Whether you’re new to home education, or you just want to learn a little more, you’re in the right place. With a focus on Christian education, I love looking into different educational methods, (especially Charlotte Mason and Classical education). Because I’ve been homeschooled myself, I also like to talk about college or tertiary options for homeschoolers. So stick around for some unique views on home education!
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Learning Styles & Methods for Home Education
When parents start homeschooling, some think the only way to do it is like the schools do it. However, there are many ways to home educate and your approach to learning methods can significantly affect your (and your child’s) experience with homeschooling.
This is because different families have peculiarities that suit particular homeschooling methods better than others. For example, parents who like life to be structured and ordered might like a more ridged curriculum; parents who like flexibility in their day might like a more flexible option. Essentially there are different strokes for different folks.
Below we’ll discuss some different methods briefly, and link articles with more information where you can learn more about educational methods to suit your family.
The Traditional method
If you’re starting homeschooling, an immediate temptation is to start mimicking a school-at-home approach. This is what we call the traditional homeschooling method. This approach involves sitting homeschoolers down with a curriculum and finishing the day’s lessons assigned.
I think the traditional method can be a good way to start homeschooling, as it allows parents familiar with traditional education in schools to feel comfortable with familiar routines. Keep in mind that many traditional home education curriculum packages have been criticized for the heavy amount of busywork they incorporate in the lessons.
However, there may be more enjoyable ways to learn compared to the school-at-home method. So, I’d encourage parents to eventually look at other learning methods and branch out from the traditional approach.
Read more about traditional home education here.
At How Do I Homeschool, I review a few traditional curricula (a good starting point for new homeschooling students) which you can find links to if you scroll down the section, ‘Curricula Reviews and Curriculum Choice’.
Charlotte Mason (CM) Method
Popular among Christian home educators, the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method is probably my favourite learning approach. It promotes very short lessons but expects good results at the time of learning. This teaches children to pay close attention to what they’re learning as they only spend a short amount of time on lessons.
A typical day will find children spending a relatively small, but concentrated, amount of time on their lessons, while a large proportion of their day is spent in the garden, parks or other outdoor venues where children are able to examine nature. Children also read a lot of books, but the books are vetted to make sure they’re fun educational books, not dry tomes that induce somnolence.
The CM method has a focus on gentle learning. This comes out in the non-confrontational way of testing children with narration and guided discovery.
Other tenets of the Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling include:
- perfect copywork,
- good habit training,
- teaching using living books,
- growing the mind and growing the person, and
- gentle learning with education being a way of life rather than a curriculum
One of the best books (or series of books) I recommend homeschooling parents should read are Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series. Once you’ve made it through the series, you will have a very good idea of how to teach your children effectively.
This series will give you practical activities to do with your children with an emphasis on the ‘how and why’ behind the activities.
However, you don’t need to know everything about this method to get started. There are many good options to start homeschooling using Charlotte Mason Curriculum Packages. This link briefly shows 10 curriculum packages that follow Mason’s method, including some eclecic curricula that partly use CM’s ideas.
Classical Homeschooling Education
My other favourite homeschooling approach is the Classical method. This approach has a rigorous focus on academic excellence and is great for homeschoolers who can rise to the challenge of a more demanding curriculum.
A classical education would also be appropriate for gifted children as this mode of learning would provide them with many academic challenges. For example, this type of education encourages students to learn debating skills as it believes debating is the best teacher of sound logic and reasoning skills.
A typical day might involve a lot of bookwork (perhaps like the traditional method). Children learn to read complicated texts that are Classics. Although it’s tough work, homeschoolers will get grounded in the thinking of great men and learn a significant depth and breadth of vocabulary.
The Trivium in Classical Education
A classical education has three stages; the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages (later a fourth stage involving theology was added). These three stages are together called the classical trivium.
In the first stage – the grammar stage – students learn the basics. This occurs around ages 5 to 11 years. They learn how to use language appropriately and spend much time memorizing core facts and rhymes which they will use for perpetuity. This may sound boring, but it comes in extremely handy when they reach the logic and rhetoric stages of the trivium.
In the logic stage of a classical education, children focus on developing a deep understanding of a topic. This occurs around the age of 12 to 14 years. Students become more argumentative and begin to question the things they learned in the grammar stage. They learn to do this partly through debating each other, which is very important for several reasons. (Discover the great educational benefits of debating here).
In the rhetoric stage, high school-aged homeschoolers (around 15 years +) start becoming more independent and forming opinions of their own. They analyse and synthesize information learned in the grammar and logic stages so they can form their own opinion on the subject matter.
If this sounds like an interesting method for your homeschooling family, checkout these classical homeschooling curriculum packages on the market today.
You may have noticed your local Montessori school around the corner. Many parents are attracted to these institutions as they encourage children to use their fantasy and imagination in play more than traditional schools. They also have a focus on spiral learning (often using tangible objects) which allows them to tackle hard concepts like mathematics in an easy manner.
As such, these schools are often considered good alternatives for preschool or early school years (not that a Montessori education can’t be used in later years also).
A typical day might start with spending time in self-directed play (that is, children choose their own activities which they often do by themselves). Children then pack up the materials they have been working with before mealtimes. When mealtimes arrive, children make their own snacks and pour their own juice using child-size utensils and cooking stations. When mealtimes end, or children make a mess, they’re encouraged to clean up after themselves using child-size cleaning gear. Throughout the day, children also spend time in outdoor play and group activities.
