Saturday, October 22, 2011

My FAVORITE Homeschooling Book Ever!


My favorite homeschooling book 

ever is...

drum roll, please...

Educating the Wholehearted Child

by Clay and Sally Clarkson

Yes, it is true. You may not be able to pin me down on my favorite movie (is it Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Pride and Prejudice?) or even get me to agree to name just ONE homeschooling style that I think identifies me (eclectic with a lot of Charlotte Mason, some unit studies, taking a delight-directed path), but I can and WILL enthusiastically tell you that my all time, number one, favorite homeschooling book EVER is Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson of Whole Heart contest or reservations.

This is what my original copy 2nd Edition copy looks like, 
only mine is more faded and worn out.

I have a copy of this book from my early days of homeschooling (it has been nearly thirteen years for us) and it is dog-eared, worn out, much loved, and many times referred to. When I talk with moms who are considering homeschooling, or need some encouragement, I usually suggest that this book is a great place to start. It is full of the wisdom of a godly couple who have been serving the homeschooling community since 1994 with a desire to "come alongside Christian parents to help them prepare their children to become Christian leaders in the next generation."

Clay and Sally Clarkson and their four children
Sarah, Joel, Nathan, and Joy

The Clarksons openly share their many years of experience and the lessons they learned as Christian homeschooling parents so that we can learn from them. They seek to help other parents "focus on the biblical and practical aspects of home nurture, home discipleship, and home education." By reading this book, it is as if you gain the mentorship of a wise older couple to disciple you as you embark on (or strive to enrich) your homeschooling journey. 

I will be honest here and tell you that this book (and a few other favorites...but this is number one) is the closest I have ever gotten to having a mentor for homeschooling. Perhaps because we are a military family and have moved so often, or perhaps (some tell me) because I come across as knowledgeable and confident (so folks think I don't need help), in spite of years of searching, I have never found someone to be a mentor to me...In fact, people tend to come to me to ask questions, instead of the other way around. So what's a gal to do when she can't find someone to talk to? In my case, I go to the bookstore and I find a good book. I was VERY blessed the day the Lord led me to this one. It has been a sanity-saver for me more than once.

Can I tell you what else has me so excited about this book today? There is a brand new edition out (yay!), published by Apologia, and not only is the content updated to reflect the more than fifteen years of new experience gained since the book's first publication, but there are over one hundred new pages of great information to read. What used to be a 254 page book is now a whopping 376 pages. Awesome!! You can bet that I was thrilled to be asked to review the new edition. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new edition and check out all the wonderful, enriching information contained between the covers.

Discipleship, Whole Books, and Real Life!
Wholehearted Christian Education for ages 4-14
by Clay and Sally Clarkson

Can I tell you that I was absolutely NOT disappointed one bit? It's not often that your high expectations are completely met or exceeded, but in this case, mine were. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson for rising to the challenge again. I hope you know that I would never purposefully endorse a product that I do not like, and I also want you to know that my enthusiasm over this book is for nobody's benefit but yours. I am hoping that you will read this review and go and buy a copy of this book for yourself and be able enjoy all of the life-impacting benefits that reading and understanding the content of this book will have on your family. 

I could just go on and on about how I love this book, but I would rather tell you a bit about why I find that it is the ideal book for nearly any Christian homeschooler.

