I’d like to share with you two helpful homeschooling books by Ruth Beechick that I read this summer. Dr. Beechick is a lifelong teacher and curriculum author who now writes mostly for homeschoolers.
The Three R’s
This small book (just over 100 pages) covers grades K-3. As you can guess from the title it covers the basics for those early grades. It contains three sections previously published separately under the titles A Home Start in Reading, A Strong Start in Language, and An Easy Start in Arithmetic. Even though her book focuses on the basics, she doesn’t recommend drilling basics all day to the detriment of learning and exploring real life. She recommends teaching “real stuff” to your child:
Science is a natural because children are curious about the world around them, and you can capitalize on that curiosity. But you can teach also about music, art, literature, money, work, safety, God, people and everything else you and your child are interested in.
You Can Teach Your Child Successfully
This book is significantly longer (nearly 400 pages) and covers grades 4-8. It details techniques for teaching the basics plus history and social studies, science and health, music and art, and the Bible.
Why I Love Dr. Beechick’s Books
These books aren’t new, but they are filled with practical how-to homeschool information. I found myself underlining and making notes in the margins in nearly every chapter of both books. I read these books at a time when I felt a bit frazzled in my homeschool lifestyle and unsure of what changes to make. After pouring over these books I felt like I’d just sat down with a wonderful mentor. Ruth Beechick’s down-to-earth approach and assertion that homescholing shouldn’t be difficult or filled with drudgery left me reinvigorated for another year of educating my children.
In both books Ms. Beechick takes subjects one at a time and discusses reasonable goals and how to work toward those goals. For each subject she provides plenty of background information. That includes technical information (like the properties of numbers), research results (like studies on early versus late reading instruction), and educational philosophy (like why we should study poetry, art or music).
Then she shares teaching strategies. I found much that I could use in my home educating, and believe her information and ideas could be used by homeschoolers from many educational philosophies.
This is why I appreciated her ideas:
She approaches each subject with an understanding of how children learn.
Her recommended techniques are time-tested (like copywork and dictation) and simple (like to learn to write, write).
For each subject she provides many ideas like learning using newspapers, playing games during math learning, or how to create a customized spelling program.
She encourages simple methods that require very little to buy. Good books along with paper and pencils provide the bulk of necessary supplies.
The activities don’t waste time, energy, or money but are valuable, meaningful and useful. You won’t find mindless busywork.
The learning is very individualized. You use the techniques that work for you and your students, always meeting them at their developmental level.
In most cases she advocates the avoidance of textbooks and workbooks, preferring reading and using real books instead. For example, skip the grammar workbooks and find a good grammar reference book that your student learns to use when writing.
You encourage your children to follow their interests, think and ask questions. This allows you as the parent to step out of the job of being answer-giver.
These books will remain on my shelf for years to come. Re-reading sections is like a pep talk and helps me feel like I can teach my child successfully!
What are your favorite homeschool reference books?
Heidi homeschools her two children in Maine using an eclectic mix including Charlotte Mason’s ideas, quality literature and hands-on learning. She strives to show her children that learning is an exciting, life long adventure. She shares their experiences on her blog, Home Schoolroom.