*available from Apologia for $20.00
***Fourteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first babygirl, I was looking through parent resources in a bookstore and "somehow" ran across The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell. Knowing there was no possible way I could stay home to educate my future children, I started to return it to the shelf, but the wealth of information on education, learning styles, and resources intrigued me into taking home a copy. It was at that time that God planted the seed that would grow into Gunn Ranch Academy.
I referred to my earlier edition of The Ulimate Guide to Homeschooling a little bit when we were first given the gift of homeschooling some 9 or so years after I purchased it, but as our elementary years began to shape themselves, I gave it to a friend who really wanted to start homeschooling herself. At the time my children were still elementary aged and I hadn’t even read the Jr. High or High School info.
I was happy to receive the new version of Debra Bell’s book for review. I have to admit I don’t really remember the look or layout of the older version I had owned, but I was really impressed when I took the bright orange book from the package. I anxiously flipped through the table of contents which you can view here, and upon doing a quick overview of the chapters saw neatly organized material in easy to read font on quality paper.
As I began to read through the first part, though, I will admit I felt a growing feeling of inadequacy. While I know every homeschooling family is different, the feeling crossed my mind more than once that maybe I should just pack up my kids and send them to Debra’s house for school. Supportive community with co-ops? Nope. Not here. Peaceful, organized household? Wrong again. Other responsibilities and commitments, employed? Yep, part time out of the home. Church? Yep, youth groups, praise band, Bible studies. Financial commitment? minimal resources, but there always seems to be enough for purchases of reading material from "Half Price Books", and used curriculum lists. Discipline: setting goals and achieving them? finishing projects? sometimes, but much of our learning is pretty spontaneous. Kids watching me do a surgery, identifying old bones we found on our ranch, or putting aside our schoolwork for a day or two to concentrate on studying the anatomy and physiology of the horse for our 4-H Horse Judging competition. Good schedule for getting up and going to bed? Ummm, definitely not. Supportive spouse? uh, no. Most of the time I’m trying to prove to him I’m not ruining the kids. LOL.
As I read on, however, through many other sections such as learning styles, raising responsible kids, faithful kids, burnout busters, fabulous field trips, then on into the seemingly never-ending list of subject resources and books, much of which I was very familiar, I became increasingly excited about using this as a valuable resource for years to come. As we have just begun our journey into the Jr High years, and will be starting some High School credits next year (while starting Kindergarten again as well), I will no doubt be reading over many of the chapters of this book again and again.
While I highly recommend this book as a worthwhile resource on your homeschool shelves, I would pass along a word of caution with it, especially to newbies and those deciding whether to homeschool or not. Every family is different, and we need to be cautious as not to compare our accomplishments, but instead to rejoice in what God has bestowed upon individual families. Where He might provide an abundance of co-ops, sporting opportunities, Scouting, Drama/Debate clubs to one community, He might provide a 30 acre ranch and the opportunity to break a wild filly to another family.
Funny, isn’t it, that just as I’m wishing I could send my kids over to a better organized homeschool with seemingly more opportunities, I open my Facebook page to see a post from a friend who just read my blog asking if she can send her kids to MY house to school. LOL.
In the end, I think our Ultimate Homeschool Guide should be God. But for a great little book to help you organize subjects, make a family plan, figure out what to do with those littles while you are trying to teach your biguns, how to make it through Jr High and High School, and even some college advice, pick up a copy of Debra Bell’s The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. She can hold your hand and get you back on track through some hard times and/or help guide you in creating just the right homeschool environment for your unique family with her hands of experience.
**As a final note I’d like to include that our family LOVES Apologia Science and have used a few other of their products such as Jump In for writing. You can see my review of Apologia from last year’s TOS Crew voyage here.
Apolologia Ministries has undergone big changes in ownership as well as adding many new and exciting aspects of homeschooling to their ministry. While they still have the same outstanding sciences that made them famous, I think you’ll appreciate the new season God has led them into. Take some time to check them out!
As always, don’t forget to check out my Crewmates experience with this product over at the Crew Blog.
This book was given to me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for purposes of review. No other compensation was received, and opinions you see here are my own honest thoughts and feelings.