The first step in choosing a homeschooling approach
is to gather information about the options that exist. Ask yourself a few
questions to help you decide what homeschooling methods best fit your family.
Are you a highly organized person? Do you like your day to be predictable,
or are you inclined to stay flexible, ready to adapt to changing circumstances?
Would you prefer that you not be told what to do? Do you want your
curriculum to be planned for you, with teacher instructions and worksheets for
the children? Or do you want to be able to pick and choose which books
they read and which activities to engage in?|
As you study these descriptions and talk to
experienced homeschoolers, you can start to get a feel for the style that best
fits you and your family.
The following are the most popular homeschooling approaches:
School-at-home is the style most often portrayed
in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a
photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most
expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate. Most families who
follow the school-at-home approach purchase a boxed curriculum that comes with
textbooks, study schedules, grades, and record keeping.
Unit studies use your child's interest and then
ties that interest into subject areas like math, reading, spelling, science, art
and history. For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient
Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write
stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and learn about Egyptian
artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.
Unschooling is also known as natural,
interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life
experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead,
unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as
adults do—by pursuing an interest or curiosity. Unschooled children learn their
math, science, reading and history in the same way that children learn to walk
"Relaxed" or "Eclectic" Homeschooling
"Relaxed" or "Eclectic" homeschooling is the
method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a
little of this and a little of that such as workbooks for math, reading, and
spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.
The "classical" method began in the Middle Ages
and was the approach used by some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of
the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five
tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are reason, record, research, relate,
and rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn
basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The grammar stage is next, which
emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where
serious reading, study, and research take place. All the tools come together in
the rhetoric stage, where communication is the primary focus.
The Charlotte Mason Method
The Charlotte Mason method has at its core the
belief that children deserve respect and that they learn best from real-life
situations. According to Charlotte Mason, children should be given time to play,
create, and be involved in real-life situations from which they can learn.
Students of the Charlotte Mason method take nature walks, visit art museums, and
learn geography, history, and literature from "living books," books that make
these subjects come alive. Students also show what they know, not by taking
tests, but via narration and discussion.
The Waldorf Method
The Waldorf method is also used by some
homeschoolers. Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and
stresses the importance of educating the whole child—body, mind, and spirit. In
the early grades, there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement,
and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to
reason things out for themselves. Children in a Waldorf homeschool do not use
standard textbooks; instead, the children create their own books.
Montessori materials are also popular in some
households. The Montessori method emphasizes "errorless learning," where the
children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential.
The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and avoids things that are confusing
or cluttered. Wooden tools are preferred over plastic tools, and learning
materials are kept well-organized and ready to use. Most homeschoolers use the
Montessori method for younger children.
"Multiple intelligences" is an idea developed by
Howard Gardner and Harvard University's "project zero." The belief is that
everyone is intelligent in his or her own way and that learning is easiest and
most effective when it uses a person's strengths instead of their weakness. For
example, most schools use a linguistic and logical-mathematical approach when
teaching, but not everyone learns that way. Some students, the bodily
kinesthetic learners for example, learn best by touching and not by listening or
reading. Most successful homeschoolers naturally emphasize their children's
strengths and automatically tailor their teaching to match their child's
learning style. Successful homeschoolers also adjust their learning environment
and schedule so that it brings out their child's' best. The goal for the
homeschooling parents is to identify how, when, and what their child learns best
and to adapt their teaching style to their child.
Hybrid Homeschooling (part-time)
Hybrid homeschoolers work in the middle ground
between a traditional type of schooling, and homeschooling. Many hybrid
homeschoolers work with their public school system or utilize co-op classes,
tutors, and even private school programs. While hybrids work with a more
traditional type of schooling, they only do this a few days per week.
Homeschoolers find this method more appealing as children get older, because it
provides a more structured environment for the child, and can take a lot of
weight off of the parents shoulders as well as free up a good deal of your time.
One program that offers a hybrid option is
The Internet Homeschooling method has become a
widespread phenomenon that allows homeschoolers to harness the power of the
Internet by accessing virtual tutors, virtual schools, online curriculum, and
quality websites. Parents are turning to this method because they can set their
own schedule, learn online wherever there is internet access, talk to teachers
one on one whenever their child needs help, and can study subjects that interest
their child. Also, schools like
let you work at your own pace, and even provide students with a laptop*.
Many internet homeschooling programs provide
broad, engaging curriculum, individual support for students, and personalized
instruction. With Internet Homeschooling, you never need to feel that you can't
find help, expert advice and/or resources to home school your child. You'll
never have to worry about not being able to teach your child Calculus and
Physics. There is a wealth of cutting-edge online curriculum programs,
school programs, private distance learning schools, homeschool
support academies and more. One such Internet Homeschooling program is
complete online school that fits your schedule, and your family. As an
accredited, public, tuition-free school,
iQ Academy offers
an innovative, high-quality alternative to the traditional learning experience.
iQ Academy in Your State:
*Full-time students receive use of a laptop while
enrolled in school.
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offers a public, tuition-free, online education backed by 30 years of distance
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