There are six traditional homeschooling methods commonly used by families today but what are the differences between them? How can parents decide which one is right?
Parents considering homeschooling a child have many decisions to make in regards to their child’s educational endeavors. Perhaps one of the greatest and most challenging decisions facing them is what method of schooling to use if any. Of course, when children learn in schools, most of the education is homework. And my children ask me to "do my math for me", or writing essays. But I always try to help my children. There are six methods of homeschooling most commonly accepted by homeschool communities. These are likely the first methods a parent just beginning to homeschool will come across.
Six Basic Approaches To Homeschooling
Traditional Approach: This method uses textbooks much in the way schools do. Parents using this method often assign chapters to be read and questions to be answered. This method is often referred to in the homeschooling community as school in a box.
Principle Approach: This method of learning leans strongly towards Christian history as well as Biblical teachings. The mainstay for this approach is commonly known as the four R’s, which are research, reason, relate and record. More information about the Principle Approach can be found at The Foundation for American Christian Education.
Unit Studies Approach: This method uses thematic units of study based on one topic. These are formatted to encompass all of the traditionally studied subjects such as history and English. If a student were studying John Cabot the unit could include activities such as creating a map of his travels (geography), a creative writing assignment, and perhaps building a replica of Cabot’s ship for art.
Unschooling Approach: The unschooling approach focuses on student led studies. There is no set curriculum to go with this approach but if a child had a pronounced interest in bridges a parent would research and study bridges with the child until he or she was content with what was learned.
Classical Approach: The classical approach is basically a method of teaching in stages. There are three teaching stages or Triviums in the classical approach. The Grammar Stage (6-10 age) often focuses on absorbing information, memorizing, spelling, grammar, foreign language, history. The Dialectic Stage: (10-12 years of age) puts a large focus on discussions, debates and conclusions. This is also where subjects such as Algebra and thesis writing would be taught. And the last stage The Rhetoric Stage (13-18 years of age) continues to study more in depth the areas of language.
The Charlotte Mason Approach: This method is based on the writings of educator Charlotte Mason who was a British educator at the turn-of-the-century. Mason believed in allowing children to read books which she deemed “living” and in putting a wealth of information in front of a child. Mason’s approach to schooling was to make children love learning and to respect children as people. She believed by doing this it allowed all children access to a broad education.
What Approach to Homeschooling Is Most Successful?
The bottom line is there are many forms of homeschooling and not every approach is suitable for every child or every parent. Parents may try several approaches before finding the one that works for their child. The important thing to remember is that researching an approach and communicating with others using that method whether through a homeschooling network or an online forum can help eliminate unnecessary cost and frustration on both the part of the parents and the child.