I want to express a heartfelt “Thanks” to Ginger McCreary, the speaker on this DVD for sharing her wisdom, advice, and experience with us. Although she describes herself as “ordinary,” I would say she is “extra-ordinary” in that, even after completing 19 years of homeschooling, she is still amazingly enthusiastic about the pursuit. Ginger has a refreshingly “real” manner. Even though she has successfully home schooled and advised other homeschoolers for years, she has an attitude of gracious humility that comes through. She’s here to help and encourage you, not to preach at you, tell you what you must do, or brag about her own achievements. Although sometimes it is difficult to listen to the same speaker for a length of time, I found this an easy and pleasant talk.
There’s something on this DVD for people at all stages of homeschooling, whether you’re just considering it or have done it for years. Some of the topics she discusses are:
Advantages of home education
A short history of compulsory education
Tips for homeschooling success
Organization in your home school
Choosing the best curriculum for you
Support for homeschooling
Instead of listening to someone still in the middle of it all, get advice from someone who has finished the race well. I have to laugh at some of the books we get for review from young people who are single, just married, or with young families, imparting their advice to others on the subjects of marriage, family, or schooling. There’s a reason employers look for a person with experience. And that same reason applies to listening to someone’s advice. Before we jump onto a moving wagon, let’s take a hard look at the person driving the wagon. Have they completed this trip before? Do they know where the potholes and obstacles are? Do they know when and where to turn? Only if they have successfully completed the course themselves should they presume to give others advice and direction for the journey. Ginger has successfully homeschooled three children at home from grades K-12. All three attended college. One is an officer in the army, one is getting her master’s degree, and the last one is still in college.
As someone who has homeschooled even longer (four out of college and married, one in college, two still at home), I found her advice full of common sense and right on target. I really appreciated her tips on keeping your home clean and organized (“Teach your children to do every job at home. Children must learn to work”) and honesty about the challenge (“You will feel like quitting.” “You will feel discouraged.” “You will want to flag down the big, yellow school bus and put your children on it.”), including excellent counsel on how to avoid burnout, stress, and discouragement. Despite the fact that we have not been engaged much with other homeschoolers (because of our time-consuming family business), I agree with her strong encouragement to seek out and get support from other homeschoolers via local support groups. As she accurately points out, homeschooling is a radical lifestyle. More so when we first began, but even today it is considered a fringe activity. And she is right on the money about even churches not necessarily being supportive (or the children in them being accepting of yours!). Ginger and her husband were heavily involved in both local and state groups, serving as officers and board members. She puts in a strong plug for not only using these groups for your own support, but in giving back to them through your service to other homeschoolers. She doesn’t mince words, either, when it comes to putting aside unrealistic expectations for your school or the amount of help you should expect in day-to-day schooling from a working dad. Rather, she encourages dads to prioritize their family’s educational pursuits by being interested, by showing support and respect for your efforts (including the occasional disciplinary call for help), perhaps attending homeschooling conventions with you to help make curriculum choices, and maybe even joining you in serving your homeschool support group or state organization.
Listening to this DVD is like getting good advice from an old and trusted friend. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you can or should homeschool, this presentation would be an inexpensive help in making that decision. If you’re new to homeschooling, Ginger is a seasoned veteran with many worthwhile suggestions that will save you time and money. Her commonsense counsel and insights, along with her naturally calm and friendly demeanor, will help you conquer self-doubt and be encouraged on your journey.