Homeschooling Book Reviews

I recently read through several piles of homeschooling books. I found some really helpful books, some that were a total waste of paper, and quite a few that were so middle of the road they didn’t even warrant a mention. First off I am going to start with the books I felt were pretty unhelpful so that I can end on a better note of good books. A bad book is always disappointing, but when a book is so bad you get nothing from it, that is truly horrible.

I’ve seen people repeatedly recommend books by Linda Dobson. Personally I found that both the titles I picked up by her The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child and Homeschooling the Early Years were so generic as to be utterly lacking in usefulness. I learned absolutely nothing from either book. The only way these books would help you would be if you had zero prior information about homeschooling and possibly if you lived under a rock with no internet to learn these basics ten times faster (just join a homeschooling group instead).


There were two more terrible things in my pile of books. Practical Homeschooling Magazine was barely long enough to qualify as a magazine and was printed more like an insert in a newspaper than a well constructed magazine. The real issue with this magazine though was the content, while all the articles didn’t mention God(s) like some homeschooling magazines you will see, the promoted curriculum and resources were not even remotely useful for a secular based homeschool. Programs like Abeka and Bob Jones were heavily touted. The last book was actually a huge surprise to me because the rest of the books in this series were great. What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch was just a book full of materials to read to your child, not remotely a guide to help you know what needs to be covered in the preschool years. Needless to say that obviously was not what I was looking for.

I did at least find a few helpful books in my travels through the stacks. Although given the sheer amount of books I read I was hoping to find more than three that were actually useful out of the dozen or more I read. 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy is a book I would recommend trying to find used. It is fully of lots of really in-depth reviews of curriculum (although it doesn’t separate the religious from non so you have to do that yourself). The part of this book that made me put it on my to buy list was the section in the front. There is an entire chapter on figuring out your homeschool mission, goals, your child’s learning style, your teaching style, and the best types of homeschooling methods to fit all these factors. I plan to buy this soon so I can go through the section in-depth. I found it very helpful and informative. She also has a website with tons more reviews.
What Your kindergartener Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch was a really nice read. I can see myself using the rest of this series each year as we moved on. It was a nice way to give yourself ideas about what you might want your child to learn that you may have forgotten about. Things like cardinal directions, continents, basic science and math concepts, and of course reading and writing are all covered. It gives you some goals so that if your curriculum has gaps you can fill them in. I wrote myself out a list of topics to cover for kindergarten so that I could feel more organized and find supplemental materials I might need.
Homeschooling for Dummies by Jenny Kaufeld was probably my favorite book, of the bunch I read, and possibly the most useful. I immediately put it on my Amazon wish list as soon as I was through the first few chapters. This book was packed with helpful tips from a seasoned homeschool family. Chapters on everything from getting started to troubleshooting issues were extremely beneficial to someone who is informed but could still use guidance. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone looking to start homeschooling.

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