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Homeschooling: A Family's Journey Review by Charlotte Gochnauer

Gregory and Martine Millman
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin
(212) 366-2000

This is a book written by the parents of six children who decided to go against the flow and homeschool their children. The Millman's began the education of their oldest child at a catholic school but soon began to have conflicts with teaching styles and grading on the curve. So they stepped out and began their homeschooling journey in the early 90's. They attended a catholic homeschooling conference and began by using a curriculum company and umbrella school. After a year they chose to move away from structured schooling to a more relaxed style. A school-like curriculum only made sense to them in the context of a classroom school so they began to tailor their education to a more eclectic style. They also participated in many activities, including Judo, debate tournaments and swimming. At the time of this book, they have sent their three oldest to college and are continuing to homeschool the younger three.

The book explains in depth their schooling style. They see their teaching as 'Individual-Centered Education', an approach to homeschooling proposed by Howard Gardner. This form of teaching is described as meeting the child where he is instead of demanding certain goals based on age. Homeschooling is easily adapted to each child's pace and best taught in the manner suited to each child's ability. There are also certain things that a parent can and should do that classroom schools cannot because of their format: teach virtue, learn by emulation or example and pace the teaching to each individual child.

They encourage learning in every situation in life and help their children to be interested in politics, real estate, music and current events. They also utilize the television and computer for means of knowledge and rarely for entertainment. They mainly use daily activities to guide their learning. For example, if a tree trimmer was working outside during school, they might stop math to observe. Learning about the tree itself is science, watching the tree branch fall is a lesson in physics and the way the workers interact is sociology. In short, they view education as exploring the current moment and continuing far beyond college.

Travel is also a tool that they utilize for teaching. Their family has been to Europe several times and has taken trips across the U.S., visiting factories, industrial museums and national parks. It was important to their family to not necessarily vacation, but travel to learn. Food is mentioned as a means of learning; what a culture eats can define their way of life. There is a chapter on homeschooling groups and the benefits of getting involved in one. Another chapter is about higher education and is titled, 'Accepting a College'. They saw the admissions process, not as gaining entrance into college, but instead deciding which college they would accept. There is a lot of detail about college admission and some of the stereotypes homeschoolers need to overcome. They share their screening criteria and an extensive list of what things a family can do to prepare for college.

Overall, I thought this book was a good tool for both veteran homeschoolers and also those who might be new to it. The Millman's are catholic, and there are a few references to that fact. They do not mention religious study or use scripture to defend their decision to homeschool. But because of this I could see how this would be a good book to give to someone who is thinking of homeschooling for purely academic reasons. The chapter on traveling seemed unrealistic at times because not all homeschoolers have the means to travel even out of their own state. The information about college is excellent and would be very useful to those who are planning to homeschool through high school. For all readers, I feel this book could cause parents to re-examine their homeschooling and can also remind us of the freedom we have to choose every aspect of our child's education.

Product Review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC