Self-Education for Homeschool Moms

Education is an ongoing pursuit...

Just because you receive a diploma does not mean that your learning days are over. This is especially true of homeschooling mothers who are planning to tailor their children's educational plan. Reading and studying (and staying ahead of the kids in their subjects!) is a constant pursuit. Below you'll find a collection of posts about the importance of self-education and a few ways I'm attaining that goal.


I love to read. That's probably not a huge surprise since I often mention books that I'm reading. The one thing I've noticed though, is that even with a huge stack of books to read I don't take the time to really think about a book after I've finished it or put any thought into the author's intent in writing the book. As a matter of fact, I'm not really sure I'd know how to figure that out anyway. I picked up Susan W. Bauer's The Well-Educated Mind again (don't ask how long I've had this book) and I'm going to start at the beginning.

My first thought was, "Great, I can read the novel list this year, and start on the next section next year." Then I looked at the list. Yeah, right. Instead I've set a goal to read 10 of the novels this year and after looking at a list of those 10 novels I'm not sure I'll actually finish them all. But I like lofty goals!

Taking notes while reading

Adriana at Classical Quest kindly invited me to participate in sharing my note-taking methods along with many other WEM friends (you'll find all their links at her blog).

One of the first rules of reading with The Well-Educated Mind is note-taking - your "handshake" with the book, as Susan Wise Bauer says. She has a specific formula for note-taking which I used exclusively when I started but, over time, I have morphed into a slightly different method that still holds true to the format she lays out in the book.

The first essential is the character list. At first I thought this might be unnecessary but discovered I needed it for many of the books (especially those Russians with all their different names!) so I have faithfully continued to note each character and their relationship to other main characters in the novel. Sometimes this has been tedious - especially when reading The Portrait of a Lady. Henry James devotes the whole first chapter to the "old man" and "two other gentlemen" but we don't learn their names until the chapter is almost finished. But, more often than not, it's a very useful practice.

Another important element is the chapter summaries. On occasion I grumble at having to write down summaries after finished each chapter, but after a few instances of not reading for a few weeks to a month, I found those summaries were essential to refresh my memory about what I had read. So, now it's pretty much a natural part of my reading - finish a chapter and write a quick sentence or two.

When I started with the first novel, Don Quixote, I faithfully made notes in the margins of the book and turned down the corners on pages that had interesting tidbits or confusing information.  Sometimes I had difficulty finding a passage that I wanted to reread when I went through the questions in the first and second stages of inquiry so my notes started being transferred to the same page as my chapter summaries, making things easier to find (as long as I remembered to write down page numbers!). Now, I write the chapter summaries on the left side of a piece of white-lined paper and any notes or questions on the right side. This has been my format through many books and, now that I read many of the novels on an e-reader, it's an ingrained habit. Occasionally, I'll be out and about without my reading notebook. At those times, I usually find a piece of scrap paper and write down quick summaries and thoughts and, during my next reading time, transfer those bits to my "official" notebook (which really just consists of a pile of white-lined paper). When I finish each book and have made notes and jotted down answers to questions, all the pages get stapled together and put in a binder and I start with fresh pages for the next book.

Tonia L

Hey! I'm the owner of Happy Homeschool Nest - a website devoted to helping homeschool moms balance the needs of homeschooling with managing a healthy and happy home.