Love in a Time of Homeschooling by Laura Brodie – Book Review

Love in a Time of Homeschooling by Laura Brodie

When Laura Brodie’s daughter Julia ran away one day, it was the last straw with her and public school. Julia didn’t run away without reason, you see, she ran away to avoid her homework. Her 4th grade homework. Her 10 minutes worth of 4th grade homework. And she hid for an hour before Laura found her. Laura had always known that Julia wasn’t thriving in a conventional classroom, but that was the point at which Laura knew she had to do something different.

Eventually, she decided that the something she needed to do was homeschooling. Brodie was a somewhat reluctant homeschooler. She planned to do it for only a year, to give Julia a break from school. She also wasn’t planning to homeschool her two younger daughters, one of whom was thriving in the classroom, the other of which needed the experience of being away from her mother.  “Love in a Time of Homeschooling” details Laura and Julia’s year together, beginning with Laura’s decision to homeschool her for a year. It was a learning curve for both of them, and not always as successful as Laura might have hoped.

My favorite thing about “Love in a Time of Homeschooling” is that Brodie was totally and completely honest about her experience. There was no sugar coating, either of Julia’s temperament or of the homeschooling experience. Frankly, Julia seems like an exceptionally difficult child. This is not to say that Laura vilifies her daughter, but she does not idealize her either. Not only is Julia incredibly stubborn, but she also lives in her own little world and doesn’t have much desire to spend time with human beings. Although she appreciated not being in the classroom, taking only a year off of public school meant that Laura and Julia had to roughly follow the state learning guidelines, so that Julia would be able to return the following year without being any farther behind.

Since homeschooling is something I’ve vaguely thought about for awhile – particularly with the state of education these days with budget cuts everywhere – I found this book really fascinating. Brodie didn’t only describe what she did, but also a variety of other homeschooling models, but without turning “Love in a Time of Homeschooling” into a dry textbook of homeschooling. I also appreciated the great list of resources she put in the back of the book, definitely helpful as a starting point if I ever do decide to go the homeschooling route.

If you homeschool or have ever considered it, or if you are simply interested in education, or memoirs dealing with family dynamics, I would highly recommend “Love in a Time of Homeschooling.”

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20 comments to Love in a Time of Homeschooling by Laura Brodie – Book Review

  • This sounds like an interesting read. I can imagine the mothers thoughts when the homeschooling wasn’t going as planning. I’ll have to check this one out.

  • Yes, this one sounded interesting to me. I tell friends that I would pimp myself out on the street before I homeschooled, but that is just my dramatics speaking. My son is gifted, and I have often wondered if a traditional school is the best choice for him. I guess I was prepared to do it if I had to, but so far we have skated by with some extra classes and challenges. I’d love Brodie’s take on the whole thing.

  • I have a copy of this one and I’m anxious to read it now!

  • Laura graciously sent me a copy of this book. I am so interested because my younger brother and his wife decided to home school their boys. The older boy is 13 and they are now sending him to a private school and the younger is 10 and they are sending him to public school. They say they wouldn’t trade the experience, but it is interesting that they eventually couldn’t stick with it.

  • Oh this sounds good! I’m sure most parents, if only briefly, think about homeschooling in this day and time. I know I did. My daughter needed to have that interaction with other children and get out from under my wings, so to speak, so I knew it would be good for her. It is something I would consider down the road though. I may have to get a copy of this, just to see if I really SHOULD consider that or not!

  • Amy

    I hope I’ll never need the instructions in the book (due to, you know, not having kids and not wanting them, at least in the foreseeable future!), it still sounds like a really interesting book. So many kids are home-schooled for such different reasons, would be interesting to hear about one experience.

  • As a public school teacher, I am very interested in homeschooling. I see from the inside out the good, the bad, and the ugly about public schools. But I also see the effect that homeschooling has on children when they return to the public school classroom. I would be interested to hear Brodie’s take on the matter, but for a lot of reasons I don’t think I would consider homeschooling for my child.

    • I taught for a couple of years, but I never had any students that came back after homeschooling (both the neighborhood I was in and the fact that I taught 2nd grade probably contributed – not much time to have left and come back by 2nd grade). What are the things you’ve seen when kids have returned?

      • Well, first they are usually behind in their education. Most of the homeschoolers we get are at least a couple of years behind-no granted I teach HS, and I think the upper levels are harder to teach at home. For example, it is quite difficult to do physics at home. This is also true in my English class though-most parents don’t remember/know how to use 21st century researching skills and how to write a college ready paper. And finally, they are usually pretty awkward, have trouble relating to their peers, etc. They get made fun of and don’t know appropriate conversation topics. I have had one family that did a great job homeschooling, but their mother was a retired professor.

