Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Educating the WholeHearted Child


I had to go in to the office to work a few hours today – a Sunday – the joy of having an IT hat.  I set up Miss Esmé in the conference room, and she did fabulously. 

So we celebrated by heading to the McDonalds with the indoor playground, where she ran the show with other kids for a couple of hours while I indulged in my favorite pastime of reading a homeschool book.  I think I’ve mentioned being a homeschool book junkie before?

When we came home, I got out the schoolbooks, but Esmé just wasn’t into it, and as long as she wasn’t bored and begging for a DVD, I figured I’d let it go.  So I got some housework done while she:

  • invented a new move on her swing,
  • captured a dragonfly,
  • released the ladybug she caught on Friday,
  • discussed the differences between dragonflies and flies and butterflies,
  • looked for ants to feed to her dragonfly,
  • set up a store and sold me a dragonfly and a bucket of yellow straws for the price of two metal washers,
  • drew a pumpkin-shaped spider web (amongst other designs) on her chalkboard,
  • had a baby boy (doll) and mothered it,
  • scrambled the states on her US magnet board,
  • took apart a skeleton puzzle and put it halfway back together,
  • unpacked her “moving away from home” box that she had taped up, ready for her forthcoming adoption by a family who would let her do what SHE wants to do
  • sang Monkey See Monkey Do over and over, and
  • sorted letter tiles from her SpellTime game, unmaking words. 

All without any initiation on my part.

A perfectly lovely homeschool day…

PhotobucketWhich sort of brings me back to the point of this post.  That homeschool book I got to read.  Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson.


God did not forget to include "school" in his biblical design for raising children – home education is a natural expression of all that God intended for parents and their children. Clay and Sally Clarkson's Educating the WholeHearted Child is about rediscovering God's original design for the family. What you'll find in this book is a homeschooling model that makes sense. It's an approach that is based on sound biblical principles of nurture, discipleship, instruction, and learning. Newly revised and significantly expanded, Educating the WholeHearted Child is about much more than homeschooling; it is about life. Effective Christian homeschooling must begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home, and the Clarksons' uncomplicated, common-sense approach to life and learning will provide you with the tools you need to experience God's abundant blessings for your family.

ISBN:  978-1-932012-95-8

Recommended Age:  Parents of children ages 4-14

For More Info:  Sample Chapter, Table of Contents

Price:  $22.00

To Purchase: Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.

For More Reviews: TOS Crew

What Mom Liked:

  • Christian approach.  I’m of the school of thought that “home education” is not the same as “home discipleship” – I homeschool for academic reasons rather than Christian/moral reasons, so veer a little away from the authors’ premises at times.  However, the Christian WholeHearted approach inspires me in many ways and helps me prioritize better.
  • WholeHearted Learning Educational Model.  This is my favorite part of the book.  I love how the model interrelates the Discipleship, Disciplines, Discussion, Discovery, and Discretionary Studies.  Discipleship is rightly at the bottom, and Disciplined (the 3Rs, mainly) is correctly separate but also connected to the other areas.  It all just makes sense.
  • Comprehensive coverage.  This book reads like a college textbook, albeit an interesting one.  (I find it mildly ironic that proponents of the whole-book method authored it, but since they are passionate and wrote the entire book themselves, I suppose it does qualify as a “living book.”)  It is well-organized and covers EVERYTHING on the subject,though you may need additional resources to get further depth.  Homeschooling methods, personality types, advice on subject matter, homeschool supplies, field trip ideas, and even book lists are all included.
  • Easy to relate.  The Clarksons include an “In Our Home” section and give lots of examples that make the text come alive.  For instance, one of their 12 pillars is “Children learn from real life,” and they give an example of a child seeing and holding a garden snake versus being told what it is and shown pictures.  That’s my girl, all right!  Once she’d held it, she was eager to peruse lots of snake books.
  • image
  • Focus on books.  I love literature-based study.  My ideal school life would be to curl up with good books for hours on end, breaking away for practical stuff like ballet lessons and math discussions with Dad.
  • The overview of different homeschool methodologies.  I’ve read up on most of these myself, but it was interesting to read a new perspective and see how the Clarksons categorized some of them.  I think this would be extremely helpful for a new homeschooler.
  • Advice on a learning room.  They strongly encourage a room dedicated to learning, and setting up a learning environment throughout your house.  Sounds so much like what I wrote!
  • Personality section.  I’m not a big believer in putting kids into boxes, so I almost skipped this, but the “Shaper” Child characteristics caught my eye.  That is SO Esmé.  It gave me some ideas on how to motivate and work with her, since I personally am at the opposite end of the spectrum.

What Mom Didn’t Like:

There is a reason I am wholeheartedly eclectic.  I love gleaning everything I can from different homeschool books, compiling my own methodology and adapting as we go.  Here are a few things that don’t work for our family.

  • Charlotte Mason methodology.  I started listing the specific things that I don’t like, and realized most of them can be traced to the influence of Charlotte Mason.  While she has some great contributions to education, there are certain principles of hers that just don’t click for us, like delayed formal academics (we’re into acceleration!), emphasis on narration (why make a big deal of something as natural as breathing?), copywork (not creative Esmé’s cup of tea), and criteria for living books and art (I’ll take pop fiction “twaddle” with good values over certain fairy tales any day of the week, and I’m really not into archaic English).  I could probably write a whole post on this subject, so I’ll stop here.  Thankfully the Clarksons don’t seem to espouse a sparse selection of well-loved books, because that would REALLY bore Miss Esmé.
  • Various specifics.  Certain specific suggestions are given that don’t work for us.  We like the beginning reading “gimmicks,” for example.  And for handwriting, I think we’ll skip on italics (the style I use when I’m sloppy) and cursive altogether. Not a significant negative in terms of the larger picture.
  • Family roles.  We’re a little unconventional in our homeschooling roles, splitting things between mom, dad, and day care with a friend.  Some of the life section just doesn’t fit us.

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be using it as a reference for years to come.  It makes a great roadmap for new and veteran homeschoolers alike.Photobucket

Thanks to Apologia for providing the book for review and to TOS Crew for coordinating the review.  We are not being paid for this review, and all opinions are our own.


ParkerMama said...

I'm totally with you. I like taking the best from many books and offering up that to Parker.

Tammy and Parker
@ParkerMama on Twitter