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Book Review: Finding Your Homeschool Zen

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Book Review: Finding Your Homeschool Zen

By Beth Balmanno

Zenschooling, the newest offering by homeschooler and author Tammy Takahashi, is a gentle, affirming book filled with sage advice. The focus of the book is simple: by embracing the Zen principle of being present in each moment, of being mindful of where we are and what we are doing in our homeschooling, families can create a more peaceful, positive place…not just for learning but for living.

Incorporating Zen ideas and beliefs is easy, according to Tammy. After all, “The simple act of just being there with the children is mindfulness practice. We teach the best when we are fully present. We show our love for them the best when we are fully present.” (pg. 9) With this in mind, Tammy shares with us a variety of situations and how we can adapt to them to better serve ourselves and our children in our pursuit of a peaceful, meaningful life without school.

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In the chapter Homeschool Hang-Ups, Tammy touches on the fears and concerns many homeschoolers harbor, whether it’s the fear of not being a good enough teacher or the fear of readying our children for the “real world.” Her advice: these hang-ups are attached to judgment; all we need do is detach from this. For example, some parents worry that they don’t measure up as educators or, conversely, they fear being judged by other teachers (homeschool or otherwise). Tammy reminds us, “Without an attachment to judgment, everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner.” (pg. 58)

In the chapter Cultivating Patience, Tammy tackles what may be a universal issue in most homeschool families: impatience. So many of us are impatient with learning – Johnny isn’t reading and he’s nine years-old or Susie is behind in math – and yet we only need one thing to help us overcome this obstacle: be mindfully present. We must realize that, “…Being impatient does not do any good in making things happen faster…being mindful can make the passage of time almost invisible.” (pgs.202-203)

There are nuggets of practical goodness scattered plentifully throughout but perhaps the best section of the book is tucked in the last few pages, where Tammy describes her ideal image of a “Zen teacher.” A Zen teacher is patient…has unfailing belief in her student…focuses on the process rather than the result…treats failure not as a crisis but as an opportunity. It is everything parents strive to be in the home learning environment. It was the section I read and nodded my head, thinking, “Yes. This is the parent I want to be. The parent I wish I could be.”

However, in true form, Tammy tells us, “But, then, a Zen teacher is none of these things, is he?” (pg. 248) Because to have these beliefs – to attach judgment or fear to how we perceive ourselves as teachers – goes against the very principles of Zen. If we release ourselves from our expectations and remind ourselves to be mindfully present – to our children, our families, and society as a whole – we will find that, “…when we look close, what we are doing is just fine.” (pg. 249) And what homeschool parent doesn’t need to hear that?

Would you like to win a copy of Zenschooling? All you need to do is click on the book cover at the top of every page at Parent at the Helm and leave a comment before the February 28, 2011 deadline! Don’t miss the chance to add this book to your homeschool collection.

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3 Responses to “Book Review: Finding Your Homeschool Zen”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TammyT, Parent at the Helm. Parent at the Helm said: Beth Balmanno's review of Zenschooling! Read review, then register to win it! #homeschooling […]

  2. allison says:

    I would LOVE to win a copy of this book!!!

  3. Carla Crouse says:

    I am looking forward to reading this book.

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