Book Review: The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child


But maybe this book isn’t for you. Most likely, it isn’t, unless you are embarking on your first year of home schooling, or even if you are in your first year and need to reach out for help, which would not be uncommon. This book is obviously written for homeschoolers or for those considering it (or even who have someone they love considering it).

As it is, it has its moments of mediocrity, but it also covers a lot of ground and acts as a cheerleader and a friend when you don’t have either handy. I bought it because I was in the world’s best used book store (in Pittsboro, NC) and this was in the home school section and, indeed, I was weeks away from starting my son home-schooling. I don’t regret it.

It kind of reminds me of one of those Whatever for Dummies books, but for home schoolers. Even the look of it is similar. And it moves quickly, like those books, giving you a thinner coverage over a wide range of related topics. If you  have been wondering about it, there is probably something here about it. But if you want deeper and more detailed answers, you might need to go to a Dobson article or website. And I think that this book would best serve someone before they settle into their curriculum, since it introduces the reader to various home school curriculum, styles, and types.

LINDA DOBSONLinda Dobson is, just for the record, not related to James Dobson or his ministry. She started homeschooling in the 80s and has since then had a varied and long career orbiting around her involvement in homeschooling. She has something like eight home school titles of her own, as well as many credits as a writer, advocate, contributor, speaker, and administrator of sorts. She has helmed a couple different home-school-supportive organizations and is a “big name” in the field, to be sure. I can not say whether her other books are different from this one.

While I found this book to be encouraging, it is more anecdotal and much lighter on research than some of my other reads. That is the setup of the book: compiled advice from hundreds of home school moms (and, perhaps, dads) woven between the wisdom of one famous home school mom. That’s what the book is, and I suggest that you not require it to be more.

As an aside, I am not a fan of her snarky, sarcastic remarks, though I enjoy that sort of thing elsewhere.

I have learned, already, that I can not possibly use all of the bits I “arrowed” in the margin of the home school books that I read, and there are many, many more I could read. So, on the advice of this home school giant, I will move on from reading and into teaching now; “lighten up, stay flexible, and enjoy the ride.”


I read an old, beat-up copy of The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child, by Linda Dobson, which was published by Three Rivers Press in 2001.



“’Our oldest boy was six kinds of difficult, and I knew if we put him in school, he would be labeled and possibly go on to become real trouble’” (p9).

“’Rather than trying to outschool the schools in my daughter’s first grade year, I would have spent more time laughing and playing with her’” (p41).

“If I remember to live fully and happily in the present, the whole family is happier, and learning flows easily and naturally” (p46).

“This means reviewing enough sources so that you’re not taking one person’s point of view as the last word on homeschooling but not so many that your kindergartner becomes a high school freshman before you feel you’re ready to start” (p47).

“’You can try to teach a three-month-old baby to walk,’ Le Ann explains, ‘but you will face only frustration until the baby is neurologically ready to walk. It works the same way for reading, writing, bike riding—‘” (p67).

“Chris’s mom, for example, figured out through trial and error that he best comprehended auditory material while jumping up and down on the trampoline” (p69).

“But pay equal attention to your frame of heart so that you help create and maintain a healthy balance as you educate your child” (p79).

“Accepting, then, means giving up your own perceptions of what should be and allowing what is to blossom” (p80).

“When we see something in our children that we don’t like, it’s often something in ourselves we’re seeing” (p85).

“There will be days of utter panic at what a terrible thing you’ve done to your child’s life. There will be others when you are astounded at the enormous brilliance of your child” (p87).

“…all parents have been homeschooling their children since birth” (p90).

“’The biggest lesson I’ve learned through trying all of these approaches has been that if it doesn’t work, change!’” (p117).

“I have learned that how we approach or begin things makes a huge difference in their outcome” (p133).

“Since we are all fallible human beings, happiness is more attainable than perfection, equally worthy of your efforts, and, in the long run, much less likely to produce the need for therapy” (p157).

“You are accomplishing more in an hour of attention to your child’s education than a school accomplishes in a day” (p157).

“Homeschooling provides you with time to do just that—regularly exercise patience and devotion—and they grow brighter and stronger in the process” (p168).

“’I wish someone had told me that when the day’s work is done, you are done’” (p189).

“It’s the nature of family life that what affects one of us affects all of us…’” (p205).

“’It’s hard to change a strong tendency toward orderliness, but there is a greater plan where your housework is not as important’” (p217).

“No one comes out of any mode of schooling knowing ‘everything’” (p226).

“Rather, you’ll realize that your deficiencies—real or perceived—don’t matter as much as you thought, simply because you’ve been putting far too much emphasis on teaching, instead of on your children learning” (p229).

“Experience will teach you that you can always think of more wonderful things than you will ever have the time (and possibly the money and energy) to accomplish anyway” (p255).

“Don’t forget to lighten up, stay flexible, and enjoy the ride!” (p258).

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