This big book is packed with projects, conveniently divided into sections such as: animals, community development and beautification, crime fighting,This big book is packed with projects, conveniently divided into sections such as: animals, community development and beautification, crime fighting, environment, friendship, health, holidays, homeless, hunger, literacy, people with special needs, politics, safety, senior citizens, and transportation. Helpful details are scattered throughout the book; for instance, the section on starting an environmental club is followed by tips on why & how to incorporate the club The final section, "service project how-tos," offers details on creating fliers, petitions, press releases, surveys, lobbies, & much more, as well as fund-raising tips. Good for individuals as well as groups, and for older as well as younger children. 174 pages with index....more
This is a great book for kids. Set in rhyming verse, the pictures start and circle back to the same (apparently) American family, but in between the iThis is a great book for kids. Set in rhyming verse, the pictures start and circle back to the same (apparently) American family, but in between the images go to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Each welcoming image shows a parent or grandparent and child marveling at the wonders that surround them. Bible verses are included at the beginning and end of the story....more
As advice for parents of preschoolers, the advice given here is not necessarily bad; the problem is, it does not claim to be a parenting manual but anAs advice for parents of preschoolers, the advice given here is not necessarily bad; the problem is, it does not claim to be a parenting manual but an unschooling manual, which it is most emphatically NOT. I'm going to evaluate this book three times: (1) as an unschooling manual, (2) as a parenting manual, (3) as a published book. Regarding my credentials to review this book: I have four teenage children whom I have unschooled from the beginning, I am well-read in homeschooling and unschooling literature, and I have been active in online homeschooling and unschooling communities for nearly 20 years. In addition, I have a degree in elementary education.
BOTTOM LINE (in case you want to skip my lengthy review): This is just an early childhood parenting book, and a skimpy, shoddy, poorly referenced one at that.
=== AS AN UNSCHOOLING MANUAL ===
The primary problem with this book is best demonstrated in the section titled "What is Radical Unschooling?" where it becomes clear that the author actually does not even truly understand what unschooling is.
FROM THE BOOK: "There's a continuum of unschooling, from "radical" to a more mixed/balanced approach."
No, there really isn't. Unschooling means no coercive educational methods, and that's all it means.
FROM THE BOOK: " "Radical unschooling" is usually defined as absolutely no curriculum or attempts at formal learning."
No, it isn't. That is actually a flawed definition of unschooling itself. Radical unschooling refers to taking the "no coercion" tenet of unschooling beyond academics and into all aspects of parenting and family life. It is also sometimes referred to as whole-life unschooling. Radical unschooling is about parenting choices, not academics.
FROM THE BOOK: "Most unschoolers, including our family, are more "moderate" unschoolers. That is, no formal curriculum is chosen (especially in the early years) and there is little external guidance -- it's mostly child-led learning. But, when children express an interest in a particular subject or area, parents specifically seek to help them learn all they can about it. This includes books, possibly textbooks, movies, field trips, and more. Nothing is "off limits" even if it is more typical of "formal schooling" so long as the child has an interest in it."
Again, we have here a flawed definition of unschooling, not a definition of moderate unschooling or some other made-up term. Specifically:
1. "No formal curriculum." Unschooling is about the parent not imposing COERCIVE educational measures on the child. It is about the parent working in partnership with the child to find and facilitate the interests of the child. Sometimes, especially as the child gets older, that may involve formal curriculum if the child chooses it.
2. "Little external guidance." True unschooling provides a great deal of external guidance. Unschooling is frequently misrepresented as being a laissez-faire, hands-off style of unparenting, when the opposite is true. Seeking out and nurturing a child's interests, as opposed to merely following a prescribed curriculum, takes a great deal of thought and time; often more than is required just following the teacher's guide. There are unschoolers who are unparents, just as there are homeschoolers and public schoolers who are unparents. That is a parenting issue, not an academic one.
3. "Parents help them learn." This is an accurate statement that contains the inaccurate implication that unschoolers (as opposed to "moderate" unschoolers) do not help their children learn if that learning would cross certain lines. The very heart of unschooling (again, not "moderate" unschooling as Tietje claims) is that when a child expresses an interest in something, the parent does everything possible to facilitate the child's interest. That may involve any number of things, up to and including textbooks and classes if it is the child's desire to pursue the subject in that way.
