Recommended Books for Home Schooling
Copyright © February 1, 2011 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
Since 1984 I have been a full-time university professor. One of my daughters was a fourth-grade school teacher for several years before she got married and then she became the mother of three children. After her children were born she decided that her place was in the home instead of the school room.
The Declining Academic Performance of Public School Students
For over 25 years I have gradually observed the changing trends in our public school educational system in the United States of America. As a university professor it was relatively easy for me to determine the true outcome of those changing trends because the students who graduated from high school were the same students who attended my university classes.
It should be noted that the students who go to college are usually the better high school students. Therefore I can only comment on the quality of the education that those better students have received.
In the year 2011 I still teach some of the classes I originally taught in the mid 1980s. And in many cases we still use the same textbook, written by the same authors, but we do use the most recently updated editions of those textbooks. As the years have passed most of us at the university level have noticed a gradual decline in the fundamental educational skills of the students who are attending our classes.
Let me explain what I have observed by dividing our university students into three groups as follows:
Please remember that our university students do have a high school diploma, and they are usually the better high school students who have hopes of acquiring a college degree, and they will be the leaders of our society in the years ahead.
- Gifted Students: We have some students who are exceptional. They can absorb and understand information regardless of the manner in which it is presented to them. And they can apply that knowledge to situations that are not specifically discussed in one of the university lectures. In 1984 this group consisted of about 10 percent of our student body and it still does.
- Intellectually Challenged Students: We have some students who, for one reason or another, cannot comprehend the information that is presented to them. These students either change their majors, or they voluntarily drop out of school, or they receive failing grades and they are forced out of school. In 1984 this group consisted of about 10 percent of our student body and it still does. This 10% does not include those students who drop out of school for legitimate other reasons, such as marriage, or accepting a full-time job.
- Normal Average Students: We also have what I will refer to as the normal average student. This group consists of approximately 80% of our student body. In the mid 1980s every student in this group knew their multiplication tables by heart, and they could write a one-page essay on a topic that made sense the first time you read it, and they were motivated by a desire to improve their intellectual abilities so they could have a more prosperous and successful life. In the year 2011 this group still composes about 80% of our student body but their intellectual skills have changed as follows:
- Some of these students do not know their multiplication tables and they cannot do simple math without the aid of a handheld calculator or a computer.
- Some of these students cannot tell time by looking at the face of an ordinary clock and they can only tell you the time if they can see the readout on a digital clock.
- Some of these students cannot write one paragraph that makes sense and these students have to take remedial English to continue their university studies.
- Some of these students believe that the only thing that matters is to get a diploma and it really doesnít matter how you get that degree as long as you get it. Whether or not you learn anything during this process is not important to them.
It is my personal opinion that the primary reason our young people are not as well educated when compared to a few decades ago is because God was expelled from our public school systems. A few ungodly individuals were successful in having some laws passed that prohibited prayer and the mention of the name of Jesus or God in any public school in the United States of America. These laws also forced the public school systems to use textbooks that were atheistic and which provided no moral direction for our young people. Without God our young people have had to individually decide what was right and what was wrong. As a result a large number of students are now cheating on assignments and on tests as part of their normal daily routine.
Forcing God out of our public school systems has resulted in a serious decline in the quality of the education our children have been receiving for several decades. It is my personal opinion that expelling God from the classroom is the fundamental reason for the continuous steady decline in high school achievement test scores, and the lack of respect for anyone in authority, and the moral justification of lying, cheating, and stealing, and the use of drugs by an ever increasing number of students, and the steady increase in the number of teen suicides.
In the mid 1990s I decided that I wanted my grandchildren to have the opportunity for a better education than what was currently available in the public school system. Therefore I investigated the field of home schooling very carefully. Since I had a full time job as a university professor I knew it would not be possible for me to stay home and teach my grandchildren on a daily basis. However, I also realized that if I had a reasonable set of home reference materials then I could easily help my grandchildren with their homework assignments in such a way that they would learn how to teach themselves. This became my goal and it guided me in the choice of the books I purchased and put on the bookshelves in my home for my grandchildren to consult.
I am sharing the following list of books with you because I believe there are many parents and grandparents who are now in a situation similar to the one I faced. You have a full time job and you must keep that job in order to provide shelter and food for your family. But you also want to be able to help your children, or grandchildren, when they need assistance with their homework. But you do not want to do their homework for them. Instead you want to be able to provide them with some good resources so they can do their homework with just a little bit of assistance from you and in the process also learn how to teach themselves.
The following is a partial list of the most important books in our familyís home school library. I know this list does not match any list of home school literature that is currently recommended on the internet. But the following books are the ones I believe are the most practical for our young people. You will notice that I have included some religious books for each age group because I firmly believe that without God a person will not be able to enjoy life, or become a "true" success in his or her chosen field of study as an adult, or become a good spouse in a healthy marriage relationship. A good spouse is someone who knows how to compromise and how to work toward realistic and important family goals to enhance the quality of life for everyone in their family unit.
You will need to read to your children or grandchildren from the following books. The books have beautiful color illustrations and they will capture a childís interest and excite their imagination. If you will read to your children, or grandchildren, while they are very young then they will become very fond of books and they will not be intimidated by books as they grow older. After you begin reading these books to a child you will soon discover that the child will pull the book out of the bookcase and start looking through the pictures and he or she will pretend to read the words on each page. There is no better way to help a child learn how to read than to provide something for the child to read that the child is very interested in.
