by Agnes Penny
Tan Books, 2015
In “Your School of Love,” veteran homeschooler and mother of nine Agnes Penny hopes “to encourage homeschoolers to try a more relaxed, more natural, less stressful style of learning.” While maintaining that homeschooling is a natural outgrowth of our parenting, “another way to spend time and share experiences with our children,” she emphasizes that the motivation behind our homeschooling is important. “We have to make love the motivation in our homeschool, rather than fear or worry.”
Penny offers much encouraging advice for homeschooling mothers. Each chapter begins with a quote from a saint or well-known Catholic. She offers helpful suggestions for coping with the winter blues which all homeschoolers seem to suffer from to some degree. As one homeschooling veteran I know always maintains, “Never make a major decision about your child’s education in February.” The chapter on humility and patience is also a must-read. What homeschooling mom can’t use more work in those areas?
She has a realistic view of homeschooling and acknowledges that homeschool mothers can’t do everything. No one can. “If we manage to pass on the basics to our children, as well as a deep love of learning and the tools they need to find out whatever we’ve omitted, then we have successfully homeschooled our children. If, in addition, we’ve brought up our children in a loving, affirming atmosphere and taught them to live their faith in their everyday lives, then we’ve achieved our ultimate goal as Catholic parents.”
And, for those days when we feel we cannot possibly educate our children, that the task is simply too big, Penny reminds us of an important fact. “Every homeschooling mother has a particular set of talents, interests, and assets that she can share with her children . . . With God’s help, we can provide what they need.”
As with any homeschooling book, one should take what good advice and encouragement one can from “Your School of Love.” As Penny instructs us, “homeschooling is what we make it.” That is both the beauty and challenge of educating one’s children. “Our homeschool does not need to look like the photos in a homeschooling magazine, or even like our friend’s homeschool. All we need to homeschool our children, we already have: love.”