Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review! Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn't Fit Your Atypical Child by Corin Barsily Goodwin and Mika Gustavson

I am crazy excited.  I got the opportunity to review a book I've long meant to read, but for whatever reason just never got around to.  Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn't Fit Your Atypical Child has been on my TBR for... probably years. I first perked an ear May 22, 2012, when I heard Corin and Mika speak via a web conference. Mad Natter was just three and a half then, and we I had only realized he was truly gifted two months before that. I put it off then, because honestly, he's only three, and I have a Bachelor's Degree in elementary education, so it wasn't like I was truly too worried about how his schooling was going to go anyhow.  But now, I've had the opportunity to read the book, and so... I'm passing my thoughts on to you, should you be either sitting on the fence about reading it, or looking for something to read yourself.


The first thing to say about me is that if it's not moving too fast, I'll read it. I read everything. I read all the posters in the doctor's office, even the ones about esophageal cancer. I read newspapers, books, flyers, signs, posters, really anything that doesn't move on me. I can't help it.  I have to Read All The Things. I devoured this book in one gulp, in one day, in two sittings, with Mad Natter being a baby dragon behind me... and over pizza pops I shouldn't be eating. I started it, and before I knew it, I was done.

The entire book read to me like a letter from a friend. It was straightforward, friendly, and a kick in the pants when necessary. It read as though the authors were good friends of mine who had sent me a long letter after I'd explained my concerns about Mad Natter and the school system to them (is that like a Harry Potter book?  Mad Natter and the School System of Woah?). Through the course of the book, various topics are covered as they relate to gifted education:

  • Dealing with the notion that "kids go to school, duh," and the fact that maybe there's a better way.
  • Gifted versus "gifted" and how gifted and high-achieving are not synonyms, nor are giftedness and learning disabilities mutually exclusive.
  • Gifted program options, and how even these things can go awry.
  • Thinking outside the educational box - what to expect, and basic coping mechanisms when everything isn't sunshine and unicorns from the get go.
  • The facts - and NOT the myths! - of socialization and higher education for homeschoolers.
  • Taking the plunge - some tips on where to start, and how to get your feet under you.
I can't tell you any one chapter was more helpful than any other. Depending on where you are in your journey, you'll find different things helpful.  Being that we've already made the choice and are homeschooling, the chapter dealing with gifted programming in schools wasn't terribly relevant - but the words of wisdom and encouragement throughout the book absolutely were. If you're looking for a direct, to the point, specific how-to manual, this book isn't it (and I wish you good luck, as I doubt you'll ever find it!), but if you're looking for a practical, common sense guide to getting started, making the decision, and how to proceed from there?  This is, without a doubt, a must read.  There is something in there for everyone, even if you've been homeschooling for the last twenty years - granted, it might just be a sense of camaraderie at that point, but still. This book is absolutely worth every moment you spend with it... and I strongly suspect there will be many more readings in my future.

Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn't Fit Your Atypical Child is available from GHF Press!