Most of us public school graduates come to the idea of homeschooling with one vision of school. We see school as sitting at a desk, working through pages of a workbook or text. We may even envision those alphabets around the walls, colorful educational and motivational posters, bulletin boards, and an American flag!
Traditional schooling is certainly an option. There are plenty of companies that can sell you a complete set of books for each grade. Your child works through the books and when the lessons are completed, he’s ready for the next grade. Many parents do feel most comfortable with this method when they are starting out. They have less research and planning to do and they can feel confident that their child is covering more or less what the typical child will cover for that grade. But there are many more ways to homeschool.
- Traditional schooling looks a lot like what most of us did in public or private school. Kids use textbooks and workbooks that are designed for their own grade levels. This style can lead to burn-out and the idea that education is equivalent to completing a workbook page or memorizing facts just long enough to pass a test. On the other hand, it can make planning easier for mom, and may be ideal for those who plan to homeschool for just a year or two and want to make sure their children learn the same skills each year as those in a traditional classroom.
- Unschoolers believe that allowing children to follow their own interests is the best way for them to learn. They don’t use textbooks or require their children to follow a schedule. They don’t assign schoolwork. Unschooling can range from no parental direction at all to spending considerable time obtaining materials and creating experiences that follow a child’s “delight.” The idea behind unschooling or delight-directed learning is that when a child’s love of learning is nurtured, he will eventually learn all that he needs to and will gain the skills, ability, and desire to become a life-long learner.
- Literature based homeschooling uses “living books,”—interesting novels, biographies, and other quality books to teach topics. This works especially well for history, but can be used for other subjects as well. This can be ideal for students and parents who love to read, and can nurture a love of reading in those who are more reluctant readers. Children tend to retain knowledge better when it comes wrapped up in a great book. This works well in families who want to have several children of different ages working together, since read-alouds or great books as readers aren’t limited to one grade level. A 7 year old can be reading an easy reader about George Washington while his older brother reads a longer biography.
- Computer-based education can involve a variety of styles. Some programs resemble traditional education, some are interactive, or even use live webinar technology. Others feature videos. Online courses are often self-grading, which makes the parent’s job easier.
- Unit studies take one topic and incorporate all subjects into the topic. While studying bridges, for example, a family could read about the history of various famous bridges and what was happening in the world at the time they were built. A study of simple machines and other physics topics could be covered and the students could build different types of bridges from household materials. Making scale models would incorporate math, and writing a report would pull in language arts. Some curricula, such as Konos, will help you do the planning or each topic could be purely interest-led, beginning with a trip to the library to check out a stack of books on the chosen topic. This style of teaching is ideal for use with multiple ages.
- Charlotte Mason homeschooling involves short lessons that include great books, art, music, and nature study. Children narrate what they have learned in order to help cement the knowlege.
- Classical educators use a rigorous program that includes memory work, logic, Greek and Latin, and an emphasis on Western civilization. Topics covered and methods used are divided into 3 learning stages: grammar, rhetoric, and logic.
Many homeschools, including my own are “eclectic,” using components from many of these styles. I believe that it is important to determine what style or styles fit your personality and the learning styles of your children in order to best facilitate the ideal homeschool experience for your own family. You can find a quiz to help you determine your family’s homeschool preferences at: http://eclectic-homeschool.com/what-kind-of-homeschooler-are-you/ .
Read some more homeschooling tips this week at these blogs!
Annette @ A Net In Time
Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Cassandra @ A Glimpse of Normal
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Crystal @ Crystal Starr
DaLynn @ Biblical Womanhood
Danielle @ Sensible Whimsy