How to Homeschool — Different Methods
There are many ways to homeschool, it can feel overwhelming in fact with all the options. There is everything from a Traditional all in one curriculum to unschooling where you learn as you pursue your interests. This will be a brief synopsis of each type just so you can get your bearings and know your homeschooling options. Traditional, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Eclectic.
This is basically school at home. This is a great place to start, but as many homeschoolers find, it is hard to duplicate the public school at home and they branch out to finding more efficient ways to learn things based on their child’s strengths and weaknesses. It is comforting for those especially starting out to feel like they are covering the subjects that need to be covered. It is also nice to not have to worry too much about planning– it is all laid out, and then you can just implement it. There are lots of curriculums to choose from for this- Calvert School and K-12 being the first that come to mind. There are definitely others.
It is so great to live in this tech world with information at our fingertips. Online schools tend to be more expensive, but it is nice to get a grade and many of them include a teacher that will interact with the students and keep them on track and help when needed. Here in New Hampshire we have vlacs.org, it runs as a free charter school for New Hampshire students. The courses my kids have taken have been very thorough and very good. The teachers have been nice and it was good for my older kids especially to have deadlines and feedback. The downside is that it is all on the computer, it would be nice to have a paper textbook and then tests online. But at any rate, it is a great option also.
The classical approach to education is for the kids to learn Latin, read old classic texts in Latin and Greek, understand the foundations we have inherited from the classical Roman and Greek cultures– specifically Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric. The Trivium by Sister Miriam Joseph and Climbing Parnassas by Tracy Lee Simmons have some of the best descriptions and explanations for what exactly that all means. It is great just to understand what education was meant to be and what type of education has been taught for centuries. The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer is another way to approach this type of education. I think her information is very good although not as strong in math and science and I would prefer.
Charlotte Mason was a teacher at a private English school in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. She has a whole series of books that some of my friends highly recommended to me, I only read The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. Anyway, literature and living books are the main source of learning and teaching in her method. There is a lot of good information and advice in her books and in her method. There are also lots of sites to help people with this method. Some of my favorite online living books list – all Free is www.yesterdaysclassics.com . The whole idea of learning from books and stories is really great and it is nice to have so many ready to learn from at that site.
This is a method spearheaded by John Holt. Here is a link to an amazon search of his many books for a more in depth study. Basically you follow the interests of the child and incorporate learning into everyday activities. You don’t push things if the child is not ready, because in this theory it will be much more efficient when they are ready, math for example. This works great for some people and not so well for others. I think you can get some good things out of it, but for me I have found that persevering through tough things like math and piano are important, kids don’t generally want to keep going when it gets difficult, but that is a necessary character trait. However, like I said, some families are able to make it all fun and turn out amazing kids using this method.
Finally, we have my favorite- the eclectic method. Basically you do your research and then pick your favorite aspects and do what works for your family and your situation and your students. Some of my favorite books for helping to understand the public school system and the paradigm those of us who were publicly educated may need to evaluate are the books by John Taylor Gatto — Dumbing Us Down and A Different Kind of Teacher — are my favorites. Dumbing Us Down is really short and will give you confidence in homeschooling, so if you only read one extra book on this post, read that one!! All his books are great, I think the greatest thing I gained from his books is the idea of how important it is to have time to just be and do nothing– especially for kids.
In closing I would just like to point out that while it may be helpful to understand the different methods and to choose one, it is ultimately the final result you are working towards that really matters. That result may come through one method or various methods. It is probably more important to research and figure out what your child needs to know to get into college, to run a business, to get hired for a good job, to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or whatever than it is to decide on a particular method. That being said, it is still helpful. To see my curriculum choices, check out Our Homeschool Plan. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter ( top right of this page)!