Although every homeschool is unique, certain homeschooling “styles” have become very popular. Most homeschoolers do not follow one style or method exactly. Instead, they select the ideas and suggestions that fit their family and eventually end up with a method all their own. It may take some time to develop your own routine and you may discover that you start out more structured in the beginning and become more flexible and relaxed as time goes on. The following are a few of the most popular homeschooling styles (there are many more—for a full list, you can visit http://www.homeschool.com/Approaches/default.asp .
School-at-Home is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate. Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase a boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades, and record keeping. Some families use the school-at-home approach but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials.
The advantage of this style is that families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. That can be a comfort when you are just starting out. The disadvantage is that this method requires much more work on the part of the teacher/parent and the lessons are not as much fun for the children. Families may start with this style, but soon learn that a more relaxed method suits their needs and their children’s interests
Unit Studies use your children’s interests and then ties their interest into subject areas like math, reading, spelling, science, art, and history. For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and learn about Egyptian artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.
Packaged unit studies are available on popular topics. If you type “unit studies” into Google, over 38 million hits come up. Unit studies are also easy to develop on your own. The advantage of this homeschooling method is that it recognizes the fact that people learn best when they are interested in the topic. The disadvantage is that sometimes parents can be overzealous and make a unit study out of everything, scaring the child off from talking about a new interest they might have.
Unschooling is known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do—by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading, and history.
The advantage to unschooling is that unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest. The disadvantage is that because unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, they may not do as well on grade-level assessments and may have a harder time if they reenter the school system.
Internet Learning occurs when children access quality websites, online curriculum and virtual schools. You need never feel that you can’t find the help, expert advice or resources necessary to homeschool your child. Did you hate math as a child and feel you can’t possible help your child learn math? Or what about (YIKES) Algebra? How about Physics? No problem. There is a wealth of cutting-edge online curriculum programs, private distance learning schools, homeschool support and more.
Finally, Eclectic Homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschool families.
Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks, unit studies and the internet, and taking an unschooling approach where appropriate.
The advantage of this method is that the parent feels that the subjects they believe are most important are covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips, and classes that fit their needs and interests. Children can take violin, sewing, college classes (dual credit is GREAT), and more.
Homeschooling—it’s versatile. It’s a learning experience for you and your children! And fun for everyone!
Homeschool.com is the #1 homeschooling site on the Internet, is named one of the Web’s Best Sites for 2009 by Encyclopedia Britannica, and is one of the top 45 sites overall, according to Forbes Magazine. Homeschool.com would like to help you in your homeschooling endeavors.