Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: book review
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Monday, June 20, 2016

Interview with Sam Sorbo, homeschool advocate and author of 'They're YOUR Kids'

This week, I had the privilege of doing a short interview with Sam Sorbo, actress, author, talk show host and homeschooling mom of three. I heard about her new book, "They're YOUR Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate" and asked to review a copy for my readers. After I finished the book, she took the time to answer a few questions and talk some more about homeschooling, a topic she is passionate about.

Sam and Kevin Sorbo are not unlike many other celebrity parents who have chosen homeschooling as the most beneficial option for their kids. And in her book, Sorbo explains that one of the reasons they chose to homeschool their three kids in the first place was because it fit their lifestyle better and allowed them to more easily travel to film locales as needed.

What sets Sam Sorbo apart from other homeschooling celebrity moms, in my opinion, is that she not only chose homeschooling for her own children, she put herself out there as an advocate for homeschoolers and as a support for those who may be weighing their options with regard to school. And she pulls no punches when she challenges public schools as they exist today.

I think we all realize that public schools are in trouble, but Sorbo uses an analogy that illustrates the problem so vividly, it's hard to counter her position. She asks readers to consider a tall, refreshing glass of clear, sparkling, ice cold water on an oppressively hot day. And as you are about to take a drink, you see a tiny bit of poop floating in the glass. Noting that things like Common Core new sex ed standards in public schools are akin to poop in the glasses of even the most sparkling local schools, she asks, "How much poop in your water is okay with you?"

And so, she speaks out, not just for her own family but using her celebrity status to open doors not available to all of us, she advocates and works to inform and educate every family about their options. "The best cure for Common Core, which is a name now associated with the entirety of what ails our education system, is to arm parents with accurate information," says Sorbo. "Once they understand what the government is teaching their children, they may well consider alternatives such as home schooling."

Sorbo realized that no one loved her children more than she did, and no one was going to be more dedicated to giving them the highest quality education than she was. In writing this book, she set out to encourage other moms and dads that they're YOUR kids, not the state's, not the school district's, not anyone else's. You have the right to decide what's best for them.

But it was her honesty and openness about her own insecurities and doubts as a fledgling homeschooler really struck home. How many of us have not experienced the same emotions, wondering whether we are qualified to teach our own kids or whether we are doing the right thing? According to Sorbo, that feeling of self-doubt is not our fault.

She wrote, "Our entire society has been brainwashed to believe that teachers have cornered the market on education, that institutional education is the best way to accomplish - what, exactly? Conformity and indroctrination."

In her book, Sorbo explains how she overcame every doubt and insecurity, and grew into a confident homeschooling mom. I asked her if she is facing any new insecurities as her oldest moves into the high school years.

"Home schooling always invites insecurity. I’ve decided that this is because the school system built into us an inherent opinion that we are inferior to it," she replied. "I’m enjoying learning the various subjects alongside my child. I do not fear divulging to him that I don’t have an answer. He knows that I was deprived of a proper education, and that he benefits from a better one than I had. So we learn together."

I also asked if, as a high profile author, she has received any backlash for her book. Sorbo answered, "I did recently experience some backlash for my criticism of the public schools. However, the very idea that public education cannot withstand criticism betrays just how fragile and failed the system is."

And Sorbo shared these final thoughts, which she also went over in her book, but merit even further emphasis. "Children need, first and foremost, LOVE. That’s a dwindling, if not non-existent, commodity in our schools. I dare not deprive them of love, most of all, and that, of course, is the number one motivator for home education. Love on your children. You teach them everything until they go off to kindergarten. What transformation happens to the parent when the child turns 5 or 6, that makes the parent unfit to teach them anymore? The funny thing is that a lot of parents go through a kind of withdrawal, turning their children over to complete strangers at the door to the kindergarten. It feels bad to them, but they fight that uneasiness, because of peer pressure, tradition, group-think, societal expectations, whatever. I say, go with your gut. If you don’t want to let the child go at that tender age, no one should force you to."

Wise words from an intelligent woman. I'm glad she's on our side.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A review of 'Nellie Nova Takes Flight'

Earlier this month, I received a review copy of the new book by Stephenie Peterson, "Nellie Nova Takes Flight." This book, about a nine-year-old, crazy-haired, glasses-wearing, homeschooled genius with high aspirations sounded like a fun selection to read with my own precocious, crazy-haired, glasses-wearing, homeschooled eight-year-old daughter.

Nellie Nova is quite the little girl. From the very beginning of the novel, the author makes it clear just how brilliant Nellie is. She's not just smart, and she's not just a regular genius. She's so far beyond, I actually began to worry that the character would not be relatable as I began reading the book aloud to my daughter at bedtime.

But my daughter had no problem relating to Nellie, whose brain was so powerful, she was nearly superhuman. She was excited to see what adventures Nellie would encounter as she traveled through time in her homemade time machine.

Nellie Nova set off in her time machine to meet a woman who changed the world, specifically, the famous pilot, Amelia Earhart. But not everything went according to plan. It's through the twists and turns in the story that you start to see there is a lot more to Nellie Nova than just her big brains. This homeschooled youngster is very close to her family and cares a lot about others, too.

My daughter and I enjoyed this book, and now that she has worked the kinks out of her time machine, I have a feeling there will be more Nellie Nova adventures to come. We look forward to reading them.

Keep up with author, Stephenie Peterson, and all of Nellie Nova's adventures on the Nellie Nova Facebook page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my objective review. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

A review of 'Beware the Blackness! A Jellywonker Adventure'

When my friend, author Rebecca Black, asked me to review her latest book, I was thrilled. She sent me a free copy of the e-version of the book to share with my kids, and we sat down with it before bed one night to read the story.

"Beware the Blackness! A Jellywonker Adventure" is the second in the Jellywonker series created by Black. It follows the adventure of a little Jellywonker named Ted, who loves nothing more than cleaning the ocean and traveling around, learning about his big underwater world.

Ted the Jellywonker is joined on this adventure by his friend, Humphrey, a humpbacked whale, and Maud, a motherly pelican. What begins as an ordinary day turns into a long journey, north to Alaska, where Ted learns all about a major underwater mountain range, an unfamiliar habitat, and the effects oil spills can have on local wildlife.

Much like the combination of real photographs and whimsical illustrations, the book combines a fun and adventuresome story with real facts and lessons about ocean life and structures.

My homeschoolers like stories that give them enough information about the setting that they can go to a map and learn more. This book does just that. It also provides lots of opportunities for further research, on topics such as sea mounts and underwater volcanoes, aquatic birds, and how people can help address and prevent pollution from oil spills.

I liked that the book could be taken simply as a bedtime story for little ones, or read more in depth, as a learning prompt for older students. We look forward to reading more Jellywonker adventures in the future!