Home Schooling Styles
HOME SCHOOLING STYLES AND
HELPFUL QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Traditional, Classical, Unit Study, Charlotte Mason,
Un-schooling, and Eclectic Approaches to Home Schooling
Graded material with Scope & Sequence for 180 days x 12 years. Uses traditional textbooks, workbooks and teachers manuals (think “school at home”). Also can include video and/or computer programs. Testing before child moves on to next section.
Questions to Consider:
Did my child perform well in a school classroom? Does my child like to complete assignments and have defined goals and deadlines?
Is my child academically oriented?
Will my child complete the assignments with a minimum of prodding from me?
Am I the kind of person who will follow through with the lesson plans and pace the course of instruction?
Does my child read well and have good comprehension skills?
Can my child work independently?
Can my child learn without a lot of variety to the teaching materials?
Strengths of the Traditional Approach
Easy, all info is laid out
Follows standardized scope and sequence
Has milestones for accomplishments
Testing and assigning grades is easy to do
Challenges of the Traditional Approach
Doesn't take into account individual learning styles, strengths, weaknesses or interests
Assumes that there is a body of info that completes an education and that this can be broken down into daily increments
Treats students minds like containers to be filled with information
Focuses on transmitting info thru artificial learning experiences
Teacher-directed and 'chalkboard' oriented
Different ages study different materials
Expensive with multiple children
Discourages original, independent thinking
High burn out rate
Resources: Abeka, Saxon Math, Bob Jones, Alpha Omega, Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS – computer based), Christian Liberty Press (Google these names for websites and catalogs of curricula)
The Classical Approach
Children are taught tools of learning known as The Trivium, which is divided into three parts:
Grammar Stage: Elementary Age that focuses on reading, writing, spelling, Latin, listening, memorization and observation skills. The goal is develop the framework of knowledge and to aquire basic language arts and math skills.
Dialectic Stage: Approx. middle school when students begin to demonstrate independent and abstract thought (usually by becoming argumentative or opinionated). The goal is to equip the child with language and thinking skills capable of detecting fallacies in an argument. The student studies Latin, essays, arguments, criticisms, history, theology and higher math.
Rhetoric Stage: Approx high school age – this stage seeks to produce a student who can use language, both written and spoken eloquently and persuasively.
Questions to Consider:
Does my family like to read good literature?
Are my children intellectually oriented and comfortable with rigorous academics?
Am I a learner? Am I comfortable learning alongside my children so I can teach them things I have never studied?
Do I like to discuss ideas that have influenced civilizations?
Strengths of a Classical Approach
Tailored to stages of mental development
Teaches thinking skills and verbal/written expression
Has produced great minds throughout history
Challenges of a Classical Approach
Fewer curriculum choices available
Requires lots of parent-child interaction and dedication
Resources: www.classicalhomeschooling.org, www.veritaspress.com, www.triviumpursuit.com, www.cornerstonecurriculum.com
The Unit Study Approach
Takes a theme or topic and delves into it deeply over a period of time. It integrates some or all subjects into one study around this common theme. Many prepared unit studies are available. Example: Unit study on Birds – language arts would be reading and writing about birds, habitats, food, feathers, etc. Science & Math would be studying the parts and functions and life cycles, Social Studies would be determining migration paths, habitats, ecological impact, Art would be sketching, coloring pictures, identifying, building feeders and birdhouses.
Questions to Consider:
Am I creative?
Do I like making everything interesting and fun?
Do my children have a variety of interests and learning styles?
Do I have the time and energy to be the driving creative force behind the development of units?
Strengths of the Unit Study Approach
All ages can learn together
Children can delve as deeply or as lightly into a subject they like
Family's interests can be pursued
Students get the whole picture
Curiosity and independent thinking are generated
Intense study of one topic is the more natural way to learn
Fairly easy to create; LOTS of free and paid for resources
Challenges of the Unit Study Approach
Easy to leave out important subjects (create gaps)
Hard to asses the level of learning
Record keeping may be difficult
Prepared curricula can be expensive
Too many activity-oriented unit studies can cause burn-out of teacher
Subjects not in unit study may be neglected
Resources: A World Of Adventure, Konos, Home Schooling Today magazine, www.donnayoung.org/forms/planners/unitstudy.html, www.oklahomahomeschool.com/unitstudies.html
The Charlotte Mason Approach (The Living Books Approach)
Based on the writings of Charlotte Mason (late 1800s-early 1900s). She was appalled by modern educators who treated children as containers to be filled with pre-digested information instead of as human beings, and the way they broke knowledge into thousands of isolated bits of information to be fed into that container and their artificial learning experiences. Mason's approach was to teach basic reading, writing and math skills and expose the children to the best source of knowledge for all other subjects like, nature walks, observing and collecting wildlife, art museums, and reading real books with living ideas (vs. text books which tend to be dry, dull and leave out a LOT.)
Questions to Consider:
Do we love to read alone and together (reading aloud?)
Do we love the library?
Am I comfortable with a free-form approach to learning?
Will I follow through with teaching good habits and character qualities?
Do I trust my children to learn on their own?
Will I follow through with exposing my children to nature and art?
Strengths of the Charlotte Mason Approach
Treats children as active participants in learning
Exposes children to real objects and books instead of distilled information
Encourages creativity, curiosity, and a love of learning
Eliminates meaningless tasks and busywork
Challenges of the Charlotte Mason Approach
Tends to be very child centered
Very little prepared curriculum
May neglect higher level studies because of it's emphasis on art, literature and nature study
May become too eclectic
Resources: Teaching Children by Lopez; A Charlotte Mason Companion by Andreola (excellent guide!), For the Children's Sake by Macaulay (best book to read)
The Un-Schooling Approach
Less structured learning that allows children to pursue their own interests with parental support and guidance. Children do well in this who are surrounded by a rich environment of books, learning resources, and adults who model a lifestyle of learning and are willing to interact with children. Formal academics are pursued when the need arises.
Questions to Consider:
Am I comfortable with few pre-set goals and little structure?
Do my children have strong interests in particular areas?
Does my family have a lot of natural curiosity and love learning?
Strengths of the Unschooling Approach
Takes little planning
Captures the child's teachable moments
Children have access to the real world, plenty of time and space to figure things out on their own.
Children are less likely to become academically frustrated or burned out.
Children can delve into a subject as deeply or shallowly as they want
Provides a discipleship model of learning
Creates self-learners with a love of learning.
Challenges of the Unschooling Approach
May neglect subjects
Hard to assess level of learning
Lacks the security of a clearly laid out program
Is extremely child-centered
Difficult to explain to others
May be overly optimistic about what children will accomplish on their own
Resources: The Relaxed Home School by Griffith, Homeschooling for Excellence by Colfax, The Unschooling Handbook by Griffith, And What About College? by Cohen.
The Eclectic Approach
Eclectic homeschoolers use a variety of curricula and resources for what seems needed at the moment. They rarely buy a full curricula and use it exactly as is, but tweak it to fit their students needs. They are known to build their own curriculum. More homeschoolers probably use this approach than any other. Curriculum for each child may change year to year, and what works for one child may not work for the other children in your family.
Strengths of the Eclectic Approach
Can tailor learning to each child using what works best for each learning style
Many materials available at used book stores, used curriculum sales, borrowing from friends, the library, churches, etc.
Can be inexpensive if you are familiar with curricula
Students can work in different grade levels depending on strengths and weaknesses
Challenges of the Eclectic Approach
Can be very expensive if you buy a lot of materials and end up not using them
Can be difficult to decide what to use for which child if you don't know your child's learning styles
Can be difficult with multiple age levels, requires some organizational skills