Popular homeschooling approaches and styles
Home education can take an infinite number of forms. Most families do not follow one style or method to the letter as there is no one "right" way to homeschool. Instead, they change their approach as they go along. Most families discover that they start out more structured in the beginning and become more flexible and relaxed as time goes on, being more eclectic in their approach. They adjust where needed and experiment until they find what works best for each child and the family in order to achieve their educational goals. This kind of flexibility and tailoring is one of the benefits of homeschooling.
Every family homeschools in a unique way, but all these different ways can be divided into broad categories.
- Traditional Method: This is commonly referred to as bringing traditional school into your home. It uses a curriculum that is similar to what is used in public school along with the traditional grading system. Textbooks and teachers guides are used for various subjects. ACE, ABeka, CAPS workbooks are examples of this approach.
- Classical Approach: The classical method develops independent learning skills on the foundation of language, logic and facts. Children are taught in three stages, called the Trivium. The Grammar Stage (ages 6-10) focuses on absorbing information and memorizing the rules of phonics, spelling, grammar, foreign language, history, science, math, etc. The Logic Stage (ages 10–12) emphasizes logical discussion, debate, drawing correct conclusions, Algebra, thesis writing, and determining the why’s behind the information. The Rhetoric Stage (ages 13–18). Students learn to apply the knowledge gained in the previous two stages and seek to develop a clear and persuasive use of language, creating critical thinkers with a love for learning. Click here for the Trivium Pursuit website for an example of a classical curriculum.
- Charlotte Mason Approach: Charlotte Mason, a British educator, believed in giving children a broad education by using a generous curriculum, allowing them to read “living” books instead of what she called “twaddle". Charlotte’s idea was to “spread a feast” before the child and let them digest what was appropriate for them at that time. She sought to nurture a love for learning, not just present a body of information. Click here and here for examples of curriculums based on this approach.
- Eclectic Method: An eclectic approach to homeschooling is where the family takes bits and pieces of various different methods to form their own unique homeschooling curriculum. For instance, a family will use hands on unit studies together with a textbook for maths, while keeping the stages of the Trivium in mind.
- Montessori Method: The Montessori method is based on the idea that learning should be a natural, self-directed process. It is also commonly referred to as child-lead learning. Children learn best when they are left to discover.
- Unschooling: It is also commonly referred to as “natural Learning”, “experience-based learning”, or “independent learning.” Unschooling homes typically let their current interests dictate what they choose to study. There is no set curriculum. Parents provide a rich environment of books, experiences, and resources for learning and respond to their children's questions and interests. Advocates believe that children can be trusted to direct their own learning, and they do not require any study that the child does not choose. Read more at unschooling.org and books written by John Holt.
- Unit Studies Approach: Takes a theme or topic and incorporates all the school subjects (Language Arts, History, Science, Music, Art, etc.) into that topic. For example, when you study the ear you build the parts of the ear (science) read the story of Bell (history and literature), look where Bell comes from on the map (geography) and study and listen to grammaphone (technology and music) etc. Examples of this approach is Konos and Weaver.
Remember, you know best how your child learns! There is no right or wrong way to homeschool. Every family is unique, so find the homeschooling method that works best for you and your children!
For more information on different approaches, looking at the pro's and con's of each and asking questions to help decide on an approach, the following websites can be consulted.