I have been asked a few times recently what books I’d recommend for someone interested in home education. After a few moments thought I had amassed a whole shelf’s worth of inspiration but these are some of the very best. Books that have both inspired and guided me over the last eight years of family life.
ONE TO ONE is a beautifully produced sourcebook for home educators. Former teacher, Gareth Lewis and his family have compiled their knowledge of subjects from maths to gardening, cookery to art. It is aimed at families with children aged up to eleven, covering the preschool years and the importance of play in the early chapters. I used this book a great deal when my children were younger but we have now graduated to the sequel, Unqualified Education, for those aged 11 to 18. In One to One, there’s plenty of ideas to spark a journey of discovery and also much to ressaure you in Lewis’ editorial throughout the book. The illustrations and projects contributed by Lewis’ illustrious children serve as further reassurance that home education works. Great for those looking for inspiration for projects and wondering how to go about it.
TEACH YOUR OWN: John Holt’s book of home schooling is a useful reference book which has recently been updated. It contains much information on Holt’s philosopy but for anyone who wants to delve into the why of home education a little deeper, I would recommend How Children Learn and How Children Fail. Holt subscribes to the belief that children are natural learners and do not need to be co-erced into education or have school recreated for them at home. In fact his understanding of children and how they think make any of his titles an interesting read for all parents, whether home educating or not. A good choice for those interested in the philosophy of unschooling.
AND THE SKYLARK SINGS WITH ME: Adventures in home and community based education is David Albert’s first biographical book about his experiences educating his daughters. Some friends of mine don’t get on with this book, finding it frustratingly unachievable. It is true that Albert seems to be raising two daughters who are clearly genius material, which could highlight shortcomings in one’s own experiences. But I find that it serves as an exciting, inspirational tale of hope and possibility. Yes, his eldest is composing sonatas and singing complicated works with the local choral society by the age of ten but that is recounted in such a way that it is joyful to read of his child’s talents. I thoroughly enjoy this and Albert’s sequel, Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery and revisit both at least once a year. A good read for those looking for stories of hope and possibility.
DUMBING US DOWN: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto is the book that I unreservedly recommend to anyone who is home-ed curious. I have bought countless copies over the years and yet looking in my bookcase now I can’t find one copy so they must all be out there circulating. Taylor Gatto, himself a former headteacher, outlines everything that is wrong with the current school system and details what we can do to put it right. Incredibly inspiring stuff from someone on the inside. A brilliant page turning read for those who are considering home education but are still unsure.
FREE RANGE EDUCATION, edited by Terri Dowty is another oft-lent book to those families considering home education. An excellent introduction, it comprises a series of essays and experiences from home educating families. Editor, Teri has put together a valuable selection of stories from a wide range of educational backgrounds, covering different approaches. This seems to be a popular read for dads who are seeking more information about the actual practicalities of home education. Useful for those who want information from the front line; how does it actually work.
Do you have any favourite reads that have inspired you? It would be great to hear about them here.
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