Just as there are many, many people choosing to homeschool, there are many different ways to homeschool. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to go about schooling your children. As long as you are meeting your state/country requirements, you are succeeding in schooling your kids. This is a brief overview of several of the most popular methods of homeschooling. The overviews are very brief, and more information on each method can be found online.
This method of education is based on training the mind through three levels of development. The first level is the “Grammar” stage, typically grade levels 1-4. This stage is about learning the basics and the facts that will be built on later. The second stage is the “Logic” stage, around grade levels 5-8. The Logic stage is the stage where children begin to apply logic and reasoning to the facts they learned through the first stage. The final stage is the “Rhetoric” stage. The Rhetoric stage is during the high school years, where they put the first two stages together to form their own thoughts about the things they learn. A classical education is language focused and follows a pattern with three parts. The child is supplied with facts and images, then given logic tools, and then equipped to express his or her own conclusions.
School at Home
School at Home homeschooling is pretty close to what the title suggests. This was the original version of homeschooling for most families around thirty years ago, simply because there were not many publishers that would sell to homeschoolers. School at home curriculums include names like A Beka, Bob Jones, and Horizons. These curriculums replicate a typical classroom curriculum and generally include workbooks and textbooks. Most study is teacher led, and then homework or seatwork is completed. Some of the companies also publish curriculums that include teaching videos and workbooks to go along with them, so the child is doing almost exactly what they would be doing in a classroom setting.
Virtual schooling or online schooling is becoming a popular homeschool option. Most virtual schools are a type of school at home curriculum with most work being done on the computer. Some families use virtual schooling for all subjects, and some use the virtual schools for only a few subjects. Virtual schooling should not be confused with online public schools as the students are designated as public school students, even if they are doing schoolwork from home. Virtual schooling that qualifies as homeschooling is when a family has registered as a homeschool family then chooses to use a virtual school they find online for free or pay a subscription to a service to use.
Eclectic homeschooling is generally the most common homeschool approach. It is teacher directed, and uses general curriculums. The eclectic homeschool family uses a mix of curriculums and tailors the work to fit each child’s needs. Some eclectic families use workbooks, some use textbooks, and some use both. Many eclectic homeschoolers use a similar approach to learning as the unschoolers do, especially in the early elementary years, but learning is teacher directed. This approach is widely seen because many parents agree with some of the other schooling philosophies, but they need to alter the approach to fit their lifestyle or family.
Charlotte Mason was an educator at the end of the 1800s in England. She developed a philosophy of education that moved away from a utilitarian style and towards engaging children through the use of excellent literature, nature study, and habit training. She believed that children should be trained in habits such as attentiveness, obedience, truthfulness, and more. Ms. Mason placed an emphasis on rich language arts instruction, storytelling, dictation, and copywork. She also focused on the use of short, varied lessons to keep the mind active and engaged during school hours. Her philosophy of education touched every aspect of learning, and is more than can be written here. Some further study can be found in her books and in several companions to her books.
Like the Charlotte Mason method, the Montessori method is based on the work of an educator from the late 1800s. The Montessori method is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and consideration of a child’s physical, psychological, and social development. Montessori is practiced in different ways, but true Montessori educations include: mixed age classrooms, student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options, uninterrupted blocks of work time-ideally three hours, students learn concepts from working with materials instead of direct instruction, specialized educational materials developed by Montessori, freedom of movement within the classroom, and a trained Montessori teacher. The Montessori method is generally for preschool and elementary students, as the creator never focused on adolescents. Many parents have studied the Montessori methods and incorporate them into their homeschool, especially with preschoolers and early elementary students.
Unschooling is defined as a learning style that avoids set curriculum, and allows the child the freedom to choose what interests them. It is not a free for all that avoids learning, but is an extension of the learning style toddlers and preschoolers engage in. Life is learning for unschooling families. When a child shows interest in a subject, the subject is examined and the academics are learned through this investigation. Unschoolers are not bound to a set curriculum, but can use books, classes, and other enrichments to accomplish their learning. A newer term “Lifeschooling” is also being used to define this method of homeschooling.
The Waldorf method of schooling is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. The method emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, and strives to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of the students. The child’s development is divided into three stages. Early childhood education focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play. Elementary education focuses on developing artistic expression and social maturity. The secondary education focuses on developing critical reasoning and empathy. The goal of the Waldorf education is to develop free, morally responsible children, with a high degree of social competence. There is no specific Waldorf curriculum, but there are guidelines that those who choose a Waldorf education generally follow when choosing curriculum.
If you’re a veteran homeschooler, can you tell us which methods you’ve used, what has worked for your family, and what you’d recommend to a new homeschooler? Thanks a bunch!!
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