Book Review: “The Well Trained-Mind”

It’s going to sound cliche, but this book changed my life. Seriously. It was the reading of The Well-Trained Mind (and I’ll be honest, I didn’t even finish it before I had to return it to the library!) that really pushed us over the edge into homeschooling. It was my husband even more than myself that this book really impressed, and it made us look at the public school system in a new, and frankly rather unflattering, way.

This book was written by the mother-daughter duo of Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. Between the two of them, they have experience teaching in public schools, colleges and homeschools, as well as advanced degrees and have even authored a history curriculum written in the classical method and geared toward early elementary school students.

The Well-Trained Mind focuses on providing children with a classical education in the home. The basis of this method of instruction is the trivium–three sequential learning stages which are grammar, logic and rhetoric. What makes this book so fantastic are the extensive suggestions for resources for every part of the curriculum–from history and handwriting to Language Arts and Latin; from math and music to Social Studies and science, and everything in between. It is split up into stages of learning, and from there split into subjects. An enterprising parent could put together an entire curriculum based on the recommendations given! While I’m not that ambitious, I have noticed that Sonlight uses and/or offers many of the books listed in The Well-Trained Mind, and I also plan to supplement the curriculum we’ll be purchasing from that company with a few additional recommendations from this book.

The end of the book is also extremely helpful. The authors cover things such as making schedules (daily, as well as how to structure the school year, with a focus on year-round schooling in three different models), keeping records, standardized tests, tutoring and preparing for college. Basically, there are over 700 pages of awesome contained in this book. It was recommended to me by other homeschoolers when I was just considering homeschooling, and I will concur that anyone who thinks they might want to try homeschool should read this book, because it is a valuable resource.

This book deserves more than five stars as far as I’m concerned. I will be ordering a copy for my personal use from Amazon as soon as possible, and I can’t wait to sit down with it and a highlighter, and mark all the books we definitely will be reading, as well as others I would like to add to our studies. I think this will become one of my most useful homeschooling resources, and I plan on using the suggestions in it to help me educate my children for many years to come!

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