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Love the Journey: Homeschooling Principles to Practices Review by Michelle Gibson

Marcia Somerville
Lampstand Press
1135 N. Eastman Road
Kingsport, TN 37664

Love the Journey is an inspiring, encouraging, and practical book on Christian homeschooling. Written for the beginning homeschooling mom, the book is divided into five sections:

  • Your Homeschool is Your Homeschool!
  • Mountaintop Views
  • When You Sit at Home
  • As You Walk Along the Way
  • When You Lie Down & When You Rise Up

Section 1, Your Homeschool is Your Homeschool!, is about getting to know yourself by answering questions such as: Why do you homeschool? In analyzing that question, I was asked to consider why I first started homeschooling and what motivates me today. Ms. Somerville moves you beyond the pages of the book, and after writing your initial answers down, she asks you to answer the question in different ways, emphasizing different words to gain more insight into your reasons. She asks lots of great questions to get you thinking about the direction you are headed in.

I didn't realize how challenging it would be to clarify the ends we have in mind as a family, but she gives plenty of questions to get you started and encourages you to map it out with your husband. Ms. Somerville ends this section with a discussion on how our curricula choices will be greatly influenced by our family goals and direction, and she gives you practical questions to consider when choosing curriculum. 

In Section 2, Mountain Top Views, Ms. Somerville hits a home run when she shares how we live our life makes the biggest impression and has the biggest influence on our children; and even though our children will not be formed by any one influence, discipleship is the heart of the homeschooling process. She stresses throughout this section that who we are really matters and that we will have the most impact on our children by keeping our own hearts passionate for the glory of God.

She also reminds us that it is our responsibility to set limits for our children and be aware of how much freedom they have. She calls this "training in liberty." This chapter greatly impacted me as I've seen the consequences of too much liberty in our own family and it encouraged me all the more to make sure I set limits. The chapterMore Isn't Always Better, encouraged me to trust in and to turn to God for creative problem solving. And finally, she turns your heart home in the chapter Who Are Your Best Friends. 

In Section 3, When You Sit at Home, Ms. Somerville first encourages us to submit to our husband's authority inThe Husband Suitable for You. I loved that she does not focus on submission or obedience per se, but with the protection and guidance our husbands can offer us if we embrace God's plan for our family. I found this to be a fresh, wonderful perspective, and it really helped change my perspective on submission.  

She then talks about how to keep a quiet, peaceful, orderly home, both spiritually and physically. I love that Ms. Somerville encourages us to ask God what He would have for us in our unique situation. We do seem to be busy with sports outside the home, but with a house full of boys that need to be kept busy in good ways, I feel that for our unique situation, with my husband being a sports director, that being active in sports is healthy for our family. It means we don't have meals together every night, but it also makes me focus on how we can keep a quiet home in our own unique way. I do feel that more pruning needs to be done and I love that Ms. Somerville gets me to think about the fact that each of the little choices I make affect our family as a whole.

Along with encouraging us to make wise choices and prune and submit to God, Ms. Somerville also focuses on practical ways to keep our home quiet and peaceful while homeschooling. The first practical advice she gives is to schedule and structure. I am not very scheduled and structured, but for the first time ever, I am drawn to the idea because of this book. So much of what Ms. Somerville shares just makes sense, I am encouraged to be more scheduled and structured, and I am loving it! She convinced me to at least write down everything I want to accomplish in a day and then schedule it so that I can see if it will even fit. What I learned is that what I want to accomplish isn't practical or even doable. It's no wonder I feel stressed trying to get it all in! Second, she encourages us to plan. I do love to plan but wasn't making it a priority and needed the encouragement to make time to plan and love the practical tips Ms. Somerville offers. She also offers principles and practices for keeping preschoolers not only occupied, but how to incorporate valuable interaction with them, in what she calls Face Time, and she includes a chapter on managing chores and parenting through the homeschooling journey.  

In Section 4, As You Walk Along the Way, Ms. Somerville moves from principles to practices and offers tips and detailed information on how to complete the everyday tasks of homeschooling. But, not before she gives a gentle reminder that principles underlie practices. She first alerts us to the ways that gender differences affect parenting and homeschooling. Then she talks about why modalities matter and goes into detail about visual, auditory, and tactile learning. She even offers a worksheet and questions to help you learn your children's preferred learning modalities. And also asks "What about YOU?" So happy she did! I learned I am a visual learner before a tactile learner, and most definitely not an auditory learner. Most importantly, we learn why this matters and how to lesson plan with these modalities in mind.

Ms. Somerville continues on in this section by transitioning to talking about various kinds of curricula. I loved this not only for the information, but Ms. Somerville also lists the pros and cons of each. I was encouraged by the chapter When Trudging is Called For as I struggle with some basic disciplines and with the daily aspects of life. Ms. Somerville also includes helpful advice for making choices and then discusses the value of memory work and crafts, which spoke right to my heart! She not only includes the importance, but also offers storage solutions and then fun ways to incorporate arts and crafts into your homeschool. 

In Section 5, When You Lie Down & When You Rise Up, Ms. Somerville returns to the principles behind the practices. First, she reminds us of the importance of prayer, faith, diligence, and obedience to God’s Word. I loved her reminder to trust in God for the success of our homeschool. Then, she reminds us of our daily need for love, patience, kindness, gratitude, and even what love is not - envious, and how they all apply to our homeschooling life. What a wonderful end to a wonderful book!

This truly is a wonderful book on important homeschooling principles with lots of practical tips and plenty of examples to share Ms. Somerville’s vision. On my 10th year of homeschooling, Im not a beginning homeschool mom, but I benefited from this book in so many ways. I often found myself wanting to put the book down to apply what I have learned, or pray what I am reading. There is just so much wonderful wisdom and practicality in this book that it begs to be read again to commit all the information to heart.

I think the mark of a truly wonderful book is whether or not it encourages, inspires, or changes. Love the Journey does all three and I whole-heartedly recommend it for any homeschool mom, beginning or not.

Product review by Michelle Gibson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2014