This summer I read a very interesting book written by Laura Brodie called Love in a Time of Homeschooling. I stumbled upon it at our local library. It is a journey of a mother who decides to homeschool her free spirited daughter for only one year.
The author takes us through the year she decided to give her daughter a sabbatical from the everyday mundane routine of school. She spends a lot of time describing her daughter’s experience in the Montessori classroom and her transition to the public school system.
What really hit home with this book was the fact Laura was so honest. She did not try to paint their experience as perfect and flawless. It was far from. Her daughter and her were constantly butting heads. She painted a clear picture that this year was not all rainbows and lollipops. She was not afraid to share with us the readers, her flaws. Though at times I felt like she came off a bit as though she thought she was better then others. I kind of flipped back and forth when it came to this.
The author also had to come to realization that sometimes you can come up with an awesome curriculum and lesson plans, but have to let it go because it is not a fit for your child.
One point that was made in this memoir was it is ok to start homeschooling short term. They looked at this year as a sabbatical. They were able to have one year to reboot and experience a new type of learning. Talking to others homeschoolers that read the book, they felt the author did not give a honestly and true evaluation on what homeschooling really is, as it can take several years to get into a good grove. They felt that they should have given it more than one year. They also feel that some people may read this and give up after only one year before giving it a solid go. My thoughts on this is, each to their own. While this may not be the best approach for every child, or family, it seemed to have worked for this family. But this is something to keep in mind while reading this book.
This whole story was very eye opening to me. It allowed me to view my own children in a new light. I have to adapt how I teach my children so they understand. To try and make them adjust to my type of teaching is the wrong approach for everyone involved. This can be hard for moms in today’s Pinterest world. Sometimes it can be discouraging when you’re on Instagram and you see other people’s children doing all these great activities, and they are not of any interest to your own child. Or you have spent hours preparing a lesson and they have no interest.
I have to remind myself, homeschooling is not about me, it is about my child. I have lots of curriculum and books I thought were going to be a fit for my children, and landed up being a total bust. This book helped remind me that relationships are more important than lesson plans and curriculum.
I can totally relate to the battle of wills the author has with her daughter. I felt like this so often with my oldest. Now over the last year of gently homeschooling my youngest preschool, this book has given me a new perspective. While some things are non-negotiable, others can be adapted to make learning more pleasant for your child. In turn more pleasant for you as well.
The beauty of homeschooling is being able to adapt to your child. While a school teacher must teach to the greater good of the group, and stick to a strict curriculum, as a homeschooler I am afforded much more flexibility.
While the author was able to adapt her work life to accommodate the one year journey her and her daughter took, this exact path is rarely available to other people. Not many people have careers that are this flexible. While there is usually a way families can adjust their lives to homeschool, I feel like Laura’s path is not as easy for other families. So for me this was not a “How to book”. The average person cannot typically cut down their work schedule as much as she did and then after a year go back to the way things were. Also many people may not be able to cut down their hours so much due to financial constraints. That being said, there is still a lot of ideas parents can get from this book to adapt to homeschooling.
One thing that I did not agree with is how strictly she stuck to the state’s standards. If I were her and really wanted to offer my child a sabbatical, in my opinion I would have skipped out on the standards and found a curriculum (especially in Math) that would have helped her daughter learn to love the subject. Saxon Math is not a great curriculum for a child who hates math. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great curriculum, but not for every child.
I think whether or not you agree with homeschooling for a short time, or the methods the author used, it is clear that her Mother/Daughter relationship did benefit. They made memories together. I also felt they both developed a new respect for each other. As a homeschooler relationships should be top priority. I think while this slipped the author’s mind from time to time in their year journey, in the end it was achieved.
If you’re interested in hearing more about this book from my perspective, check out the video I made about it after finish the book this summer. However I strongly suggest if you’re contemplating homeschooling, are homeschooling or afterschool your child, look for this book at your local library or purchase it on Amazon. Especially if your child is more of a free spirit. It helped me feel like I’m not alone. I’m not a failure.