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The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child's Education

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Allow your children to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood with this practical guide that provides all the information, inspiration, and advice you need for creating a modern, quality homeschool education. Inspired by the spirit of Henry David Thoreau—”All good things are wild and free”—mother of five Ainsley Arment founded Wild + Free. This growing o Allow your children to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood with this practical guide that provides all the information, inspiration, and advice you need for creating a modern, quality homeschool education. Inspired by the spirit of Henry David Thoreau—”All good things are wild and free”—mother of five Ainsley Arment founded Wild + Free. This growing online community of mothers and families want their children to receive a quality education at home by challenging their intellectual abilities and nurturing their sense of curiosity, joy and awe—the essence of a positive childhood. The homeschool approach of past generations is gone—including the stigma of socially awkward kids, conservative clothes, and a classroom setting replicated in the home. The Wild + Free movement is focused on a love of nature, reading great books, pursuing interests and hobbies, making the entire world a classroom, and prolonging the wonder of childhood, an appealing philosophy that is unpacked in the pages of this book The Call of the Wild and Free offers advice, information, and positive encouragement for parents considering homeschooling, those currently in the trenches looking for inspiration, as well as parents, educators, and caregivers who want supplementary resources to enhance their kids’ traditional educations.


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Allow your children to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood with this practical guide that provides all the information, inspiration, and advice you need for creating a modern, quality homeschool education. Inspired by the spirit of Henry David Thoreau—”All good things are wild and free”—mother of five Ainsley Arment founded Wild + Free. This growing o Allow your children to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood with this practical guide that provides all the information, inspiration, and advice you need for creating a modern, quality homeschool education. Inspired by the spirit of Henry David Thoreau—”All good things are wild and free”—mother of five Ainsley Arment founded Wild + Free. This growing online community of mothers and families want their children to receive a quality education at home by challenging their intellectual abilities and nurturing their sense of curiosity, joy and awe—the essence of a positive childhood. The homeschool approach of past generations is gone—including the stigma of socially awkward kids, conservative clothes, and a classroom setting replicated in the home. The Wild + Free movement is focused on a love of nature, reading great books, pursuing interests and hobbies, making the entire world a classroom, and prolonging the wonder of childhood, an appealing philosophy that is unpacked in the pages of this book The Call of the Wild and Free offers advice, information, and positive encouragement for parents considering homeschooling, those currently in the trenches looking for inspiration, as well as parents, educators, and caregivers who want supplementary resources to enhance their kids’ traditional educations.

30 review for The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child's Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Carter

