Okay, for all new homeschoolers wondering where to even start on this journey, I recommend this post. After that, the next stop on your journey is thinking about what different types of homeschooling there are, and thinking about what might work best for you and your family. So, here’s a quick overview of the different types that you have to choose from:
Traditional: This might be sort of what your first thoughts are of homeschooling. A little desk for each kid, a black board, workbooks, tests, and staying in line with what the public schools teach at each grade. (Keep in mind these are very generalized over views for your first toe dip into the water, if you’re interested in knowing more in depth about each style I will happily write whole blog posts dedicated to each!)
Road schooling/World Schooling: Ask most people what they would do with their life if they could do anything, they would usually answer with traveling! RV living has taken off in the last 10 years and has really been an amazing experience for homeschoolers. I personally know two different families who travel the country (they even make money doing it in different/creative ways!) The basic idea for the homeschool aspect being taking the opportunity to show your child up close and personal the different geography, and ways of live in each state along with history and I’m sure there are so many creative ways to really implement this type of schooling for your child. World schooling is this travel idea, but traveling abroad to discover the whole world!
Unschooling: More of a child lead approach to learning that involves every aspect of learning in everyday life. To the untrained eye, it looks very much like not schooling at all. But it is. A prime example would be taking the kids to the Zoo. There’s the opportunity to learn about the animals themselves, of course, reading maps, counting money to pay to get in, or figuring out the cost per visit if you buy a yearly membership and go twice a week or so. Reading is involved in reading fun facts about the animals, it could be a good place to discuss nutrition, tons of walking and some running, and a lot of zoos offer a playground area, there’s gym class! Sometimes zoos have fun days with different classes being offered, definitely science happening there! After the zoo trip, have them draw pictures of their favorite animals, or paint, or make a clay sculpture, what ever floats your boat. Oh My goodness, I just realized I know way more about unschooling than I thought…. HA! You may find that as you progress in this homeschool thing, you start to unschool more and more, even if you use a curriculum, all of the learning outside of the curriculum is involved in unschooling.
Classical Homeschooling: Kind of sounds like “traditional” homeschooling, right? The main focus of classical homeschooling is cultivating a love of learning, and encouraging independent learning. You focus on the five tools of learning, reason, record, research, relate and rhetoric. You’re teaching your child to think and learn for themselves.
Montessori: Very popular a few years ago, but I don’t hear a lot about it these days. Self directed play, hands on learning, and collaborative play. Very nurturing, fosters growth and independence, confidence building, and providing real life experiences to cultivate the learning. It’s almost the love child of unschooling and classical schooling in the most basic sense. It has been my favorite method of preschooling by far! One the very most basic level, you give your child the things they need everyday right at their finger tips. One of my favorite way to subtly use this idea is making all of their cups, plates and cutlery down where they can reach it, a lower cupboard or a large drawer that they can reach, allowing them to pour their own juice when they can lift the bottle, having cleaning supplies that are safe for them to use right where they can reach them allowing their pretend play be to actually sweep the floor if they want. It’s really fun!
Unit Studies: Using many aspects of learning centered around a theme. Its the zoo example I mentioned earlier with a curriculum base tied in. So say the unit was something as basic as zoo animals, you would have all of the aspects noted above, but with worksheets and books to tie in the theme and broaden the learning even further. Like I said, as you go along in homeschooling, even if you didn’t unschool on most days everything happening when the books are closed is also classified as learning if you get creative enough!
Charlotte Mason: Who is this Charlotte Mason woman anyway?! Charlotte’s main belief was in educating the “whole person” and not just the “mind”. She includes the atmosphere (where the child grows up), discipline (cultivating good habits) and life (giving children thoughts and ideas not just facts). We need to think of all three of these aspects when teaching our children.
Waldrof: Take Montessori, and instead of cultivating the learning in real life, focus instead on the child’s imagination. Where Charlotte Mason concentrated on the atmosphere, discipline and life, Waldrof theory centers on the mind, body, and spirit, when cultivating your child’s education.
Eclectic: Has more than one of these theories/ways of teaching jumped out at you? Then you fall in this category along with me, and many other homeschool families! Eclectic allows you to take all of your favorite parts from each type and use it to your hearts content. Too controlling to unschool full time? Use it with unit studies, or plan as many field trips as you can to give real life personal touches to the unit you’re studying. Like traditional education, but don’t want something that follows exactly with the public school or something that doesn’t feel so rigid? Combine it with a curriculum you love or with a different style of teaching/learning! You and your child drive the boat in this method.
Now, depending on where you live you might be somewhat out of luck with some of these methods, some states can be very strict and unschooling is talked about in whispers, you might not have the freedom to choose whatever curriculum you want. But, knowing what you’re allowed to use and teaching the curriculum to any/all of these methods is quite possible!
I also want to point out that what works well for one kid, might not work as well for another child. I’m sure next year when my preschooler really starts getting into the book work (kindergarten, here we come!) I’ll have more to say on that particular topic, but I’m seeing the writing on the wall that Grayson is more of a free learner than Junior was. Junior is a lot like me in that we like an A, B, C do this, then that, and follow the instructions type of learning, we’re somewhat classical and traditional in that aspect. Grayson is so far unschooler all the way. I recently realized he is learning to tell time with only his dad and his brother pointing out how to tell the hour a time or two each. Imagine my astonishment when Sunday night rolled around (daylight saving time) and I had to have an argument with my four year old about how, even though that particular clock says 8:00pm, it really was, in fact, 9:00 pm (I hadn’t changed that particular clock yet…). “Take nine back mom! Take it back!” it doesn’t quite work like that Grayson!
I hope this toe-dip into homeschool types gave you a lot to think about, but wasn’t too overwhelming! I would hate the idea of overwhelming a parent trying to learn more about home education! Do you have any questions in particular you would like for me to answer? The comment section is open and accepting below, feel free to ask away!
Until next time friends!