Look, unschooling is not some neo-Rousseauian utopia where the child is forcibly kept from anything that might sully the purity of a soul untouched by manmade systems. It is about living your life, and helping your child live her life. If you, an adult, want to learn to bake like a chef, you might well sign up to take a class for it, among other options. If an unschooled child wants to learn to bake or whatever, you the parent, in partnership with your child, will figure out the best way for her to achieve that goal. You won't deny her the opportunity to sign up for a class just because it will disturb the purity of your unschooling. Finding the best way for her to achieve her goals, just like any human being would, IS unschooling.
FROM THE BOOK: "This sort of unschooling walks the line between "radical unschooling" and more formal homeschooling. This is the general philosophy upon which this book is based -- a moderate approach."
Again, no. Unschooling is about no coercive academics. Radical unschooling, as already stated, is about parenting choices in addition to academics choices. Homeschooling is following some sort of schedule of learning, in a spectrum of choices from strict school-in-a-box curriculum to a very relaxed, child-led approach. This "moderate unschooling" Tietje keeps referencing is better defined as "relaxed homeschooling."
FROM THE BOOK: "Charlotte Mason focuses heavily on literature. This could be combined with unschooling, by doing a lot of reading. (Although admittedly I don't know much about CM philosophy; I just know several people who use it."
Okay … then why did you mention it as being compatible with unschooling if you know almost nothing about it? CM is literature-based, yes; but it is a very structured approach. Tietje convicts herself as being not well-versed in homeschooling literature or philosophy, but goes ahead and writes a whole book about it anyway, based apparently on nothing more than hearing the word "unschooling" and having two years of experience with one child, since at the time of publication, Tietje's oldest child was 7.
Tietje is not an experienced homeschooler, unschooler, or anything-schooler. She has minimal experience with a single child at beginning school age. She basically has done nothing more than parent her children in a normal, interactive way from birth to school age (see the next section of this review), then wrote a flimsy pamphlet that sort of touches on a philosophy she hasn't bothered to research. I don't object to the way she parents her children, but I strongly object to her passing herself off as an unschooling expert.
=== AS A PARENTING MANUAL ===
As to whether this book is worth it for its parenting or homeschooling advice: as I said, it's not awful, but I can't recommend it. It's not that it's wrong; it is that it is overly simplistic and ultimately unhelpful.
1. Brevity. This book is 90 pages long. The first 12 pages are devoted to poorly defining unschooling. Another 6 pages cover Tietje's personal story and explains how infants experience the world around them … as if somehow the parent would do something different about that if they hold an unschooling philosophy?
FROM THE BOOK: "A baby is learning from the moment they are born about the world around them…. An older baby learns to grab objects…. They learn to look at different colors and patterns…. All of these normal daily activities are unschooling!"
No, they aren't, they are normal child development experienced by every child, regardless of the parents' educational philosophy.
2. Simplistic parenting advice. A total of 18 pages are devoted to "Unschooling Birth to age 2," which contains gems such as "this age is tricky, in a way, because a newborn is vastly different from a two-year-old!" This is followed by a list of typical infant development and milestones, and then a section that defines tummy time, baby massage, rattles, peek-a-boo, floor time, and paper ripping as unschooling activities.
FROM THE BOOK (age 0-2 section): "Many babies love to play with water. Once babies can sit up well, put them in the bath tub with a few inches of water and some cups, a whisk, or other safe objects. There are baby-safe bubble baths you can use, too."
That is the entire section on water play. Who needs a book to tell them to do this? There is nothing about how water play helps with development, nothing about safety measures for babies playing in water, nothing actually helpful in any way. This is typical of everything in the book: an extremely abbreviated description of a typical infant activity, which can be found FREE, with better and more helpful detail, on any of a million good parenting or child development websites.
FROM THE BOOK (age 2-4 section): "Take advantage of local resources. Visit parks. Have play dates with like-minded friends. Be sure to enjoy the world."
FROM THE BOOK (age 2-4 section): "Play dough will become more sophisticated at this time."
FROM THE BOOK: (age 4-6 section): "Try making window clings that are seasonal."
The book is full of brilliantly insightful tidbits like this, and never digs any deeper into any topic it touches. Why would you need to pay money for advice like this?
It also doesn't explain how to make a window cling. Darn it.
3. Lack of citation, bibliography, footnotes, or references.
FROM THE BOOK: "Is there long-term value in "making" a child learn from a particular book if they don't want to? Will they actually gain knowledge, and if so, will they retain it? Studies show they don't."
FROM THE BOOK: "Studies show that before age 7, academics are really not necessary or beneficial."
Each time, the text immediately moves on, without answering the question "WHAT STUDIES?" or even detailing what these purported studies do and do not show.
