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Have Fun, Learn Stuff, Grow: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Love

David H. Albert
Common Courage Press

PO Box 702
Monroe, ME 04951 USA

When I first read this title, I was very intrigued by it and just HAD to read it. I am always looking for ways to inject fun into our homeschool. I also know that it's my love for my children that inspires me to keep going and not subject them to the confines of someone else's teaching for 35 hours of their week, 36 weeks every year for 12 years! My husband and I want to be the main influences in our children's lives and give them the freedom and time to pursue their own interests.

I began reading this book expecting it to show me ways to make homeschooling more fun. I was in for a big, but wonderful surprise! The author, David Albert, is a thought-provoking writer and I found myself challenged by what he had to say about why we should homeschool our children. He shared many examples from his own experience homeschooling his two daughters. The book is a compilation of essays that he has written about various topics - homeschooling gifted children, letting the child decide what to study (often called delight-directed learning), "unspelling," the value of video games, exposing our children to different cultures so that they can learn more about their world, and so on. I felt like I was just sitting down for a nice chat with Mr. Albert as I read through the various essays. He has a lot to say and a fun way of saying it!

Have Fun. Learn Stuff. Grow. shows the value of letting children following their own interests. As an example from my home, my son loves dinosaurs and trains. He can tell you anything you want to know about them because he is motivated by his own interest. However, he struggles trying to learn his multiplication facts. Is he stupid? Not in the least. Does this mean I give up on him? Again, not in the least. He WILL learn them, I am sure of it, but I need to find a way to motivate him and interest him in this task. Guess I need to pull out all of his toy dinos and trains and create some math problems, huh? This is the type of curriculum I need to use more often in my home - one based on my love for each INDIVIDUAL child.

The defining moment for me came towards the end of book in the chapter entitled "subiyay (1944-2005)." This chapter contains a eulogy that the author wrote for a friend. He states, "So hear the beating of the drum, the singing of our songs, dance the journey of the people, and let us tell the tales of subiyay's life, and be mindful of one of his great teachings:

"Don't teach all your children exactly the same thing. If you teach them all the same thing, and in the same way, they will come to believe they do not need each other. And that is no teaching at all."

With this statement, I found myself really beginning to understand what my homeschool could be like. It's NOT about duplicating school and bringing it home. It IS about really getting to know my children, accepting them for who they are (we deal with ADHD, autism and hearing loss in our homeschool) and letting them tell ME what they are interested in.

Although I have been homeschooling for over 4 years now, I know that it is never too late to pick up new ideas and use them in my homeschool. This book will challenge you to really get to know your children and to adapt the teaching process to their interests. Pick up a copy of this book for new homeschooling friends that are frustrated with duplicating school at home. Are you a veteran homeschooler looking to inject some liveliness into your child's learning process? Then read this book and watch your children "have fun .... learn stuff .... and, most of all, GROW!"
-Product Review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April 2006

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