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The Brainy Bunch Book Review

The Brainy Bunch Book Review Posted on June 27, 2014Leave a comment

Recently I finished reading The Brainy Bunch.

It now my go-to book to recommend new homeschoolers… a great place to start or remind you of what is possible with homeschooling.

I highly recommend this book – with a few notes of my own.

The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family’s Method to College Ready by Age Twelve

The book starts off clarifying they are religious.  Catholic-faith-based.  Their whole life centers around this.  Then it takes you on their homeschool journey.  I don’t have a problem with any of this.  Keep in mind I was very religious at the time I embarked on this journey.  I even felt called to this way of life as being the best solution for us.

When it comes down to it.  Religion was not the reason I decided to homeschool.

Therefore I take offense that on page 15 Mrs. Harding would say, “Without the faith ingredient, your child may be smart as they come but still be as unwise, foolish, and possibly evil as can be.”

In so many ways I think this is untrue.

I have walked into homes.  Seen the beautiful picture of a perfect Christ-like family they presented to the world… when in the heart of the home they were falling apart.

They use the image of a faithful life as an armor to the reality of their life.  To give themselves credibility and often the illusion ends up hurting those around them.  Some people use it to gain power over other church members.  Some use the illusion to physically harm the innocent…  It makes me sick to my stomach.

So many good people struggle with the concept of faith and applying it in their lives.  They teach it.  They profess it.  They struggle to live it.  When I left home I was shocked and unprepared.  I had a very innocent and pure faith that has since been tempered.  To empower them to make the world a better place – To invoke the power of faith in their lives – It is not enough to sing songs and recite scripture.

Because of what I have seen I teach my kids to develop spiritual connections and to talk openly about their struggles with us.  I speak plainly to them about the realities of our world.  I let them ask questions because I want them to explore those ideas with loved ones.

Getting back to Mona Lisa and the Brainy Bunch…

I don’t think she really meant harm by it.  Just unnecessary.  Character building doesn’t come by scripture quotes alone.  Or a regular church attendance.  It comes when you think no one is looking.  You can prepare kids best by being a good example and giving opportunities to express good character.

Coming together as a family or serving someone outside of the home will do more for your kids then all the church services combined.  If you look at the activities she mentions you will see at heart that this is true even for their family.  A church house brings a community together.  A service reminds or inspires us to act on our faith-based values.  But it can not make you a pure soul.  Your actions will determine the sweetness of your spirit.

In my copy of the book I put a line through the statement and made an annotation.  A testimony of my own experience if you will.  The next edition could delete these two random statements and it would not be missed. I moved on and highlighted many of the simple truths I have discovered on my own homeschool journey.  Everything else was on point.

So why on Earth would I recommend this book and is this book for you?  

  1. She is speaking her truth.  Mrs. Harding doesn’t claim to be perfect and I trust that she is the genuine article.  Maybe I get that feeling because what she writes resonates with me so well that I wish I had this book when I was first starting out.
  2. If you’re New or Thinking about Homeschooling.  I think this is what the average homeschoolers life looks like.  There is always the differences but what a great way to see what it looks like from to start to finish.  It lets you imagine the possibilities and then plan to achieve it.
  3. Military Homeschoolers.  What homeschooling looks like when you are at the beck and call of the military.  Why this is an advantage for you.
  4. Homeschooling Veterans.  The first thing it did was help me reflect on my own homeschooling philosophy.  It also helped me to refresh a couple of principles that kind of went to the wayside.
  5. What you can do with your Public Schooled kids.  Homeschooling really becomes a way of life.  Sometimes things happen and kids go back to public school.  Sometimes parents don’t feel they have the patience to homeschool 100%.  She gives tips on how you can still benefit from the homeschool way of life and still get the same results that she did.
  6. If you plan to homeschool through high school.  What does that look like?  What was their proven method of success?  If I was to sum it up maybe it was the family contributed to a safe and loving home environment.  You really have to read the book to understand or relate to that simple and powerful truth.  Also she includes scheduling & logistic tips, websites & resources they used at the time, music they like, and an example of high school transcripts they used to get into college.

Honestly I would love to see more books like this!  I am drawn to people who are authentically speaking their truth and willing to share their struggles.  Also the many times she was told no and then she kept going to find the solution that worked for them… makes this my #1 recommended reading for homeschoolers.  What’s yours?  What book should I read next?

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