Published by Bethany House on August 18, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Parenting
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As a parent, you want to send your children into the world with healthy minds and vibrant faith. You want to develop a strong foundation for them. But in our fast-paced, outcome-based, technologically driven society, it's easy to lose sight of the innocence, potential, and uniqueness of each child. Childlike wonder can become lost in the fog of formulas that view children through the distorting lens of social expectations. Awaking Wonder helps parents unearth the hidden potential of their child's imagination, learning capacity, and ability to engage authentically with the world.
Bestselling author Sally Clarkson will help you reach your child's heart of wonder through the principles that guided her in raising four children, all of whom made it into adulthood with a vibrant faith intact and are now flourishing in creative, high-performing professions. Through these pages you will- gain confidence in your role as a God-designed guide and teacher for your children- help your children awaken to the wonder all around them- develop healthy minds that can stand up against societal norms, providing them with a life-giving education and a love for learning
The companion guide, The Awaking Wonder Experience, will help readers apply the principles in practical ways.
In Awaking Wonder, homeschool education pioneer Sally Clarkson shares wisdom for parents who want to create a secure, wonder-filled home environment for their children. She emphasizes the importance of cultivating children’s sense of wonder, and explains that even though many people have asked her to share her “secret,” or have wanted her to tell them what school curriculum to buy, her homeschooling journey was driven by a philosophy, not a formula. She encourages parents to consider their situation and their family’s needs to find solutions that work for them, and shares personal anecdotes to show how she fostered wonder for her children and helped them learn. Whether a parent is just starting out or is trying to maintain consistency over the long haul, Clarkson’s perspective can help them take a deep breath, let go of impossible standards, and find what is best for their children.
Even though this book focuses on homeschooling, Clarkson does not promote her education choice in a superior or exclusive way. She acknowledges from the very beginning that her core messages apply to parents who choose other educational methods, and shares general parenting advice and encouragement that applies regardless of someone’s family situation or schooling approach. She shares lots of advice for how parents can deal with their own frustrations and fears of inadequacy, and encourages them to pursue their child’s development in a holistic way, instead of emphasizing legalistic rules or rote learning. Interwoven with these points are stories about her own children, and even though she makes it clear that she does not have a magical formula to offer, and that her children are still Christians because of God, not her, she is able to encourage parents to not give up.
Clarkson’s Christian faith comes through clearly throughout the entire book, and some chapters specifically address children’s spiritual lives and Christian moral development. However, even though she has primarily targeted this book towards her following among Christians, parents who do not share her worldview can still benefit from this book’s emphasis on creating engaging, loving, and wonder-filled home and educational environments. Clarkson shares reflections and stories from her adult children about what they found meaningful about their home life, and this retrospective view can encourage parents who despair of ever measuring up to their own standards or cultural views of success. I would encourage parents to consider this resource regardless of religious affiliation, because anyone can appreciate Clarkson’s core emphases, even when they do not share all of her values.
This is a great book for people who are just starting out with parenting or homeschooling, or who need a mentor’s reminder that their sacrifices are worthwhile, that their children will be okay, and that it is possible for them to succeed even when everything feels like a muddle in the moment. This book may be less practical than some readers would expect or desire, since only some of the sections deal with advice for specific homeschooling methods and educational approaches, but Awaking Wonder: Opening Your Child’s Heart to the Beauty of Learning captures Sally Clarkson’s parenting philosophies in an encouraging way, helping other parents see that they can do this too.
This is a great book for parents who want to foster a sense of wonder for their children, and who want to clarify their vision for the home environment that they want to create. Clarkson writes with sensitivity to people’s different backgrounds, and because her educational philosophy goes against a one-size-fits-all approach, this is a great option for parents who feel burned out on narrowly applicable advice and need a joyful reminder of why they chose to homeschool in the first place, or what they love most about raising their children.