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Jul 30 2013

Book review: How to Work and Homeschool

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 7.05.02 PMIn the last year or so, I’ve become an unofficial mentor of sorts to parents of gifted kids. I have a couple-three computer or phone conversation a month, talking to parents, passing along resources, commiserating, gently suggesting that maybe homeschooling should be considered. Inevitably I get one of two answers:

“Oh, I could never homeschool, we would kill each other.” I know this reply in a deep and intimate way. Very deep and intimate. We were in an extended relationship, and know more about each other than we really should. This reply and I broke up almost two years ago, and amazingly enough, my son and I have not only not killed each other, but we actually get along better than we have in years. The other answer?

“I would love to homeschool, but I have to work.” I understand and respect this reply. The sacrifices to homeschool vary from family to family, and oftentimes giving up a second income (or the only income) just isn’t possible. It’s a horrible situation to be in, caught between the needs of your child and the needs of everyone. But before throwing out that answer as the final answer full stop, I strongly suggest a little reading.

How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips and Strategies from Parents by Pamela Price is the latest release from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press. Pamela is an active blogger, writing at Red, White, and Grew, as well as her book-inspired blog, How to Work and Homeschool. This book is one I needed last winter, when I was actively trying to find gainful employment; I needed to know that two full-time working adults (with one working from home) could somehow manage to educate The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ without traveling further down the crazy trail. While I’m not actively searching for full-time employment at this moment, I am working; I have a slowly growing flute studio and work part time at a shop, not to mention writing and volunteering and running a household and being The Keeper of All the Remembering Things. So to say I’ve been anxiously awaiting Pamela’s book is a bit of an understatement.

Like another of GHF’s publications, Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child, HTWAH eased my mind. You can work and homeschool. Others have, and their stories pepper this book. The book covers the work/homeschool balance by focusing on the myths and realities of homeschooling, as well as detailed strategies for making it all work, and troubleshooting the inevitable snafus. The most helpful section, by far, is the appendix full of sample schedules. When I was actively looking for a job, these schedules would have been so helpful. Seeing that it was possible to “get it all done” would have done wonders for my mind. Right now I’m fortunate that the work I do is flexible and the schedule is set more or less by me. For the most part I teach and work after traditional school hours, giving me the better part of the day to homeschool and keep the household plates spinning. I dislike that our elementary school-attending son doesn’t get me after school, but it often can’t be helped; everything is a balancing act and the best I can do is tweak it to fix the biggest problems.

I underlined and dog-eared nearly every page as I read. It’s a slim book, but every page is packed full of ideas, inspiration, and actionable suggestions. Even though I could have used the book several months ago, reading it now was great timing; I’m planning for the school year as I’m seeing a potentially enormous jump in the number of students in my flute studio. I will have to reevaluate our previous schedules and juggle everything until stuff falls into place. With a public school-attending kid, a homeschooler, an intensely busy husband, and my own crazy calendar, there’s a lot of juggling to do.

If you’re working and want to homeschool, or homeschool and want/need to work, or are already doing both and wondering how others manage everything, you really need this book. How to Work and Homeschool, and its accompanying blog, are helpful resources for balancing the varied and important facets of our lives. I really do plan to use Pamela’s suggestions this year as my work situation fluctuates. It’s a quick and easy read, and well worth your time.

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Full disclosure: Pamela is a friend. I am also published by GHF Press. I was sent a copy of How to Work and Homeschool for review. None of these influenced my opinion of the book. It’s just a darned fine publication, and dearly needed by many in the homeschooling community.

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  1. Pamela Price (@redwhiteandgrew)

    Thank you so much for an awesome review. I genuinely appreciate it–especially coming from you!

    1. Jen

      I’m not kidding when I say I needed your book last winter. I was ticked off I had to wait! LOL 😉 But it was WELL worth the wait.

  2. BeckyG

    This is why I love reading your blog – you give me hope. We’ll be taking the homeschool plunge in a year or so. I could use a blogpost about stealthschooling kindergarten. What would you have done for your son?

    1. Jen

      You know, I don’t know. Hindsight is 20/20. He had a fantastic preschool experience; I wish EVERYONE could have had a Miss Becky. Kinder…his teacher, personality-wise, was a 7th grade science teacher. LOL! That said, she was pretty good, even though she intimated that we were pushing him to learn when he really was the one pulling.

      When it comes to out of the box gifted kids, I’m really starting to think that child-directed learning (aka unschooling) may be the way to go. You’re not butting up against their intense personalities, but guiding their interests. It’s hard to say what I would have done, as I said until nearly the moment we faxed the school district that I couldn’t possibly homeschool my child. But knowing what I know now, I would follow your child’s interests, and use those to sneak in what you want him/her to learn.

      1. BeckyG

        Thanks. I think following his lead is the best plan for now, I’m just hoping he will naturally love to read and write. Ha ha. I do have him signed up for a preschool this fall but the year after that, it’s all me since we’ll be overseas again.

  3. shelli : mamaofletters

    Just found your blog, and your book suggestion sounds like what I need. Thank you!

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