How to Homeschool

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Homeschooling is different for every family, but there are six basic approaches or methods:

1. Classical – A child’s brain development naturally sets the stage for the trivium: primary school, or the grammar stage, during which learning is based on concrete tasks and memorizing facts; middle school or the logic stage, during which learning tackles abstract concepts and reasoning from cause to effect; and high school or the rhetoric stage, when learning focuses more on expressing what has already been acquired. This is the method I lean toward heavily.

2. Charlotte Mason – A British educator of the nineteenth century, Ms. Mason is more relevant today than ever, in my opinion. Her emphasis on living books, i.e. regular books (as opposed to textbooks/workbooks), narration, and nature study would bring life into any educational pursuit. I like this approach very much and use it to balance my natural propensity toward rote memorization. Get more information about Charlotte here. Want a free curriculum with a Charlotte Mason approach? Get it here.

3. Unit Studies – The method which took me the most to understand and appreciate, even though I studied under one of its biggest proponents. The Prussian educational method of separating knowledge into subjects, which was used in my public school, had indoctrinated, errr…. trained me well. Once I got unit studies though, I used Before Five in a Row and came to a new level of freedom in my mind about home education. The mother of all unit study curricula is Konos. I find I am not brave enough for it, but it obviously works for a great number of homeschoolers. In conclusion, I use this method sparingly.

4. Traditional – Most of us learned like this in a public school somewhere around the world. Textbooks provide the theory, which you apply while filling out workbooks. Homeschoolers tend to call this method dry and boring, but some children thrive on this. I have a three-year old who asks for worksheets almost every day. Rod and Staff, Abeka and Bob Jones are examples of traditional curricula. Personally, I use Rod and Staff and anything I can find online. There is a vast array of worksheets online. Don’t get overwhelmed.

5. Unschooling – Also known as relaxed homeschooling or delight-based or child-led. I could not be an unschooler, but I like the emphasis on the child’s desire to look into a certain topic. I recognize that the highest point of learning is when a child asks a question. I capitalize on those teaching moments throughout the day. However, I need the structure of a schedule and a carefully laid out curriculum to feel sane.

6. Eclectic – People like me, who pick and choose at least two different methods, curricula and approaches to tailor the education of their children, are called eclectic homeschoolers.

I am leaving out Montessori, Waldorf, independent study, umbrella/charter/online schools and other methods. The best book I have found, which I think any homeschooler should have on their reference shelf, is Cathy Duffy’s “101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum“. The first few chapters explain methods and learning styles. You will walk away with a clearer picture of what your homeschool should be like.

Special note on The Moore Formula

For a balanced education, i.e. one which trains the hand, the heart and the head, taking into consideration a child’s readiness level for formal education, I always keep in mind The Moore Foundation’s philosophy. In fact, it is the overarching method I keep in mind before making any decision in my homeschool.

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Deciding to Homeschool

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It took me years to make this decision. Here’s the background…

Back in 1993, I moved from Romania to the United States on a college scholarship. Some of my classmates had been homeschooled K-12. Their maturity level and quality of social interaction were well above average. Mental note #1.

I read Dr. Raymond Moore’s “Better Late Than Early” for my Education minor. Mental note #2.

In 1999 and in 2001, I worked alongside Dr. Moore himself. I understood a bit more about homeschooling as I watched the tutors at The Moore Foundation counsel with parents over the phone. Mental note #3.

A decade, a wedding, and two children later, I started looking at educational options for my children. My private school of choice was one hour away. Not feasible. Our public school system produces National Merit Scholars, but I felt a tug at my heart about teaching my own. Besides the tug, I felt insecurity and fear that I would not know how to homeschool. I prayed for wisdom and figured that if this were a calling, things would fall into place.

I also decided knowledge would be power, so I got knowledge. I spent hundreds of hours pouring over how-to-homeschool manuals, magazines and blogs, over a period of eighteen months. Kind of like a master’s degree in education, but without the $30,000+ piece of paper called “Diploma.”

What I found was inspiring and liberating. I felt I was home free. Literally. Mental note #4.

My husband and I decided it was worth a try. I am leaving out many details, which I will tackle one at a time in future posts.

This blog is my way of giving back to the cyber space which offered me so much information and asked for nothing in return.

2013 may be the year we start homeschooling officially, but we already have eight years under our belts as parent teachers. How so? I hear you ask. Well, tell me, dear reader, don’t we all teach our children since birth? Every step they take, every word they say, every skill they acquire, they all come with guidance from parents. Not to mention colors, shapes, letters, numbers, animals, manners, Latin… Well, maybe not quite the Latin part yet, but you get my point.

Then, I count each child’s age separately, not cumulatively. Why? Because every child is unique. Every child learns differently. That requires different skills and methods from me as their teacher. My children are three and five as I type. As such, I have 3+5=8 years of experience in preschool. Voilà! Eight years in the trenches, molding and shaping little hands, hearts and heads.

My hope for this blog is that it will become a forum where questions can be asked and answered by people interested in home education.

What about you? How did you decide (not) to homeschool?

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