Vicki Bentley has taken a unique approach to assist families new to homeschooling. Home Education 101: A Mentoring Program for New Homeschoolers was designed to be presented by an experienced homeschooler in a series of nine sessions. It consists of A Mentor's Manual for the presenter and a Parent Workbook for each participant. It could also be used by one mom mentoring another. If no mentors are available, a new family could work through the Mentor's Manual on their own although they might be missing important information, especially if they live in states other than Virginia.
The Mentor's Manual contains detailed material not in the Parent Workbook. While much of it pertains to all homeschoolers, some of it is pertinent only to the state of Virginia. These and other sections need to be adapted with information and personal examples by the mentor presenting the course. Note that the publisher will create customized versions with up to eight pages of state-specific information (provided by the purchaser) for a nominal fee.
Home Education 101 is much more than an exploration of state laws and requirements. It really attempts to cover all the important topics that contribute toward successful homeschooling. It covers the basic topics you would expect: how to get started, support organizations, scheduling, lesson planning, record keeping, choosing curriculum, suggested reading and websites, different approaches that might be used, and lists of publishers and suppliers you might contact. It expands beyond these basics into other areas such as how to purchase used curriculum, sorting out learning and teaching styles, testing and evaluations, time management, household organization, and quick and easy meals (recipes included!). The three latter topics often prove to be critical in whether or not homeschooling “works” for a family, so they really are pertinent. A few stand-alone articles by Vicki or other authors are included in both Parent and Mentor books. Some of these might be left for parents to read on their own, and others might be referenced as as part of the lessons.
Parent Workbooks are designed with plenty of room for notetaking—something participants will definitely need to be doing. The Mentor's Manual has detailed instructions on setting up and presenting the sessions, including suggested schedules.
Home Education 101 really best suits a Christian audience. Vicki mentions reliance upon God, Bible study and prayer, memory verses and other distinctly Christian elements. She also includes two excellent articles on worldview written by Tracy F. Munsil, and the resource lists are heavy with Christian publishers.
This course should help lighten the load of those already serving as one-on-one mentors right now. Consolidating new homeschoolers into “class” groups and supporting them with a course that has already been prepared should reduce the amount of time so many individuals devote to helping new
homeschoolers. I am certain those mentors will find that most new homeschoolers still appreciate lots of direction and suggestions even after they complete the course, so their role will never be eliminated. With Home Education 101 covering the predictable, fundamental topics that newcomers need to know in a more efficient way, many mentors will find it easier to offer more individualized help with curriculum selection and other challenging issues.