There are many ways to cook an egg, earn a living, tell a story, and teach a child. When it comes to homeschooling, styles range from strict adherence to traditional teaching to complete freedom for the student to follow his or her interests and everything in between. Whether you’re new to homeschooling, looking for a different approach, or a seasoned schooler, exploring the ways in which the estimated two million homeschoolers learn can help you refine your own technique and open your eyes to other schools of thought. Consider these common homeschooling methods and where you might fit in.
Based on the Latin trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—this method of learning was introduced to homeschoolers and built around the study of history. This method stresses memorization, reading, and writing.
Charlotte Mason Method
In the 1800s, Mason advised parents to teach their children at home using living books, not textbooks, and drew heavily on nature. By living books, she meant narrative books or stories by an author who has a passion for his or her topic.
Not really a style, eclectic homeschooling is a catch-all method for families that borrow useful elements from several approaches. Eclectic homeschoolers use what fits best with each child’s interests and abilities.
Founded by Maria Montessori, this method advocates observing your child, removing obstacles to learning, encouraging independence, and providing children with real, scaled-to-size tools to use.
Based on Mary Hood’s philosophy: a “relaxed home school” develops out of the mindset that you are a family, not a school; a dad, not a principal; a mom, not a teacher; and that you have individual relationships with your children, not a classroom. This mindset helps you to stress out less over school-like expectations, and relax and enjoy your family.
The goal of the school-at-home approach is to do what schools do, only better. Families who follow this style may set up a part of their home just like a classroom, right down to the blackboard and flag. They generally use textbooks or programs, online or print, which closely resemble the ones used in schools. And they usually judge their children’s progress using quizzes, exams, assignments, and standardized tests.
Unit Studies or Project-Based Learning
With the unit studies method of homeschooling, one topic (or goal) becomes the starting point for every subject from math to literature to science and social studies. Project-based learning approaches learning in a similar way. Students select or are given a problem or goal as the focus of their studies.
Also known as interest-led homeschooling, unschooling lets the child lead the way. Popularized by John Holt in the 1960s, unschooling is rooted in the theory that children learned this way throughout most of human history. The style also incorporates daily life into learning. Many unschoolers also use it as a template for all aspects of parenting.
What homeschooling method do you use, and why?
Copyright 2016, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.