Saturday, June 14, 2008

Homeschooling Methods

**The basic homeschooling methods and some references for each...........

Traditional prepared curriculum: 

There are packages available for every subject in every grade. Generally everything is already laid out for you in a textbook/workbook format. Usually you have to do very minimal preparing and organizing. You could purchase different subjects from different companies. Some questions to ask yourself when considering a prepared curriculum are: Do I want to take more of a "classrooom" approach? Will I stick to the lessons that have been prepared for me? Will my child stay interested with textbooks and little variety? (literature based studies for younger kids)

Some reputable companies are:
Christian Liberty Press
Alpha Omega
Saxon Math (math, reading)
Math U See
Teaching Textbooks
Sonlight (literature based, generally no textbooks)
"Christian Home Educator’s Curriculum Manual" by Cathy Duffy (This is a list and description of curriculum for you to review before purchasing anything.

The Classical Method:

This method uses three parts, know as the Trivium, with each part starting at a particular age. First, is the Grammer stage covering elementary ages with focus on memorization, language arts, Latin and math. Next, is the Dialectic Stage with focuses on drawing conclusions and supporting them with facts. Finally, at about age 15, is the Rhetoric stage in which students learn to use written and spoken language eloquently and profusely. Some questions to ask yourself when considering this method are: Are my child and I ready for a very rigorous program? Will I be able to learn with my child to teach them things that I have never studied? Do I want to stick with classical literature and ideas?
"The Well Trained Mind" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer (This is a great resource; it gives you a "how-to" and which books to use.)
Trivium Pursuit
Classical Conversation (a co-op community)

Unit Studies: 

Unit studies can be purchased or you can just put one together on your own. For example, if you wanted to do a study on the Pilgrims, you could read a historical novel about the voyage or settlement (reading), have your child write a journal entry pretending to be a voyager on the Mayflower (writing), trace and map the route they took (geography), find recipe of a typical pilgrim meal and have your children help in measuring the recipe (math), make a drawing and labeling of typical pilgrim dress (art) and do research into the environment where the pilgrims landed and what types of animals, trees, etc. could be found there (science). You can tailor the studies to any grade level. Some questions to ask when considering this option are: Am I creative? Do I have time to do all the required planning and research? Am I motivated to do all of the planning and research?

Five in a Row
"Unit Studies Made Easy" by Valerie Bendt (This is a how-to create your own unit study.)
Learn and Do Unit Studies
Highland Heritage Homeschool
Homeschool in the Woods (Amy Pak)

Charlotte Mason/ "Living Books": 

Charlotte Mason believed children learned best through good books, real life situations, nature study, art, and to be allowed plenty of time to play, reflect and create. Some questions to ask when considering this option are: Do my children and I love to read? Am I okay with very little prepared curriculum? Can I compensate for the higher levels of science that nature study may not cover?

"A Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison
"More A Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison
"The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady" by Edith Holden (nature study)
Beautiful Feet Books
Karen Andreola
"Inspiring Our Children Toward Greatness Using Great Literature" by Cindy Rushton
"Nature Study......the Easy Way" by Cindy Rushton (In addition to a great booklist, there are tons of great ideas for nature study.) free curriculum close to original Charlotte Mason

**Books that contain lists of books (lots of "living books")
"Honey For A Child’s Heart" by Gladys Hunt
"Let the Authors Speak: A Guide to Worthy Books Based on Historical Setting" by Carolyn Hatcher (

Unschooling or Relaxed Schooling: 

This approach allows children to follow their interests with guidance from the parents. It allows children to learn from the real world and provides them with tools to learn. Some questions to ask when considering this method are: Am I okay with very little structure? Will my children take initiative to learn? Will we let other things get in the way of learning? Will I be disciplined to keep track of actual learning done for accountability records?

"The Relaxed Homeschool" and various other books by Mary Hood

"Delight Driven Learning" by Walking by the Way

It is very helpful to do a bit of research into each method. The books on Charlotte Mason and unschooling are good to read even if you do not adhere to the entire philosophy. Most of us probably do not fall perfectly into one method, but pick and choose what we feel is best out of each method and incorporate that into our school. (This is referred to as "eclectic".) For example, some may like the Charlotte Mason way of schooling, but prefer to use a prepared curriculum for math, and unschooling for science. Keep an open mind. Math in the primary grades can be taught by counting money, recipes, and telling time on your kitchen clock. There are lots of opportunities out there waiting for a learning experience to take place.

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