I have read a LOT of homeschooling books. I enjoy reading them – you never know when you might stumble on some new tidbit. I must say though, it’s hard to find a title that is different from all the rest. It’s not totally their fault I suppose. How-to-manuals on the same topic are bound to be a lot alike.
So when I bought “Homeschool Supermom…Not!” I was kind of expecting yet another “how-to” manual with a different author’s flair. From the illustrations on the cover and the title I was anticipating something with a light humorous perspective. What arrived in the post was much more than I could ever have hoped for.
I have been reading this book all year. Not because I’m a slow reader – quite the opposite in fact, I could have polished it off in a day or two – but because I’ve read the chapters repeatedly making sure to glean every word of wisdom to be found within the pages. This is a powerful book. This is a book that has changed my life, not just my homeschool. Sounds corny but just wait until you read the book. Then tell me if I’m being too dramatic.
The subtitle gives you a hint of the treasure to be found within the pages:
Yes this is unashamedly a Christian title. Without God in your life you’ll gain little from this book, as God’s grace IS the treasure you’ll be reminded of in this book.
When I first flipped through the pages of this book I was instantly drawn to several things. Firstly, there were lots of Scriptural references. The author, Susan Kemmerer, points you back to the Scriptures and urges you to meditate on them to seek what the Holy Spirit would have you learn from them. I value this. Any book that sends me to my Bible is gold. The other feature I was drawn to was the photos and stories from a“real” homeschool. No picture perfect, poster pin up homeschoolers to be seen. Susan’s family and home are ones that real homeschoolers can relate to.
This may seem an odd thing to do in a Book Review but I simply must share an overview of what I have learned from this book. The information is too valuable to sit back and hope that you’ll read it for yourselves. I also suspect that once you get a glimmer of the treasures you’ll be desperate to know more. Grab a cup of tea, sit back and relax. With twelve chapter of wealth to summarise this might take a little while.
Tea poured? Okay I’ll start.
Chapter One is titled, “Exploding the Supermom Myth”. It compels us to be transparent, to share our bad days with the good so that people can see God in our process of growth.
“Grace-Drenched Homeschooling”, chapter two, reminds us that our strength comes from God. By ourselves we are all insufficient. Homeschoolers that “burn out” do so because they try to rely on their own strength. To “give up” implies a lack of faith in God to abundantly supply our needs. To ask, “If only I had… more money, more time, a bigger house, or less interruptions from the baby or the toddler” is to have the wrong focus. We need to be thinking, “If only I would trust God more”.
The third chapter was my favourite. I’m sure these pages in my copy of the book are showing sign of wear and tear from being read so many times. The chapter is called, “I’m German and I have PMS (and Other Excuses)”. This chapter focuses on patience. I love the definition given for patience – (paraphrased for brevity) patience is the fruit of yielding (submitting your life) to God, whereas impatience is the fruit of trying to remain in control. When people tell me they could never homeschool because they don’t have the patience, I’ve always told them that there is “on the job training” and it seems I was spot on. Susan tells us that God can use our homeschooling to grow the fruit of patience as there are so many opportunities for the sin of impatience to be exposed and with God’s help, we can be transformed little by little. How many times have you heard of people returning their children to school because their impatience with their children was ruining their relationship? Susan explains that, while it seems easier, it only removes the motivation to sin. The sin of impatience is still there waiting for some other excuse for it to erupt.
Chapter four is about bickering and is aptly titled, “C.H.A.O.S (Constant Heckling Always Over Something)”. Isn’t it nice to know that we’re not alone in the chaotic feelings that squabbling creates in us? Sorry folks, this next bit is going to sting a little. We cannot say that the squabbling “causes” us to react. It is our own sin that erupts after a little pressure is applied and exposes the sad condition of our own hearts. Ouch! In order to teach our little ones to act appropriately when provoked by their siblings we must first change how we react to situation and teach through example.
Chapter Five, “The Sarcastic Homeschooler – Duh!”, relates very closely to the previous owie. It teaches that we must be kind and gentle, even in the face of provocation. Thankfully we do not have to (and can’t) do this under our own strength. God gives us the strength to do what He requires.
