Book Review: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year by Laura Brodie – and a giveaway

Title: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year
Author: Laura Brodie
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the author
First line: On a cold October morning my ten-year-old daughter, Julia, sat at our kitchen table and contemplated the Earth’s layers.

Last year, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Laura Brodie’s novel The Widow’s Season. While communicating with Ms. Brodie about her novel, I mentioned that I am a homeschooling mom. She told me that her next book would be a memoir of the year she spent homeschooling her daughter, Julia. When she e-mailed me earlier this year about reviewing it, I didn’t hesitate.

I have to admit, as a full-time, long-term homeschooler, I wondered if my philosophy of homeschooling would be so different from Ms. Brodie, who decided to homeschool her daughter for 5th grade only, that it would be an awkward read and review. I needn’t have worried. Ms. Brodie has a beautiful writing voice, and her love for her daughter and desire to tell about her homeschooling experience with honesty came through on every page.

In Love in a Time of Homeschooling, Ms. Brodie decides to consider short-term homeschooling after she loses her 4th grade daughter Julia for an hour one afternoon. She discovers her hiding in a closet – hiding because she had heard her mother say it was almost time to do homework. Julia is a bright girl who loves to read, draw, and experience nature – and she is going crazy in a traditional classroom setting. Brodie is a college professor and author, and knows that long-term homeschooling won’t fit for their family, but decides to take Julia out of school for 5th grade. This memoir tells the story of that decision and the resulting year.

I loved how honest Brodie was about the gap between her expectations for her year of homeschooling and the reality of it. Very few homeschooling books are honest about the fact that while some days are nestled in a rosy haze of delightful learning, most days are full of routine and plugging ahead at work that is not always enjoyable. And there are days when the idea of putting all four of my kids on a big yellow school is immensely tempting, and evenings when I end the day ashamed of the way I lost my temper over having to explain some math concept yet one more time.

This book has a much wider appeal than simply homeschoolers, though. Readers of memoir will recognize a talented author and enjoy reading about a year in which she decided to take a different path than she had expected, and how that year turned out. Parents will be in agreement with the difficulty in assuring a good education for our children in today’s public school system, the struggle to balance enriching extra-curricular activities with mountains of homework and the need to simply let our kids be kids while they can.

The thing I most appreciated about this book is that Brodie came away from her experience with the conviction that all good parents are homeschoolers, whether they are doing the day to day teaching themselves or entrusting their children to others. She realizes that as parents we bear the ultimate responsibility for our children’s education – and she didn’t hesitate to try something different when it was needed.

Some favorite passages:

As I thought back on my mom, it occurred to me that all good parents are homeschoolers. Homeschooling is what happens when families turn off their TVs, cell phones, and iPods. It occurs in long, thoughtful conversations at the dinner table, as well as at baseball games and ballet recitals, and in the planning of a vegetable garden. Parents who enrich their children’s lives with art and sports and multiple trips to the library provide the backbone of American education. Unfortunately, in our busy lives, parents and children have less and less time for hours of thoughtful interaction, which is one reason why homeschooling has been on the rise. Homeschooling provides family with the quality time that used to occur after school. ~ p. 52-53

Most homeschooling books don’t mention these troubles; they don’t dwell on shouting matches and slammed doors. Perhaps other homeschooling households are more placid than mine, or perhaps the first foray into homeschooling is always rocky, and years of practice are required to smooth the path. But I suspect that even the best homeschooling families have their ugly moments, from minor annoyances to major fights… ~ p. 145

Above all, homeschooling enabled Julia and me to understand one another more deeply – to witness each other’s flaws and strengths and practice the art of patience. I wish I could claim that my angry outbursts have disappeared, and that I am now a model of meditative calm. But who would believe it, especially in a house with four opinionated females? Truth is, the emotional weather in our family alternates between sunshine and storm, with the occasional hurricane looming (never more than a category two). Homeschooling taught Julia and me to comprehend each other’s tempests, and to appreciate all chances to bask in warm, cloudless love. ~ p. 237

I have an ARC copy and a hardcover copy of Love in a Time of Homeschooling to give away to two of my readers. Here are the details:

~ I am shipping the books myself, so due to financial constraints, this giveaway is limited to readers in the US and Canada.

~ To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me if you have any personal experiences with or opinions of homeschooling. Be honest – I can take it!

~ One entry per person.

~ All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, April 30, 2010. On May 1st, I will use to draw two names. The first person drawn will get the hardcover copy; second winner will receive the ARC.

(Disclosure: Love in a Time of Homeschooling was provided to me by the author for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.)

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23 Responses to Book Review: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year by Laura Brodie – and a giveaway

  1. Pingback: Mommy Brain » Book Review: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year by Laura Brodie

  2. FlowerFairy says:

    I am a homeschooling mom of two. My son is 7 and my daughter is 4. While I have never regretted my decision to homeschool, there are days when it is much easier than others. Sometimes we have a great time learning together and other days I think, “Maybe he’ll choose a career in which math doesn’t matter”. LOL! I’m very interested in reading how another mother copes with the good, the bad and the inbetween of homeschooling. 🙂

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      FlowerFairy – oh, math can be such a struggle at our house, too! I’m glad that the public school program I homeschool through gives me access to wonderful math teachers who can help when we’re stuck. 🙂

