Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: "A Little Way of Homeschooling"

A Little Way of Homeschooling
by Suzie Andres
Hillside Education, 2011

Sometimes the perfect book comes along right when you need it. This was the case with me and "A Little Way of Homeschooling" by Suzie Andres. Andres, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College with a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Notre Dame, became known as an expert in Catholic Unschooling after writing "Homeschooling with Gentleness" (I recently read that book as well and will be reviewing it shortly). That book chronicled her own journey towards unschooling and explored whether a Catholic could unschool and still be in keeping with Church teaching. Her answer was a resounding "yes."

In "A Little Way of Homeschooling," she asked other Catholic families to share their experience of unschooling. All of their stories are informative and informational. The first nine families profiled are true unschoolers. The remaining four "integrate elements of unschooling with more formal approaches to learning." I personally like Karen Edmisten's description of herself as "The Unschooler with a Plan."

Andres is honest about the doubt that comes hand-in-hand with all homeschooling, but especially unschooling. "We may write long books and thoughtful internet posts proclaiming the goodness and freedom of unschooling; at the end of the day we still lie in bed exhausted and wonder if our children are learning what they should." She advises us to "Trust God and be gentle with ourselves."

In her epilogue, Andres relies on the wisdom of St. Therese and St. John Bosco, who many consider the unofficial patron saint of unschooling. He stated "without confidence and love, there can be no true education." There are also four appendixes filled with useful information including recommended books, internet sites, and prayers.

Andres and the contributors to this book offer much wisdom to all homeschoolers, not just unschoolers. I highly recommend this book, especially if the burden of homeschooling is becoming increasingly heavy. It is important to always remember that we are not the ones ultimately in charge. As Andres writes, "What is learned and achieved is extremely individual to the child - and directed by God. Parents and teachers can assist, but they are not the ones primarily in charge."

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