First, a bit of an upfront disclosure.. As a home school mom in Chicago-land, Julie and I have crossed paths on occasion over the years. We met early on in our parenting journeys at a friend's house for a play date with our little ones, later at a home school mom's book group that met at Julie's home and once again at a Special Olympics gymnastics meet. It has now been several years since and though over those years we didn't spend enough time in each other's company to develop a closer friendship, we did both develop a similar homeschooling approach. Our children's interests have led us down different paths, with fewer opportunities to meet, but with a shared understanding of learning.
It has also been a while since I've read a book from cover to cover about education and learning generally, or even homeschooling specifically. In the early days of our family's homeschooling journey, I devoured books about homeschooling from cover to cover late into many nights. John Holt, John Taylor Gatto and David and Micki Colfax, were a few of those who truly spoke to me and reassured me about my own observations and our approach to guiding learning in our home, with our children.
Julie's book falls in line with these authors, who's observations resonated with me then and still today. This is the homeschooling genre that I have read and collected from early on, these are the writings and the views that sustained me, they will always remain in my collection. I think Julie will be pleased to read that her book will join those authors on my shelf.
Learning all the time, natural learning, free range learning, child led, are all descriptive phrases that have been used in an attempt to explain an approach that takes the child into full consideration as their adult teachers and mentors guide them through a topic of interest. It is from a child's own innate curiosity that leads a child into a greater understanding and to continue through the study of any subject matter.
Julie takes a reader through her understanding of this approach, how she has developed a deeper appreciation of a plan bigger than her own for her children. In her well organized writing she reveals her Christian faith as the basis for her approach to homeschooling.
Julie discusses topics that I have often considered while on this journey, not just of homeschooling but of parenting. My desire to increase the chances of my children maintaining their love of learning and internal drive to continue to acquire new skills and learn throughout life led me to books like Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn. Julie references Kohn's book as well. She sums it up with this statement "The extent to which the environment is controlling through rewards/punishment, threats, survveillance, evaluation, deadlines, being ordered around or by competition is the extent to which a person will lose their intrinsic motivation." Julie Polanco
I think she would appreciate the story of my oldest learning to ride a bike with onlooking neighbors. To their dismay, I did not cheer in excited positive exclamations as my first born rode a bike down our suburban sidewalk for the first time. Without fanfare, I was pleased, I did smile and he did continue to ride a two wheeler!
Julie gives similar examples from her own family. She describes the evolution of her own journey and provides us with a clear and deep understanding of learning and the benefits of following God's lead, as seen in the blossoming of those in our care. This book is a welcome bridge between the many homeschooling communities that I have been aware of in Chicago-land, from the undisciplined unschoolers to the strictly book work, no nonsense scholars, Julie's book could help us see our similarities, in our hopes and in God's plan for our children. Easy to access and easy to share, I am glad Julie followed the calling to put it all into a published book. I will be sharing this title with the gift list I began while reading the very first chapter. I hope you will, too. It is also available in e-book format for half price through August 22nd.
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