    If you are a CIS, heterosexual, "mama", with upwards of three children, call your group of friends your "tribe", hold the idea that your childrens' childhood years are the "most important time of their life" and that your own personal life must take a backseat to martyrdom, than this book is for you. Upon picking this book up from my library, with the shiny red NEW tag on the side, I felt like this book was promising. Ainsley does give you a digestable overview of different homeschool philosophie If you are a CIS, heterosexual, "mama", with upwards of three children, call your group of friends your "tribe", hold the idea that your childrens' childhood years are the "most important time of their life" and that your own personal life must take a backseat to martyrdom, than this book is for you. Upon picking this book up from my library, with the shiny red NEW tag on the side, I felt like this book was promising. Ainsley does give you a digestable overview of different homeschool philosophies, like, Classical, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Unschooling. I can see and feel the attempt to keep a mother inspired, uplifted, and open her eyes to the wonder that is your child's mind and their childhood years. I can appreciate that, and I felt inspired for about 1/4th of the book. However. I closed the book, screamed, read the passage aloud to my spouse, RE READ it again to make sure I didn't miss a sarcastic tone, and then continued the book with this in mind. This book is NOT written with a mother's mental health in mind. If you are a person who has ever struggled with PPD, anxiety,or depression, you really need to read this book with caution. In Chapter 6, "Objections to Homeschooling", Ainsley lists Objection 3: I don't Have Time "It's true, homeschool mothers don't get a lot of time for themselves. We can't just run out for coffee or brunch with friends, not to mention read a book in peace or, heaven forbid, go to the bathroom alone. I understand the concern. I'm a desperate introvert who needs time alone to recharge my energy and collect my thoughts. " She goes on to say, "I'm not eager for my kids to leave the house. This time with my children is such a short season. There will be plenty of time for pedicures, Pilates, and pinochle when they're grown up. And I don't see this as sacrificing my best years by devoting time to them. These are my best years. I can't imagine anything more rewarding than shaping another human's life and building a legacy." This. Is. Not. Helpful. For. Mothers. Period. After that passage, I took off my instagram filtered all wood everything glasses, and took this book for what it is. It may inspire some, and speak to them. But for the majority of mothers, fathers, and caregivers, I feel that this message is a dangerous one. You absolutely CAN and SHOULD meet your own needs. Yes before your child's. You can't pour from an empty cup. No matter how beautiful the cup is. There ARE helpful books cited in this text like, "Free to Learn" by Peter Gray and works by John Holt.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I didn’t love this book. Perhaps it’s because this is my 9th year of homeschooling and I’ve already read or heard or learned everything the author lays out in this book. Yes, don’t push early academics. Yes, let them play a lot, especially when they’re little. Yes, read living books as much as possible. Yes, do what works for your family, not for everyone else’s family. Yes, all of life is learning and education. Unfortunately, the author’s tone came off as smug, self-satisfied, and superior to I didn’t love this book. Perhaps it’s because this is my 9th year of homeschooling and I’ve already read or heard or learned everything the author lays out in this book. Yes, don’t push early academics. Yes, let them play a lot, especially when they’re little. Yes, read living books as much as possible. Yes, do what works for your family, not for everyone else’s family. Yes, all of life is learning and education. Unfortunately, the author’s tone came off as smug, self-satisfied, and superior to me, which was very off-putting. Different families do school at home different ways during different seasons for many reasons. It irked me how often she told me what HER family did, as if it were the gold standard and all other ways of doing school were inferior. I guess I didn’t realize what I was getting when I grabbed this book; had I know, I would have skipped it. In fact, I did skip whole sections of information that regurgitated the same stuff others have been saying for years and years in books, articles, blog posts, and conferences. Honestly, if you’ve been homeschooling for more than a few years, you’ve probably heard all this before in a more condensed, less grating tone. Save yourself time and money by skipping this book. If you are new to homeschooling, this will probably all seem new and wild and free and worthwhile. And much of it is, but know that life happens, seasons of home schooling call for different approaches, our kids don’t always follow our plans, and you just take it day by day, month by month, and year by year, adjusting what works for your family as you go. Maybe nature outings won’t work for a season for some reason - you are not ruining your child’s childhood or academic success! Textbooks have their place and sometimes they’re useful. A few thrown into the mix from time to time won’t kill your child’s love of learning and curiosity. If read alouds don’t work out for a season, audiobooks are great and you’re not a terrible parent for outsourcing that part of schooling. We have a lot of freedom in our homeschooling - more than I think this book acknowledges - and we need to give ourselves grace to do what the Lord leads us to, even if it doesn’t look like the picture so many of these homeschooling movements paint for us.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mischenko

    Even though I've been homeschooling for 14+ years, this book still had a lot of helpful information for me. I just happened to open it up to a random page and was instantly hooked. Then I wanted to rip out pages to post near my desk. It's positive and uplifting. Just what I needed as we round up another year. 5***** Even though I've been homeschooling for 14+ years, this book still had a lot of helpful information for me. I just happened to open it up to a random page and was instantly hooked. Then I wanted to rip out pages to post near my desk. It's positive and uplifting. Just what I needed as we round up another year. 5*****

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I follow Wild + Free on Instagram, so I was excited to read this book by the founder of the community. While some parts of the book were good, helpful, and encouraging, my overall feeling after reading it was that I wasn’t homeschooling the “right” way. I don’t believe this is the author’s intent, but so much of the book felt like, “there’s no right or wrong way to do it, but this is how I do it (and that’s really the right way).” Bummer that it didn’t strike a chord with me, but it seems to be I follow Wild + Free on Instagram, so I was excited to read this book by the founder of the community. While some parts of the book were good, helpful, and encouraging, my overall feeling after reading it was that I wasn’t homeschooling the “right” way. I don’t believe this is the author’s intent, but so much of the book felt like, “there’s no right or wrong way to do it, but this is how I do it (and that’s really the right way).” Bummer that it didn’t strike a chord with me, but it seems to be great for other people.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    2.5 stars. The tone of this book came off as smug and inconsistent. Some of the chapters were like a pep talk and others felt like passive condemnation. The author was insistent she was inclusive of all homeschooling types, yet her own personal anecdotes and those of her “tribe” she chose to include did not communicate inclusivity and acceptance of all types. I would recommend reading the extensive library of books by the authors whose quotes she sprinkled throughout the book (Charlotte Mason, e 2.5 stars. The tone of this book came off as smug and inconsistent. Some of the chapters were like a pep talk and others felt like passive condemnation. The author was insistent she was inclusive of all homeschooling types, yet her own personal anecdotes and those of her “tribe” she chose to include did not communicate inclusivity and acceptance of all types. I would recommend reading the extensive library of books by the authors whose quotes she sprinkled throughout the book (Charlotte Mason, etc) rather than reading this. It would be very overwhelming for a new homeschooler and is probably nothing new to anyone who has been homeschooling for any amount of time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Clews

