Jenny Wise is a stay-at-home mom and home educator. She and her husband decided to homeschool when their oldest was four years old. During their journey, they’ve expanded their family and have faced many challenges, but they’re happy to have overcome each one. Jenny shares some of her homeschool knowledge and experiences in a guest blog post below.
An Overview of 4 Popular Homeschool Teaching Methods
One large benefit of homeschooling is the ability to transform lessons and teaching methods to uniquely fit your child and his or her learning style. Certain styles have become popular among the homeschooling community. However, most homeschoolers do not stick within the confines of just one teaching method or style. Instead, home educators select bits and pieces from multiple styles to create a custom package for their children. Starting out, you may find it best to use a structured routine and, as you mix, match, add and disregard according to what works and doesn't work for you, you may find yourself becoming more relaxed and flexible. To begin, here are some of the more popular homeschooling styles to start creating your custom homeschool plan.
Un-schooling is developed around the idea of letting children lead the learning by their interests and is commonly referred to as natural learning, interest-led learning or child-led learning. Un-schoolers take their lessons from their own life experiences and do not rely on formal lessons or schedules. Instead, children learn similarly to adults, by pursuing their unique interests. Lesson plans aren't provided for walking, talking and eating, yet children still learn these skills, much as they can learn science, math, history and reading.
One large appeal to this method is allowing unschooled children to forge their own education and make them experts in their own areas of interest. The disadvantage is that a lack of a structured schedule and timeline may lead to low grade-level assessments, making it a challenge to re-enter standard schooling if they so choose. One way to curb this is to provide alternate methods of assessment through methods that engage and inspire children, such as customized puzzles to gauge reading, writing and problem-solving skills.
'Eclectic' or 'Relaxed' Homeschooling
"Eclectic" or "relaxed" homeschooling is one of the more commonly used methods. Simply put, eclectic homeschoolers take bits and pieces to form a comprehensive style using workbooks for basic reading, writing and arithmetic and, then, utilizing an un-schooling approach for remaining subjects.
The appeal of this method is that parents can take a traditional approach to the subject they feel are most important for comprehensive coverage while taking more creative approaches to secondary subjects. Often times a combination of textbooks, field trips and educational tools are used to create the building blocks of lessons.
When the media portrays a homeschool setting, it is most often based on the school-at-home method because it is easiest to comprehend and provides a good visual of students at a table or counter doing school work from home. However, this can also be the most expensive method that can be accompanied by high burnout rates. School-at-home educators can purchase a boxed curriculum that includes schedules, books, study guides and a curriculum guide to follow step-by-step. As the name suggests, it is most reflective of what children are doing in the classroom, but from home instead.
This is a great formula to begin homeschooling as families can use the materials provided as a base to a more customized learning plan with varying learning tools.
The "classical" homeschooling method was used by some of history's greatest minds. This method focuses on teaching people to learn on an individual basis and for themselves. The Trivium, which are the five tools of learning for this method, is comprised of lessons in reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. Lessons begin at the elementary level with basic reading, spelling and math - or the "preparing stage." The grammar stage, which emphasizes compositions and collections, follows, and lastly comes the dialectic stage where more comprehensive reading, research and study happen.
Everything comes together within the rhetoric stage, where the focus switches to effective communication. One popular method is, "The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home."
Click here to access Jenny’s blog and read more about her family’s experiences and homeschooling.