So, you’ve decided to homeschool your child. Now what?
It can be overwhelming trying to decide the best approach to homeschooling your child. Thankfully, there are several methods to explore. Below, you will find a summary of five common homeschooling methods that cater to a wide variety of teaching styles.
Just a Disclaimer: I am not a teacher by trade, nor do I claim to be. The following are just ideas and tips that were useful for our family and that other mamas might enjoy, as well. If you are curious as to why we decided to homeschool our kids, you can read about it here.
THE CLASSICAL METHOD
The classical method is a time-tested, homeschooling style, based on the trivium, or three “phases” of learning. They are grammar, logic and rhetoric.
The grammar, or language phase, takes place during the early elementary years. Children build an educational foundation, focused on reading, writing and basic math skills. The next stage, called the logic phase, teaches critical thinking and how to analyze information. The final phase, called the rhetoric or speech phase, helps children express thoughts, feelings and ideas through public speaking.
The classical method is a well laid-out and structured approach to homeschooling. Based on text-based learning, emphasis is placed on paper and pencil work, including lots of memorization and dictation.
THE CHARLOTTE MASON METHOD
The Charlotte Mason approach is based on the teachings and writings of Charlotte Mason, a turn of the century teacher. The core of the method is that children are treated as whole, thinking individuals. Charlotte Mason believed that atmosphere, or environment, helps shape and mold the child. Furthermore, parents are instrumental in fostering a child’s habits, character and behavior.
Children learn by using “living books”. Living books are narratives, or stories, that engage the child. History, Science, and the Arts come alive for your child, and they are eager to learn. For comprehension, children are encouraged to “narrate” the stories back in their own words.
Along with using living books, children spend a great deal of time outside going on “nature walks” and exploring. It is the parent’s responsibility to continually provide new concepts and ideas, in order to meet the child’s growing needs.
THE MONTESSORI METHOD
Developed by Maria Montessori, the Montessori method is another child-led, learning style. Parents create an aesthetically pleasing environment, placing out several “works” for the child. Basically, children have freedom of choice within safe boundaries.
Montessori teaching encourages uninterrupted periods of learning, for as long as your child is engaged. Also, traditional Montessori classrooms are multi-age groupings of children, meaning siblings can learn together.
All in all, the Montessori method is a hands-on and customizable learning style. Your child will be able to set their own pace and choose their activities in a specifically designed learning environment. This allows your child the opportunity to discover information on their own terms, rather than just learning facts.
THE UNSCHOOLING METHOD
Unschooling, a term coined by John Holt, is a learning style that completely rejects traditional learning. Also called “natural learning”, unschoolers believe children have the ability to learn everything they need just by living.
A difficult concept to grasp, unschooling is definitely not a one-size fits all learning environment. There are no timelines or milestones, rather your child will learn when they are willing. As a parent, you are responsible for providing an environment for your child in which “natural” learning can take place. For example, if your child chooses to play a game, guide them by asking comprehension questions. Try to make every activity a learning experience.
THE ECLECTIC/RELAXED METHOD
The eclectic, or relaxed, style of homeschooling is a hodgepodge of homeschooling styles and preferences.
Parents determine what information they deem is “critical” for their child to learn, or the non-negotiables. Different methods blend to achieve educational goals. If classical and unschooling fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, the eclectic method falls right in the middle.
Many people prefer an eclectic classroom because it is unique to each family.
There are so many homeschooling styles and preferences available to consider. This list just skims the surface. If there is an approach that sounds appealing, I encourage you to do your own research as well. Whatever you decide, your homeschool will be unique to your own individual needs.