Some parents have opted to setup their own Montessori Children’s house in their own home for their children. You can have a look of an example of it in the above link.
Waldorf education (created by Rudolf Steiner) has some great educational theories and practices that every homeschooling parent can learn something from. Although based on some unusual philosophies, Waldorf education, like the Montessori approach, encourages imaginative play. Children play together a lot and tasks are often completed in groups together with the teacher (cooking lunch, gardening, or feeding animals).
The other thing I like about Waldorf education is their recognition of how important it is for different age groups to mix. As such, they only have three ‘year-groups’ (0 to 6 years; 7-13 years; 14 years +) in an education compared to traditional education which generally has one for every year.
A typical day will vary significantly with different age group, but learning happens as a group in the morning (called group time). Group time lasts for around half an hour and involves math, memorization, movement, recitation, singing, and other subjects. There’s also a theme running through the month called the Main lesson which children study for a time.
Also featuring throughout the day is a strong focus on art and music. Of course, main subjects are done throughout the day or week in appropriate time slots (history etc). A connection with nature and natural materials are also a focus in Waldorf education.
Student learning takes many different forms when parents use the eclectic homeschooling method. This approach allows homeschooling families to adopt a flexible school year with many even skipping months of schooling at a time.
It seems like if you homeschool with the eclectic method, the world is your oyster.
In many ways, unschooling is a movement that is pushing back on the public school system. It’s a movement that questions education and argues that everything is education.
It feels that children are amazing learning machines who will learn something if it interests them. And this – that is, interest-based-learning – is the best way to learn.
But, there are many opponents of unschooling who criticize it for having too little discipline and giving children too much autonomy. It’s a subject that’s generated a lot of heat and is something to look in to if you’re considering different ways to homeschool.
Curricula Reviews and Curriculum Choice
While searching for the best form of home education, I decided to explore several homeschool packages including Alpha Omega publications, and other popular providers. We’ve investigated the following home education programs with a biblical worldview:
- Abeka Academy and BJU Homeschool
- Switched on Schoolhouse or SOS (an offline Christian homeschool package complete with lesson plans; Monarch is the online homeschool curriculum that’s identical to SOS) but exists on a subscription basis.)
- Classical education homeschool curriculum packages (a page showing curricula styled after the Classics).
Make sure you read about these 10 Best Christian Home Education Curriculum Packages to get a good overview on the most popular Christian curricula available today.
I also wanted to review Acellus Academy as this program has an offshoot of Acellus Tutoring which allows home education students to focus on areas they’re weaker in and target those particular concepts for focused study. This is a secular American program.
Homeschooling to College
Many parents decide to forego homeschooling as they believe their children won’t be able to enter college without a high school certificate or accreditation of some sort. However, those days are long-gone and homeschoolers can enter college as easily as school graduates. (in fact, entering university for homeschoolers is very easy with all the bridging courses and alternative pathways available today.)
Furthermore, evidence suggests homeschoolers fit into college just as well as public and private school children. Certainly, that was my own experience.
But, having been through 7 years of tertiary education myself, I believe there can be many reasons not to go to college. Furthermore, it seems there are now more opportunities in seeking out suitable entrepreneurial pathways – a tertiary option that suits homeschoolers particularly well. You can see this example of my homeschool entrepreneur friend who made $1,000 a month selling snakes when he was only a young teenager.
I encourage parents and homeschoolers to also investigate homeschool entrepreneurial options instead of just considering college or a trade after their studies.
Reasons to Homeschool
On this website, we also talk about many reasons’ parents decide to homeschool. These include:
- negative peer pressure in schools, especially high school,
- better opportunities to tailor and education for special needs children (autistic, gifted, ADHD Downs Syndrome and so on). You can see these reasons to homeschool special needs here,
- increased bonding between parents and children,
- (sometimes) poor academics as a result of a high stress environment (and other factors in schools), and
- the opportunity to more effectively pass on personal values and beliefs
In our article, 100 Reasons to Homeschool, we look at social, religious, physical, relational, mental, academic and practical reasons why you might choose to homeschool your child. I argue loving, Christian home education can better improve your child’s spiritual and educational journey compared to Christian and other private schools. This point is especially true when comparing the results of home educators with those of public-school students in America.
The perceived lack of homeschooling socialization is a big issue (and roadblock to many potential homeschooling parents). So, we address this question in many articles, including:
- Why you shouldn’t worry about homeschool socialization
- How to make friends when you’re homeschooling
- More on the homeschooling socialization argument
In these articles, I’ll show you that socialization at home is certainly no worse and sometimes better than that which happens in public or private schools.
Answering Your Common Questions about Homeschooling
At How Do I Homeschool, I’ll also answer some of your burning questions such as:
- How many hours should I homeschool – is two hours enough?
- Homeschool vs public school test scores – how do homeschoolers perform in standardized tests?
- Can you afford homeschooling? What is the cost?
- What do statistics say about homeschooling?
- How do I lovingly defend my homeschooling choice?
To read some more common questions and answers, head to our homeschooling FAQ page here.
About Rebecca Devitt
Hi, I’m Rebecca Devitt, author of Why on Earth Homeschool and writer of most articles on this website. I’m a homeschool graduate and stay-at-home mother who is investigating the best way to start homeschooling my children. I investigate many different topics from a Christian perspective and hope to glorify Jesus Christ in this pursuit. Check out my homeschooling blog for more topics to help you in your homeschooling journey!