God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Review}

Ever since I started homeschooling my son, my library queue has been full of plenty of homeschool books, some that talk about different methods of homeschooling and others that just offer encouragement for new and seasoned homeschoolers. Over the past few weeks, I was blessed with a copy of the newest release by author, Julie Polanco, called God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn.

God Schooling is a breath of fresh air and encouragement that couldn't have come at a better time. Polanco shares her insight on using a relaxed approach to homeschooling and why she feels it's important. I personally appreciate that she shares plenty of personal stories, including her own struggles in homeschooling and the mistakes that she's made along the way. There are a lot of important pearls of wisdom in this book. As a homeschooling mother who's only just begun this journey just a short while ago, some of the things that she had shared have really resonated with me. 

One of the most important things we can do is to let go and trust God in everything that we do. This includes allowing him to guide us when teaching our own children. Many of us were called to homeschool for a reason, or perhaps many reasons. Sometimes it's easy to get into this frame of mind where we think we are all alone in this journey. Of course the truth is, we're not. God has called each of us to do this, and He wants what's best for our children. In the author's own homeschooling journey, she had encountered many struggles. She strived to make things right by trying different things, but when all else failed, she finally sought out guidance from the Lord. That's when He opened her eyes to a more relaxed, Christ-led approach to homeschooling.

Now, if you're reading this, you may be thinking that this is another one of those unschooling how-to books, but I can assure you it's far from it. In addition to letting God lead her homeschool, Polanco offers plenty of valid points as to why she chose a more relaxed approach and a lot of it had to do with developmental stages. She offers a brief overview about this in the beginning chapters and then really gets more in-depth with every stage, including a separate chapter for each one (children under eight years old, eight to twelve, and the teen years), where she talks more about a child's needs and the best ways to approach teaching them. I also appreciate that she doesn't just offer her own personal viewpoints on this topic, but also references plenty of experts in the study, including Oliver DeMille, Erik Erikson, and Charlotte Mason, just to name a few.

"Trying to Force the brain to do things before it is ready will result in inadequate development and compensatory connections that are less than optimal."
–Julie Polanco

Sometimes it's easy to get in the frame of mind that our homeschools need to resemble the same routine that is used in a traditional public school setting, or that perhaps we may feel as though a lot of rigid curriculum work is needed. Children, especially younger ages, may not necessarily be ready for all of that–even if they're older, it still may not be the best approach for them. In the younger stages, Polanco recommends a lot of playtime, which I wholeheartedly agree with! There is plenty of emphasis in the book that cautions parents to not push their children to tackle "schoolwork" that they may not already be developmentally ready for.

While it may seem like common sense, I think we all need to be reminded of this, every so often. Each child is different–no two are created the same. God has His own purpose for each and every one. It can be easy to feel as though we need to conform to what the "world" views as the best method to a proper education, but what we really should be doing is seeking out what God says about teaching our children and let him guide us through each and every step of the way. That is one of the main themes in this book.

Another takeaway point is that we should allow children to have a say in what they're actually learning, which in turn could help motivate them, rather the hinder their abilities. While educational requirements vary from state to state, and they should be followed accordingly, I truly believe that it's beneficial to get our children's input on what their learning interests are.

"Our children have definite ideas about what they would like to know, how they would like to learn about it, when they are ready to do it, and where they want to be...Their opinions and thoughts matter to just as much as ours and, by listening to them, we may be encouraging them to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit stirring within them."
–Julie Polanco 

There is also a chapter on organizing and planning around your homeschool. This was interesting to read about, since the views come from someone who uses a more relaxed approach to homeschooling. I was eager to read about the author's ideas, which include scrapbooking, portfolios, and journaling notable educational achievements.

"...we benefit from structure and organization, even as we lead a different sort of life with our children"
–Julie Polanco

No matter what your approach or method is to homeschooling, God Schooling can encourage you in more ways than you think. I can honestly say that I was never interested in the unschooling method to homeschooling, but the author offers plenty of valid points as to why she had chosen this path. Even for someone like me who craves schedules and planners, what she shares is both eye-opening and liberating.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

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