In chapter six, “What about Me?”, my favourite line was, “Homeschooling is like walking on water” (p130). If you look down at the enormity of the task ahead and start to worry and fret, you’ll start to drown. But if you keep your eyes on Jesus and put your faith in His promise to supply your every need, you’ll be able to do what seems like the impossible. Isn’t that exciting!
Lots of other homeschooling books discuss “me time”, but in chapter seven, “Marriage…Homeschool Syle”, I found a refreshing reference to making “we time” a priority. I so love the godly perspectives this book restores.
Chapter eight, “Servanthood 101…Teaching Kids to Serve” also presents an alternative view on teaching children to do their chores. Susan’s explains that we must first joyfully serve our family as an example to them. The phrase “A real leader is a servant of all” jeopardises the common, “no one ever helps me” attitude that precedes an unsightly mother tantrum. The chapter continues on to teach us how to encourage our children to serve by appreciating their efforts and responding kindly as we train them.
“Confessions of a Disorganised Homeschool Mom”, chapter 9, tells us that homeschooling must be your top priority and lists lots of great practical ideas to help you achieve this. Number one on the list is the key to your success – spend time with God.
Chapter 10, “100% Mommy, 100% Teacher” is about distractions and our choice in how we view them and react to them. Susan suggests that distractions are an opportunity to train ourselves in grace, an opportunity to be a picture of God to our little ones and an opportunity to train our little ones. I completed agree with Susan when she says, “I am increasingly aware that homeschooling is just as much about me changing and growing in Christ-likeness as it is about my kids and their studies.” (p. 194). How absolutely true! I would suggest that it’s possibly more important, as our children with learn to grow in Christ-likeness through our example.
Chapter 11, “Homeschooling Distractible Kids Who Don’t Like School” urges us, while giving lots of practical examples for teaching our wiggly students, to view our children through a positive lens. She reminds us of the example God sets forth for us. Does God define us by our shortcomings and failures? No. Absolutely not! God delights in us. Susan then prompts us to mediate on this question, “How can I do any less for my child?”
Finally, (although there are lots of great things in the appendices), chapter 12, “’Enjoying Homeschool’ is Not an Oxymoron” is about joy. Where will we find joy found in a homeschool day where the circumstances are less than joyful and we are drawn towards ingratitude, discontentment, impatience, self-pity and gloom? Thankfully joy isn’t found in our circumstances. Phew! Susan reminds us that joy is found in Jesus and it is God’s will that we rejoice always in ALL circumstances. If there is only one thing to take about from this book it is joy, as Susan suggests that finding joy will influence every area of your life.
This is just my summary of what I learned. Every time I read this book, I better understand concepts, I’m drawn toward different Scriptures on which to meditate and I’m convicted about different things in my own life. This book is so incredibly enriching.
For those who like to journal you’ll find a section in each chapter called, “Homework for the soul”. Here you’ll find lots of questions and Scriptures to prompt you to think more deeply about what you have read. You can also buy a companion Bible study and prayer journal for “Homeschool Supermom…Not!”. It’s called “Come to the Garden”. I haven’t got a copy of this…yet…but I suspect it’d be a valuable tool to own.
I urge my Christian homeschool readers to get a hold of a copy of “Homeschool Supermom…Not!” and read it. Sadly it’s not an easy book to locate. I’ve had this book on my “must find” list for ages but of the handful of places that stocked it, none of them seemed to ship internationally. Then late last year Christian Books, my heroes, started selling it. Whoohoo! (I must add, Aussies, if you do purchase it from Christian Books, be prepared for the torturously long delivery time. But, for this book, it IS worth the wait.)
“Homeschool Supermom…Not!: When Grace Meets Homeschooing” is unlike any other I’ve read and I’ve read a lot of them. It’ll definitely be one of the first books I’ll be recommending to new homeschoolers AND old. Gosh, in many ways this book would be great for all parents, homeschoolers or not. I do hope you’ll take the time to read it. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
(I was not asked to write this review. I purchased this book myself and loved it so much I wanted to share it with my readers)