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We're all in this together! 7 Encouraging books for homeschoolers.

Updated: May 23


When we first went to Papua New Guinea (PNG), I had a two-year-old and a nine-month-old. While I had certainly considered what I would eventually do for their schooling, I admit, it was not the foremost thought in my mind that first year or two. Instead, I worked on helping my family adjust to living in a completely new culture and learning the language. I had taken a few preschool materials with me but mostly, I just taught my girls their letters, numbers, and colors without the help of a formal curriculum to guide me.


After three years on the field, we returned to the US for the birth of our third daughter. During that medical leave, our oldest daughter was able to attend kindergarten at a local Christian school for a semester and she LOVED it. As we prepared to return to PNG, I was a little unsure of how I would be able to educate my girls, but an experienced homeschool mom offered me lots of her gently used homeschool books and provided encouragement to me. She gave me so many practical tips on how to organize my day, how to decipher the most important things, and how to let go of the unimportant things.


We returned to the field with a traditional homeschool program and I began following the curriculum with my kindergartner. My second daughter was three at the time and she often joined us for some of our fun activities. I won’t say the year was our best homeschool year ever and I often struggled to figure out how to keep up with my infant, teach my girls, and live in a remote tribal setting - in which surviving was a much more time-consuming task than it is in America.



But, during that time, another veteran homeschool missionary mom gave me some much-appreciated guidance. She also gave me an "education" by lending me some fantastic homeschooling books. Those books really began shaping my homeschool philosophies and methodologies. They opened my eyes to a whole new world of education. If you are a homeschool mom and you need some of that same "education" I have listed some of the books that really helped me below.


Although I was beginning to arm myself with knowledge of best practices in homeschooling, I still had lots of doubts about my ability to homeschool. If I was struggling with getting it all done when they were all in preschool, then how would I do it when the workload was even greater. Our second year back in PNG, the Lord sent me a precious gift in the form of an experienced teacher who came for a few months on a short-term ministry opportunity. Our girls called her "Aunt Sarah" and she taught my girls for most of their K4 and first grade school year. But, she did so much more than that.



She came alongside this worn-out, tired mom and was a shot in the arm of energy. She gave my girls one of the most special years of homeschooling ever. They had princess days, western days, fairy tale days, and more. She taught ME how to better plan my school day and how to guide their learning in more creative ways. When she left, my girls were very disappointed. But, much of her methods stayed behind with me and we did our next year of school with much more confidence.


During our next furlough, two experienced homeschool moms came alongside me and poured their wisdom, knowledge, and experience into me. Through gentle encouragement, loving guidance, and patient teaching they showed me a whole new world of homeschool curriculum. The traditional approach I had been using was becoming harder and harder now that I had three children to teach. Teaching English three times a day, history three times a day, math three times a day - you get the idea - became impossible.



The two moms showed me that the world of education was vast and the methods, approaches, and opportunities within the homeschool community were as individual as my children. I learned to discover their learning styles and I learned that my teaching style was definitely NOT traditional even though that was all I had ever known.


With the direction of those two moms, plus incredibly generous gifts from one of them, I was able to acquire curriculum that much more closely fit our family’s needs and our next term on the field witnessed the most effective and successful years of homeschooling up to that point.


All through my homeschool journey, other moms came in and out of my life and their encouragement, support, and ideas were always a healing balm to my soul. On the days I felt like the biggest failure, they were there cheering me on. On the days I felt like I was ruining my children’s academic futures, they were there sharing their stories too.

I realized I was part of an amazing community of fiercely committed mama bears that were determined to thrive in their homeschooling pursuits. They stood together, helping one another become a force to be reckoned with.

Those moms brought homeschooling into the mainstream. They started homeschool associations and co-ops, wrote curriculum, fought legal battles to make sure every mom had the right to choose homeschool, reinvented the academic landscape in American education by proving in every measurable test that their methods worked, and supported each other in the process.


Not all “school” environments are as supportive and tightly-knit as the homeschool community, but I am thankful to be part of such an amazing army of families.