    Warning—this review is going to be rather harsh. I was actually expecting a lot from this book although I suspected it would not completely align with my own homeschooling philosophy. What I found as I read was a book much more repetitive, cliché, and “my way or the highway” than I expected. First—the good. I do think the author’s main point (which she probably could have made in one chapter) is that we don’t have to subject our children to hours of workbooks to homeschool them. She touts the va Warning—this review is going to be rather harsh. I was actually expecting a lot from this book although I suspected it would not completely align with my own homeschooling philosophy. What I found as I read was a book much more repetitive, cliché, and “my way or the highway” than I expected. First—the good. I do think the author’s main point (which she probably could have made in one chapter) is that we don’t have to subject our children to hours of workbooks to homeschool them. She touts the value of being in nature and letting childhood curiosity and wonder lead the way. I think these are good ideas. Whenever she actually refers to Charlotte’s Mason’s ideas, I found that I resonated with it. The ones that stood out would be the concepts of born persons, the value of free time and play in a child’s life, and meaningful work. My first objection to this book is the idea that the only way to give your child a wonderful childhood is my homeschooling in the “Wild and Free” fashion. I think that’s pretty narrow minded. I know lots of public schooled children who are having a fine experience and a good childhood, not to mention homeschoolers. She also says that “homeschooling isn’t for everyone,” but she makes the strong insinuation that this type of “Wild and Free” homeschooling is the only way to give your child a magical childhood. So…homeschooling isn’t for everyone but if you don’t do it this way, you’re doing it wrong. My second objection is the idea that we should never make our children do anything. That’s the strong impression I got from what she said. If our children are struggling with a subject, we shouldn’t push them to get through it because that’s harsh. I think that’s ridiculous. In order to get better, smarter, or do any type of learning, pushing through a challenge is necessary. On page 30 she quotes Peter Gray talking about “pure math” or “playful math.” She poses this in opposition to drilling a child to learn math. I just could not resonate with that idea at all. The part I was looking forward to the most was the descriptions of different homeschooling styles. I found this to be very disappointing and did find myself learning anything new. The writing style was very muddy and confusing. I still cannot tell you the difference between the styles. Objection #3. Chapter 15—Creating a Family Culture. I choked when I read this first paragraph. “Every family has a culture, even if it’s not intentional…Some families are rigid and strict; others are freewheeling and fun. Some are full of joy and tradition; others are full of sadness and brokenness.” The contrasts here are so extreme. As though a family can’t have both sadness and tradition? I resented the implications here. Let’s jump all the way to page 285. “Begin the day with gladness. Make seriousness forbidden.” Again, another statement I just think is ridiculous. Some parts of life and learning and childhood are just work and require seriousness. This is ok! This is real life training for being an adult. Nothing wrong with having play and joy and fun things too but I just take issue with this concept. Oh…and page 294, where she speaks against letting your baby cry it out. What place does that have in this book? This book barely resonated with me and I found myself in a state of constant irritation from the flow of dogmatic statements and cliché phrases in it. Overall, I actually found it boring and repetitive. It was hard to bring myself to finish it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    I am a traditional school mom who tends to read a lot of homeschooling books. Why? Because so many of their philosophies resonate with our values about childhood and adventure. And when I need encouragement as a stay-at-home mom, I can often replace the word 'homeschool' with 'stay-at-home mom' and it reminds me why our family makes the choices we do. This was an excellent read to inspire curiosity and imagination as well as a balm to sooth the constant pressure we all feel to do 'enough'. It giv I am a traditional school mom who tends to read a lot of homeschooling books. Why? Because so many of their philosophies resonate with our values about childhood and adventure. And when I need encouragement as a stay-at-home mom, I can often replace the word 'homeschool' with 'stay-at-home mom' and it reminds me why our family makes the choices we do. This was an excellent read to inspire curiosity and imagination as well as a balm to sooth the constant pressure we all feel to do 'enough'. It gives us the much needed permission to do things differently than the rest of society and not be ashamed of it or question whether how we are or aren't spending every minute of every day is ruining our kids. Freedom from expectations. Wild + Free.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margo

