5 Books Every Homeschooler Should Read

Making the decision to homeschool is not an easy one. Societal pressure, family interrogations, and our own insecurities and fears are things we have to wrestle with on a regular basis.

Having a good support system is vital, whether it is local homeschooling groups, your spouse, or simply some good friends to listen to you and encourage you.

But another important component to starting the journey or just battling through some of the tougher times along the way, is to have a good arsenal of books that you can read and continue to refer to.

These books brilliantly shape the philosophy of homeschooling and offer creative alternative ideas that are essential knowledge for all parents.  I've found the books on the list below to be invaluable in my homeschooling experience.

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

Dumbing Us Down is a truly eye opening book and comes full of harsh criticism of the public education system.  Gatto has a leg to stand on though, as he was a NYC school teacher for over 30 years, and actually a recipient of the New York Teacher of the Year award, which gave him great knowledge of the inner workings of the system.  He shows how children in school are being conditioned to conform rather than being taught to actually think and retain creativity.

It is a great book to read before starting your journey, but I have also referred to it several times when I have felt insecure about my decision, as a reminder of what I am pushing against by home schooling.  You will feel enlightened, captivated, and most of all inspired!

Learning All the Time by John Holt

Considered by many to be the forefather of the homeschooling or unschooling movement, John Holt's Learning All the Time shows us how children learn the basics of life, at home, in every moment of their day.  Through play, cooking, and interaction with parents they learn to read, write, do math, and figure out how the world works.  As he says, "Learning is as natural as breathing!"

Again, this is a seminal book to read both before and during the process of homeschooling, but it is also a good book to teach us to enjoy and encourage play in the lives of our children. When you read his common sense ideas about relating to children it is hard to dispute, or to go on living any other way. His joy and respect of children shines through the pages and makes you yearn to lead the same type of life with your children that he proposes in his writing because it's a brilliant formula for happiness!

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

A personal favorite, Unconditional Parenting is a book that not only every homeschooling parent should read but every parent in general should, at a minimum, browse.  No book has done as much to change the way we relate to our children, for the better, than this one.  His peaceful approach to parenting is simply impossible to argue with if you love your children more than anything else in the world.

A great "mindset" read for all parents, but especially those that are interested in investing in a relationship of mutual respect and peaceful, unconditional love through an attachment style of parenting. You may not agree with some of the ideas, but I guarantee you will look at your children in a new light. Rather than focusing on getting our children to do what we want, Kohn contends that, the true question we should be asking is 'what do our children need!'

You may feel skeptical at first of some of his radical ideas, but by the end of reading this book packed full of research and alternative ideas that he offers, makes it a very helpful guide.  What do you have to lose? Try living by his approach for just a month and I am willing to bet you and your children will be happier for it.  Incidentally, you will naturally feel a deeper understanding of what it is to be parents.  Excellent read!

Deschooling Our Lives edited by Matt Hern

One of the things that I tell parents who are new to the idea of homeschooling or unschooling is that they first need to de-school themselves before they can fully commit to homeschool their children.  By that, I mean you must first rid yourself of the conditioning that you endured in school in order to see that school and education are not mutually exclusive.  Hern attempts to show how the day-to-day public school experience kills children's natural love of learning, crushes self esteem and creativity, and teaches children to be subservient. It can even destroy independent thought. 

Deschooling Our Lives is a wonderful read for all homeschooling parents, but also those very early in the process of 'thinking about it", as it shows examples of many different ways education can be and is being done.  He primarily focuses on alternatives by examining a huge array of neighborhood, home, and community based ideas.  These alternative ideas are the true treasure of this book.

So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It by Lisa Welchel

One of the harder things to comprehend before embarking on a homeschool journey is what your days will look like and how exactly it is all done.  I find that one of the best ways to get a clear picture in your head is to hear from people actually doing it.  This book gives you just that.

So You're Thinking About Homeschooling answers many of the most common questions regarding socialization, time management, curriculum,  learning disabilities, sports involvement, and so much more.  It offers a diverse view so that you can see that, in fact, anyone can homeschool if it is what they really want to do.  Welchel's book will give you the confidence you need and the resources you seek all in one spot!

It is essential that you educate yourself before attempting such a drastic change in the normal lifestyle. Most of these authors have written several books that can help in your path of homeschooling your child. If you are looking for even more inspiration, start with these and your journey will lead you to many more. Happy Homeschooling!

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  1. "Unconditional Parenting" was the best book among all of these. I think it's a must for all the parents to read this book.