An Introduction to Homeschooling Methods and Philosophies
In many countries around the world, home education is recognized as a valid and valuable alternative to regular school education. Homeschooling however, is by no means the same as a public or private school education, and there are many different ways parents or other caretakers can educate their children.
Many people still seem to think that homeschooling means that one of the parents - usually the mother - teaches the children in pretty much the same way as teachers teach their pupils in school, and although that is one approach to homeschooling, there are many other options available to the growing numbers of homeschool families.
In this series of articles I will discuss several different approaches to education, varying from the traditional 'School at Home' method to the revolutionary 'unschooling' approach to learning. I will explain the basics of each approach and point out the pros and cons of each of them in order to help the new or aspiring homeschooler decide on which educational style would best suit the family's needs.
Styles and Methods
The educational styles and methods I'll discuss in this series, are:
- The School at Home Method, with (strict) daily schedules and school holidays, much like in regular schools.
- Curriculum Based Education, which often but not always goes hand in hand with a 'School at Home' approach to home education.
- The use of Unit Studies in home education. Popular with a wide variety of homeschool families because of their versatility, diversity and flexibility.
- Classical Education, also often referred to as the Latin Curriculum and used by home educators who wish to give their children a solid, classical base.
- The Charlotte Mason method, based on the educational and pedagogic principles set out by Charlotte Mason in the 19th century.
- Distance Learning, e.g. by enrolling the student in online programs or schools for distance learning.
- Autonomous or Child-Led Learning, also known as unschooling, in which the child decides what to learn and when, and the parent's role is to provide the child with a rich learning environment.
- The Eclectic Approach, in which the homeschool family picks and chooses elements from several methods to create a way of living and learning tailored to their family's and individual children's specific needs.
Of course there is no clean cut line between these educational approaches. The School at Home family, for example, may use a curriculum for math subjects, Unit studies for history and geography, and encourage their children to keep a Nature Notebook (Charlotte Mason) for biology. The unschooling family might very well want to spend some money on a curriculum for Science, simply because one of their children wants it. In this way, we can tailor a child's education to truly reflect he or she's individual interests, strengths and weaknesses.