One Good Year: A Mother and Daughter's Educational Adventure


After years of watching her eldest daughter, Julia, struggle in a highly regimented public school system, Laura Brodie was determined to teach her ten-year-old at home for a year. Although friends were skeptical and her husband predicted disaster, Brodie had visions of one ideal year of learning. 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?

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

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After years of watching her eldest daughter, Julia, struggle in a highly regimented public school system, Laura Brodie was determined to teach her ten-year-old at home for a year. Although friends were skeptical and her husband predicted disaster, Brodie had visions of one ideal year of learning. 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?

One Good Year 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.

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Editorial Reviews

David Guterson
“In a world where homeschooling is so often misunderstood, discounted, and even ridiculed, Laura Brodie offers a clear-eyed view and makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the subject. This is necessary reading for anyone with an interest not just in homeschooling but in education generally.”
Mary Pipher
“Funny, heart-cracking and ultimately profoundly educational. I recommend this book to all parents and educators who have ever thought-I wish things could be different.”
Linda Dobson
“Laura Brodie shines a spotlight on love as an essential ingredient [in homeschooling], creating a well-earned space on all homeschoolers’ bookshelves and, optimistically, on the bookshelves of all parents.”
Richard Louv
“Love in a Time of Homeschooling, a touching glimpse into a mother-daughter relationship, will inspire you to foster a love of learning no matter what your schooling choice may be.”
Cameron Stracher
“The only thing worse than sending your child off on a bus each morning might be keeping that child at home. But Brodie manages the feat with wit, wisdom, love, and some hard knocks along the way. Her story gives hope that there is more to life than long division.”
James Grippando
“As a parent involved in homeschooling, I highly recommend this book. It’s timely, beautifully written, and must reading for anyone who has ever wondered what homeschooling is all about-and it would make a great gift for all your friends who think they know!”
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061706509
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/12/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,075,727
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Brodie

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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