Sometimes I wonder why we insist on profiling ourselves according to homeschooling methods. Often when I meet another home school mom, the tired “what method” question will surface. ”What homeschooling method do you use?” I think it’s a quick way of sizing me up…”ah-ha, she uses THAT method…”as if knowing what method I claim will tell her all about me. Hardly. These days, I gently explain that I use all kinds of methods in a given day, and it’s really my philosophy of learning that defines how my family homeschools, not my method. When we profile each other according to homeschooling method, we are essentially giving ourselves permission to stereotype. For example, how many times have you heard the unfair charges that unschoolers are irresponsible and lazy, or that those who embrace the classical method are madly, driven elitist type-A perfectionists? Hogwash! Stereotypes are conventions for people who want to put people in boxes, and I’ll have none of this artificial social engineering. Think of homeschooling methods as a spectrum; I find joy in all the colors!
Over the years, I’ve used suggestions from lots of different homeschooling methods. It’s true that certain authors appeal to our personalities. John Holt and Charlotte Mason offer a more laid-back approach than Susan Wise Bauer and Oliver DeMille. But the truth of the matter is that no matter how they propose you get there, educators like Holt, Mason, Bauer, and DeMille all share the same basic objectives of encouraging us as readers to do our very best to raise kids who have mastered reading, thinking, and communicating skills. Homeschooling is a fabulous journey, and such an adventure warrants a variety of approaches to learning and teaching. The full spectrum is worth exploration. Here are some popular bloggers on the homeschooling methods spectrum:
Of course if you read my blog articles, you realize that there are many interpretation of classical out there, but most people were introduced to classical by either The Well-Trained Mind authors, Wise and Bauer, or Trivium Pursuit authors, Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. TWTM teaches a three-stage, four-year trivium while the Bluedorns emphasize classical Christian style over stages or skills.
Eclectic homeschoolers like to combine the best of multiple methods and styles. If they were eating out, they’d go a la carte. :-) If we were to poll most homeschoolers, they would probably call themselves eclectic in terms of curriculum.
- Blue Yonder Ranch
- Homegrown Learners
- LaPaz Home Learning
- Raising Future Leaders
- Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Classic literature and histories (living books), nature studies, and child-directed exploration distinguish this homeschooling method popularized by Charlotte Mason. Narration, copywork, and manipulatives are incorporated in learning as well.
Driven by the child’s questions, a project is an open-ended investigation of a topic. The length, breadth, and depth of the project is defined by the child as the project continues to unfold. The goal of project work is skills mastery rather than to impart a particular group of facts. Many project-based homeschoolers are inspired by the villages of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Structured in terms of content delivery meaning workbooks and textbooks, this approach is more like doing school subjects at home. An extremely ordered approach to homeschooling, traditional methods include survey-based textbooks and comprehensive curriculum packages like Abeka, Bob Jones, and Calvert.
- Banku, Pho, and Fried Spiders
- Large Families on Purpose
- OK Homeschool Mom
- Roller Coaster Ride
- Slightly Nerdy, Sometimes Cool
Children learn by their own initiative through unstructured activities like play, games, chores, work, and social situations. Many unschoolers were inspired by John Holt, and regularly learn by “doing real things.”