    This is a big fat DNF for me. Here are some direct quotes: ••"Some people need systems and programs to feel secure. They want prescriptions to follow so they can feel that they've accomplished something. This is why families come away from homeschool conventions with arms full of boxed curriculums. This fear of missing out (FOMO as we call it) drives an entire industry of educational products, and it's all completely unnecessary."•• Okay, Judgy McJudgerson. What happened to all your talk about inc This is a big fat DNF for me. Here are some direct quotes: ••"Some people need systems and programs to feel secure. They want prescriptions to follow so they can feel that they've accomplished something. This is why families come away from homeschool conventions with arms full of boxed curriculums. This fear of missing out (FOMO as we call it) drives an entire industry of educational products, and it's all completely unnecessary."•• Okay, Judgy McJudgerson. What happened to all your talk about inclusion for all types of homeschooling methods? I, for one, am super appreciative for all that "completely unnecessary" stuff. I've heard it referred to as curriculum. "As a homeschooler, you don't have to calculate how many gallons of theoretical milk a herd of cows can produce, you can actually milk them yourself and ask the farmer about sustainable farming while you're at it." -- But how does that help you with math?!?! No thanks. I'll stick to my completely useless textbooks, student quizzes and teacher guides. Then, when we're done with our studies, we'll go on a hike through the forest and play in the river. Boom. Wild, Free + Educated.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I have been homeschooling for twenty years and I have to say this is one of those books I would recommend to other homeschool educators. If you are a new homeschooling parent then I would say read Susan Schaefer Macaulay’s book For the Children’s Sake first, Charlotte Mason’s six books on education second (even if you don’t plan on using her methods exclusively), and while you are wading through those six books read this for inspiration and some practical advice and you should be caught up and r I have been homeschooling for twenty years and I have to say this is one of those books I would recommend to other homeschool educators. If you are a new homeschooling parent then I would say read Susan Schaefer Macaulay’s book For the Children’s Sake first, Charlotte Mason’s six books on education second (even if you don’t plan on using her methods exclusively), and while you are wading through those six books read this for inspiration and some practical advice and you should be caught up and ready to go. This is also good for the burned out mom or dad who needs some hints and ideas on how to get the joy of life with kids back. I had not heard of the Wild + Free website or movement and do not believe you need to have seen it to find this book useful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A homeschooling book for the new homeschooling mom who is maybe not confident in her ability to educate her child. This is more of a jumping off point, read the books by the authors quoted in here if you want the nitty gritty of how to homeschool. This is probably not the first book I would give to someone thinking about homeschooling, but I would include it on a list if the mom was leaning toward unschooling or a more child led education. As a side note the Kindle version has some typos, not so A homeschooling book for the new homeschooling mom who is maybe not confident in her ability to educate her child. This is more of a jumping off point, read the books by the authors quoted in here if you want the nitty gritty of how to homeschool. This is probably not the first book I would give to someone thinking about homeschooling, but I would include it on a list if the mom was leaning toward unschooling or a more child led education. As a side note the Kindle version has some typos, not so many that it takes away from the book but enough that I hope they are corrected in the future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I have been a huge fan of Ainsley Arment and her Wild + Free lifestyle/movement for a few years so when I heard about her book coming out, I immediately put my request in at the library. Reading this book felt like I was being wrapped in a cozy blanket or a big hug from a close friend...familiar and comfortable. Arment’s words reinvigorated my passion for homeschooling and made me feel empowered. I will be ordering my very own copy of Wild + Free because not only is it filled with wonderful reso I have been a huge fan of Ainsley Arment and her Wild + Free lifestyle/movement for a few years so when I heard about her book coming out, I immediately put my request in at the library. Reading this book felt like I was being wrapped in a cozy blanket or a big hug from a close friend...familiar and comfortable. Arment’s words reinvigorated my passion for homeschooling and made me feel empowered. I will be ordering my very own copy of Wild + Free because not only is it filled with wonderful resources and ideas, but it will serve as a reminder when doubt creeps in. AND this book is absolutely beautiful...they way it’s put together, the words, and pictures (both photos and artwork). It is so easy to get caught in the comparison traps or what other people think and this book helps to reaffirm your reasonings and beliefs. It helps to bring back the joy and magic AND beauty of homeschooling. It’s all about finding your style (yours and your child’s) and rhythm...and if that means testing out various methods so be it. Keeping the love for learning alive and the sense of wonder strong...and letting kids be kids! I loved this book SO MUCH and highly recommend it to all homeschooling parents and to anyone on the fence about homeschooling.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer O'Steen

