Homeschooling with Gentleness

A Catholic Discovers Unschooling
Book cover: 'Homeschooling with Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschooling'
Suzie Andres
Little Way Books/Christendom College Press
Number of pages: 
132 pages
Grade / Age level: 

Foreward by Ralph McInerny

This is a "February book". You know---one of those books you need to read when the dark gray days of February stretch out as endlessly as the school year, when it seems that no one has accomplished anything despite your unwavering effort, and when you realize that you still have fifteen years to go before your youngest graduates from homeschooling. Reading Homeschooling with Gentleness will reassure you that your work has not been in vain and that your children are likely learning much more than it appears at this moment.

Because "unschooling" has been used to describe many different things, Suzie Andres begins by defining her terms. She tells of her family's journey to an unschooling lifestyle and shows us what it looks like in her home with a young teen and an infant. This picture is rounded out through the use of many anecdotes and quotations from educational experts and unschooling supporters. Following this, she provides a careful analysis of Catholic thought and teaching that support the decision of a Catholic family to adopt unschooling in their homeschool. She quotes encyclicals and the works of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in her analysis. Finally, Mrs. Andres provides "Helps Along the Way" that apply equally well to any homeschooling family. These helps include discussions on learning to trust nature, learning to trust God, and how books are necessary in the home. The appendices are lengthy and offer booklists for both parents and children as well as details on suppliers for the recommended books.

The author's words from her introductory chapter summarize her views by saying:

"In articulating my own solution to the question of how to homeschool, I offer an alternative method to both the popular classical curriculum model of homeschooling, and the textbook or 'school at home' model. But please understand that I am proposing and defending as Catholic one particular way, among many."

I am not philosophically an unschooler, but as a long-time homeschooling mother-of-many, I have had seasons that probably looked like unschooling. I have always been interested in reading about the many approaches to educating my children at home and gleaning what gems I can apply to our situation. Homeschooling with Gentleness provides many treasures for Catholic homeschoolers, no matter what their favorite method of home education.

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