Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, by Kathy Kuhl

Book Review

 

Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, by Kathy Kuhl

Learn Differently, 2009.  388 pages.  ISBN:  978-0-9819389-0-5

Do you have a struggling learner?  If so, you can appreciate the difficult journey you and your learner travel as you search for solutions.  You also know that answers are elusive, and the road is frustrating, discouraging and just plain daunting.  As if that weren’t tough enough, it often feels as if you are traveling this road alone.  In Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, Kathy Kuhl comes alongside you as a seasoned sojourner and offers to walk a bit of the way with you.

Mrs. Kuhl speaks to us as a trained public school teacher that ended up homeschooling her own struggling son from grades four through twelve.  Though she is a homeschool advocate, and the book is about how you can more successfully homeschool your struggling learner, you will not find this book to be an argument against the “evils” of public schooling.  She is careful to say,

I have supported public schools for years.  I received a good education in public schools.  I taught junior high public school with dedicated professionals who gave and gave to help their students.  I volunteered as a tutor, classroom aide, and PTA newsletter editor.  I respect public school teachers and staff.” p. 7

This characterizes the gracious tone and healthy balance you will find throughout this book.  At the same time, Kuhl is transparent and plain-speaking when talking about the challenges that lie ahead.  And you will hear more than Kathy Kuhl’s voice as you read.  She interviewed 64 homeschooling families from around the country, who help to reinforce the truths being offered.  Twenty-nine different learning disabilities are represented by these 64 families, providing a rich collection of insight and experience to the conversation.

Because it is often exasperating to work for, and with, your struggling learner, it is easy to become angry or frustrated at the mis-informed professionals and the systems that are so non-responsive to your needs.  In spite of Kuhl’s even tone, these realities are not glossed over.  For example, at one point she declares that, in this world of special needs, “Fraud is rampant.”  (p. 121)   We hear Rita, a homeschooling mother in Pennsylvania, lament that, “Learning disabilities are big business.”  p. 121

Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner consists of 26 chapters divided into five sections.  A sampling of chapter titles will give you a sense of the range and practical nature of the material offered here:

Chapter 2 Misconceptions about homeschooling

Chapter 5 Attitudes and Assumptions

Chapter 6 Common Learning Problems

Chapter 9 Newer Therapies and Treatments

Chapter 13 Shopping for Curriculum

Chapter 14 Adapting and Creating Materials

Chapter 17 Math Problems

Chapter 18 Reading Difficulties

Chapter 24 Helping Your Child Keep Going

Chapter 26 Staying Sane: Balancing Health, Marriage, Family, and Homeschool

These chapters, along with the others, are practical and grounded in appropriate research, which is conveniently referenced throughout.  A very useful index allows for quick reference to topics of particular interest.  If you visit Kathy Kuhl’s website at http://www.learndifferently.com/ you will be able to view the entire table of contents and read the first chapter.

In Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, Kathy Kuhl has offered a wonderful gift to all who yearn to help their struggling learner.  Loaded with sage advice borne from her own journey, she has also tapped into the experiences of 64 other families who share some of what they have learned.  There are countless practical resources between the covers of this book.  Presented in a winsome, but realistic tone, this book will encourage and energize you in your efforts to help your own unique struggling learner.   I highly recommend this book.

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