5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials — Encouraging and Helpful Homeschool Books

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Welcome to 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials.

This week, I will be sharing about the things I have found most useful for our homeschool. I honestly think I could write a 10- or 15-day series on this topic, so many things are integral to our success in homeschooling. But, I will do my best to narrow them down for you. 

Today, I have a list of books that have influenced, helped, or encouraged me in some way over the past 8 years. These are the books that have a home on my bookshelf, I recommend over and over, and that I often pull down from said bookshelf to read . . . again. 

These are not curriculum books or books you read to your kids. These are books for mom. And I will warn you right now, it’s an eclectic grouping. I love to learn about (and use) many different methods of homeschooling — Charlotte Mason, Classical, Principle Approach — we have found ways to blend lots of methods. This list reflects that diversity of our homeschool methods.

On the list are also a couple of books that are less about methodology and more about encouraging you in your journey as both a parent and homeschool teacher. If you can only purchase one of these books, make it the first one on the list — Educating the WholeHearted Child. It will change the way you view homeschooling . . . for the better. Apart from the Bible, I have found no better guide to homeschooling.

Encouraging and Helpful Books for Homeschool Moms

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Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay Clarkson — The first book I recommend to new homeschoolers and those who have burnt themselves out. From recommendations for getting started homeschooling to biblical parenting and discipleship to discovering the learning styles of your students (and everything in between), the Clarksons’ have covered it all and then some. Whether you are considering homeschooling, new to homeschooling, or have been homeschooling for years, you will find encouragement, inspiration, and a plethora of information in this “handbook for Christian home education”.

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick — From the Grandmother of homeschooling, this book is one of the most practical guides on my bookshelf. Targeting grades 4-8, within its pages you’ll find helpful information for what your students should be learning in reading, writing and arithmetic, with wonderful suggestions for how to teach them (without purchasing expensive curriculum). 

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease — Truly a “giant treasury of great read aloud books.”  It’s divided by genre, making it easy to find a quick suggestion for a book on poetry, fairy tales, novels, etc. I now also use it to develop reading lists for Ben. 

Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn — I know, you’re thinking, “But Marcy, you are not a classical homeschooler — why this book?” And you are correct. We are not traditional classical homeschoolers. But when I found this book early in our homeschool days (while I was seeking out what style we would use), I fell in love with the way the Bluedorns interweave the classical method with a Christian worldview. My favorite chapter is Chapter 10 — Different Methods and Approaches to Homeschooling in Light of the Trivium. Here, they discuss all of the methods I love most — unit studies, Charlotte Mason, and the Principle Approach, and share how these different methods work within the framework of the Trivium. 

A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver deMille — The subtitle for this book is, “Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century.” Inside its pages are the Seven Keys for Great Teaching. I first became interested in this book when Andrew Pudewa recommended it. The premise is that we can’t really teach our students anything, unless they must assume the responsibility for learning. The book coaches you on how to develop a love of learning in yourself and in your students. 

Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola — Early in our homeschool years, I attempted to read the set of books written by Charlotte Mason herself. My, oh my, was that chore. This companion book does the best job I’ve seen of explaining Miss Mason’s principles, mixed with the personal homeschool experiences of the author. 

Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners by Cindy West — Parents of gifted kids are often intimidated about how to meet the needs of their students. Other books I’ve read on this topic have left me scratching my head — confused about where to begin. Cindy West does a wonderful job of making teaching advanced students practical, simple, and fun. The chapters  on Teaching All Learners and Individualizing Instruction alone is worth the price of the book.

Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History by Rosalie Slater — This book is THE manual for the Principle Approach to homeschooling. It’s more of a reference book, not one you would sit down and read cover to cover. But if you have succumbed to the “public school” education of America’s history, you need this book. It will change your perspective on teaching history to your kids. 

Beyond Survival by Diana Waring — Beyond Survival gives you the preparation and working plan for a successful homeschooling experience. With confidence and compassionate humor, Diana Waring leads you on a joy-filled educational journey.  


5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials


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  • Heather

    That looks like an excellent list of books! I have read and love Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, The Charlotte Mason Companion, and I enjoyed the Thomas Jefferson Education. I’ll have to look into those others sometime! ~Heather @ Principled Academy

  • Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

    When I first considered homeschooling I picked up Ruth Beechick’s The Three R’s (they were 3 booklets, now sold in 1 paperback). I still keep them to lend out.

  • Victoria @HomemakingWithHeart

    One or two I haven’t heard of there, thanks Marcy. :)

  • http://www.delightfullearning.blogspot.com Michelle

    I’ve had Ruth Beechick’s book and Jim Trelease’s from the beginning, but I don’t have the others. I need another good one for me and definitely want to check out your top pick. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rebecca Ray

    Two of my favorites, “Educating the Wholehearted Child” and “A Charlotte Mason Companion” would be on my list too if I sat down and made a list. There are just so many good recommendations here :-) I keep thinking about trying “A Thomas Jefferson Education,” but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet,

  • Melanie (Wren)

    Thanks, Marcy! I’m heading to our library website now to look for the Thos Jefferson and Rosie Slater books!

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  • Gabrielle

    Great list! Several are already on my bookshelf (one that isn’t listed that I personally love is The Well-Trained Mind). There are a couple here that I have had on my to read list for a while now, thanks for the reminder to finally get my hands on them!

  • http://peaofsweetness.com/ Emilee Roberts

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’m going to look into “Educating the Wholehearted Child.” It sounds great!

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  • Anne Gregor

    Great list.

    Whats great about homeschooling is that homeschooling is focused on children as individuals, a child’s education can be tailored to her capabilities and personality.


  • Kristie M

    These are some awesome books! Most of them I already love. :) I have a question about the “Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History”. How is this book set up? Could my high schooler study this book alone? What is included in this book? I would love to see some sample pages. I looked it up and the only sample pages I can find are mostly the table of contents. Thanks!