Choosing a homeschooling method is one of the first things you do to help you figure out how to home school. A method and philosophy of learning can help shape your homeschool approach. These lay the foundation for your teaching. Buying home school books and joining home schooling support groups all are dependent on your ideas of how your children will learn.
Now, even though you may nail down your method of teaching when you are beginning homeschooling, you should be open to the possibility that you may change your mind later on.
Circumstances may not work out as nicely as they did in the past and your own children may not thrive as well as you thought they would using a certain method. One of the most wonderful things about home schooling is that you are free to explore new things and exchange what doesn’t work for things that do work.
When I started out I looked into the Principle Approach. This homeschooling method focuses on the parent re-training themselves BEFORE they teach their children. It takes a lot of time to go through the process needed to correctly pass along the principle approach to your children, but the reward is the knowledge and experience both you and your children receive as you learn something together as a family. Here's a video that shows one part of the Principle Approach in action:
I thought I’d be sold forever on the Principle Approach. Lo and behold, our children got older, more children were added and our situation changed. No longer was it as easy as it had been to implement the various aspects of the Principle Approach in our home school. I needed a new way (and to get over the guilty feeling I had for abandoning the approach).
One other thing I picked up on was that I was leaning more towards just getting things done instead of truly enjoying the process of learning together with our children. There was so much to do at times that I just focused on checking things off my list and completely forgot about the relationship aspect of home schooling!
The Principle Approach is closely related to the Classical Approach homeschooling method. Classical homeschool curriculum is laid out according to your child’s learning stages. At certain ages, children are more apt to learn in a certain way. As they progress through the stages (grammar, logic and rhetoric) their curriculum grows with them.
Classical Conversations is a homeschool program some classical approach homeschoolers use. This is a video to show what that curriculum is like:
I looked into the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method and found some wonderful ideas that I've held onto. Our children were already using notebooking from the Principle Approach so that wasn't new, but narration and keeping a nature journal were. On our walks around the neighborhood, we try to make sure we carry those journals to jot down exactly what we see. Ambleside Online is a great resource for learning this approach.
Next, I entertained the Unit Study approach. With unit studies as your homeschooling method, you stick with one topic across different subjects. When we used Heart of Dakota (I started with Little Hands To Heaven) with our little ones, we would focus on learning one letter a day. That letter would show up in the art, literature, physical activity, song, writing and other activities we did. I knew we needed something that was a bit easier to just pick up and complete in a relatively short amount of time. This homeschooling method was very interesting for our children as we seemed to be jumping around to different ideas. There was always something new to get excited about. I loved doing this with our children, although I always felt we may not exactly be hitting everything we needed to.
For those who use this homeschooling method, Five In A Row, Konos, Sonlight, My Father's World are some of the more popular packages of curriculum. With a Sonlight package you and your child/ren can re-create this science experiment:
It wasn’t long until we were changing up the methods again. This time I was being pulled (kicking and screaming) into a more Unschooling Method. For a super structured mother, unschoolinng can appear VERY scary. There’s no books, no plans and seemingly no way to judge what you’re truly learning. On the other hand, your child living every day to the fullest alongside you affords them the world to learn from. So many lessons are caught rather than taught. For many, this is the appeal of the unschooling homeschooling method. There is so much that is best learned through experience and first-hand knowledge. Leaving the textbooks behind was a bit scary, but once you get the hang of just going with the flow, you just might be amazed as to how everything unfolds. So many things I didn’t plan on talking about with our children was discussed in detail. So many things that I had no ideas how to include in a boxed lesson, were unfolding right before my eyes - effortlessly!
Astra Taylor is a filmmaker who was unschooled. For those wondering how this homeschooling method of hoeschooling can actually work in real life, take a listen to her talk on exactly how unschooling helped her succeed in life:
Fast forward to the present and we find ourselves immersed in the Eclectic home schooling approach. We take a little from here, and a little from there. I still use my Principle Approach roots, combine it with a bit of classical training, throw in some unit studies and use many different books as well as homeschooling online. All of that combines to make a plan that works for exactly where we are as a family. Our children are engaged and learning. They’re excited about what they’re learning. I’m so happy to see them light up and enjoy the process of learning new things even if that way tends to be different at times. It seems changing things up has helped them become comfortable with change. That's a plus I never thought about.
When I first started out, I had no idea our home school journey would take us here. Through all the twists and turns I’m glad we never entertained the idea of leaving the home schooling way. It has been challenging at times to hold on and convince myself I’m STILL doing a good job, but it DEFINITELY has been worth it.
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