Homeschooling is not a one-size-fits-all approach and there are several philosophies and methods that parents can adopt. In this article, we will explore the most popular homeschool philosophies and methods to help you understand the options available and choose the best approach, or multiple approaches for you child.
What is a Homeschool Method?
A homeschool method refers to a specific approach or philosophy towards homeschooling, which is the process of educating children at home instead of in a traditional school setting. Homeschool methods vary and can range from structured, traditional curriculums to more relaxed, unschooling styles.
Some popular homeschool methods include Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Classical, and Unschooling. The choice of method is up to the parents and depends on their personal beliefs, goals, and resources, as well as, the learning styles of the individual student.
Many new homeschoolers start with traditional homeschool and then adjust as their confidence grows.
Traditional homeschooling is based on the idea that education should resemble traditional classroom education. In this method, parents use textbooks, workbooks and other instructional materials and children typically study subjects such as mathematics, reading, writing and science.
This method is best suited for parents who want to the comfort of following a structured, state mandated curriculum and schedule.
Unschooling is the complete opposite of traditional schooling.
Unschooling is a philosophy that emphasizes a child-directed approach to education. Unschooling parents believe that children will learn what they need to know through their natural curiosity and life experiences. This method doesn’t rely on structured lessons or schedules, but instead allows children to pursue their interests and follow their own learning path.
There are no curriculums, workbooks, tests or grades. There are no dedicated subjects and parents become adept at facilitating and providing opportunities for learning and finding new materials that might spark their child’s interests.
Unschoolers do not force their children to learn specific subjects or skills, but allows them to learn and develop naturally.
The Charlotte Mason Method is a literature-based homeschooling philosophy that emphasizes a child’s relationship with the world around them. This method uses classic literature, living books, nature study and the arts to foster a love of learning and a sense of wonder in children.
There is also a focus on character and habit training and the acquisition of knowledge through books, art and music study, nature journaling and real-life experiences.
The Montessori Method is a child-centered hands-on approach to education that emphasizes exploration and discovery. This method uses specialized educational materials and manipulatives, and a structured, multi-age environment to encourage children to develop their natural curiosity and problem-solving skills.
This method is best suited for parents who like to be very involved with material gathering and being creative with new manipulatives and value hands-on learning, independence and creativity.
The Waldorf Method is a holistic approach to education that emphasizes a child’s spiritual, emotional and physical development. This method uses storytelling, music and movement to engage children in learning and foster their imagination and creativity.
This method also emphasizes the importance of the arts, handwork and practical skills and views education as a path to personal development and spiritual growth.
The Classical Method of homeschooling is a highly structured and academic approach to education. It emphasizes the study of classical literature, history, mathematics, science and the arts and is based on the idea that education should cultivate wisdom and virtue in students.
The focus of classical homeschooling is not just imparting knowledge, but also on developing students character and moral values. This is achieved through the study of classical literature, which often features stories of great heroes and their struggles and provides students with examples of virtue and morality.
It is best for parents who want to provide their children with a strong foundation in the liberal arts, Latin and the humanities and who are looking for a rigorous and challenging education experience for their kids.
This approach is characterized by its focus on the classical curriculum that includes subjects such as Latin, Greek, history, math, science and the arts. It’s curriculum is designed to provide students with a comprehensive and well rounded education and to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills.
Another key feature is its focus on independent and self directed learning. Students are encouraged to take an active role in their education and to pursue their interests and passions in depth.
The Relaxed Method is an informal and less structured approach to education that places a strong emphasis on a child’s natural curiosity and love of learning.
It is often characterized by its limited use of formal curriculum or definite schedules with learning happening naturally and organically through everyday activities and experiences. This can include things like exploring nature, reading books, cooking and backing, playing games, as well as more structured activities such as visiting museaums and libraries or participating in local homeschooling groups.
This is different from unschooling as unschooling means the parent is not directing any formal education. Relaxed homeschoolers still use a curriculum or a mix of resources, students still have work they complete everyday and there is still periodic assessments. However, there is less adherence to a definite time schedule, breaks are encouraged and lessons are short. Routines are more common, with children knowing what is expected of them each day and each day is flexible. I find the Relaxed approach much more organic and easy to follow since life always happens to get in the way of schooling.
This is an approach, combined with year-round schooling that works best for my family. I know all the school work will get done eventually and I dont have to stress about what did or did not get done every day.
The Eclectic Method of homeschooling pulls aspects from each or some of the above methods that appeals to the parents or students and employs a mixture of philosophies and curriculums.
Parents choose the best educational materials and methods for their children and tailor their approach to each subject to the individual needs and interests of their children.
Parents have the freedom to choose the subjects they want to teach, the materials they want to use and the methods they want to employ. They can draw from a variety of educational resources, including textbooks, workbooks, online resources and hands on activities to create a truly customized learning experience.
This is well suited for families who have multiple children with different learning styles and ages or prefer to pick their own materials instead of sticking to an all-in-one curriculum.
Homeschooling offers families a wide range of educational options and methods. From traditional and classical approaches, to Montessori, Waldorf and unschooling, there is a method that can fit the unique needs, interests and goals of any family.
By taking the time to research and understand the different methods of homeschooling, families can make an informed decision about their educational journey and find the path that is right for them.