One of the things my homeschool group has done, albeit extremely sporadically, which I’ve really enjoyed, is a homeschool book club for the parents. We pick a homeschool-related book then get together to discuss for a couple of hours. In the past, we’ve read books suggested by various members, including The Well-Trained Mind and The Skylark Sings for Me (so, so different, those two books!).
It can be enriching to read a book solo. It can also be enriching to have a conversation, but when put together, for me, it feels like it reaches some critical level to qualify as “professional development.” Sure, there are homeschool conferences, but they always seem to happen when I can’t attend or aren’t really with the sort of homeschoolers that are my cup of tea. However, I really need some level of stimulating thinking about education and teaching, specifically home education in my life. I know I stagnate without it. There’s something so homeschool to me about calling a book club professional development. A bit like calling that time when you read to your kids in bed “language arts class.” So that feels appropriate.
Our last book was Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Wheldon. I didn’t love it, but I definitely got something out of it. It seemed to be written in part for prospective homeschoolers and in part for homeschoolers trying to figure out how to move away from an “academic rigor” approach. I didn’t agree with everything she said, but it made for a nice conversation starter. I’m constantly straining for some magical balance between structure and freedom, in homeschooling, parenting and life in general, so reading things from either side (this one from the freedom side, but not in a radical way) helps keep me in check sometimes.
Of course, for the book club, we enjoyed talking about the book, but we also enjoyed homemade cookies and wine (no, really, someone brought homemade wine – is that not awesome?), anecdotes about children and catching up with people not seen in a little while. That’s way more fun than proper professional development anyway. Kind of like how homeschool is more fun than school.