    I expected to like this well enough but it was much better than I expected it to be. I expected a “fan book” for all things wild + free groups, and Kristen Rogers And was pleasantly surprised. As for recommending it I would put it in the hands of people needing an overview on all things homeschool/ Charlotte mason/ wild + free etc. For those of us in those communities already it reads more like a refresher course and a pep talk. It’s well organized, the quotes are numerous, well selected, and in I expected to like this well enough but it was much better than I expected it to be. I expected a “fan book” for all things wild + free groups, and Kristen Rogers And was pleasantly surprised. As for recommending it I would put it in the hands of people needing an overview on all things homeschool/ Charlotte mason/ wild + free etc. For those of us in those communities already it reads more like a refresher course and a pep talk. It’s well organized, the quotes are numerous, well selected, and inspiring. I feel many people in these communities should read it so they are well equipped to put it in the hands of those who need it, need inspiring, need the information, etc.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    I devoured this book like cheesecake. I savored it bit by precious bit. It is beautifully written and right on point in every area. I highlighted on every page and underlined and drew and made smiley faces. I told all my homeschool mommas about it and told them they must read it! If I could buy this for all my friends that aren’t currently homeschooling, without them hating me for it, I would. It will blow your mind if your kids are in a school and make you want to bring them home....and for tho I devoured this book like cheesecake. I savored it bit by precious bit. It is beautifully written and right on point in every area. I highlighted on every page and underlined and drew and made smiley faces. I told all my homeschool mommas about it and told them they must read it! If I could buy this for all my friends that aren’t currently homeschooling, without them hating me for it, I would. It will blow your mind if your kids are in a school and make you want to bring them home....and for those mommas i DARE you to read this. If you already homeschool like I do, it will just reinforce your “why am I doing this” on your lowest and hardest days. Now that I’ve read it, my husband needs to read it so he can be in my head....but maybe after I’ve digested it a second time. It’s truly a gem of a book. It will make you hug your kids a little tighter for sure.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    “Dear friend, don’t let the bustling culture determine the needs of your own children. You get to choose how they grow up. You can protect their time, energy, and imagination. You are the gatekeeper of the garden of their childhood.” I’ll just let this quote from the book speak for itself. This book was a balm for my soul as we enter into our 6th year of homeschooling. A reminder to make more time for the things that matter and to spend less time worrying about the things they can catch up on lat “Dear friend, don’t let the bustling culture determine the needs of your own children. You get to choose how they grow up. You can protect their time, energy, and imagination. You are the gatekeeper of the garden of their childhood.” I’ll just let this quote from the book speak for itself. This book was a balm for my soul as we enter into our 6th year of homeschooling. A reminder to make more time for the things that matter and to spend less time worrying about the things they can catch up on later. Inspiration to finally start nature journaling. Ideas for how to help my kids pursue their individual passions. Freedom to listen more closely to some of the whispers I’ve pushed down over the last few years in fear of comparison. Renewed inspiration for my kids to be raised Wild + Free.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I loved this book. Such a good reminder of why we homeschool. Inspired to add journaling and more nature exploration into our days 💗 will recommend to all friends beginning this journey.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I’ve got some thoughts. The first half of the book is a hard sell on the beauty of homeschooling- and it can be tempting to put a glossy IG filter on it. But it’s a lot of hard work and only as healthy as the parents who are teaching their children. It is not the best choice for everyone. Some kids need the care of professionals, parents need breaks, and some kids thrive in a classroom. Second half was more interesting, talking about homeschooling in practice and how literature-based education c I’ve got some thoughts. The first half of the book is a hard sell on the beauty of homeschooling- and it can be tempting to put a glossy IG filter on it. But it’s a lot of hard work and only as healthy as the parents who are teaching their children. It is not the best choice for everyone. Some kids need the care of professionals, parents need breaks, and some kids thrive in a classroom. Second half was more interesting, talking about homeschooling in practice and how literature-based education can provide a deeper love of learning. Is a bad book? No. I read Sally Clarkson’s book on nurturing wonder in children and would recommend it over Wild + Free. While Ainsley can get people excited, Sally’s kids are all adults and launched into their careers. It’s a longer view of education.

