Friday, April 21, 2017

An Overview Of The Most Popular Homeschooling Methods

Once you decide to homeschool you will be introduced to a lot of terms and methods.  It can be helpful to know what they mean so that you will be able to navigate through the vast sea of curriculum.

The following is a brief description of many popular homeschooling methods.  I would encourage you to take note of what really piques your interest, and pursue it by reading books, blogs, and friends that have used this method.

:: School At Home

Teaching at home with textbooks will give you the closest feel to a traditional school.  Many people start off with this method as they get their feet wet.  There are many families that continue this method the whole way through high school.

- Each grade level is clearly laid out
- You can purchase a whole grade at a time.  It usually covers all the subjects needed.
- They usually come with a comprehensive teaching plan for the year, as well as a scope and sequence that details what your child will be learning.

- It can be very rigorous and easy to 'fall behind.'
- It often doesn't leave much room for individuality.
- It can be expensive.

Curriculum to consider: Alpha Omega and Abeka

:: Computer Based Homeschooling

Just what it sounds like.  It is closely related to the Textbook Method only it is done online, or with DVDs.

- The work is graded for you.
- You don't have a lot of papers and books to organize.
- It can be inexpensive and teaches independence.

- It can also be expensive, depending on the company you choose.
- Your child will be sitting in front of a screen all day.
- This is a poor choice if your child thrives on interaction, or you enjoy hands on teaching.

Curriculum to consider: Switched On Schoolhouse, K12, Liberty Online Academy

:: Classical Method

This homeschooling style is based on 3 stages of learning: the Grammar Stage, the Logic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage.  The Classical Method is heavy on learning facts, memorization, knowledge gathering, logic, and learning the skills of wisdom and judgment.  It has a distinct schedule of when things are being taught.  If this method appeals to you I would consider looking into Classical Conversations,  co-op that meets once a week.

Books to consider reading: Teaching the Trivium and The Well Trained Mind
Curriculum to consider:  Classical Academic Press and Memoria Press

:: Charlotte Mason

If you love living books, keeping a nature journal, music, art, poetry and great literature, then this method might be a good fit for your family.

Miss Mason was a 19th Century educator who had a high value of children and their abilities.  She felt that education is an 'atmosphere, a discipline, a life'.  Her ideas were very broad and encompass more of a lifestyle approach than a specific set time for studies.  Lessons are short, and the importance of playing outside is emphasized.

Books to consider reading: A Charlotte Mason Companion and The Original Homeschooling Series
Curriculum to consider: Simply Charlotte Mason and My Father's World

:: Waldorf

A holistic, liberal arts approach to home education. The subjects are taught in blocks, as opposed to every subject every day.  Textbooks are not used in the early years, and rarely in later grades.  The education is designed to encourage the development of a child's body, mind and soul.

Waldorf curriculum is designed to mirror the developing child.  This is broken up from birth-age 7, 7-14, and High School.  Moral qualities such as truth, beauty, and goodness are highly emphasized.

Electronics use such as TVs and computers are viewed as detrimental to a child's development.  There are moderately used in the High School years.  Waldorf may come across as more focused on peace, love, and happiness... but there is still a great deal of learning going on.

Companies to consider: Chrisopherus and Waldorf Essentials

:: Unschooling

This term can be used broadly.  It can vary between those that disdain any formal 'teaching' and those who use more of a child-led approach to learning.  Out of all of the methods this one can be the most controversial because of it's 'loose' boundaries.

Many unschoolers weave education into their everyday life experiences.  For example, when planting a garden you learn math, science, nature study, agriculture, reading, stewardship, cooking... you get the idea.  There is really no curriculum for this method.  For additional info google 'unschooling' or check out John Holt's blog.

:: Montessori

Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play.  This educational philosophy was created by Maria Montessori in Italy in the late 1800s.  Its approach considers the whole child as well as the environment to be of up most importance.  Living Montessori Now is a wonderful blog that shows how to set up a homeschool classroom, resources to research and gives you teaching tips to further the Montessori experience.

:: Eclectic

I would say that the majority of homeschoolers use an eclectic method.  It simply means that we take what we like from each method and apply them to our home education.  At times one method might work better than another, or a child might respond differently to a curriculum than another child.  But, personally I think this is truly one of the biggest joys of homeschooling.  The freedom to educate our children the way that we feel is best for them

So, there you have it.  A brief description of the most popular homeschooling methods.

If you are curious, I would fall in the Charlotte Mason, Waldorf camp.  They seem to fit with our families philosophy of education and lifestyle more than the others.

What about you?  I would love to hear about which method spoke to you the most.  What method do you use, and if you are new to homeschooling, what spoke to you the most?


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