Just like with anything else, homeschooling is not “one size fits all” so to speak, but rather an assortment of homeschooling methods or styles or different types of curriculum approaches. Studies have proven and if you have ever had a child of your own, you know that children/people have different learning styles and personalities. Just as it is important to find the proper size of clothing for your child to wear, you also have to find a well suited homeschooling method to teach them. Many students can learn several ways, but when you find that way that they love to learn through and you love to teach you have found a gold mine.
When I first began homeschooling, I had no idea that there were different methods of homeschooling. I assumed, from what I was taught, that you sat at a table working through a curriculum every day until it was done and you would then move on to the next year and do the same thing. Boy, was I wrong. There are so many different ways to learn and “do school’ than the public school method. That is what I am going to share with you in this post the different types of curriculum approaches and hopefully encourage some overwhelmed and burnt out homeschool families or guide a newbie to their personal fit. Believe me there is actually a perfect method for your family. Seek until you find one of the homeschooling methods that fits yours. This will completely change your family.
Traditional AKA School-at-Home Homeschooling Method – This is what I touched on a bit in the beginning of this post and it is the most common homeschooling burnout method that there is. Basically, it follows the public school method, following a rigorous schedule, using similar books and materials or simply buying a boxed curriculum and working through it at a fast rate, because you cannot leave any pages undone or it doesn’t count…right? Not true.
There is no perfect page count that is going to say that once your child has completed this then they can move on to the next grade level. I have tried this method in the past and it just wasn’t a good fit for us. We have been programmed to believe that this is the only natural way to teach. Even though it feels normal I would encourage you to try at least one other method before you get settled into this one. Embrace it. God has given you the tools.
While this method does work for some, most get burnt out, get overwhelmed. Just a little heads up, cause I want you to have the best homeschooling experience ever.
Eclectic AKA relaxed Homeschooling Method – Out of all the different homeschooling methods, the eclectic homeschool method is our fit. Also, this is the most used method of all the homeschooling methods. It is kind of a little bit of a lot of the styles pieced together. Your perfect combination. For instance, using a little bit of traditional, like workbooks and adding in an occasional unit study or even an unschooling method of teaching history or science. This method varies from family to family, so it’s kind of hard to really explain it. The best way to explain it would be a homeschool method that is constantly changing and evolving or growing with the family, piecing together what works best for you.
Unit Studies Homeschooling Method – This is usually a child-led homeschooling method. You find out the child’s interest and then add in reading, spelling, math, science, art, bible, history etc. subjects around that interest. We recently have tried this method out and man did my girls love this. They learned so quickly, there were no arguments like, “get this paper done”, “focus on your school work”, none of that. It was bliss and I saw the spark in their eyes. They loved to learn this way. So we will definitely be doing more of this in the future. That’s one thing I love about homeschooling we are free, free to stop everything and take a week to do a nature study or learn about desert animals and their habitat. Just love it.
You can find lots and lots of resources on unit studies by googling of course. So many great resources out there. We have just recently come across some digital unit studies from Beth at TechieHomeschoolmom.com… Amazing resource and worth checking into if you are led this direction, she even offers free unit studies so you can get a good idea if they will work for you and your family or not.
Classical Homeschooling Method – This is the method which goes back to the middle ages. The purpose of this method is to teach kids to learn for themselves using these five tools – reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. These tools are broken into three parts for the three degrees of education known as the Trivium.
So in the first degree, when kids are in grade school, they are in the grammar stage in which they learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. In the grammar stage, kids memorize facts and learn concrete ideas. The next stage is the logic stage, or middle school, which emphasizes on compositions and collections. Logic students, through the classical method, are believed to learn more analytical thinking and then finally wrapping up the trivium is the Rhetoric stage or high school, this is when serious reading, research, and study begin, communication is the primary focus. Rhetoric students are taught abstract thinking and articulation of their subjects, they learn skills of wisdom and judgment.
The main goal of this homeschooling method is to teach a child while engaging them in important lessons relating to God, life and its purpose, teaching them in three different ways throughout the child’s life. Some popular books on this method are The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home and also Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning.
Montessori Homeschooling Method – This is a child-led, parent guided method of teaching. Montessori focuses on the uniqueness of your child. The learning environment is filled with learning materials that are neatly organized and the student is free to explore and encouraged to follow what they would like to do with them. This method was created by Dr. Maria Montessori. It is meant to bring out the gifts, needs, and talents of your child as an individual, and cultivates self-reliance and independence in children.
