When I took the quiz, I wasn't surprised to discover that I had almost identical scores in several categories. I've known for some time that I'm an "eclectic" home educator - which basically means I employ the whatever-is-best-for-each-individual-child-at-any-given-moment (WIBFEICAAGM) approach! - so it makes sense that I'd resonate with techniques and styles from across the spectrum of defined methods. In fact, I strongly urge all home educating parents to follow WIBFEICAAGM rather than jamming their children into the constricting box of one approach. After all, curriculum should always be kept in its rightful place - i.e., as tool, not master.
But a while ago, I just about jumped for joy when I learned that Compass Classroom had produced Homeschool Made Simple, a DVD "lecture" featuring homeschool veteran Carole Joy Seid. I'd not thought directly about Carole Joy for quite some time, but that's not because I'd forgotten her. Rather, just as with How Am I Smart?, the precursor to Dr. Kathy Koch's 8 Great Smarts, I had so absorbed Carole Joy's wisdom into our daily home learning life that applying the ideas she teaches had become almost as natural to me as breathing.
My local homeschool association actually hosted Carole Joy for a full-day seminar when my daughters were just toddlers. I resonated strongly with her ideas, and I even remember being greatly relieved. I'd been feeling internal pressure to imitate all the "experienced" moms I'd begun to meet even though the method many of them advocated at the time made me ill at ease. But after the seminar, I felt I had "permission" to trust my own instincts and go against the "expected" flow.
From there, I've taken her ideas and have (of course) adapted them for our particular needs and wants, but I've often wished I could easily introduce others to them as well. Carole Joy offers audio seminars on her website, but there's something very helpful about being in the same room with - or at least being able to visualize - a speaker. And Carole Joy doesn't travel all that much so she's not making the rounds all across the country every year. But now her DVD seminar is out, and it serves as an excellent introduction to her simple approach to home-based education.
In a nutshell, Carole Joy promotes a history-centered, literature-based approach and even explains how it's entirely possible to provide a rich, complete education if one simply has a Bible, a library card, and math books. She also discusses the importance of including work and service - not just study - in a home education program, implores parents to limit children's exposure to media, and advocates strongly for waiting for demonstrable, true readiness before launching into formal academics.
As I mentioned, I took Carole Joy's ideas and made them my own over the years, so we didn't do things exactly as she outlines even in her full seminar. And in that same vein, I do suggest some alternatives to what she mentions in the DVD as well:
- She recommends four particular math programs - Math-It, Math-U-See, Right Start, and Teaching Textbooks - but since Right Start and Math-U-See have chosen to connect with common core (a fact Carole Joy may not be aware of), I suggest taking them out of consideration. In their places, consider Miquon Math, The Verbal Math Lesson, and/or Christian Light Education along with Teaching Textbooks and Math-It;
- For reading/phonics, Carole Joy touts Sing, Spell, Read & Write (SSRW), which I did try. However, SSRW was an abysmal failure for my kids, primarily because the "readers" were largely non-sensical collections of "target words," lacking plot or characterization. Instead of SSRW, we used the delightful Amish Pathway Readers, which are - in my opinion - a much better fit with Carole Joy's educational philosophy;
- One of Carole Joy's history recommendations is V.M. Hillyer's A Child's History of World. However, Carole Joy admits that Hillyer approaches history from a secular, old-earth perspective, and I see no need to risk subjecting impressionable children to such notions. Instead, I suggest the engaging narratives found in The Mystery of History or Guerber's Histories and/or the excellent living books collections in All Through the Ages or TruthQuest History. Similarly, All Through the Ages and TruthQuest would work very well if Carole Joy's suggestion of Turning Back the Pages of Time becomes unavailable.
Embracing our own version of Carole Joy's philosophy has brought great peace, success, and joy to my family's home learning endeavors. When I was starting out and feeling pressured and overwhelmed, I needed Carole Joy's simple message, which says at root that home educating families "are [simply] doing life together." That message still holds true even (and especially) in the face of today's more complicated homeschool resource landscape, so I believe that Homeschool Made Simple ought to be on every new home educator's must-view list.
NOTE: This endorsement is not written for affiliate purposes. I have no connection to either Compass Classroom or Carole Joy Seid and am receiving no benefit or perk of any kind; I even purchased my own copy of the DVD. I share simply because I believe Carole Joy's ideas are important and helpful.