beginning homeschooling

A comrade wrote me this note:

I wanted to ask you about homeschooling. I am very interested in it, though Benjamin is not even 18 months yet. Any pointers or comments to think about?

(Yes, we both have sons named Benjamin.)

He then asked if he could share my reply with a libertarian mailing list he’s on, and I said yes, so I figure I might as well share it here, too:

I started researching homeschooling before our Benjamin was even born, so I don’t think 18 months is too young. Here’s a book I very much recommend well before you look into formal homeschooling:

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
http://www.amazon.com/Read-Aloud-Handbook-Sixth-Jim-Trelease/dp/0143037390
http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/

It’s addressed to teachers and policy people as well as to parents. I just skipped the political BS. I didn’t even care about the specific reading lists. And yet I consider it one of the most important books I’ve read.

We belong to a big mailing list of area homeschoolers. I hope you can find one in your area, because it’s very helpful. Topics range from government paperwork to curricula to local classes to playgroups and other social opportunities for homeschoolers.

For homeschooling specifically, I think the first thing to do is to become familiar with the different approaches. Most of the homeschoolers I know are secular and most of the secular homeschoolers I know are unschoolers. I don’t know what to recommend to introduce you to unschooling. It’s not the route we’re taking.

We’re more inclined to the classical homeschooling and the Trivium:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trivium_%28education%29
http://web.archive.org/web/20040415041359/http://redeemerclassical.org/lost_tools.php

Specifically, we’re pursuing the approach to the Trivium given in  the book The Well-Trained Mind:

http://www.amazon.com/Well-Trained-Mind-Guide-Classical-Education/dp/0393067084
http://www.welltrainedmind.com/

The Well-Trained Mind was written by a mother and daughter. The mother homeschooled the daughter and now the daughter homeschools her kids.

We’re also using the mother’s phonics book:

http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Parents-Guide-Teaching-Reading/dp/0972860312

We’re not yet at the stage to assess her language-arts book:

http://www.amazon.com/First-Language-Lessons-Well-Trained-Mind/dp/0971412979

For early mathematics, we’re using Right Start Math, recommended by The Well-Trained Mind:

http://www.alabacus.com/pageView.cfm?pageID=284

Having said all that, I still recommend you become familiar with Art Robinson’s approach:

http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/

You’ve probably read Gary North’s recommendations of the Robinson Curriculum.

Our goal is eventually to integrate the structure of the Well-Trained Mind with the self-teaching method of the Robinson Curriculum.

I’ll copy my wife on this to see if she has anything to add.

Good luck.

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