=== AS A BOOK (AKA: Nitpicky Section for Grammarians and Publishers) ===
For those who notice such things, the production values of this book will drive you insane. It looks as if it were typeset in an old word processing program, with no effort made to step up to any sort of desktop publishing aesthetic. The font makes occasional random size changes from page to page, even from one paragraph to the next. There are no em dashes, only double dashes. (Seriously? What word processing program doesn't automatically convert to em dashes these days?) And the visually annoying double dashes are exceedingly overused, in places where commas, colons, semicolons, and even parentheses would keep the text from feeling like a student is straining to impress a teacher in his 8th grade theme paper.
Double spaces after each period … did a high school typing teacher do the proofreading on this book? Overuse of quotation marks (and for no apparent reason switching from doubles to singles on occasion); uncorrected, awkwardly auto-hyphenated text; internet acronyms and abbreviations; mistaken word choices ("diffuse" instead of "defuse"); breaking sentences into sentence fragments by misuse of semicolons where commas should be; publishing errors that anyone who has passing familiarity with any publication style manual would never leave uncorrected … all these make the book nearly unreadable even if the text lived up to its promises. If this were a novel I would have tossed it aside as unreadable by the third page. (For a good sampling, check all the quotes above, in my review; I was careful to type them exactly as they appear in the book, excessive quotation marks and all.)
A special note on quotation marks: Why do "unschooling" and "unschooler" have quotation marks every other time they appear? And why only every other time? Are we to assume this is some ironic use of the word, or that the author is euphemistically referring to something else? On a single two-page spread we have these words in this order, with and without parentheses as shown: "unschooling" - "school" - schooling - unschooling - schooling - "assignments" - "unschooling" - "developmental delay" - unschooling - "unschooling" - 'radical' unschooling - "unschooler." It make me dizzy!
=== BOTTOM LINE === This is just an early childhood parenting book, and a skimpy, shoddy, poorly referenced one at that. ...more
I have to agree with the reviewers who give this a "mediocre" rating. The funny thing is, it's not really mediocre. It has some really good parts andI have to agree with the reviewers who give this a "mediocre" rating. The funny thing is, it's not really mediocre. It has some really good parts and some REALLY awful parts, which average out to mediocre. I wish I could give it a 2.5 star rating - halfway between "I liked it" and "it was okay."
Very briefly: This trilogy is the first three books about Drizzt, a drow or dark elf. The drow are inherently evil but Drizzt (inexplicably) has a moral code and escapes the underworld to live on the surface, where he is misjudged by people who know that all dark elves are evil.
What's good about it: The whole idea of the story is good. I really like Drizzt as a hero and I also like the general plot of the story.
What's not so great: The pacing of the writing is off and drags a lot, even in areas that should be thrilling. The writing is fairly juvenile and full of brightly mistaken adverbs (kind of like that one there). And by the third book I *already know* that when Drizzt drops a globe of darkness, he is calling upon his innate magical abilities. You don't have to mention his innate magical abilities every time he uses his innate magical abilities. Really.
And in several places it just doesn't make sense, darn it. For instance: - WHY is Drizzt born with a pure heart that stays unstained by drow morals? Better if he grew into it, or if his father had taught him a moral code more explicitly.
- WHY do his powers of levitation slowly decay when he is living on the surface, but not his other innate magical abilities? (You do remember that he has innate magical abilities, right?) He can still use fairy fire and globes of darkness, but not levitation. Huh?
- I got seriously annoyed with the last half of the third book. His only friend Mooshie dies, and Drizzt goes out to travel the world for SIX years without being hunted down by humans who think he murdered the family in Maldobar, or befriended by the Rangers and elves who know he didn't do it. WHY didn't Mooshie, who knew he was dying, put Drizzt in touch with the Rangers ... since he was training Drizzt to be a Ranger? WHY did the band of elves who came to help Mooshie and Drizzt when they were attacked by orcs dash off afterward without meeting the person they came to help? HOW does Drizzt travel the world for SIX years, showing people he is a dark elf with purple eyes, without becoming the subject of a manhunt by people who think he is a murderer?
- And darn it all, WHY does he have purple eyes? Never explained, and never really exploited well. I kept waiting for him to run into the little elf girl - the one he didn't kill when he was supposed to - who would recognize him by his purple orbs. Never happened. What was the point of the too-often-mentioned purple orbs?
Bottom line: the interesting storyline and hero kept me reading through the juvenile writing style. I think with the great main character and storyline, this could actually break the mold and be a better movie than book, given the right director. (I'm thinking Peter Jackson!)...more