresses managing (and controlling) your commitments which is another huge challenge the first year. I saw this in myself 2 years ago when I committed to planning several activities for a co-op. I had a lot of zeal. But, I discovered that the more I stayed home, the better off my family was. Activities are a wonderful thing, but they also disrupt one's day.
This book isn't as specific as Help for the Harried Homeschooler, but it is just as valuable a resource. I have to admit that I was never the kind of teacher Ms. Johnson was. I was very glad to resign from teaching in the public schools. I actually enjoy homeschooling far more than I enjoyed teaching middle school. One other thing I differed with her on was that she shares that her husband is involved in her homeschooling less than other husbands--which she explains graciously. My husband is actually less involved than hers. But, it is the same idea. We should not compare how our families homeschool to others. We can look at them as examples and for ideas, but none will be exactly like yours or mine.
As Ms. Johnson wisely points out--there is no "if" homeschooling gets tough, it is "when" it gets tough. For, it is a great journey, but it will surely be filled with ups and downs.