I am so excited to share my review of The Spark with you today. This book was incredible. In fact, Skylar listened to this one with me and she loved it just as much as I did.
About The Spark
The Spark is the story of the Barnett family. Kristine and Michael are the parents of 3 boys and they run an in-home day care. Their oldest son, Jake, is autistic. He’s also next-level genius and started attending college-level courses at age 8. But once upon a time when he was only 2 years old, his therapists told them that he would never even be able to learn to read. His mother refused to accept this and ultimately withdrew him from therapy to start her own program with him at home. This book chronicles their story and the success they had not only with Jake but many other children who are also on the spectrum.
It was fascinating to see her non-conventional approach which focuses largely on “play” and whatever specific and unique interest each child has. The results they were able to achieve were incredible. As was the grit, determination, and sheer generosity of this family and their community as a whole. Jacob Barnett is fascinating in his own right but I love that the author shines just as much light on the small victories of other families as she does her own son.
As soon as we finished the book we couldn’t help but to look up the 60 Minutes special that features this world-renowned mathematician. Who wouldn’t want to learn more about a young boy who has an IQ over 170 and has basically maxed out every intelligence test that has been given to him? He can recite Phi up to 200 digits – forwards AND backwards! His memory is unparalleled. He can remember every problem ever presented to him and submitted his Master’s thesis at age 15. He began work on his Ph.D. at age 16 in Canada.
I promise you will be just as fascinated by this book as we were. The intricate parts of their story are inspiring, encouraging, and often mind blowing. Kristine does a fantastic job of storytelling the facts in a way that gives you insight into what everyone was feeling as they experienced this timeline of events.
I was particularly drawn to the method she uses with her students because it somewhat paralells how I approach our unschooling journey. I have often shared how my job is to provide resources and materials until I see a Spark and then fan the flame and fuel that fire as she learns. It seems that both Kristine and I agree that when children are doing something they are interested in, that it indeed provides life-long learning and progress. By using that interest, you can also sneak in learning for other areas where they are lacking. Sometimes it occurs naturally as a result.
Although the title of this book is indeed The Spark, we will forever refer to it as “Baby Bagel” but you’ll have to give it a read to figure out why. It’s a precious little part of this family’s story.