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Homeschooling: Books for Parents

Home Education Magazine

Where to find it: Home Education Magazine

Subscribe via the web: Home Education Magazine (cheaper than Amazon).
Subscribe at Education Magazine

Review: Home Education Magazine

Home Education Magazine seems to consistantly have several good articles in each issue. Some deservedly well known authors are regular contributors, like Linda Dobson and Larry & Susan Kaseman. If you're looking for a glossy magazine which covers homeschooling, this is a good choice.

School Can Wait

by Raymond S. Moore, Dorothy N. Moore

Where to find it: School Can Wait

Not in the public domain.
Buy it at School Can Wait

Review: School Can Wait

If you have kids, or if you pay taxes that support schools, you need to read this book.

The Moores' thesis is that children aren't physically or emotionally ready for school until they are 10 to 12 years old. Emotionally, younger children (age 10 and below) need a loving, permanent relationship with a few persons. This is a perfect description of the relationship between parents and child. Sending the young child off to school gives the child the opposite of that: at school the child gets superficial relationships with many people. The result is that the child loses the sense of security he needs, forms unsatisfactory bonds with other children, and may never form the essential bond with his parents. Physically, children's brains are simply not ready for many of the demands of school before age 10 to 12, so the years spent in school are wasted academically. The gains that the children make during those early years in school could be made in a year or two starting at a later age, with fewer negative consequences.

Homeschooling parents don't have to worry about the emotional affects of typical homechooling practice, but we do have to worry about trying to push academics too early. This book shows us that it is possible to push too much, too early, and that the harm we do could outweigh the good. It's not all gloom; I think that it can also show us how to push our kids as fast as they should go, and no faster.

The Moores present an impressive and convincing mass of research from the fields of optometry, neurophysiology, sociology and education to support their thesis. The bibliography has over 700 entries, mostly peer-reviewed research. The Moores contribution with this work has been to tie together research threads from several disciplines, and make it accessible to parents, while still making it useful to scholars.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Revised and Updated Edition

by Susan Wise Bauer, Jessie Wise

Where to find it: The Well-Trained Mind

Not in the public domain.
Buy it from The Well Trained Mind

Review: The Well-Trained Mind

Coming soon.

Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style

by Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn

Where to find it: Teaching the Trivium

Not in the public domain.
Buy it from the author's website: Teaching the Trivium

Review: Teaching the Trivium

Coming soon.

The ABC's and All Their Tricks

by M. Bishop

Where to get it: The ABC's and All Their Tricks

Not in the public domain.
Buy it from The ABCs and All Their Tricks

Review: The ABC's and All Their Tricks

This book is subtitled: ``The Complete Reference Book of Phonics and Spelling'', and it certainly lives up to that. The ABC's and All Their Tricks devotes 65 pages to explaining phonics and spelling rules, and 265 pages to a comprehensive list of the rules. The author has devoted a great deal of effort to bringing order and logic to the mass of rules, and she's succeeded. In the first 65 pages, she explains how to teach phonics and reading, and how to make sense of the mass of rules which will follow. She assures us that the basic rules are relatively few and simple. In the remainder of the book, she gives the spelling rules associated with each letter. For each letter, she gives many examples of words which follow the rules, and fairly comprehensive lists of the few words which do not. One major contribution this book has made for me it to show me that there is indeed order in English spelling, and that the exceptions really are few. That knowlege should give anyone confidence in the utility of the phonetic approach to reading and spelling.

The ABC's and All Their Tricks has four appendices, which show some supplementary information about syllables, and detail the research which made the book possible. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has children. However good your children's reading and spelling may be, some time spent with this book can improve them. It can help your children's parents' spelling too!

Homeschooling: Books to give your kids.

Letters from Father Christmas

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Where to find it: Letters from Father Christmas

Not in the public domain.
Buy it at Letters from Father Christmas

Review: Letters from Father Christmas

J.R.R. Tolkien is the author of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. He was also the father of several children, and part of his family's Christmas ritual was a letter to the children from Father Christmas, left along with the presents Christmas eve night.

