Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter's Uncommon Year

Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter's Uncommon Year

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by Laura Brodie

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"I had always thought of homeschooling as a drastic measure. . . . But when my daughter decided that she would rather hide in a closet than complete her homework, I knew that it was time for me to become a schoolteacher, if only for a little while."

After years of watching her eldest daughter, Julia, struggle in a highly regimented

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"I had always thought of homeschooling as a drastic measure. . . . But when my daughter decided that she would rather hide in a closet than complete her homework, I knew that it was time for me to become a schoolteacher, if only for a little while."

After years of watching her eldest daughter, Julia, struggle in a highly regimented public school system, Laura Brodie determined to teach her ten-year-old at home for a year. Although friends were skeptical and her husband predicted disaster—"You can't be serious"—Brodie had visions of one ideal year of learning. The monotony of fill-in-the-blank history and math worksheets would be replaced with studying dinosaurs and Mayan hieroglyphics, conversational French, violin lessons, and field trips to art museums, science fairs, bookstores, and concerts.

But can one year of homeschooling make a difference? And what happens to the love between mother and daughter when fractions and spelling enter the relationship?

Love in a Time of Homeschooling is a funny and inspiring story of human foibles and human potential, in which love, anger, and hope mingle with reading, math, and American history. As today's parents ponder their children's educations, wondering how to respond to everything from homework overload to bullying to the boredom of excessive test preparations, homeschooling has become a popular alternative embraced by millions. Short-term homeschooling is the latest trend in this growing movement.

Brodie gave her daughter a sabbatical to explore, learn, create, and grow—a year of independent research and writing to rejuvenate Julia's love of learning. The experiment brought out the best and worst in the pair, but they worked through their frustrations to forge an invaluable bond. Theirs is a wonderful story no parent should miss.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this memoir, derived from an article that appeared in Brain, Child magazine, Brodie (Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women) explores the year she spent homeschooling her daughter Julia. Writing for parents interested in short-term or supplemental homeschooling, Brodie lists benefits of this method, including increased family quality time and customized education on subjects sometimes overlooked by standardized tests. She also explains the day-to-day realities of short-term homeschooling—what she discovered, what worked, what didn't, and why. Such case studies are not available in other resources in the field; books on homeschooling are typically designed for long-term students and don't always include details of how homeschooling impacts family relationships. Brodie references a few of these books, as well as other how-to resources in her bibliography. VERDICT Although this memoir fills a niche, Brodie's story reads better as a short article than a full-length book. Public libraries with communities of short-term homeschoolers may find it useful.—Karen McCoy, Farmington P.L., NM
Kirkus Reviews
Brodie (English/Washington and Lee Univ.) home-schools her daughter for a year, with engaging, unpredictable results. The author had no religious or philosophical objection to the public-school system, but she knew it was not serving her ten-year-old daughter well. Julia displayed "a deep inwardness, an engagement with her own imaginative universe," and her mother wondered at times about autism and ADD. With considerable humor and clarity, Brodie chronicles the process of letting her little caged bird out, "offering her the sky, the clouds, the freedom to let her mind soar"-or, equally likely, to crash and burn. This story is no rosy manifesto to homeschooling, nor a condemnation, but a real-life encounter, full of stormy battles, power struggles and, most of all, passion. There are moments of pedagogic beauty, as the author segues with ease from history to music to geography to fractions, following the natural rhythm of conversation. There are also quite a few less-idyllic moments, duly noted in the chapter titled "The Winter of Our Discontent." "Away from home," she writes, "we enjoyed the pleasures of hands-on learning . . . [but] . . . as most parents can attest, extended spells of homebound mother-daughter contact are a recipe for trouble." With a sure hand, Brodie tracks their progress through the whining and discontent, the crush of a mother's high expectations, the bribery, the great field trips, the reintroduction to the outdoors and the closeness that comes from sharing your favorite things. Without the author's prompting, readers will understand that this was a fruitful year for Julia. Graceful and charming. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier/DeFiore and Company
Publishers Weekly - Library Journal
Starred Review.

Told by elementary school teachers that her daughter, Julia, "needs to spend more time in our world," author Brodie (Breaking Out, The Widow's Season) decided that her daughter's unique intellectual needs would best be served by a year of home-schooling: "The more I looked into it, the more I discovered that short-term homeschooling is a growing trend in America, for a vast array of reasons." Chronicling the entirety of her homeschooling experience, from the decision-making process to Julia's successful re-entry into 6th grade, Brodie takes pains to show how difficult homeschooling can be: "How foolish I had been, to have believed that Julia's complaints over the past two years... stemmed from an institutional cause" (as it turns out, Julia simply doesn't like to be told what to do). Having been frustrated by other homeschooling books' Pollyanna attitude toward the parent-child relationship, Brodie's contribution to the field is full of honest revelations that make it vital for anyone considering homeschooling; happily, her gift for good storytelling and keen observation (of herself and others) make this an absorbing read for everyone else.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Laura Brodie is the author of Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women and the novel The Widow's Season. She lives in Lexington, Virginia, with her husband and three daughters, and teaches English at Washington and Lee University.

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Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter's Uncommon Year 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
aimlyss More than 1 year ago
Okay book. The author spent the first half of the book (or more) defending her choice to homeschool her daughter, seems weird to me. I did enjoy parts of the book and shared some of her feelings here and there, but wondered more than once if she chose to homeschool for the year so she could write a book about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kanellio65 More than 1 year ago
LOVE IN THE TIME OF HOMESCHOOLING is an expressively witty, honest account of the year that Laura Brodie decided that the stress of school had become too much for her ten-year old daughter thus calling for drastic measures. The plan she came up with was simple.don't make her go to school! With the idea of taking a break from traditional school and instead initiate short-term homeschooling for a year, it seemed like the perfect solution. WHAT? Why you can't just up and do that! Oh, yes you can, and I should know as I did it for a semester with my own child. Short-term homeschooling is the latest trend in this growing movement. My reason and result was a bit different from Laura Brodie's but I did homeschool not only my own child for a semester but two of his second grade classmates. For this reason, I especially could relate to Laura Brodie's story. In LOVE IN THE TIME OF HOMESCHOOLING, Brodie describes the challenges and the rewards this year with her youngest daughter was all about. As I myself found, there were so many positive, cultural and hands-on experiences that were enjoyable and helped to enrich her child's life. It also was a long year when it came to some of the day-to-day routine instruction and more traditional paper/book work. She describes the strategies that worked well for them and the activities that did not. As I also found, there was frustration and difficulty at times due to the fact she was "Mom" and not "the teacher" to her student. On the other hand, there was an increase in quality family time and she was able to individualize her daughter's curriculum to include some of the often forgotten subjects left out because they aren't covered by the state mandated testing. In our classrooms today, teachers have to include certain mandated material that is covered on standardized tests. They are directed to teach not only the same curriculum as everyone else in the district but usually at a precise time. So much is lost in that case as all the spontaneity goes out the window as does the leeway of pacing to meet individual student or group needs. With these time constraints, so much of the material that isn't covered by mandated testing is pushed aside. What Brodie found was they were able to branch out to a more well-rounded education geared to her child's needs. Though their year was not simple, mother and daughter worked through their frustration and problems to create a priceless union. I found Laura Brodie's writing to be very conversational and enjoyable to follow. Her story was heartfelt and eye-opening. Many parents will find this to be of use as they perhaps question the educational benefits there child is getting in whatever setting they are now in. With the players in the story being real and the subject relevant, it is a fast and rewarding read.