Dec 072012

What do you do when your gifted children are struggling mightily in a traditional school environment? You switch to homeschool, of course! And then, you write a book about it.

Local homeschooling mom Suki Wessling wrote From School to Homeschool for parents of gifted children who are dissatisfied with their child’s traditional school experience. Although I have homeschooled my children from the beginning, her book spoke to me too, confirming my suspicion that my unique children would not have thrived in a traditional school environment.

The message is affirming to homeschoolers of any ilk, without the skewed, all-or-nothing attitude that can accompany a life-changing decision. Suki relates her experience, while acknowledging that homeschool is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every family with gifted children. She presents the homeschool option without judgment, and her personal story lends credibility and the assurance that it can be done. The book is packed with links and referrals to other resources, listed at the end of each chapter.

The book begins by helping readers determine whether or not traditional school is working for their gifted child. Parents experiencing the unique difficulties that traditional schooling can present to gifted children will appreciate the message that they are not alone.

Suki then offers strategies to make the transition to homeschool a positive one for everyone involved – including former teachers and school friends. She explores the gifted child’s need to “deschool” after exiting traditional school, cautioning readers not to assume this is necessary for every child.

Chapter Four introduces various learning styles and approaches. Again, Suki remains unbiased and objective, presenting the gamut of options, from classical to unschooling. Her advice – “to consider the merits of each and how they would work in your particular homeschool situation” – (p. 65) resonates with me. That’s the philosophy I embrace and try to promote on Steer Me Right.

Chapter Four next hails the freedom that homeschooling allows for gifted children to explore their interests in depth. Additionally, Suki observes that homeschooling accommodates the asynchronous development of some gifted children. I imagine this news would be a breath of fresh air for parents dealing with the uniform requirements that traditional schooling necessitates.

Suki explores various learning styles, pointing out that “a fair number of gifted children who top out on IQ tests do pretty miserably in school” because “they are visual-spatial learners and learn from seeing and doing.” (p. 79) The discussion of testing that follows will be especially helpful to parents of “twice-exceptional” children – those who are both gifted and have learning deficits. Suki affirms parents’ ability to assess their children’s giftedness apart from testing. She also advises parents of the twice-exceptional child of cases where testing and evaluations might prove helpful, and points them to several appropriate resources for further exploration.

The book discusses the importance of building a support system, examining both online and physical resources. Chapter Six, which I wish I’d read long ago, contains great advice for evaluating, locating, and saving money on curriculum.

The book finishes up with insights on college (including a helpful outline of different approaches to college); vignettes of several homeschooling families with gifted children, each  using a different approach; and a chapter that helps parents evaluate their success. In keeping with her balanced approach, Suki gently affirms those families who decide it’s time to head back to traditional school. It’s a great reminder that nothing’s set in stone, and parents are best qualified to decide what will work for their children at any given time.

From School to Homeschool is the perfect Christmas gift for those considering the switch to homeschool, especially if they have gifted children. It’s an affirming, balanced read for any homeschool parent, too. You can purchase it through Steer Me Right’s aStore. Visit Suki’s website here.

By Columba Lisa Smith

  4 Responses to “Book Review! From School to Homeschool – Suki Wessling”

  1. [...] the reluctant homeschooler of a gifted child.  She will be talking to us about her new book, From School to Homeschool, and unusual learners.  May I interest you in a sit down and a hob nob?  It’s time for [...]

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  2. Thanks for the tip! Will bookmark this if we ever consider homeschooling.

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  3. Working in public schools for many years, I am well aware that “traditional” school is not one size fits all and am so glad there are so many options to educate our children. Your site is a wonderful resource for families following a similar path and I am quite impressed with your work. This book sounds fascinating and I’m glad it created continued inspiration in you. Great review!

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