In brief

21st February 2003 at 00:00
Help your Child to Succeed: the essential guide for parents. By Bill Lucas and Alistair Smith. Network Educational Press pound;6.95. Tel: 01785 225515.

It's not easy to advise parents about helping their children without seeming to patronise, but these authors have brought it off well. Some of the tips are pretty basic - that you deal with an angry child by setting up a distraction, for example - but there's plenty of evidence that today's young parents do need, and appreciate, help at that level.

The layout is varied, and it avoids slabs of text by using pictures, boxes, checklists and bullet points. It's particularly good in the way it starts from feelings - so the "basics" it sets out at the start are not to do with number and letters but with concepts such as "belonging", "aspirations" and "challenge".

This is a good book for the primary head to have ready to lend to parents, and it wouldn't do any harm to sneak a good look first.

Lessons Without Limit. By John H Falk and Lynn D Dierking. AltaMira Press pound;12.95.

That learning is only marginally connected with schooling has become a cliche - and it grows in truthfulness as directives to teachers proliferate. In this US-published book, the authors make an impassioned plea for "free choice learning" with the idea that learning rather than schooling becomes the cultural focus. It's an evangelical book, with lots of examples of what makes good learning at every stage of life. The real conundrum, though, is that if we know all this, why do our leaders still have such a narrowly focused view of what schooling is for?

One-to-One: a practical guide to learning at home. By Gareth Lewis. Nezert Books (Nezert, 22160 Duault, France) pound;12.50.

As Gareth Lewis points out here, the loving family home is where all early learning happens, and there's no reason to suppose that home learning can't go on well beyond the age that school usually takes over. That's fine: home education works, it's no longer seen as radical and all it takes is time and confidence.

That being so, it's a shame that Lewis's copious and detailed advice on how to help children at home in everything from maths and reading to pruning and cake-making is marred by the home educator's typically jaundiced view of what happens in classrooms. Schools know that the only practical way forward is through partnership.

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