by Suzie Andres
Hillside Education, 2015 – 2nd Edition
I came to “Homeschooling with Gentleness” after reading Andres’ more recent book, “The Little Way of Homeschooling” which tells the stories of many Catholic unschooling families. “Homeschooling with Gentleness” is Andres’ own story. Subtitled “A Catholic Discovers Unschooling” it describes her journey to unschooling as well as offering philosophical arguments about why unschooling works and whether Catholics can morally unschool. In case there was any doubt given the title of this book, yes, they can.
Andres does not put forth unschooling as the only way to homeschool – far from it. The introduction states, “I am not writing to recommend this approach to all Catholic homeschooling families. Rather, I am writing about what works for us, and what I suspect will work for some others. . . Please understand that I am proposing and defending as Catholic one particular way among many.”
In the pages that follow, she tackles defining unschooling (not an easy task!) and shows what it looks like in her home. She explores the difference between being a Catholic unschooler rather than a secular one, and encourages readers to learn to trust – both God and nature. Her last chapter is devoted to having books as friends. This is followed by a booklist of some of her and her family’s favorite books.
Andres writes in a very accessible manner. Reading this book is much like sitting down to have a conversation about homeschooling, and unschooling in particular, with a dear friend. She shares her struggles and triumphs, her doubts and her joys. I greatly enjoyed reading this book, found much wisdom in its pages, and would recommend both “Homeschooling with Gentleness” and “The Little Way of Homeschooling” to anyone considering homeschooling.