Julie Polanco Book Review
There are many different ways to homeschool your children. Some families buy a complete boxed curriculum for each grade level that their children are in. Others follow a Classical Conversations mode of schooling their children. There are others that are more "eclectic" in their homeschooling style. Another type of homeschooling is called "unschooling". Julie Polanco explores the idea of unschooling in her book called "God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn".
Julie homeschools her four children through the unschooling method. She calls this method "natural learning". She feels as though God has called her to this method of schooling her children, or as she says that she guides her children to "educate themselves". This is a child-led interest based learning style.
I had heard of unschooling, but wasn't too sure of what it entails. She has her children complete chores and there is an order to the day, but her children do get to choose what they want to do and learn. She says, "Don't be afraid to plan activities, but be prepared for them to say no sometimes." I agree that children should be able to have some input in their learning. I continuously talk with our boys so we can adjust what we are doing to make sure that we are getting the most out of our time. I do not agree, however, that I should bow to their wishes and complaints.
I wanted to write some of the statements from the book and then add my thoughts to them:
* "Curriculum is meant to be a guide to help us accomplish our goals.
The curriculum is not the goal."
I have always thought of curriculum as a tool to use in order to teach my children what they needed to know. Later in the book she states that "no one outside of school uses curriculum.". These are contradictory statements.
* "Living your life in front of your children is the best food for those
little people who want so much to be like you."
That's what we have always believed. She states that children can learn from what you are doing and them doing it with you. Of course! That's what parenting is. We are to pass down our knowledge to our children by teaching them.
Julie breaks the book into two sections. The first section is called "Dispelling Myths" and the second section is called "Practice". She tries to dispel some of the myths about unschooling. She explains her thoughts and opinions about what she feels is the best way to educate her children. Then she talks about how to put this method into practice at different ages.
I have always said that homeschooling is not for everyone. Each family is different and they should be able to decide what is the best way to raise their children. I don't have a problem with unschooling families. I do have a problem when I am made to feel as though I am a bad parent and Christian because I choose to plan for my children and use my gifts and abilities in order to teach them. There needs to be a balanced approach to raising our children. Julie has strong opinions about how to homeschool children. She states it as this is the "only" method of homeschooling and if you don't do it this way then you aren't doing it God's way. I will have to politely disagree with this. God has called me, as a parent, to teach my children, not for me to let them pick and choose whatever they want to learn. As we have always said, "How do you know what you don't know unless someone teaches you?"
I really thought that this was going to be an easy read, but it wasn't. Throughout the entire book, I was constantly processing what she was stating against my own philosophy of education and raising children. I have to be honest. I really struggled while reading this book. I agree with some of what Julie says, but I had a hard time following her conclusions. Some of her conclusions contradict her propositions. They come across as factual and Biblical. Some of her Biblical references are misinterpreted and misapplied. It seemed as though she states an opinion and then puts in a Bible verse to "prove" how it was the right way. I truly believe that God needs to be at the center of our family, which includes our homeschooling. He has put us parents here to raise and teach our children what they need to know, not just what they want to know.
Julie Polanco's book "God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn" has really made me process my philosophy of education. It has taught me more about the unschooling method of homeschooling children. I know that this method is not in the best interest of my family, but I respect how strongly Julie loves her children and does what she thinks is best for her family.
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