This book is a collection of those letters in chronological order from the 1920s through World War II. Some of the letters are quite brief, some very long and detailed. Tolkien illustrated all of the letters. As the children grew, the letters became more interesting, and a story line began to emerge.

We have had this book in the house for several years now, and have tried to make a habit of reading it in the weeks leading up to Christmas every year. My kids all enjoy the book, and the short letters lend themselves well to beaing read one or two a night as bed time stories.

Father Christmas lived at the North Pole, of course, in a house on a cliff overlooking the actual pole. His friend and occasional helper, the North Polar Bear, lived nearby and awakened from his winter sleep most Christmas seasons to help with preparations, but Father Christmas managed to get the presents delivered anyway. The NPB was a good, well-meaning fellow, but awkward and clumsy. One year (perhaps during a winter when Britain experienced some great Northern Lights?) the NPB accidently set off Father Christmas' entire storehouse of fireworks, which light up the sky brilliantly for many miles around.

Father Christmas got more useful help from elves who lived nearby. Tolkien included samples of elvish script in a few of the letters. I don't know if it is the same as the evlish he invented for his Ring trilogy.

Father Christmas and the elves were always able to overcome the NPB's ``help'', but their enemies the goblins were a significant threat some years, and very nearly canceled Christmas several times. In the late 1930's Father Christmas had to apologise for the scarcity of presents, because of goblin attacks which had destroyed some presents and kept him and the elves from making more. I suspect that is a sign that even Oxford Dons were being affected by the great depression that year.

Later, in the early 1940s, the goblins returned in force, and did great damage to Christmas. Father Christmas, the NPB and elves from near and far went to war against them, found their tunnels (by which they had infiltrated Father Christmas' basement store rooms) and followed them to the goblins' lairs. They eventually sent the goblins packing, but it took several years and several letters. Father Christmas sent along interesting sketches of writings and pictures he found in the goblin lairs. Again, it might be interesting for a Tolkien fan to compare these bits to the languages he invented for his Rings trilogy.

These letters are brief bits of good literature, aimed right at younger children. They are the same good stories with the same good moral character that you find in his more popular works. Father Christmas and the elves (and the NPB) are good people, though not perfect (especially not the NPB), and the goblins are evil. There's a clear distinction between good and evil. There is very little character development, of course, since the letters are fairly brief. My family enjoys this book every year.


by Holling C. Holling

Where to find it: Pagoo

Not in the public domain.
Buy it at Pagoo

Review: Pagoo

This is the story of a hermit crab, Pagoo (short for pagurus, the name of the genus to which the hermit crabs belong.) It begins when Pagoo hatches from an egg, and follows him as he finds food, grows, escapes dangers, finds a shell, and so on. The writing seems slightly florid, but it's good. Holling makes the life and adventures of the little crab exciting, and he does it without excessive anthropomorphizing. One of the strong points of the book is that Holling gives quite a bit of accurate detail about hermit crabs and many of the creatures that share the tidepool with it. Another strong point is the illustrations. Each pair of pages has one filled with text, and the facing page filled with a beautiful color illustration. In the early portion of the book, when Pagoo is small, finding him in the drawing is a real challenge. In addition to the full page, color drawings, the margins are filled with accurate pencil sketches of the organisms, which help identify them in the pictures and in the tidepool.

The book is 84 pages arranged in 20 chapters. I've found it works well to read one chapter a night as a bedtime story. The chapters usually end with Pagoo in a bit of trouble, so you're eager to hear what comes next. The illustrations are worth spending some time looking at, so plan to be a few minutes longer than you think it will take. My six-year-old has really enjoyed this one as a bedtime story, and my ten-year-old always comes in to hear it, too. We live on the coast, and the kids have been asking to go to the beach a lot more since we started reading this one.

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