        • Yes, I think it is hard to do about maybe 6th grade with homeschooling, unless you use tutors or join a collective sort of thing where you get people that have some sort of expertise in different subjects. There’s a reason you have to be certified in your subject in the higher grades.

  • I really liked Laura Brodie’s previous book, but wasn’t sure this one was for me. After reading your review, I definitely feel that way, though I may revisit it if I have kids!

  • I see you got your post up. :)

    It seems to me that homeschooling is on the rise (or maybe I just have friends with kids the right age). Given the current school situation, I’d consider it. Or at least some sort of supplemental homeschooling.

    I’ve seen this book making it’s way around the blogs. I might have to check it out.

  • Amy

    I really enjoyed your review. I don’t have children, alas, but I have always believed a good education is vital for every child. I’m not sure how I feel about homeschooling never having to really consider it, but it’s for that reason, at least partially that this book very much interests me. And for many years I was tutored when out of school recovering from surgery so I know how advantageous one-on-one teaching can be for a child, but I also think children miss out on a lot when homeschooled. It’s a conundrum. Anyway, I am definitely going to add this book to my TBR list and hope to read it soon.

    Thank you!
    ~ Amy

  • As a long-term homeschooler, I found this book refreshingly honest. Brodie is correct in saying that a lot of homeschooling guides make it sound like our days are spent baking home-made bread from wheat we ground at home, making perfect to-scale models of trebuchets and Medieval castles, all while solving difficult math theorems and debating world politics. LOL

    I have homeschooled from the very beginning. My daughter just completed 7th grade – so that makes for 8 years of homeschooling behind us. So far, I think it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made – but it is not an easy lifestyle to take on. And I mean “lifestyle” – this isn’t just something you do on a whim, or “fit in” to your day. Our days revolve around school, and even during summer break, I spend many hours putting together curriculum orders and writing up lesson plans for the next year, revisiting the programs we use if something isn’t working, etc.

    I have four kids – and they span the spectrum when it comes to academic skills. When they were all in the first few grades, they scored significantly higher than their public-schooled peers, but have come more to normal as the grades get higher and work gets harder. I still have one who consistently scores in the 90th percentile in all subjects, while I have one who is just about average in everything, but really struggles to get to just average in math. I think a lot of homeschoolers feel like all of their kids have to be exceptionally bright to justify their decision, but their kids are just normal kids – some are gifted, some are average, some will struggle.

    Sorry – I didn’t mean to write some sort of manifesto here! I liked your review – this was a book I enjoyed, too. :)

  • I teach on the university level and have had students who have been homeschooled. The problem I see with it is when those children are not given opportunity to interact with others their own age.

    All of my homeschooled students have been bright, but every single one of them had difficulty fitting into the classroom setting. They are awkward and stand out quite a bit. There were several times when the students who had been in a homeschool environment would hang around after class and seemed to be seeking that one-on-one attention. I know a couple of people who do homeschool their children; however, they balance the in-home instruction with social time for their children with other homeschool families. This may help, although I do not have any studies or anything like that.

    The book sounds interesting, and although this would not be a typical read for me, I may have to pick it up.

    • I was homeschooled from third grade to twelfth grade, and will be a sophomore in college next year. You’re definitely right when you say that a lot of homeschoolers have social problems, but my parents were always extremely careful for me to participate in activities outside of homeschooling altogether – i.e. city choirs, neighborhood sports leagues, etc. I think that this helped tremendously. I had no problem adjusting to university life at all – it didn’t seem weird for me to be going to classes with other people, and I was already used to doing work on my own, so the homework load didn’t bother me. Of course, I cannot be an objective observer of myself, so perhaps my professors felt differently, but several of my university friends told me of their surprise that I was such a well-adjusted homeschooler. (This sounds extremely egotistical, so sorry.)

      All in all, I feel like those parents who do not make sure that there children do not mingle with non-homeschooled children do their children a disfavor. Homeschooler dynamics can be extremely different than “normal school” dynamics, and I know that my homeschool friends who only have homeschool friends do often fit that typical homeschooler mold.

  • I never considered home schooling since Vance is an only child, but this book still interests me. I’m glad to see it’s so good.

  • dogearedcopy

    A combination of 4-day school weeks and limited resources at the school that my daughter attends have led me to focus on my daughter’s education with something of a hybrid approach: While I have no intention of pulling my daughter out of school, my DH and I have been focusing on “bridging the gap” between what the school can offer and what her needs are. It is labor intensive and challenging and so LOVE IN A TIME OF HOME SCHOOLING sounds like a book that I would find interesting. Thanks for the review!