What Homeschooling Resources Do You Recommend?

That is a bit like asking me for the secret of successful marriage or how to build a multi-million dollar business. In the final analysis, while there are many useful home-schooling resources and taking advantage of the hard work done by others is a no-brainer, as human beings each of us has to independently sift through available material or chart our own path.

Each parent and each child is an individual. What appeals to and is effective for one person will repel or bore another person to tears. The same material introduced at a different stage of life may well get an entirely different result. I remember when Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage was assigned as mandatory reading for one of my college courses. I found it the most boring book imaginable. Years later, the Sonlight (o.k., I guess I did mention one resource.  I will speak more about it at another time.) curriculum I was using with my twelve-year-old daughter included that very book, which elicited an unarticulated groan from me.

Little did I know that the book, which we did as a read-aloud and followed up by going to see a dramatization presented by our local youth theater, would have both my daughter and me completely enraptured. Boring? Not in the slightest. At the right time and presented in the right way for the people we each were at that stage of our lives, it was riveting.

Whether we are talking about educating ourselves or facilitating the education of our children, there is no magical path that lets us just “buy this” or “enroll in this” to guarantee success. If I had to isolate one characteristic that separates successful education from its opposite, whether is it in or out of the classroom, it would be a passion for learning. If you can stoke that passion, you are on your way to success.

4 thoughts on “What Homeschooling Resources Do You Recommend?”

  1. I really appreciate you breaking out the parenting musings from the past into a separate webpage. Every time you mention homeschooling on AJW, I’m all ears.

    I know you said you’d discuss curriculum later, but I’m curious as to what part of Sonlight you used. It’s hard for me to justify paying so much for the history packages which seem to be full of trinity theology, but my husband prefers that I find a curriculum package this year. Any thoughts on curricula that come close to being Torah centered would really help. I tried Homeschooling Torah for a while, but found myself having to constantly correct and alter the material. I spent more time prepping than teaching. I only have seven or eight years left with my daughter as a homeschooler. I want it to be a more gratifying experience for both of us!

  2. Rabbi Lapin (And Susan who gives WONDERFUL book reviews) as an eternal life long learning 67 year old former English major (who has a tiny apartment totally stuffed with books of classical literature) and who has starved for books quite often, to acquire and own them thereby to study them closely and for decades, I really love the Red Badge of Courage as a book and as the film made by John Houston. Also love Stephan Cranes very vivid, poignant and truth seeking poetry. I am very glad you and your daughter had the turn around experience with that book, Rabbi Lapin. I also find it very true and mysterious how books of import seem to find you at the exact right moment in your life and as Susan said on a recent TV episode (the one where you wondered out loud whether, after making a mistake in confusing Jane Austen with Charlotte Bronte, you should just do a show on making pancakes)…to repeat, Susan said she loves classic literary books because she sees them as a window into other people’s lives. I feel exactly the same way and thought it was a very lovely thing for her to say about good books and reading in general. I also loved her idea about reading books for comfort. And also I remember thinking if Rabbi and Susan Lapin stopped right now and did an impromptu show on pancakes I would still be watching because no matter what they talk about I find grace in it and anyway, my pancake making skills are not that good as I often burn them and forget to turn them over whilst reading a good book. Blessings you your day, Sincerely, a fan no matter WHAT you both talk about and I even dare to think that Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte both would enjoy your broadcasts. Mary Angela Douglas

    1. What a charming comment, Mary Angela. You made my day! I actually make quite good pancakes, if rather basic than frilly. I sometimes wonder how many people are turned off books by being forced to read them in school and often fill in inane worksheets about them. I generally regretted when I succumbed as a homeschooling mom to assigning a worksheet on literature. On the other hand, I loved reading aloud to or with my children and discussing the books we were reading.

      1. Dear Susan Lapin, Thank you so much for the kind response to my rambling, Im very sorry I only found the comment so late after you posted it. I am pretty disorganized now I cheerfully admit. I truly think you are totally onto something real, that forced reading ruins it for a lot of students. I remember even though I loved reading from second grade on I always read in addition to the Required books (the ones marked R on the spine to clue us in) I would kind of rebelliously at the same time pick ANOTHER book with no R on the spine just to feel more free. And I am sure your children have so many wonderful memories stored up from your homeschooling days with them even the memory of the worksheets will have a long lasting pink glow around them in the future when they think back. I KNOW this is true. My grandmother who took care of me and was definitely both loving and scolding and loving in her scolding and disciplines, who rasied me from zero practically, EVEN the memories of her scoldings for me now have pink glows around them. I am so grateful for every memory I have of her. Is that what it means when Jewish people say of those who have passed on: May their memory be a blessing? I’ve always wondered;it is such a beautiful saying. Oh, forgot one last thing to say (like Colombo, but to a just person, not a perp of course), your children will also in future remember with a pink glow around them, your no frill pancakes, down to the last forkful I am sure. Even the memory of your pancakes will be a blessing which mine, not in this lifetime or any other, could ever be. Haha. I know my limits.

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