Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homeschool Basics - part 1

Dear Elizabeth,

         How much research have you done on homeschooling? The reason I ask is because what I recommend would be influenced by what method you feel drawn to. I tell you about myself in a minute, but first let me tell you a little about the different methods.

         I found this pdf file that explains a lot about choosing curriculum. I didn't read it completely through, I mostly scanned it but I thought it looked pretty good. The article talks about learning styles and I want to say at this point in the process, I don't think that should be your focus as much as YOUR teaching style for now. (i.e. your chosen method for presenting lessons) Once you determine that, (and it may change over time so don't think you have to have it 100% figured out today) it will help tremendously in choosing curricula.

       Anyhow, in a nutshell, here are the different styles* of homeschooling.

The Charlotte Mason method has at its core the belief that children deserve to be respected. According to Charlotte Mason, children should be given time to play, create, and be involved in real-life situations from which they can learn. Students of the Charlotte Mason method take nature walks, visit art museums, and learn geography, history, and literature from "living books," books that make these subjects come alive. Students also show what they know, not by taking tests, but via narration and discussion.This method is a very broad education. Don't get the impression this is an easy, lazy form of education.  Art appreciation, literature, foreign languages, etc. are introduced early to the child. The school days are balanced by spending adequate time with the core subjects in the morning hours while providing plenty of free time to enjoy life in the afternoons.

School at Home is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate. Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase a boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades, and record keeping.

Some families use the school-at-home approach but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials. The advantage of this style is that families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. That can be a comfort when you are just starting out. The disadvantage is that this method requires much more work on the part of the teacher/parent and the lessons are not as much fun for the children.

Unit studies use your child's interest and then ties that interest into subject areas like math, reading, spelling, science, art, and history. For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and learn about Egyptian artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.

"Relaxed" or "Eclectic" homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, possibly taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.

The advantage of this method is that the parent feels that the subjects they believe are most important are covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips, and classes that fit their needs and interests.

Unschooling is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do—by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading, and history. John Holt, schoolteacher and founder of the unschooling movement, told educators in his book, What Do I Do Monday?: "We can see that there is no difference between living and learning, that living is learning, that it is impossible, and misleading, and harmful to think of them as being separate. We say to children, 'you come to school to learn.' We say to each other [educators], 'our job is to teach children to learn.' But the children have been learning, all the time, for all of their lives before they met us. What is more, they are very likely to be much better at learning than most of us who plan to teach them something."

The advantage to unschooling is that unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest. The disadvantage is that because unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, they may not do as well on grade-level assessments and may have a harder time if they reenter the school system.

The "classical" method began in the Middle Ages and was the approach used by some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study, and research take place. All the tools come together in the rhetoric stage, where communication is the primary focus.

The Waldorf method is also used in some homeschools. Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole child—body, mind, and spirit. In the early grades, there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves. Children in a Waldorf homeschool do not use standard textbooks; instead, the children create their own books. The Waldorf method also discourages the use of television and computers because they believe computers are bad for the child's health and creativity.

Montessori materials are also popular in some households. The Montessori method emphasizes "errorless learning," where the children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential. The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and avoids things that are confusing or cluttered. Wooden tools are preferred over plastic tools, and learning materials are kept well-organized and ready to use.

The Montessori method also discourages television and computers, especially for younger children. Although Montessori materials are available for high school students, most homeschoolers use the Montessori method for younger children. 

Internet Homeschooling harnesses the power of the world wide web by accessing virtual tutors, virtual schools, online curriculum, and quality websites. You need never feel that you can't find the help, expert advice or resources necessary to homeschool your child. Did you hate math as a child and feel you can't possible help your child learn math? Or what about (YIKES) Algebra? How about Physics? No problem. There is a wealth of cutting-edge online curriculum programs, private distance learning schools, homeschool support academies and more.

DVD / Video homeschooling is an approach that can be used with all different styles of homeschooling. Use quality educational titles to help your child learn Science, Physics, American History, World History, Religion, Preschool skills, Music, Art and more. This is not watching television. A powerful movie can inspire a new interest or help your child develop a solid understanding of a complicated area of learning

  • *courtesy


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