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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: Debra Bell’s Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling

ultimate homeschooling

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of the latest edition of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell from Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. I received no compensation for this review.

One book simply cannot cover it all, but if you’re considering homeschooling (or even if you’ve been in the trenches a few years), I highly recommend The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling as a starting point. There are sections on determining your child’s (and your) learning style, deciding what to teach, establishing yearly goals, deciding on curriculum, using the internet as an educational resource, and, of course, the advantages of homeschooling (it doesn’t hurt to have a little assurance even if you are a veteran homeschooler). Throughout, the emphasis is on learning to follow and surrender to God’s will for us in all the things we do, including educating our children.

This is an honest book. You won’t catch Debra trying to sell you a land of milk and honey. She talks at great length about the challenges of homeschooling (more on this later) and how to determine if you have what it takes to do it successfully.

What I love about this book:

  • Debra will walk you through the importance of having a family mission---I know I have a tendency to get mired in details and lose sight of the big picture. I might have to reread this book every year for this section alone.
  • The section on determining your goals for the year---you won’t believe how much you really did accomplish this year if you have something written to refer to.
  • The plethora of resources! This book is just a beginning---there are numerous books to ponder (and check out from your library) on just about every topic covered here.
  • It’s a quick, fun read, even at 500 pages (the type is big and easy on the eyes). Headings and sidebars will point you to where you want to go.

Of course, not even the “Ultimate Guide” is perfect. While the section on the challenges of homeschooling offers valuable insight, remember that Debra doesn’t know your family and is not the ultimate authority. I know successful homeschoolers who would not have fit her description of what it takes to be a successful homeschooler. Ok, I make that a little stronger, I don't know of anyone who would fit the criteria laid out in this section. I certainly didn’t fit it when I started, and still don’t fit, it’s a role you grow into. And be careful reading about the achievements of Debra’s children, it’s enough to make anyone feel inadequate.

Debra also talks about using a number of resources that simply aren't available, are unaffordable or simply won't work for many families. Co-ops and expensive classes, for instance. I can't afford to homeschool the way she did it, but overall I consider the book a valuable resource to have in my library.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling is available from Apologia for $20.

You can read reviews of this book by other homechoolers here:

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