  17. 4 out of 5

    T.

    UPDATE 2: This book can be summarized quite nicely in this marvelous passage from Mary Oliver: Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin-flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give the UPDATE 2: This book can be summarized quite nicely in this marvelous passage from Mary Oliver: Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin-flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.... Full-length review essay in progress. UPDATE: Finished. Really enjoyed this winsome read. I can think of many friends for whom it would be freeing, encouraging, and inspiring in many ways, as well as friends and family who are already old hands at many of the “wild and free” principles that would take especial delight in seeing them presented in an accessible, winning manner. The primary yearning of the book's author is to in-courage: to inspire moms especially to take courage in pursuing the path they've chosen, but also to free them to change course and to reclaim wonder themselves, as well as for their families. My hope is that Arment's work can contribute to some much-needed paradigm shifts and in opening up conversations amongst people who care about loving the world well, whether involved in public schools, charter schools, private schools, homeschool co-ops, curriculum development, academia, agriculture, business, politics, or the arts (performing, fine, manual). I hope to write a full-length essay reviewing this book alongside a few others, before too long. ---- I’m really enjoying this book so far—nothing mind-blowing yet, since I’m already pretty simpatico with the idea—and I hope to write an actual review after I finish it. But I want to note something very briefly that has been nagging at me. Near the beginning of the book, the author evinces an attitude toward infant sleep scheduling that I’ve come across before in the homeschooling world. The basic setup is this: Mom author has been judged by friends who do sleep scheduling and/or let their kids cry it out. Mom author yearns to follow her “mothering instincts” (or her heart) instead. Mom author wants to comfort and affirm other mothers who have felt that same pressure. But here’s the sneaky implication: Those parents that let their children “cry it out” or have a rhythm are the ones who are misguided, who are resisting their loving “mothering instincts.” (Although doesn’t it seem strange when we think rhythms are good for kids and not for babies?) I appreciate that Arment is trying to encourage mothers to trust their own instincts more over the experts, a refreshing corrective in a lot of ways, but it's important, if only for the sake of some struggling mothers I've known, to note that this particular issue cuts both ways. In my own life I’ve encountered, personally and through other friends, the reverse situation: mothers who are miserable, sleep-deprived, and terrified of having another child because they’ve tried to follow what they think is the “natural” way, who are weighted with guilt that is only compounded whenever their friends tell them in a shocked or supercilious voice, “You let your kids cry it out?” So, friends, let’s take a step back (and here we're taking a detour from Arment; what follows does not apply to her work): First, I get that we all want to assuage misplaced mom guilt (though I would argue that there can be well-placed mom guilt). And there’s more of it nowadays I suspect because more and more of us just haven’t grown up with kids around, and don’t know what’s normal. Second, we should be wary of overcorrecting an extreme version of whatever we’ve witnessed or experienced with another extreme: e.g., there’s rhythms and then there’s regimentation; there’s loving your child and there’s using them as a prop for your own “natural mother” image. The long and short of it: If you don’t use a rhythm for your infant or you nurse your baby to sleep, that’s okay. If you have a rhythm, that's okay too. (One is just as “natural” as the other!) But don't be miserable and feel guilty about wanting to find another way than the one you have. It's okay to find a way that works for you.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I loved this. I highlighted and underlined and wrote in the margins. Though my son will be in preschool outside the home this year, I have my misgivings - and this book made me question even more. I’m planning to read the books listed in the appendix and explore further. This book won’t be for everyone, but for those to whom it speaks, you’ll get a lot out of it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maijabeep

    Reads more like an internet manifesto instead of an interesting book. Few ideas that I really disagree with but lots of repetition. Probably good as a general overview for people who have done very little reading on home educating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    R. C.

