LOVE IN THE TIME OF
A Mother and Daughter's Uncommon Year
BY LAURA BRODIE
Humorous and heartfelt, this charming memoir tells of a year-long experiment in homeschooling in which the author decides to give her ten-year-old daughter a sabbatical from homework hell and the vicissitudes of one-size fits all traditional public school days.
"I had always thought of homeschooling as a drastic measure. . . . But when my daughter decided that she would rather hide in a closet than complete her homework, I knew that it was time for me to become a schoolteacher, if only for a little while."
After years of watching her eldest daughter, Julia, struggle in a highly regimented public school system, Laura Brodie determined to teach her ten-year-old at home for a year. Although friends were skeptical and her husband predicted disaster—"You can't be serious"—Brodie had visions of one ideal year of learning. The monotony of fill-in-the-blank history and math worksheets would be replaced with studying dinosaurs and Mayan hieroglyphics, conversational French, violin lessons, and field trips to art museums, science fairs, bookstores, and concerts.
But can one year of homeschooling make a difference? And what happens to the love between mother and daughter when fractions and spelling enter the relationship?
Love in a Time of Homeschooling is a funny and inspiring story of human foibles and human potential, in which love, anger, and hope mingle with reading, math, and American history. As today's parents ponder their children's educations, wondering how to respond to everything from homework overload to bullying to the boredom of excessive test preparations, homeschooling has become a popular alternative embraced by millions. Short-term homeschooling is the latest trend in this growing movement.
Brodie gave her daughter a sabbatical to explore, learn, create, and grow—a year of independent research and writing to rejuvenate Julia's love of learning. The experiment brought out the best and worst in the pair, but they worked through their frustrations to forge an invaluable bond. Theirs is a wonderful story no parent should miss.ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Brodie is the author of Love in a Time of Homeschooling, a memoir that explores one year when she gave her ten-year-old daughter a break from her public school routine. She has also written a novel, The Widow's Season, and the nonfiction book Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women.
Laura was born in Columbus, Ohio, and lived in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood before her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated from Broughton High School in 1982 and attended Harvard College, where her favorite class was a poetry workshop wtih Seamus Heaney. She met her future husband, trumpeter John Brodie, on a Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra tour.
After graduating, she went on to earn a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, and she now lives in Lexington, Virginia, where she divides her time between writing, teaching at Washington and Lee University, and raising three daughters. She is currently working on her second novel.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF HOMESCHOOLING is an expressively witty, honest account of the year that Laura Brodie decided that the stress of school had become too much for her ten-year old daughter thus calling for drastic measures. The plan she came up with was simple…don’t make her go to school! With the idea of taking a break from traditional school and instead initiate short-term homeschooling for a year, it seemed like the perfect solution. WHAT? Why you can’t just up and do that! Oh, yes you can, and I should know as I did it for a semester with my own child. Short-term homeschooling is the latest trend in this growing movement. My reason and result was a bit different from Laura Brodie’s but I did homeschool not only my own child for a semester but two of his second grade classmates. The private school he was attending in second grade had financial problems and was going to close and since I also was teaching there, it seemed like the perfect solution to finish out the year for all of us. Interesting experience, but once was more than enough. For this reason, I especially could relate to Laura Brodie’s story.
In LOVE IN THE TIME OF HOMESCHOOLING, Brodie describes the challenges and the rewards this year with her youngest daughter was all about. As I myself found, there were so many positive, cultural and hands-on experiences that were enjoyable and helped to enrich her child’s life. It also was a long year when it came to some of the day-to-day routine instruction and more traditional paper/book work. She describes the strategies that worked well for them and the activities that did not. As I also found, there was frustration and difficulty at times due to the fact she was “Mom” and not “the teacher” to her student. On the other hand, there was an increase in quality family time and she was able to individualize her daughter’s curriculum to include some of the often forgotten subjects left out because they aren’t covered by the state mandated testing. In our classrooms today, teachers have to include certain mandated material that is covered on standardized tests. They are directed to teach not only the same curriculum as everyone else in the district but usually at a precise time. So much is lost in that case as all the spontaneity goes out the window as does the leeway of pacing to meet individual student or group needs. With these time constraints, so much of the material that isn’t covered by mandated testing is pushed aside. What Brodie found was they were able to branch out to a more well-rounded education geared to her child’s needs. Though their year was not simple, mother and daughter worked through their frustration and problems to create a priceless union.
I found Laura Brodie’s writing to be very conversational and enjoyable to follow. Her story was heartfelt and eye-opening. Many parents will find this to be of use as they perhaps question the educational benefits there child is getting in whatever setting they are now in. With the players in the story being real and the subject relevant, it is a fast and rewarding read.
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