You should also consider reading a Bible story to your children each day from the Bible Story Book that is recommended for Elementary School Students in the next section.
- The Children's Treasury: Best Loved Stories and Poems From Around the World, First Glance Books, 63 Different Stories and Poems, 1987, 388 Pages.
- Walt Disney's Story Land: 55 Favorite Stories, Golden Book, 1974 or 1991 edition, 320 Pages.
- Walt Disney Classics Collection Storybooks, Mouse Works, Hardcover, Full Color Big Picture Books with Big Print about some of the Walt Disney Animated Movies, about 95 pages per book.
- Adventures in Art, Art & Craft Experiences for 7 to 14 Year Olds, Susan Milord, Williamson Publishing, 1990, 160 Pages.
- Now I Am Big I Can Tell the Time, Brimax, Cardboard Pages with Round Cutouts and a Plastic Clock Face with Numbers and Moveable Hands, 1997, 18 Pages.
- Step into Reading Series, Assorted Titles Available, Random House, Small Thin Paperback Books for each reading level from Preschool through Grade 4, between 30 to 48 pages per book.
- The Core-Knowledge Series, What Your ... Grader Needs to Know, 1st through 6th Grades and Kindergartener, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Doubleday Book, 1993, about 240 pages per book.
- Everything You Need to Know About ... Homework series, including American History, English, Geography, Math, Science, and World History, Scholastic Home Reference Series, 1994, each book has between 131 to 136 pages.
- Great Illustrated Classics Series, Assorted Titles, Playmore Inc. Publishers, Hardcover books, Black and white pen drawn illustrations are on every other page of a condensed classic, such as "Treasure Island," approximately 240 pages per book.
- The Childrenís Illustrated Atlas of the World, Templar, 1996, 79 Pages.
- DK Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary, DK Publishers, 2008, 960 Pages.
- Golden Book Encyclopedia, 20 Volume Set, Golden Books, about 96 pages per volume.
- The Readerís Digest Childrenís Songbook, Readerís Digest, 1985, 252 Pages.
- Childrenís Favorite Bible Stories, From the Old and New Testament, Landoll, Inc., Cartoon illustrated with big print, 1996, 360 Pages.
- The DK Geography of the World, DK Publishing, 1996, 304 Pages.
- The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World, Kingfisher Books, 1993, over 761 Pages.
- Visual Encyclopedia of Science, Kingfisher Books, 1994, 320 Pages.
- Math Doesnít Suck, How to Survive Middle School Math, Danica McKellar, Penguin Group, 2008, 296 Pages.
- Favorite Poems Old and New, Helen Ferris, Doubleday Book, 1957, 598 Pages.
- The Young Oxford Book of Astronomy, Mitton, Oxford University Press, 1993, 160 Pages.
- The World of the Microscope, Usborne Science & Experiments, Oxlade & Stockley, Usborne Publishing, 1989, 48 Pages.
- It Couldnít Just Happen, Fascinating Facts About Godís World, Lawrence O. Richards, Word Publishing, 1987, 191 Pages.
- The Golden Childrenís Bible, The Old Testament and The New Testament, Golden Book Western Publishing Company, Inc., Color Illustrations, 1993, 510 Pages.
High School and College
- History of the World, J.M. Roberts, 1993 Edition and not the 2003 Edition, 952 Pages.
- Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science (includes Physics, Chemistry, & Biology), 2001, 382 Pages.
- Basic Math and Pre-Algebra, Cliffs Quick Review, 2001, 176 Pages.
- Pre-calculus, Cliffs Quick Review, 2001, 128 Pages.
- Teach Yourself Calculus, Abbott and Neill, 2003, 336 Pages.
- Basic Calculus Textbook, Alexander J. Hahn, 1998, (Note: Buy a good used copy.), 546 Pages.
- Chemistry: Concepts and Problems, Wiley Self-Teaching Guide, 1996, 320 Pages.
- Chemistry Principles, The Quest for Insight, Third Edition, Atkins & Jones, 2005, (Note: Buy a good used copy.), 1024 Pages.
- Basic Physics, Wiley Self-Teaching Guide, Kuhn, 1996, 320 Pages.
- General Physics Textbook, 2nd Edition, Sternheim & Kane, 1991. (Note: Buy a good used copy.), 912 Pages.
- The Elements of Style, the Original Edition, William Strunk, Jr., (Note: This is not one of the Strunk and White editions.), Waking Lion Press, 2009 Printing, 56 Pages.
- Writing, Grammar, Usage, and Style, Cliffs Quick Review, 2001, 224 Pages.
- Merriam Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia, 2000, 1792 Pages.
- DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, 2003, 1008 Pages.
- The Firefly Five Language Visual Dictionary - English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, 2009, 1004 Pages.
- Interlinear Bible - Hebrew, Greek, English, 2005, 2936 Pages.
- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, 2001, 1685 Pages.
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 2003, 1704 Pages.
- Zondervan NIV New International Version Matthew Henry Commentary, 1999 or before, 2062 Pages.
- Nelson's NKJV New King James Version Study Bible, 2005, more than 2200 Pages.
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