TOS Crew: The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (Apologia)

You know, when you call a book The Ultimate anything, you’re setting up some pretty big expectations. (However, when that anything is “updated and revised” and over 500 pages, you know you may be on to a good thing.)

Debra Bell’s Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling is one of the books I turned to in our early years of homeschooling. I was desperate. We’d already tried public school, and private school. The merciless bullying and Russian Roulette of teachers (as in, our poor Eldest had four teachers in her first two years, succeeding and blossoming under two of them, but the other two…) meant that there was no way we were going to throw her back in to try to swim with the sharks.

Now, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling might not be for everyone, especially those who bristle at someone who sets up as an expert and proceeds to tell you how it ought to be done. However, I find Debra Bell a competent voice of experience. She’s been doing this for awhile, and sprinkles her chapters with anecdotes that show how her opinions on various aspects of homeschooling were formed. She’s also enlisted other homeschoolers to chip in their two cents. Bear in mind that these are her opinions, and read the book in the same spirit you’d have in a conversation with another homeschool mom who’s trodden the road ahead of you and turned back to share from her experience.

The book is part advice, part resource list (books, websites, and more). The author starts out with foundational material, as in determining why you’re homeschooling in the first place, and if you’ve got staying power. Only after examining what factors contribute to homeschooling success (and how do you measure success?) does she tackle the nuts and bolts, like choosing curriculum, considering learning styles, organizing your time and space, dealing with teens and/or toddlers, resources, record-keeping, testing and college preparation.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, and you don’t even have to read the whole book to benefit. (Though I did. I’m something of a compulsive reader. I just can’t help myself.)

Like a lot of Apologia books, there’s a companion website with additional materials. Also check out the author’s website, with links to email discussion groups (forums), and her blog.

The Ultimate Homeschool Guide is available for $20 from Apologia Press or from retailers.

To read more TOS Crew reviews of this book, click here.

Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew received free copies of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling for review purposes. No additional monetary compensation was involved. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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