Free Range Learning: Book Review

Laura Grace Weldon, so perfectly named, has graced the Carnival of Unschooled Life many times with her beautifully written, carefully thought out, and inspiring posts. When she sent me a copy of her book, Free Range Learning: How Homeschooled Changes Everything, I was thrilled.

With good cause. Laura has written a new classic. Parents who are contemplating homeschooling, or who have made the decision to homeschool and are looking for good solid resources, will find what they need in Free Range Learning.

I know that as a new homeschooler, I needed justifications—facts and anecdotes to back up my decision, both for myself and for the sometimes intolerant people around me. Laura begins her book with a chapter about natural learning: what it is and how it can be hindered, even by well-meaning people and institutions. As Laura writes, children (or people) are “living ecosystems unto themselves” and “nature teaches us that diversity works.” Read such statements is very empowering for any parent  new to homeschooling and to the idea of helping one unique individual learn about life.

And that’s just the beginning. Laura goes on to explore how parents can nurture learning and how learning happens during play, during work, alone, and in connection with others. She includes many comments from real homeschoolers, and this greatly deepens the impact of the book. Their words, like Laura’ words, continually make the point that the path of homeschooling is positive, joyful, and worth taking.

In Part Two of Free Range Learning, Laura delves into actual “subjects,” such as Math and History, but her focus is always on how these areas are enriched and redefined by the practice of homeschooling. Of history, she writes,

The magnitude of history can’t be confined to books. Travel is equally expansive. Beyond travel, there are engaging documentaries about all time periods, plus interactive websites on nearly any historical topic imaginable. There are also museum displays, preserved areas, living history presentations and historical fiction. History is embedded in the objects and words we use each day.

That kind of detailed presentation, that concern with communicating the depth of whatever it is she is writing about, is why I see Laura’s book as a new classic in the homeschooling book genre. It is a resource you will turn to again and again, for inspiration, for ideas, for encouragement, and for a reminder that homeschooling does indeed change everything.

Laura writes that “what might seem like quiet personal decisions have a ripple effect.” The practice of homeschooling is part of a much larger benevolent force at work in today’s world. Free Range Learning is a guide to understanding, accessing, and receiving the graces of that force—to create a better world for ourselves and our children and their children and so on and so on.


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Fatcat said,

    I’ve been wanting to read it, now I really want to.

  2. 3

    Nancy from Sage Parnassus said,

    Sounds like an interesting read! I’ll put it on my list…

  3. 4

    Pamela said,

    I’ve also been wanting to read it. It sounds like it might be a good one to have on hand to loan to new homeschooling families or those just curious about it. I love the title- we live in the country and I always say I have free range kids.

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