Off The Top of My Head
By Paul Murray
Book Review: How to Homeschool: A Guide for Progressive Parents by Miguel Varella-Cid
Published in 2022 by Panorama Press Ltd
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to tonight’s debate on the pros and cons of homeschooling.
For the affirmative, Mr Miguel Varella-Cid will extol the virtues of nurturing your children’s minds at home and speak of his personal experience. The international established education system will present the contrary position.
Mr Varella-Cid recently wrote a book on the subject and will be our first speaker this evening. He and his wife Yuko lost faith in the contemporary education system in Japan, where they have chosen to raise their two children, daughter Arina and son Akira, and decided to teach them at home. They found the experience both challenging and enlightening. Their satisfaction with the outcome has compelled Mr Varella-Cid to share their findings with other parents who may be considering homeschooling an option for their offspring.
The book’s release coincides with a chapter in history in which every parent worldwide has been homeschooling due to the COVID pandemic and may resonate with people who have found the experience both favourable and disadvantageous.
Not everyone is suited to being a good teacher. Homeschooling requires patience, dedication, persistence and significant investment in time and effort. However, the decision to homeschool involves the children’s future, and I’m yet to meet a parent not interested in that subject. In his thought-provoking and comprehensive book, Mr Varella-Cid quickly points out that the decision to homeschool should involve the children as their life is at the core of the determination.
Reading through the book, it occurred to me that every parent homeschools as children generally only attend formal schools for six hours per day, which leaves them at the educational mercy of their parents for the remaining hours. Not all schooling is academic and much of the responsibility of responsible parents these days is to encourage children to develop their own imaginations and not draw excessively on the creativity of others via digital media. To instil good moral fortitude, manners and social etiquette into their children’s disposition and share life’s lessons to prepare them for adulthood is the role of parents these days. This book is worthwhile for all parents, even those like me, who lack the prowess and zeal to educate their children at home full-time.
“How to Homeschool: A Guide for Progressive Parents” recounts an educational journey involving parents and children. Miguel and Yuko also had to learn to teach and how to inculcate Arina and Akira with a passion for knowledge, understanding and academia. They were fortunate to draw on the three decades of homeschooling knowledge and experience of community member Mr Yukio Furuyama, who became their mentor.
Like most parents, Yuko and Miguel recognised that their children’s characters were entirely different. After initially attempting to mirror the traditional Japanese school system and finding it exceedingly difficult to keep pace with the curriculum, Mr Furuyama encouraged them to foster Arina and Akira’s unique interests and abilities and to “create a bespoke learning environment that suited each child.” He also stated that homeschooling is not easy, but pointed out that valuable life lessons rarely are.
Mr Furuyama encouraged the Varella-Cids to turn traditional teaching thinking around and make education the responsibility of the children to learn in their own way. He urged the passionate parents to take a leap of faith to trust their children and allow them to nurture their inherent abilities and passions.
The book includes numerous personal examples of how Yuko and Miguel met with and overcame challenges during the homeschooling of their children. This is helpful as other parents will likely encounter similar hurdles along their homeschooling journey. Also included in the book is a comprehensive list of resources, including books, Web sites, podcasts and forums where parents can find valuable information, advice and assistance on how to improve the delivery of curriculum, improve homeschooling techniques and learn from the experience of others.
Miguel, an enthusiastic advocate of homeschooling, has also launched a Website (www.howtohomeschool.life) to provide ongoing support and information to parents considering homeschooling their children. He encourages readers of his book to join his mailing list to receive regular updates and access to his reading list, podcasts and videos. His goal is to build a community of 100,000 like-minded free homeschoolers worldwide. This forum will encourage, support and nurture parents who seek a more wholesome educational experience for their children and assist parents with homeschooling advice, inspiration and advocacy. It will also enable Miguel, Yuko, and other members of the forum to share their experiences and knowledge and make it easier for other parents to replicate the successful home education of their children.
“How to Homeschool: A Guide for Progressive Parents” is a comprehensive and eminently readable book that will appeal not only to people considering educating their children at home, but to parents everywhere who seek to be better at helping their children learn and develop as they grow.
Reading the book has provided me with numerous insights on how I could be a better parent and help my children develop into well-balanced, intelligent, considerate adults with accurate moral compasses.
Thank you, Mr Varella-Cid; you make a good case for homeschooling. Now, it’s over to the establishment and the modern school system to rebut your contentions…Hello? Anyone there? Sorry Ladies and Gentlemen, it would seem they have taken their children and gone home!
The homeschooling team wins by default. Well done, Mr Varella-Cid; you are tonight’s winner and congratulations on your superb book. I highly recommend this book to any parent who wants to improve how they interact with their children and help them grow into confident, well-educated, inquisitive young adults.