West Houston Home Educators
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APPROACHES TO HOMESCHOOLING
Traditional (sometimes referred to as “school at home” or textbook approach)– This is the most familiar to most of us who were in public or private school. This is the form of education where you buy a textbook or a set of textbooks, you sit down and do the reading, answer some questions at the end of the sections and take tests. In this approach, parents try to recreate the school experience at home. Sometimes they set up a school room and a school day that mimics what the public/private school looks like. Curriculums that are well-suited to this style include Bob Jones, Abeka and Calvert.
Charlotte Mason (sometime referred to as the Living Books approach)– Based on the teachings of 19th century educator Charlotte Mason, this approach stresses the use of “living”, “twaddle-free” books to educate children. The approach is summarized by Charlotte Mason in this quote: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life?” In this method, education is not a separate from day to day life. It is something that is pursued every day, all day. Rather than teaching History from a textbook, one would use living history books. Rather than learning about plants from a book, one would go on a nature walk. There are Charlotte Mason curriculum choices available online. Most notably, Ambleside Online (http://amblesideonline.org/) offers a free Charlotte Mason Curriculum.
Unit Study — Unit study is a method where all (or most) subject material is covered through one specific topic. For example, history, art, math, science, writing and more may be covered through the study of airplanes. This approach usually involves a lot of creativity, building things, making things and crafts. It is especially well-suited for families teaching multiple grade levels simultaneously. There are many websites available online that will provide free help in planning your own unit studies. Or there are pre-written unit studies that you can purchase. Konos is a unit study-based curriculum. Five in a Row is a unit study program based on reading the same classic children’s book every day for five days and covering different subjects each day. Amanda Bennett has written many prepared unit studies that may be a good way to check out if unit studies are a good fit for your family.
Classical — Classical education emphasizes tools of learning, known as the trivium. These tools are taught in three different stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Different ages stress different aspects. In all, there is an emphasis on thinking skills, classical literature, and usually Latin. Curriculum choices you might want to look into if you’re interested in a classical approach include Veritas Press, The Well-Trained Mind and Tapestry of Grace.
Relaxed — An approach that emphasizes that there is no one best method for any child or any family. The family unit is stressed. The mom is still “Mom”, rather than a teacher. The dad is still “Dad”, not a principal or school administrator. Each child’s unique strengths are explored and built upon. Some relaxed families are very structured. Some are not. It depends on the individual needs of the family members. Relaxed homeschoolers may primarily utilize one of the other methods discussed here, or they may use a mixture, or they may change from year to year. Again, it would depend on the needs of the family members. There is no “relaxed curriculum”, per se. You can learn more about the Relaxed approach reading books by Dr. Mary Hood, including The Relaxed Homeschooler and The Joyful Homeschooler.
Unschooling (also known as delight-directed or child-directed ) — Unschooling, in its strictest sense, is a philosophy written about by John Holt, who taught that children have a natural curiosity that drives them to learn what they need to know when they need to know it. It can also refer to many unstructured methods that are child-driven. There is no “unschooling curriculum”. You can learn more about unschooling by reading anything by John Holt. You might also want to look at a book titled Christian Unschooling or The Unschooling Handbook.
Eclectic — The eclectic approach is fairly self-explanatory. It means that you choose from whatever curriculum or approach appeals to you or suits your needs at the moment. An eclectic homeschooler may be simultaneously teaching History through unit studies, Math through a textbook and Language through a literature approach. There is an excellent website called Eclectic Homeschool Online (www.eho.org) that will help you if this appeals to you.
WHHE, P.O. Box 842082 Houston, Texas 77084-2082
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