Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Book Reviews, Part 3

When Homeschooling Gets Tough!, by Diana Johnson

Shepherding a Child's Heart , by Tedd Tripp

When Homeschooling Gets Tough! is one book I would happily hand out both to new homeschoolers and to veterans feeling like they're "not doing it right", that their kids aren't as talented or as mission-minded as someone else's, or that their husbands aren't following the "homeschool dad" script. Without pushing either one particular theological slant or homeschool philosophy, Diana Johnson graciously and good-humoredly manages to make us all feel welcome. I particularly liked her take on 1 Corinthians 12:
"For, in fact, the homeschool community is not one schooling model, but many. If the textbook user should say, "Because I don't use unit studies, I'm not a good homeschooler," is she therefore not a good homeschooler? And if the living book user should say, "Because I haven't tested my fourth grader at all this year, I am not a good homeschooler," is she therefore not a good homeschooler?....But now God has given us all individual interests and abilities just as He pleased." (When Homeschooling Gets Tough!, page 20)
This isn't just a book for homeschoolers facing discouragement or burnout, though. Drawing on her experience working in the homeschool department of a Christian bookstore (and homeschooling for twenty-plus years), the author also includes chapters on "Providing a Realistic Program" and "Defining the Basics." This is a book I would have liked to have read when we were getting started, but I found some good advice in there even though I have my "10-year homeschool pin."

In the same way, I would like to have read Shepherding a Child's Heart before we ever had children. It manages to be reassuring and challenging at the same time, although some people will disagree with the author's use of "the rod." I think the best thing about it is that it acknowledges that the world has changed, for better or for worse; that children no longer sit in rows in school and listen without question to the teacher; that our culture's view of authority has changed so much that, to paraphrase Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, we might have to go back and think this parenting thing through again. If we're too focused on our childrens' outward behaviour and manners, on what people think, we're missing out on the heart issues. If we take away privileges but don't train our children to walk with God, we're missing out as well. There is a lot in here that echoes Charlotte Mason's parenting advice, particularly on learning to step back and let the Holy Spirit work in our childrens' lives.

Both books are encouraging, and I'm glad we have them for the resource library.

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