    Folks, this book is so buyable. Go buy it. There have been many excellent books on homeschooling as a new and wild thing to wrap one's head around. Tons of books about specific methods, groundbreaking methods. (I'm looking at you, The Well Trained Mind.) Usually here and there in these texts, the author will break for a moment to remind parents to focus on relationship or to switch up what they recommend to match their own family culture. Then it's back to prescriptions or at least descriptions, Folks, this book is so buyable. Go buy it. There have been many excellent books on homeschooling as a new and wild thing to wrap one's head around. Tons of books about specific methods, groundbreaking methods. (I'm looking at you, The Well Trained Mind.) Usually here and there in these texts, the author will break for a moment to remind parents to focus on relationship or to switch up what they recommend to match their own family culture. Then it's back to prescriptions or at least descriptions, and the frequently asked questions and the necessary debunking of myths (this is legal?!). Sometimes books have started with the philosophy and the feelings in the minds and hearts of the parents, and never get into details of how-to. They remind you to let the baby be the lesson, that the wiggle is in your preschooler for an important purpose. But they don't tell you what to do about teaching science. (Ahem, Sally Clarkson.) This book is different. It's not a general how-to or intro to homeschooling. It's too passionate and in-depth for that, too specific and quick. It's not a prescription for a methodology, either. This book issues out the secrets in the hearts of homeschooling parents, those for whom homeschooling is their jam, their lifestyle. If you've ever thought it was over-the-top to make homeschooling your identity, maybe don't read this, or especially do. This book issues out the secrets in the hearts of people who identify with "once a homeschool mom, always a homeschool mom," and then it tells you what you can do to teach science. With relationship, rhythm, and family culture in mind, here is what this method and this method and this method look like. Like: 'Here is what we love. And here are eight ways that love manifests when choosing rhythm, or creating a family culture, or setting boundaries with life and kids and inlaws. Here are why these specific moms chose this, and here are four ways other parents do it. Look what this dad did. Here are so many ways this value of the heart could play out.' This is the book the starts by saying relationship comes first, and ends by saying, notebooking, pre-1900 arithmetic texts, nature study, and morning time. It says all the methods, and then it says how it fit into the family culture of thoughtful, intentional parents who are putting their hearts on the line for their kids. We have needed this for a long time. I am annotating my copy so my children will be able to see my heart for their education after I am gone. I am also going to keep an extra copy at home so I can literally put it in the hands of the noobs who come to me wondering how to do this thing. What a treasure.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sky SF

    My anthem! I’ve been so blessed to have found this community (Wild+Free) at the very beginning of my home learning adventure, now a few years in. I truly feel like I was led to my tribe even before I had one iota of a clue what I was about to embark on.....but my soul knew. And my own wonder and deep love of learning and exploring sent me right into the wild woods of a tribe of women, children and men too, with the same needs and visions of what learning and life can truly be, with intention, de My anthem! I’ve been so blessed to have found this community (Wild+Free) at the very beginning of my home learning adventure, now a few years in. I truly feel like I was led to my tribe even before I had one iota of a clue what I was about to embark on.....but my soul knew. And my own wonder and deep love of learning and exploring sent me right into the wild woods of a tribe of women, children and men too, with the same needs and visions of what learning and life can truly be, with intention, deep passion and an insatiable curiosity. This book is one the richest resources to date on the topic of cultivating a lifestyle of learning and wonder. It is special beyond words. And yet, Ainsley Arment did put it into words and I am so beyond grateful that she did.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Gregg

    I am of two minds with The Call of The Wild + Free: 1) I was pleasantly surprised that the bulk of the content wasn’t recycled from the Wild + Free content bundles, and Arment made some strong points in the first quarter of the book. 2) BUT overall, the content was light and a rehashing of the works of others. Arment quotes a lot of great thinkers and writers on alternative education options and nature education, but having read those books already I didn’t learn anything new from her work. This I am of two minds with The Call of The Wild + Free: 1) I was pleasantly surprised that the bulk of the content wasn’t recycled from the Wild + Free content bundles, and Arment made some strong points in the first quarter of the book. 2) BUT overall, the content was light and a rehashing of the works of others. Arment quotes a lot of great thinkers and writers on alternative education options and nature education, but having read those books already I didn’t learn anything new from her work. This book would be great for a new homeschooling mother, but didn’t offer much for those of us who have been homeschooling for years. And it was especially light fare for those of us who are active in Wild + Free groups, have attended the conferences, or have subscribed to the content bundles.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Robbins

