Is it still okay to say good things about homeschooling? Lately, I've seen people who used to homeschool say some really negative things about it. No education system is perfect, including homeschooling. However, it's still something I recommend. My kids grew to be good writers, good thinkers, and good readers. They all did really well in high school and university. My youngest son recently made the Dean's List.
Homschooling was good for me, too. I have always been a good reader. I have always engaged with books, pencil in hand. But I learned to be a better reader after homeschooling; thanks to Susan Wise Bauer's books The Well-Trained Mind and The Well-Educated Mind. By teaching reading principles to my children, I was able to learn some helpful ones myself.
In her book The Well-Trained Mind, she encourages students learn to outline passages. It all begins with dictation: having a student tell you what he's just read. Later, you write down what he tells you, and later still, she writes what she's read. I did that with my kids. Later, it turned into full blown outlining of short passages, using a formal outlining system with Roman and Arabic numerals. In my daughter's first years of undergraduate study, she told me that learning Latin and outlining were the two best things she got from homeschooling.
Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Educated Mind is similar to Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book with the exception that it isn't mind numbingly boring. Honestly, when I see people recommending Adler's book, I feel sorry for the potential reader. I read it, and so did my daughter. Ew. Ick. I didn't realize how boring it was until I read The Well-Educated Mind. The only benefit it has is that it addresses reading science.
Bauer, in The Well-Educated Mind lays out a reading plan for self-education whereby we have different levels of reading corresponding to the Classical model of the Trivium. There is Grammar Stage Reading, Logic Stage Reading, and Rhetorical Stage reading. Grammar stage reading is the basic level of observation, Logic delves into deeper questions, and Rhetorical even deeper. The book encourages one keep a notebook. The genres of fiction, biography, history, poetry, and drama are examined individually, and each chapter ends with an annotated list of suggested books. While I have put my The Well-Trained Mind away in a box, I keep The Well-Educated Mind on my shelf. For those people who are queasy (or outright hostile) toward homeschooling, one can read this book without bothering his conscience.
Last night, as I got out my "Theology II" notebook, I thought of how much Bauer's book has helped me with reading. We have weekly quizzes, and outlining has helped me read with a purpose. Every week I read the assigned chapters, and then a couple of days before the quiz, I outline the chapters, using the techniques I taught my children and the ones derived from The Well-Educated Mind. It prepares me well for the quiz, and cements the content in my head which will be necessary to write the final exam. One summer, while reading a lot of fiction, I used the same procedure, and from those books, I remember more of the content, themes, and some specific passages. That's something else we can use a notebook for, to write down passages we really like. Outlining and going through levels of reading makes me more attentive to detail. If one does not like paper notebooks, there is always digital help through things like Evernote or even just having a file on one's desktop.
I'm thankful for homeschooling in so many ways, and what it gave me is just as valuable as what my children received. And today, they are well-adjusted, well-socialized young adults. It's a win-win.