If you’re thinking about homeschooling and are about to start looking at homeschooling curricula, it’s well worthwhile doing a little research into different homeschooling methods that might suit your family.
This is because each packaged curricula usually subscribes to its own homeschooling method or a mix thereof. Most subscribe to the traditional method, but others also have classical or Charlotte Mason flavors. In this article, we’ll discuss different educational approaches, so you’ll feel a little
more acquainted with them by the end of the article. Let’s dive in and take a look.
Traditional Homeschooling Method
Many of us are familiar with the traditional method as it is the one most of our teachers used when they attended school. This approach typically requires students to sit down at a desk, study handouts or pay attention to the teacher at the board for set time periods, and/or do their paper handouts or online lessons on a laptop. The traditional educational approach is the one that is used in public schools most often.
In a homeschooling situation, parents can order traditional curricula, such as Abeka or BJU material which comes in a box (or can be done entirely online) and give the work to their children for completion.
This option is often used by new homeschooling parents as it’s familiar and families can get used to some homeschooling changes without having to completely change their educational method also.
Classical Homeschooling Method
The classic method focuses on skills and knowledge that endure through time and are worth being learned. Students fed themselves on the Classics and were avid readers – the like we rarely see today. Classical education is often thought of to be rigorous and requiring lots of discipline, but when given the opportunity children can retain a lot of facts. Classical students may be expected to:
Memorize Bible verses
Rote learning core facts in young ages for use in older ages
Debate skills – homed in older years especially
Develop a well-formed mind due to much reading of different sources such as the classics (including the Bible)
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method
The Charlotte Mason (CM) method was formed after Charlotte Mason (a classical educator herself) thought classical education was a bit too harsh and expected a little too much from students.
She created a gentler method which incorporated a lot of outdoor study and observation with a more moderate take on literature study. Instead of studying dry texts, students were encouraged to learn from living books, narrative texts which educated students while telling a story.
Other tenets of the CM method are:
- Habit training
- Testing using narration
- Short lessons
- Reading many books
- Perfect copywork and many more.
CM education is especially loved among Christian homeschooling families in America.
While unschooling is often labelled as a type of homeschooling, many would say it is not. The big difference between unschooling and homeschooling is who makes the educational decisions. In homeschools, parents mostly make decisions about what to study. In contrast, unschooled children make these decisions for themselves.
Unschoolers learn mostly through activities done in the home or on field trips.
This type of education is particularly favoured in Australia, and in many free-thinking communities.
Montessori Homeschooling Method
The Montessori method is especially common among younger aged students as the work given to children encourages them to use their hands a lot and co-ordinate their activities – many of which are done outside so children can connect with their environment.
Order is also highly valued in a Montessori environment and rooms are set up so children can easily access materials. Many of these materials are specifically made to fit a Montessori school or home, and many are child-size. For example, a child-size broom, mop, kitchen and laundry are common fixtures in this type of homeschooling environment.
Materials are also made from natural products like glass and wood. These ‘Montessori toys’ are often highly designed objects which encourage learning, while triggering high interest in the activity. Objects are also designed so children can learn through self-directed study (collaborative play is also encouraged as children work together on different projects at different times).
Because children do a lot of self-directed play, Montessori teachers are less of a central figure in a Montessori classroom compared to a traditional classroom. They are there to facilitate study, more than direct it.
Teachers encourage imagination and fantasy in a Montessori school as they see that this is a good way for children to grow and develop.
Waldorf Homeschooling Method
The Waldorf method is a lot more similar to the Montessori method compared to traditional educational methods. This is because the Waldorf approach encourages children to use natural materials in their play. It also encourages them to have more of a connection to the outdoor world than traditional education allows.
However, unlike the Montessori method, Waldorf education encourages children to have real-life experiences, rather than encouraging their imagination and fantasy.
Therefore, you are likely to see a Montessori classroom eagerly preparing their lunch together or doing outdoor activities with a purpose.
This type of education also discourages the use of technology for children who are quite young. Standardized testing is also often avoided until children enter post-secondary education.
Individual teachers have a lot of autonomy over the specific curriculum taught in their classroom. This means that education can vary depending on the teachers.
Eclectic Homeschooling Method
If you employ the eclectic method in your homeschool, you can pick and choose the best parts from each homeschooling approach. It means you can buy a curriculum, and skip the busywork, but keep the best parts.
For example, if you love Montessori toys, you can purchase some and use them on occasion while you purchase a Charlotte Mason curriculum for your bookwork needs. You can also think about whether you value standardized testing like Waldorf schools or not.
Essentially, you have a delicious buffet of choice at your fingertips.
Being familiar with homeschooling methods allows parents to make more informed choices about their children’s education. Instead of being stuck with a method that isn’t working for your family or your child, you can choose the one that will encourage their learning and cause the least amount of stress to your family. While I’ve only been able to show you a small amount of what’s entailed in these methods, I can guarantee you will gain so much if you research them more before you choose your curriculum.
Rebbecca Devitt is the author of Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling. She’s the wife of a husband who is her best friend and makes her laugh and a son who is too cute for words. She’s dabbled in Nursing, Medical Science, Medicine and Law before settling down to her dream job—being a full-time mother! The Devitt family lives in Wollongong and actively participates in their wonderful church, Wollongong Baptist Church. Rebbecca has written for various blogs including Homeschooling with Heart, Why on Earth Homeschool and her own Christian homeschooling blog, How Do I Homeschool. As you can guess, her passion lies in helping people to homeschool well.