Dr. Ruth Beechick has written several books to help homeschoolers on their journey. The Three R’s is a helpful read for home educators just starting out.
After reading A Biblical Home Education, Beechick very practically gives advice on how to home educate children in grades K-3 in her book The Three R’s. This book is a combination of three smaller booklets she had published on teaching the younger grades: A Home Start in Reading, A Strong Start in Language, and An Easy Start in Arithmetic. The book is divided into those three sections, and each section is divided further into more categories.
A Home Start in Reading is divided into an introduction and Beechick’s five steps for reading–prereading (“wider than the whole world”–basically, expanding your child’s vocabulary), beginning, blending (crucial step), decoding, and fluency, a “necessary but often neglected step.” Each chapter (step) ends with a list of activities and even charts for how to accomplish that step.
A Strong Start in Language also has five chapters, which aren’t quite as integrated as the former section on reading. First, Beechick defends her “powerful natural method” (simply reading and writing in different ways) to learning language–spelling, writing, and grammar. Next, she gives goals for each grade level. Her third chapter covers spelling (integrated into language), and her fourth chapter gives sample lessons. She sums up with Bible sentences you can use for writing practice.
An Easy Start in Arithmetic has more chapters, the first titled “Arithmetic Can Be Easy for Your Child.” She then explains “Modes of Thinking,” followed up by devoting a chapter to each of the grades–early years, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Her final chapter gives ways to use the “Hundred Chart.”
Beechick gives a lot of great practical helps for the beginning homeschooler. This manual would be nice to keep on your shelf as a reference tool, or as your sole manual, if you agree with her philosophy. But I feel that most newbies won’t mesh well with her philosophy, and that is because the book’s main benefit is also its main weakness.
She encourages independence apart from curriculum to teach reading, language, and arithmetic. Basically, she says you can teach these subjects without a curriculum. That may be true, but most of us still need more hand-holding, especially our first time around. A lot of my comments from my review on A Biblical Home Education apply here as well, specifically this one:
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.
Also, some of her suggestions for how to learn a subject are simplistic and not very thorough. At least it may help teachers to break free from the “box,” however, and learn how to feel free to adjust and tweak things to fit their family’s needs.
In summary, I found the book very helpful and interesting, but unless I was going to use it as my manual/scope and sequence (and I’m not–I’d rather have curriculum already thought out for me), I don’t think I need it on my shelves; one read was sufficient.