One of my “Finds of the Year”

I am reading a book right now that I find is sparking my enthusiasm for educating my kids….like I haven’t been sparked in a long time!  When you’ve been homeschooling for a long time, it’s very easy to fall into this trap: “I’ve heard it all, done it all, and you can’t teach me anything about homeschooling that I don’t already know.” After all, I’ve read just about every book ever written on the subject, and listened to just about every speaker out there…

Proud.  I know.

But, suddenly I find myself really excited about the adventure and mystery of homeschooling all over again – like a newbie! – all because of a book.  So, let me tell you about this gem of inspiration bound inside the covers of this innocent-looking book.  Carol Barnier gave me a copy to review – and little did she know her book would become my “find of the year.”

The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier

Learning Styles

Big What Now Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier

I opened up the cover, expecting to see “same old same old,” but instead I found wisdom, warmth, and understanding all wrapped up in humor.  The next thing you know, I’m reading excerpts out loud to my husband, and we’re laughing heartily or loudly amen-ing Carol’s wisdom.  (Oh, and you know how much husbands love it when we read out loud to them!)

Anyway, Carol Barnier demystifies the subject of learning styles using using humor and grace.  Her compassion is evident as she testifies of her own journey through homeschooling a challenged student, her first dreadful year, and what eventually sparked her “hopeless” son and turned their homeschool completely around.

I’ve studied “delight directed education” and made it my goal throughout my homeschool career to have children who delight in education, yet despite all my efforts my kids generally hated school.  What was I doing wrong?  I finally figured (after 20+ years), that despite all the homeschool propaganda out there, kids will be kids and are simply going to dislike school.  Now you know why I’m so excited about this book.  Is it possible that after 20 years of being the only enthusiastic student in our homeschool that I’ll finally be equipped to ignite the spark?  Dare I admit that not only can I improve on what I’ve done, but I can excel beyond my expectations?  (After all, I am the Homeschool Supermom………NOT!)

Full of illustrations (comic style) (…yes, I still like pictures), Carol’s book has enticing chapters.  Lightbulb-led Learning tells you how to ignite the spark.  She strikes right at the root of the matter, then gets you excited about the endless hunt to find the right curriculum, resource, or method.  It’s the age-old question:  Is your glass half empty or half full?  Listen to Carol’s take on the process, and you’ll find your thinking adjusted as well:

I actually become excited when I find a child who doesn’t learn traditionally.  I love the challenge.  I love the process of going through the possibilities to discover which unorthodox method or key will be the one that springs open the door to this child’s mind.  I think it must be very similar to the thrill that antique hunters or code breakers feel when they discover that one overlooked treasure or that one clue that makes all the pieces come together.  It’s actually fun.  Finding the key that unlocks the code is exhilarating.  Enjoy the hunt.”

Other chapters and sections in the book include:

  • Keys you can use to unlock learning
  • Writing minus the drudgery
  • The smell of history
  • Review: Any child, any subject, any time

My favorite chapter is Things your children wish you knew about how they learn. This chapter brought me to tears.  It gave me more than one of those lightbulb moments.  I know this stuff.  I’ve even taught on it, yet I continue to fall into the impatient teacher trap.  Here’s an excerpt from a section titled Hearing It Once is Not Enough:

“Repetition matters. It matters to everyone.  This is not a new concept.  It is a belief in the advertising industry that an individual needs about five separate exposures to an advertisement before it is even noticed, before it even shows up on his or her mental radar.  Then the individual may need many more exposures to act upon the ad….It’s not that the students don’t listen well the first time.  It’s not that the students don’t care.  It should not be a cause for aggravation.  In other words, it’s not personal.  It’s simply part of the human dynamic of learning.”

Are you, like me, remembering all the times you lectured your kids, “You knew this yesterday!  How many times do I have to repeat this?  Are you not listening?”  Sigh!

“Mom stands with her flat hands tightly pressed into her cheeks.  Her exasperation fills the room.  Alex, her son, sits in front of her quietly, knowing once again he’s gotten it wrong.  Just yesterday…yesterday…they covered these same math problems and he’d gotten them right.  Now it’s as though he’s never seen them before.  He tries.  At least Mom thinks he does.  But sometimes it’s as though he’s trying not to learn.  Mom has no idea what is wrong with this child.  Her other two children learned this same stuff with no problem.  They took everything in like little sponges.  So it’s not her teaching methods that are the problem.  What is up with this child?

Ladies, if you need to be sparked with humor, great ideas, and wisdom, I encourage you to pick up Carol Barnier’s guide.  Spend this summer preparing for the best homeschool experience ever and igniting the spark in your own heart to homeschool your little darlings.