For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
After a friend had mentioned reading this book, I scanned my mom’s bookshelf and found her well-worn copy that she bought back in the mid 1980’s. The cover art is obviously different from the new edition, pictured here, but I didn’t want to scare anyone away from this amazing book with the 80’s artwork. (Although aren’t the 80’s back in vogue?!?!?)
As I read, I was inspired in the way I view my parenting and my children. While not specifically a ‘homeschool’ book (in fact her children were in all kinds of school both formal and at home), I really feel like she gets to the heart of what it means to parent and lays out a beautiful philosophy for raising children. It confirmed many of the thoughts I’d been having and confirmed the calling I felt to educate my children at home.
She really challenges modern notions of ‘school’ and ‘education’. Education is so much more than simply sitting at a desk and learning skills. Learning is a beautiful, creative and fulfilling way of life. It has been incredible to see our home transform into a place where we are all seeking to learn and respecting the different capacities and levels that each one is at – both child and adult alike. There is joy in the discovery and it has been a delight to watch my children discover more about the incredible world around us.
I also appreciate Macaulay and Charlotte Mason’s respect for young children and their need to ‘play to learn’. Both advocate a very developmentally appropriate approach to early education!
I can’t say enough about it. If you have kids, read it!
Other books I have LOVED include: )
Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk by David Elkind. Again, not a homeschool book, but an awesome book on what is healthy and appropriate learning in the preschool years. We live in a culture where there is a lot of pressure to build our toddler/preschoolers brain and ‘do’ formal academics with them. Elkind, a renowned developmental psychologist, dispels the myth that this is good and in fact shows how dangerous it can be to push academics at an early age. From the description on Amazon: “Development in toddlers, he cautions, can be seriously damaged by parents’ well-meaning rush to give them a head-start on education or in sports. Preschoolers ought to be encouraged in their spontaneous learning rather than given formal instruction that teaches them “the wrong things at the wrong time.” Incredible book, especially if you are feeling pressure from well-meaning friends/family or struggling with not wanting your toddler/preschooler to be left behind.
Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. This super helpful book is chock full of information on scientific studies of how young children learn and cautions against the rush to cram academics. Like Dr. Elkind does, they point out that there is no evidence that early academic training has any long term benefits and in fact can cause harm. One of my favorite parts when I read it several years ago were the sections that layed out developmental milestones and ‘experiments’ (i.e. games) you could play with your children to see if they had reached certain ones yet. I found it a facinating, freeing and inspiring read perfect for those with 1-4 year olds!
Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think and What We Can Do About It by Jane Healy This is the book that got me started on my fascination with the science of how children learn. I even explored the option of going back to grad school to pursue this further… (Back in my post homeschool student, post biology undergraduate and pre-kid stage of life!) The review from amazon sums it up quite succinctly saying that this book is “a fascinating exploration of today’s much-deplored decline in school achievement….[Healy] clearly conveys the relationship between language, learning, and brain development, then explains why television viewing and present-day lifestyles sabotage language acquisition, thinking, and personal success. “
So those are some of my top picks… What parenting/education books have you found helpful?