I recently met a mum who was considering homeschooling her two girls who are about the same age as Zoe and Lily. It got me thinking about when our family began contemplating bringing the girls home from school (late 2013) and the books I was reading at that time. I did read a lot about home education, about general and specific education philosophies and I also read many books about parenting in general. Interestingly, I learned more about education in the first four months of homeschooling , than I did in the four years of a university education degree. Here are a few books that changed the way I think about parenting, home education and life in general. Of course this list starts with the Bible, which is the best place to start for information about how to parent and educate our children :)
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
I have written about this book in the past and it is still the first one that comes to mind when I remember the huge changes in our lives over the last few years. I realise now that I loaned out my only copy that hasn't come home, so I may have to get another copy just for a refresh. (An aside, I have always thought that one should always loan out a book but think of it as giving a gift, then if it comes home it is a nice surprise. However, I always return books!) This book talks about the pressures in our lives, that we put on ourselves. The excesses we live in are not good for us and it is not until we take a step back can we see what this kind of life does to us. Do we really need most of the 'things' we have in our house? The ideas in this book are more than just de-cluttering your belongings, though that does play a big part, it is also about de-cluttering your life. Cutting back on activities that are bringing more harm than good to your life, cutting back rich foods for a more simple diet and most importantly - spending more time getting to know your family. It is not written from a homeschooling perspective, but it is certainly easily applicable.
Life Under Compulsion - Ten ways to destroy the humanity of your child by Anthony Esolen.
This one is a more cerebral read than the previous book and I did find it rather cynical at times. It doesn't really provide real life applications like Simplicity Parenting, but it does highlight a certain compulsion that western society seems to have to 'live life to the fullest' at all costs. And what it costs is relationships for the most part and the inability to live a deeper life of meaning. I do like this book and I think it needs more than one reading to fully appreciate what Esolen is saying. This is not a 'how to' kind of book for home education or parenting, more of a feast for contemplation and further study.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen. This book was written before Life Under Compulsion and easier to read. Esolon is a great writer and has a wonderful sense of humour. He outlines how to cultivate the imagination of your child by saying this is how to destroy his/her imagination. Again, it doesn't really have applications to be used in every day life, just some really good ideas on how to recognise what in our society is soul destroying. The first chapter is called - Method 1: Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible (or They Used to Call It "Air"). I remember when I was reading this book, Zoe was quite miffed that I wanted to destroy her imagination. It was the first time I explained irony and I don't think I did a very good job because I have had to explain it quite a few more times since then!