I love home schooling books. I love them almost as much as I love desserts. I find myself craving home schooling books like I crave chocolate. Over the years, I have found a steady diet of successful home schooling stories is the healthiest way to sustain me through my crazy journey of educating my 5 children. So when the cravings come, I satisfy them as best and as quickly as I can. When I am feeling insecure about my teaching (or juggling) abilities, I rely on my home schooling books. When I am in need of encouragement, I turn to my home schooling books. When I want to be inspired, it is my home schooling books that inspire me most. My shelves are full of them, yet each summer, when I have more time to read and am preparing for another school year, I always look out for new books to add to my home school library.
I ordered Homeschooling with Gentleness, after hearing author Suzie Andres’ name on more than one occasion, and was so excited to receive it in the mail. It was like anticipating a bite of birthday cake or an ice cream sundae. When it arrived, I dove into it with gusto. The book is organized into three parts. As I read Part One entitled “Unschooling”, I was disappointed. Instead of being inspiring or encouraging, Ms. Andres came across just as insecure and unsure of herself as I often felt, at certain parts, maybe even more so. She referred so often to a Mr. John Holt and his writings, quoting him at length over and over again, I wondered if I should put her book down and read one of his instead. She reminded the reader, often, that she was writing as much to reassure herself as to inform and inspire others. Her need for reassurance showed.
Part Two addressed the Catholic outlook on home schooling in general, and then, more specifically, an unschooling approach. Her writing style still did not particularly appeal to me because she continued to write about what she was writing about, explaining herself over and over. However, her research seemed solid and her arguments appropriate. Her confidence seemed a bit stronger as she shared her own family’s experiences.
Though Part Two is heralded as the “heart of the book” it was not until I reached Part Three that I felt I finally got a little of what I was hoping for. It was as she wrote of “trusting in nature” and “trusting in God” that Ms. Andres’ passion finally shone through. It was in Part Three that I began underlining line after line, feeling more excited to face my own home school again.
In the end, I found more of a kindred spirit than a mentor or expert in the pages of Homeschooling with Gentleness. Overall the book was a letdown, yet I saw enough enthusiasm and zeal in its last few pages to whet my appetite for more. Strange as it may sound considering my disappointment, I am curious to check out Ms. Andres’s second book, A Little Way of Homeschooling.
You can purchase this book here. I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and First Communion Gifts. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.
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