When we decided to homeschool our children, I had no idea what methods were available. I spoke to a local homeschool group and was introduced to many of the methods listed below as well as many types of curriculum.
I decided to use a mixed method because it allowed me to choose methods and curriculum that met my educational goals for our children and allowed me to meet their different learning styles and interests.
This worked well for us, but you may find your family’s goals are better met with a single method. Here are some of the methods being used in homeschool programs around the world.
The Classic or Classical Method
The Classical Method of learning began in ancient Greece and was also used in Europe. This rigid method, adopted by homeschoolers, uses three stages, called Trivium, of learning. The curriculum moves from learning facts to connecting the learned facts to the ability to form conclusions. Latin is an important part of this method which consists of the following elements — rhetoric, grammar and logic.
This method includes DVD based curriculum and online studies.
The DVD based curriculum teaches your child and involves some interaction with you. It’s important to remember hand-writing lessons since most of the curriculum is on the computer. Some programs even offer the ability to ask questions through chat or email. I used this method for subjects I felt inadequate teaching and loved the educational helps at The Critical Thinking Co.
Online studies fall into three categories. Online public schools — most are free, online private schools and individual courses. The individual courses are available from online public or private schools.
Literature-based homeschooling uses several methods, such as Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies. I was first introduced to this method through Sonlight and Beautiful Feet. Like the Charlotte Mason method, books are a major source of learning. Stories introduce readers to ethics, different cultures and periods in history. You add other subjects based on your child’s level of understanding.
See also the Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies Methods.
The Montessori Method
Maria Montessori, MD was the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy. She created her education program to allow children to choose activities that encourage development. This method encourages independence, self-learning, discovery and discipline.
I chose this for our core curriculum — math and history — in grade school only. I switched to critical thinking for high school. Science was hands on in elementary school and through our local park system. They offered some really nice, reasonably priced classes.
I wanted our children to have textbook experience to help them ease into the college scene and I understood this method best. It’s worked great so far, with some minor changes in curriculum choices when some of our children had difficulty with the original choices.
This method uses a themed approach and includes many core subjects — math, science, art, music, geography, history, literature, language arts and drama. This method relies on creativity, something I don’t have, and allows all of your children to learn together no matter their level of understanding or age.
For great ideas, check out Amanda Bennett’s Unit Studies website.
The umbrella homeschool method
The umbrella homeschool method is as simple as the umbrella school keeping track of your records for your state’s requirements. Or, it can be a school that provides a complete package — curriculum, corrections and evaluations similar to public and private schools. Many umbrella schools are available, through chat, email or sometimes phone, for help with a particular lesson.
Either method of using the umbrella school tells the state your child is in an approved school setting.
The unschooling method
Children lead in this method and let you know what they want to study and learn. You are there to encourage, provide resources and support. Your child learns at his own pace and understanding. Some things that children might learn at your child’s age may come along later in your program.