Reasons why I LOVE this book:
  1. This book not only covers important how-to's about homeschooling, it covers vital Biblical instructions on how to live LIFE. It is divided into four main sections: Home, Learning, Living, and Methods. Each one is a treasure trove of hard-hitting, plain-speaking, on-target need-to-know information about living a whole-hearted lifestyle. Every section is filled with tidbits, advice, and reminders about things that will help you bring your family together in a lifestyle of godly education and learning. The Clarksons explore more than just home education...they explore growing home-based relationships, developing a learning lifestyle, using effective parenting techniques, choosing the right books for your family, organizing your home, developing your family's ideal homeschooling method, locating resources, managing time, finding support, discipling through Bible studies, identifying your child's gifts, and much, much more. See the Table of Contents online HERE.
  2. The Whole-Hearted learning lifestyle is NOT another curriculum or prescripted method of homeschooling that must be followed exactly to produce good results. Let me share a few excerpts from the Introduction of the book that explain this more effectively:
    • WholeHearted Learning, as described in the rest of this book, is not meant to be an educational program that you implement and maintain, as though we have the only right way to homeschool. We are very comfortable saying that what is right for one family may not be right for another. How we express WholeHearted Learning in our home will be, and in fact should be, different from how you express it in yours.
    • God has given you all you need to train and educate your children at home---it's in real books, real life, and real relationships. We want to equip you and other home-educating parents to homeschool with confidence in yourself, in your home, and in God, with a minimum of curricular safety nets. We simply want to come alongside your family and share some of the things we have learned. You can take it from there.
    • Our goal in this book is uncomplicated: to give you a larger vision for what God can do in your home and to provide a model of home education that gives you the freedom to follow the Holy Spirit for what your children need most. WholeHearted Learning is simply cooperating with God's eternal design for your family, home, and children.
  3. Another thing I love about this book is that every one or two page spread is a mini-topic that is a complete lesson in and of itself, applicable in its own right, separate from the rest of the chapter, yet integrated at the same time. What I mean by that is that each smaller section, or chunk, of wisdom, can be taken one 1 or 2 page bite at a time, so you can read it, digest it, understand and integrate it completely WITHOUT having to read an entire fifty page chapter. If I wanted to, I could read one section a day or a week and still have PLENTY to think about. I don't have to start at page one and read all the way through. You can see what I mean by checking out the sample chapter onlineIf I am struggling with learning styles, I can find the section on learning styles and read the first few pages about them to get a fantastic overview of what learning styles mean. Then, if I want more information later, I can read a few pages about modes of thinking, how to live with different learning styles, instructions for determining learning styles, how to teach to different learning styles, specific sections on each learning style, and much more. 
  4. Each part is a lesson on its own, or the whole chapter can be read together as a detailed instruction set on learning styles.                  
    • Most sections (and I mean the 1-2 page sections on smaller topics) have a section at the bottom of one page called "In Our Home" in which the Clarksons share their learning experiences and personal evidences of God's providence throughout their homeschooling journey. I found these anecdotes to be one of my most appreciated parts of the book. I like to hear about the journey of other homeschoolers and parents (perhaps since I never had a mentor), and find that this helps me consider my own situation and either challenges me or affirms decisions my husband and I have made on our own journey.
    • The final three sections of the book include forty pages of recommended book lists and reproducible forms for you to use in your homeschool. They make a nice starting point for new homeschoolers, and perhaps offer some new ideas for seasoned veterans.
There is so much more I could say about this book, but I think you probably get the idea by now that I think it is a must-have for every home educating family (and much of what is in this book will apply to families who choose to send their children to schools, public or private, because education really does begin at home, whether you formally school there or not). 

PLEASE, if you are like me and like having a new book on home education every so often, make this one your next purchase. If you are the sort of person who avoids buying homeschooling books because they are usually so opinionated about their particular method of homeschooling that it annoys you, buy this is not like that. You will learn SO much from it which can be applied to any sort of home education, from Charlotte Mason to Classical Education to Unit Studies. 

If you are just thinking about homeschooling and don't know where to start...this is it. Buy this book as soon as you can, set it on your bedside table, and read and pray through it little by little. Share this book with your spouse, implement bits and pieces little by little, and you will be AMAZED at the difference this one book can make in your home educating journey (along with your Bible, of course). If you have a friend who is considering homeschooling and you want to buy them a book that will encourage and inspire them, choose this one to be your Christmas gift to that friend. If you purchase books for your public or church library, and they do not already have this book, add it to the next order list. It will bless MANY lives. I am certain of it.
  • If you would like to see what my Crewmates thought of this book, check out their links on the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book Educating the WholeHearted Child for the purposes of reviewing it here on my blog. The opinions you read here about this book are my own, and arise from my own reading of this book and experiences with it. I would not recommend it if I did not truly believe it was a quality product. If you have questions regarding anything I have said about this product, please feel free to contact me or comment on this post. Thank you.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I love this book! I have heard so much about it for years now. When it came up for review I was thrilled! Then even more when I was picked to get it!! God knew what I needed and when.

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