  3. Gina Guilinger says:

    I am the oldest of 6 and the only child in my family who was never homeschooled. In my younger days, I was adamantly against it, even though I hated my school days (never fitting in, social outcast, etc.). Now that I have a daughter, I would never dream of sending her to school! I am also a single mother, currently fortunate enough to be working from home, but wondering what I will do in the future if I have to work outside the home. I am so excited to homeschool my daughter; I have been planning and thinking about it since before she was born (she is almost 3 now)! I’m sure HS veterans may chuckle at my potential naitivity, but I am looking forward to it being a learning experience for the BOTH of us!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Gina – that is one of the best things about homeschooling – the learning together. 🙂

  4. Laura @ ImBookingIt
    Twitter: bookingit

    I feel that my family was very lucky to find the school my daughter is at, one that allows her to be her quirky self, while teaching her about social matters and (oh yes) academics. I love the constructivist math they teach, which I wouldn’t have known about if we hadn’t been there. They actually do the hands on science that I think about trying at home.

    For the two of us, this school is a much better bet than homeschooling. I don’t think that homeschooling would be good for our relationship, and particularly for my sanity. I think she’d do well academically at a more traditional school– I’m not sure about socially. That said, if she was unhappy at school, I’d gladly try homeschooling, and work at it until we found an approach that works for both of us.

    I worry when homeschooling is about restricting access to certain ideas. Luckily, I don’t think that is very common. I really respect those who work at making homeschooling work for their kids.

    I’d be very interested in reading this memoir!
    .-= Laura @ ImBookingIt´s last blog ..Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Laura – It sounds like your daughter’s school is ideal! I’m not one of those die-hard homeschoolers that think it is THE only way to educate our children. I simply believe that as parents it is our responsibility to find the best situation that is possible in our individual circumstances. 🙂 And I agree, restricting ideas is never a good idea. We are a Christian homeschooling family, but I believe it’s important that my kids are exposed to all viewpoints in order to make an intelligent decision about issues. I’m glad you’re entering – I really think you’d enjoy this book!

  5. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I always say that I would crash and burn as a homeshooler. I have so little patience! Still, I am almost tortured by the fact that my son is highly gifted and is not being challenged in his school and not achieving everything he could if he were allowed to progress at the pace he could handle. I really struggle with that. I do take him to a gifted class one day a week, but after 5th grade, that goes away. Please throw my name into the hat on this one. I’m interested to hear Brodie’s thoughts!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..This World We Live In – Susan Beth Pfeffer =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – your name is thrown! You will like this one, I’m sure.

  6. Sounds like an interesting book. I was never tempted to homeschool since I only had one child – I always felt like he needed to be around other children.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathy – yes, homeschooling one child would be very challenging – you’d have to be on the go a lot to make sure he was around other kids. although, I have four – and I still do that! LOL

  7. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    I’ve always considered homeschooling especially my youngest. I learned a lot about homeschooling and the different methods of doing it, a few years ago when I had to write two papers on it for a class. It made me wish that I had been homeschooled when I was growing up.
    .-= Vasilly´s last blog ..Book Review: Wench =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Vasilly – I think I would have really benefited from being homeschooled, too.

  8. I am a second-generation homeschooler, having been homeschooled myself for grades 8-12 and now starting the journey as the teacher with my 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son who’s picking up a lot. I hope to homeschool my kids through high school, but I always say we’ll do it as long as it works.

    This sounds like an interesting perspective, and I love a well-written memoir!
    .-= Page Turner (Heather)´s last blog ..An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Heather – that’s what we’re hoping, too – to go all the way thru high school, but will be flexible if need be.

  9. Jon says:

    I’ll give you 3 more good reasons out of 100s why one should home school all the way through high school… especially high school!

    Elizabeth has been accepted to four different universities and is having problems choosing which one she prefers. The decision is made even more difficult because Elizabeth is just 15 years old.

    Michael took his SAT test last Saturday. He scored 1560 out of 1600 including a perfect 800 in math. He’s looking forward to finishing his schooling as he will be attending Harvard in the fall.

    George has been invited to his local college to compete for five scholarships they are awarding amounting to full tuition for four years – about $100,000 each. The scholarships are awarded based on academic ability and the competition is stiff every year. He’s expected to finish first and have his schooling paid for.

    What do all of these children have in common? All have been home schooled.
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..HOMESCHOOLING Brings $184,852 Full Tuition Scholarships! =-.

  10. Lisa says:

    Homeschooling Emily was a little intimidating at first. I felt called out to do it, and I really didn’t want to disappoint God by at least not trying my best. There were (and still are) a lot of naysayers that can’t understand why I think I am “fit” to teach my special needs child at home, yet they are amazed at her abilities. Chuckle.

    I’d love to read this book. 🙂
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Dem Dry Bones =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Lisa – who is better equipped to meet Emily’s special needs than you? I applaud you for your bravery – and the obvious results!

  11. Kim says:

    I saw this book advertised in Home Education magazine and would very much like to read it. We currently homeschool our 8yo twin girls and 10yo son. While I believe being at home fits our lifestyle, it is very stressful for me because I long to be alone much of the time. One of my girls is very mature for her age and we are already butting heads. I would like to read about how *real* people handle their mother-daughter relationship.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kim – the alone-time issue is one I think all homeschooling parents deal with – I never feel like I get enough.

  12. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – May 2, 2010 (the “April wrap-up” edition) « Non-Fiction Books

  13. Pingback: Laura Brodie on Short-Term Homeschooling « Homeschooling Research Notes

  14. Lisa says:

    Got my copy! Thanks, Carrie! HUGS
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Here we go… =-.