“I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is called the Montessori method.” ―Dr. Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori believed that children should learn without restriction or criticism. Through this process and using the Montessori materials, they learn in their own natural way, at their own pace and are said to experience a joy for learning. The purpose of the Montessori method is to bring forth the gift within each child. Sounds very intriguing. For more info, Deb, from LivingMontessoriNow.com has tons of resources and ideas.
Here are a few books that might get you started on a Montessori journey…
- The Absorbent Mind – By Maria Montessori
- How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way – By Tim Seldin
- Teach Me to do it Myself, Montessori Activities for You and Your Child – By Maja Pitamic
- Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood – By Paula Polk Lillard
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method or Lifestyle rather – This method is a relaxed, pleasant and peaceful way of learning as a family. Charlotte Mason is really much more like a lifestyle than a method though. It is also known as a gentle art of learning. I love this method and have pieced it into our eclectic homeschooling style quite a bit through the years. I love the Whole, beautiful, rich literature-based style of Charlotte Mason.
“This idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God-we do not merely give a religious education because that would seem to imply the possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may at the same time be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection.” ― Charlotte M. Mason
In Charlotte Mason, there is not a list of facts to learn, no textbooks, workbooks and definitely no tests. This lifestyle is about creating a natural learning atmosphere, through living books. Charlotte Mason believed that education is for the spiritual and intellectual growth of a child. Children learn through this great literature that is filled with history, interesting and morally sound characters and much more.
Charlotte truly believed the knowledge of God, AKA the Bible should be the primary and most important knowledge. The three-part idea of this method is that education is an “Atmosphere” a “Discipline” and “Life”.
Charlotte Mason is to inspire a love of learning and knowledge. This is a delight-filled way to learn and to teach. I know the more I learn about it, the more I want to add more in. You can learn way more than what I could ever tell you about the Charlotte Mason lifestyle from the brilliant Leah Boden. Be sure to follow her on Periscope she does the most amazing show called The Charlotte Mason Show. Also, SimplyCharlotteMason.com is an amazing resource. Check into Ambleside.org which is a free online Charlotte Mason Curriculum.
Here are some more materials that will help you get started with Charlotte Mason.
- A Charlotte Mason Companion – By Karen Andreola
- Charlotte Mason Study Guide
- A Charlotte Mason Education
- More Charlotte Mason Education
- Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals
- Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series
- Simply Grammar – By Karen Andreola
- For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
Unschooling Homeschooling Method – Out of all the homeschooling methods, this is the most relaxed choice. This is a naturally child-led way of learning. The world is your classroom. The name “unschooling” was originally coined by John Holt, he was one of the fathers of the modern homeschooling movement. He was also known for the book Teach Your Own, which is a great book, by the way, for new homeschoolers to look into.
Unschooling was founded on the idea that kids learn best as they pursue their own natural curiosities and their own interests. It allows children to follow their specific interests at their own pace, relaxed or fast paced. If you decide to unschool you would closely keep an eye out for learning moments and for your children’s interests and then provide the resources and plan experiences to cultivate a learning habitat for your kids.
The unschooling community is growing rapidly. Within this community of unschoolers, there are even different levels of unschool. Some adapt a little of the concept and some are what is called “radical Unschoolers”, this is the idea that child-led learning is adapted in literally every aspect of life, not just education. Unschooling is living and learning naturally together.
Here are some great books to get you started on the unschooling journey:
- Unschooling: A Lifestyle of Learning – By Sarah McGrath
- The Unschooling Unmanual
- The Unschooling Handbook
- Big Book Of Unschooling – By Sandra Dodd
- Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun – By Dayna Martin
There is no one right homeschooling method for all. The key to having a successful homeschooling experience is in this, finding what is the best fit for your family, then find a good curriculum if needed, here is a Huge List of Free Curriculum. Next, you will want to find a good schedule or unschedule that will work best for you all. You could use all, or some of any of these and adapt what works for you and your kids. Never give up, you will find your groove before you know it. Keep growing and learning together and the main thing is to have fun and relax. Things will get tough sometimes, but always remember why you are doing this. Don’t be so serious mama, just chill and enjoy your beautiful kiddos through the journey together.
Which method sounds like it would be the best fit for your family? Have you tried any of these before?
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Forest Rose is a God Loving, Blessed Wife, & Relaxed, Eclectic Homeschooling Mama to 3 girls – 8, 10, & 12 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She’s passionate about lifting moms out of the homeschooling trenches that are discouraged, overwhelmed or feeling alone or isolated. Her hope is to point them to Christ and equip them to rise up with a new found hope and joy within, that He alone can provide. Besides blogging, she also loves hanging out at her exclusive Facebook Group “Homeschooling 101 Community” that she started to help new homeschoolers thrive.