Great Potential Press
BOOK REVIEW (Linda Neumann, 2e Newsletter) - This article is a book review of Creative Home Schooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families by Lisa Rivero and published by Great Potential Press.
Reviewed by Linda Neumann in the January 2006 2e Newsletter.
When I first read Creative Home Schooling back in 2002, it had a different title. Then it was called Creative Home Schooling for Gifted Children: A Resource Guide. Since then, only the name has changed; the content is the same.
Whatever the title (and however it’s spelled: home schooling or homeschooling), this book is a “must read” for anyone raising and teaching gifted kids, whether they are homeschooling or not. While the book does a fine job of fulfilling its role as a resource guide for homeschooling, it also serves as an excellent guide for understanding gifted and twice-exceptional learners.
Author Lisa Rivero begins this book by explaining what led her and her husband to decide to homeschool their very bright, intense, and sensitive son. However, she states that the book is not about her family’s journey through homeschooling. Instead, she explains, she wrote “the kind of homeschooling book I wish I’d had – one that is informed by the research and scholarship of gifted education and homeschooling advocates as well as by the wisdom of other families of homeschooled gifted learners….”
Rivero combines the “scholarship and wisdom” into well structured chapters. Most start with a quote that gives insight into the topic covered in the chapter. The heart of each chapter is research-based discussion interspersed with quotes conveying the thoughts and experiences of homeschooling parents. Wrapping up each chapter is a summary of main points followed by questions for reflection. These encourage parents to think about what they have just read in terms of how it relates to their own child. Next is a list of resources that range from books and other publications to organizations, websites, software, and media. Finally, chapters conclude with the words of homeschooled students themselves.
The book is organized into three parts. The first, “At Home with Gifted Children,” provides readers with the background they need to understand giftedness. As the author explains, in Part 1 she wants to show the reader “how being gifted shapes a child’s personality, behavior, and education.” Two especially useful topics covered here are traits of giftedness and learning styles. Part 1 also helps parents understand what it means to play two roles in their child’s life: parent and teacher, information essential in deciding whether or not to homeschool.
In Part 2 of the book, “Creating Your Home School Approach,” Rivero explains how homeschooling can be very different from “school at home,” and she examines four common approaches to homeschooling:
- Unschooling and self-directed learning
- Studying individual subjects
- Classical home schooling
- Unit studies.
In these chapters Rivero discusses how to apply gifted education and creativity research to these different approaches. Again, much of the information provided here has relevance beyond the homeschooling community.
The title of Part 3 is "Your Creative Home School Toolbox." Here the author delves into the details of homeschooling, including selecting curriculum materials, keeping records, testing, and preparing for college. She also addresses special issues such as profoundly gifted children and learning differences. The last chapter of the book offers a wealth of homeschooling resources.
Creative Home Schooling can give undecided parents the confidence and guidance to give homeschooling a try. It can provide those already teaching their children at home plenty of useful information and resources. And for the rest of us, it offers well researched and well written discussions of topics relevant to raising and teaching exceptional children, like the following:
An educational environment that respects the complexity of children does not force a particular learning style or characteristic but will encourage children to explore all facets of their personalities and will resist the temptation to limit children’s views of themselves. While understanding a child’s preferred modes of learning or dominant personality traits – such as a visual-spatial learning style – can be valuable for both parents and children, a creative learning environment presumes that such “diagnoses” are never ends in themselves, but rather jumping-off places for broader understanding and inclusivity, paving the way for the possibility of fuller integration of dimensions as the child grows to adulthood.