If you are a homeschool mom and you are just beginning your journey, just know, you are not alone. Those of us who have joined this community are right there in the trenches with you. If you are in the thick of the battle and you are discouraged, find your local homeschool tribe. They will have the help you need. They’ve been there. They know how you feel. They know how hard it is. They’ll help you keep going.



Some favorite homeschool books that helped me in my homeschool journey include:


  • Cathy Duffy’s book is a must-have for homeschoolers, especially if you are new to it. And, while this is an older book, it is still incredibly helpful. The first few chapters walk you through a step-by-step education and evaluation of your children's learning styles. It also gives you thorough surveys to help you understand your teaching styles and help you articulate a personal educational philosophy. Finally, it breaks down most of the major educational methods to help you see what method “fits” your family’s philosophy and needs. The rest of the book is the most detailed review of curriculum broken down by those methods. If you “test” classical, you can identify and review the classical publishers. If you "test" strongly with Charlotte Mason's philosophies you can identify and review those publishers' curriculum and so on.



  • Gladys Hunt's book is an essential guide for parents who want to find the best books for their children ages 0-12. This updated and expanded edition includes a new preface, an updated list of recommended reads for each age group, and audiobook suggestions.

  • Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace- Sarah Mackenzie's guide for homeschooling parents provides advice on finding peace and joy in the homeschooling journey. She emphasizes the importance of creating a peaceful and loving environment for children to learn and grow in, and offers practical advice for structuring and implementing a homeschooling curriculum. Mackenzie draws on her own experiences as a homeschooling mother of six and offers wisdom from philosophers, theologians, and educational experts. The book encourages parents to let go of perfectionism and focus on rest, play, and creativity in their daily rhythm. Overall, Teaching from Rest is a warm and encouraging guide for homeschooling parents seeking to find joy and peace in their homeschooling journey.


  • The Read-Aloud Family - This is another book by Sarah Mackenzie and I absolutely recommend the principles of reading aloud as a family. We practiced this in our home in several ways. We read a missionary biography aloud every evening around the dinner table. We also had a read aloud session after lunch each afternoon followed by a free reading time when my kids could choose any book off our our shelf and read for about 45 minutes. I still believe that reading is one of the greatest skills we can develop in our kids, so I'm including this book by Mackenzie as an encouragement to you to you to follow her guidance that, "You will never regret reading aloud to your kids. The stories we read - and the conversations we have about them - help shape family traditions, create lifelong memories, and become part of our legacy."


  • Sally Clarkson's guide is for parents seeking to cultivate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their children's learning journey. Clarkson believes that a child's education should go beyond simply acquiring knowledge and instead be a journey of exploration and discovery. She offers practical advice on how parents can create an environment that encourages wonder and creativity, including reading aloud, spending time in nature, and engaging in meaningful conversations. With personal stories and examples, Clarkson inspires parents to embrace a holistic approach to education that nurtures the heart and soul as well as the mind. Awaking Wonder is a must-read for any parent seeking to ignite a love of learning in their child.



  • This is a newer book to me, but I'm so glad I found it. Author Ainsley Arment does a good job giving an overview of different approaches to education, but she lands pretty close to how I homeschooled my kids. This guide is for parents seeking to give their children a more free and unstructured childhood. Arment believes that children should be allowed to explore the world around them, develop their own interests and passions, and be free to learn at their own pace. She offers practical advice on how parents can create a more natural, outdoor-oriented lifestyle that encourages creativity, curiosity, and imagination. The book includes personal stories, tips, and insights from other parents who have chosen the wild and free lifestyle. Wild and Free has some strong Charlotte Mason principles in that it encourages a child-centered approach to teaching that promotes joy, wonder, and independence in children. It is not overtly Christian, but the principles of helping your children develop their own unique God-given gifts and training them according to their natural bent are the foundational principles upon which I homeschooled my children. In that way, my teaching was "child-centered" because I believe God gifted each child differently. However, I hope that my homeschool was always first and foremost God-centered.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but some were helpful to me when I began my homeschool journey, some were helpful during my journey, and some have been helpful to the homeschool moms of this generation. Let me know some of your favorites in the comments!


 

Note that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.





 


PS: If you haven't checked out my little curiosity shop lately check out some of our bestsellers below.




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