Home Schooling Reflections
by Connie Colten
Reviewed by Beverley Paine, 2007,
The unusual style of this book - arranged around topics rather than chronologically - lends itself well to the complexity of home educating life. Time jumps and sometimes I found this disconcerting, but overall it helped to demonstrate that as we journey through the homeschooling experience we revisit many of the important lessons in life, deepening our understanding and appreciation of them.
I like the way the book's format naturally reflected the Colten family's unschooling approach to education. Learning, for them, is not about following a lock-step sequential development. It allows life to direct learning in a gentle and often unseen way and show how learning can unfold naturally within the family, home and community environments.
Connie touches on subjects that are rarely mentioned in homeschooling literature. The hindsight view is benefited and enabled by astute and insightful journalling over many years. I hope more homeschooling parents follow Connie's example and keep journals of their homeschooling and parenting journeys and then decide to share them so openly and frankly with thousands of other parents. I believe that we all benefit and grow as parents from such endeavours.
I feel less alienated after reading Home Schooling Reflections . Even though we chose to live and educate our children like the Coltens in a fashion 'outside of the box' I no longer feel as isolated as I once did. The sharing of honest stories such as Connie's has this wonderful effect.
Profound words of homeschooling wisdom shine throughout this book:
"So often we think we don't have time to take a break, when we simply don't have time not to..."
"I think as parents of kids that learn at home are often surprised a what the kids know, and have no idea when they learned that particular information. It is fun and amazing to observe."
"One of the those important aspects of us being a home together was simply having the time to celebrate the ordinary.."
Like Connie, I found that:
"I quickly learned that to have quality time with your child you need quantity time.. You can't force or understate quality time. You just need to be there when the magic happens."
This became my motto and we lived by this understanding, allowing ourselves to develop considerable patience with our homeschooling practice. We learned to forgive ourselves for not being perfect parents with perfect children and the perfect homeschooling approach. And, over the years, quantity proved to be what the children wanted most.
Dip into and read fragments of this book, like I did, and you'll be nourished. Almost every page echoes our own experiences and reflections as home educating parents (like Connie, our children are now adults). Connie writes with clear insight and with an uncanny ability to find a deeper meaning to the ordinary activities of every day life.
Connie Colten lives consciously and mindfully as a person and I greatly admire that ability in any one. It is a definite asset to the parenting skill tool box. Home Schooling Reflections is a celebration of the conscious and mindful parenting of five unschooled children. It provides an exceptional look at the changing lives, interests and needs of a busy family, living differently from most families in our society.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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