I’d like to thank Lampstand Press for giving me a copy of Love the Journey by Marcia Somerville in return for my honest review.
There are a few qualities I look for in a mentor. I look for someone humble, wise, discerning and mature. I think it’s especially important to follow the leadership of someone who has been where I want to go. I’m not likely to ask a mother with three toddlers for advice on dealing with a middle school issue. Why? She just hasn’t been there yet.
Reading Love the Journey by Marcia Somerville reminded me how important clear, wise mentorship is. Marcia Somerville (the author of one of my favorite curriculums, Tapestry of Grace) has homeschooled six children from beginning to end. Her advice and tone is wise, humble, discerning, and mature. Love the Journey, a guide for new (and newer) homeschoolers, is a little like having a mentor come alongside you at the beginning of an epic journey with great advice, pointing out the pitfalls ahead and highlighting the joys to come…..
The book (370 pages) is divided into five sections.
Section 1: Your Homes is Your Homeschool
In this section Mrs. Somerville discusses the importance of having a clear vision. She helps homeschoolers determine their purpose, goals, and methods so they can achieve success in the task God has set before them. I have to say that I appreciate the grace with which Mrs. Somerville approaches this section. She gives examples and scenarios without significant bias and helps evaluate the gospel orientation of each family and method she presents.
It’s important to have a goal in mind with homeschooling, and I think Love the Journey does a great job of guiding families through the process of determining where they’re headed.
Section 2: Mountaintop Views
In this section, Mrs. Somerville shares six parenting lessons she learned through her years of homeschooling. Usually at this point in a book on parenting or homeschooling, I begin to find areas in which I disagree in some way. However, I can honestly say that I didn’t have that experience here. Though I have two grown children and we’re five years into homeschooling our second “set” of kids (and going on year two of having our little nieces here during the school day), I found the advice in this section to be a wonderful reminder to stay the course and parent for adulthood with a focus on the gospel. I highly recommend reading this section — don’t just skip to the practical homeschooling ideas.
After all, homeschooling is parenting. There’s just some curriculum involved.
Section 3: When You Sit at Home
Again, I found this section affirming and encouraging. Section 3 deals with advice on the attitude and plan with which you approach homeschooling. Mrs. Somerville tackles issues such as: your husband’s involvement, a quiet home (and what that means), schedules and structure, planning, where you study, managing preschoolers (in the current state of our homeschool, I found this section extremely helpful), chores, interfacing with kids, and dealing with problems.
This section is extremely helpful and addresses so many of the questions I see pop up over and over again on homeschool forums. I *may* have been a little convicted by Mrs. Somerville’s advice in a few areas here, and they reminded me to refocus my efforts. Again. Other chapters I found edifying, reminding me that what I’m doing is important and valuable. I highly recommend considering all of what she has to say.
Section 4: As You Walk Along the Way
This section was packed with information on the logistical details of homeschooling. Marcia Somerville has done quite a bit of research on educational models and theories and it showed in her advice. She covers issues like: gender differences, modalities, lesson planning, story-telling (with a gospel focus), curricula, areas of education that are monotonous that you should not skip, educational choices, memory work (and here she shares her theories on some of the more memory-intensive teaching models), and crafts and activities.
This is a book intended for the newer homeschooler, but I learned quite a bit here. It was nice to hear the thoughts of a “mentor mom” on the trends in homeschooling and the brass tacks areas that need to be addressed.
Section 5: When You Lie Down & When You Rise Up
This is a section I think every parent could benefit from reading. Here Mrs. Somerville is raw in her storytelling and generous in her biblical advice. She reminds us to follow Christ in our example when we deal with our little learners. She reminds us that God is sovereign in the realm of our homeschools, just as He is elsewhere. She also reminds us of our responsibility to treat those we’re educating with love, patience, and kindness. She encourages an attitude of commitment and gratitude in even the most mundane of daily tasks. Mrs. Somerville also reminds us to remain content with what the Lord has given us.
As a homeschooler who is not new to the journey, I found this section of the book to be the most challenging, humbling, and edifying. Our family is largely settled on pedagogy, methodology, and modalities. We have schedules and routines that work. What I struggle with? The daily expression of God’s love through me toward the little ones who depend on me for kind expressions and gentle guidance. I appreciated the honesty of this last section and the Scripture contained within.
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Love the Journey is a fantastic guide to homeschooling (and parenting in the midst of the endeavor). I highly recommend reading it whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a few years in.
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You can find Love the Journey exclusively at Lampstand Press. It’s available in both paperback and as a digital download (LockLizard).
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Other parenting books reviewed on Thinking Kids
- Raising Real Men by Hal & Melanie Young
- Love the Journey: Homeschooling Principles to Practice by Marcia Somerville
- You, Your Family and the Internet by David Clark
- Organic Outreach for Families by Kevin G. and Sherry Harney
- Engaging Today’s Prodigal by Carol Barnier
- Intentional Parenting by Tad Thompson
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.