Dr. Ruth Beechick has written several books to help homeschoolers on their journey. She writes from an unapologetically Christian viewpoint, especially in A Biblical Home Education, which is subtitled “Building Your Homeschool on the Foundation of God’s Word.” A Biblical Home Education seems to be an overview that includes some of the educational philosophy in her other teaching manuals and biblical history books, as well as some new content.
A Biblical Home Education makes a distinction between language skills—reading, writing, thinking, speaking, and listening, which are skills used to learn all other content; and content subjects, such as history, Bible, science, etc. Her philosophy is that language skills shouldn’t necessarily be separate subjects in school, but should be practiced and improved by using them in the content subjects. She gives several explanatory tips to help simplify your homeschool and make it more efficient.
She spends the first four chapters explaining how to integrate content subjects with the Bible. The first three chapters cover the Bible, history, and science, in which she describes how to study the Bible as a family and its importance in your homeschool, how to use the Bible as your main text for history, and how important it is to match science instruction with the Bible. Her fourth chapter is on worldviews and how to use the Bible to help your family see the world through a biblical grid.
Her next five chapters are on language skills, one chapter each on thinking, reading, study, writing, and grammar (after writing). She follows that up with a chapter on delayed formal education and its merits for the young, and finally a chapter on curriculum materials and how to wade through the ocean of businesses out there trying to get at your pocketbook.
- Beechick really attempts to emphasize the Bible and its importance over and integration into all other subjects.
- Beechick takes a lot of the weight of homeschool-mom-guilt off regarding how to implement instruction and which curriculum to choose. She helps remove the constant comparisons some homeschoolers make between themselves. Her repeated instructions to “resist the hype” in so many categories is both calming and refreshing. She makes homeschooling seem practicable for anyone.
- She gives practical advice, with an emphasis on efficiency and saving money.
- She believes in and advocates a young-earth creation position.
- She believes in integrating subjects with one another. I especially liked the emphasis on integrating thinking skills, study skills, and worldview education with other subjects, rather than separating them from one another and needing separate curriculum for them; I also appreciated the idea of integrating language skills with the content subjects.
- I appreciated that when she discusses history, she emphasizes that the Bible is history. So many times we separate the two as if Bible and history are their own separate subjects, even while saying that history is “HIS story.”
- She gives helpful “teaching suggestions” and checklists at the end of each chapter or section to help you remember the advice in summary form and practice her suggestions.
- It can often come across as “You don’t need a curriculum for anything!” Most homeschooling moms need curricula (a) to re-learn the subject matter themselves, (b) to learn how to teach the subject to others (which steps are introduced when), and (c) to help them keep on track and organize the material. I do feel, after teaching one child with a math and phonics curriculum, that I could probably do it myself in a more relaxed way without the curriculum; but I also feel that I needed that curriculum first to know how they taught it and to remember all the little details that need to be taught incrementally, as well as to know how often to drill and review. Secondly, a curriculum that is bought and paid for gets done. One that is made up by good ol’ me probably won’t, even with all of my good intentions. It is much easier to pick up the manual someone else planned and “do the next step” than to plan my own scope and sequence, etc., basically to reinvent the wheel.
- Beechick sometimes uses assertion or overspeak and doesn’t back up her statements with research or footnotes. She may reference “Research shows…” but rarely shows the research. She cites herself often (her other books) and can come across as if all this is easy—or should be easier than it is. That can be frustrating to a conscientious newbie.
- In her effort to encourage homeschoolers to do more homeschool than homeschool, it seems at times as if she’s giving unschoolers a pass. She definitely leans more “relaxed” with her delayed formal academics approach.
- While this book is a great book to do what its subtitle says, giving your homeschool a biblical foundation, Beechick has two sections in which she distractingly enters into the KJV only debate, and even makes one Ruckmanite comment. This is a minor point and easily passed over if you don’t agree, but it could be confusing to those not familiar with the debate.
- Some of her suggestions for how to learn a subject are simplistic and not very thorough.
A Biblical Home Education made me think in several ways, and I’m still thinking about many of them. I am not sure if I agreed with Beechick on some of her nuances or statements, but as a whole the book was a helpful, thought-provoking read.
- Do I emphasize the Bible in our education? Is this a foundational presupposition I have that shows to the children even if I don’t say it? Is it my “main textbook”? Am I constantly educating myself in its principles?
- How important is formal grammar instruction to writing?
- How early should we begin academics with our children? Is early always better, or is it actually detrimental to start children formally learning before they are ready?
- How am I training my children to view the world through a biblical lens?
- How am I teaching my children proper study skills right now?