    I wanted to love this book but it was medium to me. I've been homeschooling for quite a few years and already have my style so those sections weren't as informative to me. I don't know the author but I listened to the audiobook and the tone just made me a little uncomfortable. If I weren't secure in my own choices, I think it'd made me feel judged or guilty for making different choices than the author. I also found all the quotes throughout the book as off-putting and kind of "name dropping" of I wanted to love this book but it was medium to me. I've been homeschooling for quite a few years and already have my style so those sections weren't as informative to me. I don't know the author but I listened to the audiobook and the tone just made me a little uncomfortable. If I weren't secure in my own choices, I think it'd made me feel judged or guilty for making different choices than the author. I also found all the quotes throughout the book as off-putting and kind of "name dropping" of popular homeschool Instagram accounts. There were some key passages I noted but the majority were from the quotes of other homeschool resources. This wasn't a bad book; there are just other, better books for I'd recommend first.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Interesting to read this in conjunction with Esolen and Clark/Jain. I disagreed with a good deal of her overall educational philosophy -- too individual, few roots, no room for the sin natures of child or parent. The book's strength was its all-too-short practical section at the end. I still think a Wild + Free community group would be a blast to join, but I was not impressed with the content here. Interesting to read this in conjunction with Esolen and Clark/Jain. I disagreed with a good deal of her overall educational philosophy -- too individual, few roots, no room for the sin natures of child or parent. The book's strength was its all-too-short practical section at the end. I still think a Wild + Free community group would be a blast to join, but I was not impressed with the content here.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Arline

    For super, super new homeschoolers.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    I'm not going to finish this one. While I definitely agree with the beauty of homeschooling (we began homeschooling this year), I did not like the author's tone of voice. She comes across as pompous - that homeschooling is the only valid form of schooling. I disagree. There are people I highly respect who have their kids in public or private school - and the kids are thriving there. She probably has a lot of great things to say, but I couldn't get past her condescending tone. I'm not going to finish this one. While I definitely agree with the beauty of homeschooling (we began homeschooling this year), I did not like the author's tone of voice. She comes across as pompous - that homeschooling is the only valid form of schooling. I disagree. There are people I highly respect who have their kids in public or private school - and the kids are thriving there. She probably has a lot of great things to say, but I couldn't get past her condescending tone.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This book was incredibly encouraging and inspiring. I thought it would just be about getting your kids out in nature more, which it was, but it was also so much more. It really covered the whole gammet of why we homeschool and encouraged me in so many other ways. I could see a family who was public schooling reading this and incorporating this into their summer activities too.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    So much goodness in one book! My only real complaint was that it wasn’t around sooner! Ainsley shares not only the experiences of her family but also lots of others. This is the book I will be recommending to anyone that is schooling their children at home or considering this way of life.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allison Gaspar

    Maybe my favorite homeschooling book I've read so far. Encouraging, inspiring...I highly recommend to everyone. Maybe my favorite homeschooling book I've read so far. Encouraging, inspiring...I highly recommend to everyone.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    I just started this today and am only a couple chapters in and have already recoiled in horror several times. I do not identify with Arment in a number of ways, and it’s always a big turnoff when an author presumes to tell me how I feel or what I think or how I respond in a given situation and books that are written in this way super piss me off. But I’m willing to keep going and see if there’s any actually useful information further in? ————— Okay, so. Over all, this book has a lot of super helpf I just started this today and am only a couple chapters in and have already recoiled in horror several times. I do not identify with Arment in a number of ways, and it’s always a big turnoff when an author presumes to tell me how I feel or what I think or how I respond in a given situation and books that are written in this way super piss me off. But I’m willing to keep going and see if there’s any actually useful information further in? ————— Okay, so. Over all, this book has a lot of super helpful information, and is mostly inspiring and contains some really good ideas. But I still found Arment’s voice irritating, and I wish it were more inclusive of fathers who might be involved in their child(ren)’s homeschooling (they get a brief note of thanks in the second chapter and then the entire rest of the book is all “Wild + Free mama” this and “Wild + Free mama” that. Also... Sometimes it seems very clear that her family has a lot more money than mine does when she’s like, “my kid loves piano and practices at the baby grande in our living room.” What the? I do not know anyone who lives like this. So that certainly made it harder for me to see myself in the homeschooling lifestyle she describes. I dunno, all of this is theoretical down-the-line maybes anyway, but I guess I do feel like homeschooling might be possible after reading this book, just kind of in a different way than she describes it. And I’m glad I finally (sort of) know what the hell a “living book” is (eventually defined after about ten previous mentions as if that’s a term just everyone should know)!

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