Considering everything, I would have to offer the following as my Definite Top Ten Recommendations for Home Education. Most things on this list have actually featured in similar posts I've done in the past (which at least proves I really do like them!)
1. A Charlotte Mason inspired method, using living books, short lessons, and creating a real relationship between student and subject, is what I advocate. Karen Andreola's book was my guide. Part of this method is also to ensure a lovely atmosphere, and I find that the comfort & coziness possible with home learning really is invaluable. I myself create it with things like tea, flowers, cushions, quilts in winter, really good books, interesting conversation, warmth, fresh air.
2. Support for mother. I couldn't have homeschooled nearly as confidently without the internet. The community, companionship, and advice available to me online in the early years absolutely gave me strength and confidence in the face of my worries and my several pedagogical dilemmas. I also look back on the years when I belonged to a homeschool co-op as heavenly. While we mothers didn't really discuss lessons and methods much, the friendships we shared were so important; the way we made a group which went on tours, visits, picnics, and special events; how we met at each others' homes and watched our children grow up together. I lost all that when I moved away, and miss it greatly.
3. Classic books. Children's books from yesteryear, including folk tales, myths and legends (and then classic novels for teens) may be a bit shaky on scientific fact, but they offer quality language, respect for the reader, and dare I say it, morality. I'm neither a prude nor a fundamentalist, but I don't see why a child needs to read low quality material while their character is being formed. It used to be, years ago, that I could tell a homeschooled child from their elegant and slightly vintage manner of speaking, thanks to all the old books they read. It's less so these days. But at the risk of sounding pompous, I really feel that a beautiful, full-bodied vocabulary is a blessing, and it is learned easily from authors like Nesbit, Kipling, Alcott.
4. A history time line. If at all possible, buy a house with a long hallway so you can put up a continuous vertical timeline! When we moved six years ago, we had to store our timeline away, but still talk about it lovingly even to this day.
5. A solid foundation. I believe spending the first several years mastering the basic skills, reading the good books, learning how to learn, is essential. I personally don't advocate unschooling for young children, although that's just me.
6. Freedom to explore. Once the foundation has been set, that is when I think unschooling can be wonderful, if the child and parents are suited to it.
7. Kindred spirits. Socialisation is not a problem with homeschooling, but socialising can be. I leaned over the years that making friends with people just because they also homeschool isn't necessarily helpful. As adults we wouldn't spend time with people who rubbed us the wrong way, or even bullied us, simply because we felt we should "get along with all kinds" or "toughen up" - so why should we make our children do that?
8. Head, heart, and hands. This was always my basic checklist for the day. If a child has something to think about, something to love and from whom to receive love, and something to do, they are blessed indeed.
9. Time. My greatest resource. Time allowed me to be calm and careful, to think more deeply about what was needed, and to offer more from my own heart. Whenever I felt rushed, that was when things fell apart.
10. Afternoon strolls. This was the soul of our homeschooling. Sometimes with a picnic basket, sometimes with sketchbooks or cameras, always with hearts wide open to beauty, we went out to grow our relationship with nature, and with the peace at the core of all things.
Fellow homeschoolers, what would be your top ten?