Wait, there are multiple types of homeschooling?
It’s not just school at home?
I thought homeschooling would just be this easy thing I can jump right into.
How do I know what’s best?
Isn’t it expensive?
What if the way I choose fails?
What if my kids hate it?
What if I hate it?
What is a co op for and is it necessary?
Where’s the WINE????
Deep breaths. You can have some wine shortly. Well, I suppose you can go grab a glass now to ease your nerves as you read. Go ahead…..I’ll wait……
Ready? These are all legitimate questions! And, I know you don’t want to hear this, but none of these questions have just one simple answer. That’s right, there are multiple answers and they will change depending on you, your kids, your life and how everything develops. For now, I will try to answer each of these as best as I can. If you have that wine then go ahead and take a sip now followed by a deep breath then read on.
There are multiple types of homeschooling? It’s not just school at home? Correct. People are so individual so there simply can’t be a one size fits all style.
Let’s start with School-at-home. School-at-home is the most similar to school, although you have the freedom to choose the curriculum. This means that you will choose textbooks and workbooks and your kids will have a certain amount of work to do each day. You will also test their knowledge with projects, quizzes and tests. This will take lesson planning and organizing. Since this is the way many people learned in school growing up this is, oftentimes, what people try first. This way seems easy since you know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. However, it typically takes the most amount of work from the parent.
Up next, let’s discuss Classical homeschooling. This method has been around since the Middle Ages. Classical uses the five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric. These tools are used to teach students how to learn for themselves.
Charlotte-Mason is a bit of a more relaxed method that believes children should have time to play, explore and be involved in real life experiences. This method often involves being in nature, going to museums and using “living books”. Tests are not used, but instead students will share their knowledge by discussing what they have learned with others.
The Waldorf method stresses the importance of educating the whole child-body, mind and spirit. In the early years you will see a lot of art, music, crafts, movement and nature. As children get older they are taught more about self-awareness and how to figure things out themselves. With this method you will often see a lack of screens as they are viewed to have a negative impact on the child’s development.
The Montessori method is one that is typically used for younger students, although it can be used for older children as well. Children are free to learn at their own pace. Montessori prefers things to have quality and beauty and not be cluttered and confusing. Wooden toys are preferred over plastic and everything is organized and ready for use. This method also discourages the use of screens, especially for younger children.
Relaxed/Eclectic homeschooling is what many families eventually fall into. With this method, parents will often have certain subjects, like math, reading and writing, that they focus on with their kids in a bit of a more traditional way with workbooks and schedules. However, they are more relaxed with things like science and history. This gives the parents a sense of ease that their kids are learning the “important” subjects thoroughly but are also having freedom to explore some interests.
Last we have Unschooling. Ahhhh……my heart. More later on why I love this method so much. Unschooling is life learning. I like to compare it to how adults learn. All adults are unschoolers. Bet you didn’t know that! It’s true. As adults, we learn things for 2 reasons, either because we have a desire or because we have a need. So, with unschooling we are giving children the same freedom in their education that we have. We are trusting them. We give them a rich environment to explore. If we see that something has piqued their interest, then we find ways to help them expand on that. Unschoolers are living life knowing that life and learning are one.
Phew!! Ok, there are the primary types of homeschooling. Your head isn’t spinning yet, is it? Mine sure did when I first started looking into all these options! Please head to the comments section if you have any thoughts or questions. Check out Part 2 where I answer most of the other questions and Part 3 where I will discuss co ops.