The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Styles
Just as your child’s specific learning style is very important to the success of your homeschool, so your homeschooling style is just as important. The two should certainly go together since you wouldn’t want to teach in a way that is in direct opposition to the way your child learns. Of course, there will be moments when you will want to nudge your learner out of their comfort zone, but this should not be a constant or you could wind up frustrating them for no good reason.
There’s one piece of information that is crucially important before we begin diving into teaching styles and that is that you are NEVER locked into one! It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve found the perfect style. Everything may appear, for all intents and purposes, as if it’s going to work on all levels and you’re even excited to get started. But then, as it often will in homeschool, you dive in only to find out that something about it simply isn’t going to work. Does that mean you just struggle through until something “clicks”? Until you can “make it” work? Absolutely not!
If you find the teaching style you’ve chosen is not a good fit for you or your child - for any reason - don’t be afraid to drop immediately. Because this is certainly something that happens more often than you might think, be sure to have another plan on stand-by. That way, you can move right into something new without much problem. When it comes to homeschool, be sure you give yourself grace like this. It can be one of the most important things you accomplish in any given year!
The Legal Stuff
No matter which homeschooling style you choose, it’s important to understand how to utilize that in correlation with the specific legalities and regulations for your home state. Some states are far stricter than others and require different records to be kept. Some states require standardized testing, which could mean specific changes need to be implemented in the subject matter you choose to teach.
The HSLDA - Homeschool Legal Defense Association - has some great information HERE that gives you an idea of what you can expect. In fact, it could be very advantageous for you to join the HSLDA. With options for yearly subscriptions, it’s well worth it to have an entire team of legal defenders, who are experts in homeschool defense, at your disposal if there ever comes a time that it is necessary. We hope that’s never the case, but homeschooling is, and always has been, under attack. We do not expect that to change. So with that in mind, we hope for the best and plan for the worst. You won’t be sorry in either case!
You can also Google-search “homeschool laws” along with your home state to find other resources that could be very informative. Groups and co-ops can often help point you in the direction of important homeschooling information, so make sure you gather all the information necessary to make you feel at ease with your overall choice.
The Unschooling Style
At first glance, this can seem like anything but a valid teaching style. Unschooling has an odd ring to it as if it has nothing to do with “school” at all. The truth is, it really doesn’t! It’s actually quite important to get as far away from the “public-school” model as possible to see true success in your homeschool. But it doesn’t mean that you’re not “doing school” at all, as some people tend to believe about this style.
Unschooling is not classroom-centered and takes a weighty stance that all children have a natural tendency to learn when given free rein to do so. When you really think about the public-school setting, it just doesn’t make sense for all children. Many children gain no benefit from being cooped up inside a classroom with 30 to 40 same-age peers, all expected to BE on the same level across all subjects. They’re also expected to be still, focused, intent, and engaged, and if they’re not, something must be wrong with them, they think. That’s when all manner of diagnoses are brought up, from this point, things can spiral out of control.
Unschooling, on the other hand, gives our free-spirited children a powerful learning curve. They get a chance to engage information on their level, at their speed, and in a way that brings that information to life as no textbook, chalkboard, or electronic device can offer. They can LEARN to learn, which means they will be gaining knowledge and understanding everywhere they go. This style nurtures your child’s self-confidence, independence, creativity, and so much more, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. The fact is, with your child leading the way with interests and curiosity, there’s no limit to what they can learn and achieve.
There Are Many Unschooling Benefits
In unschooling, critical thinking often blossoms. Bureaucratic organizations don’t take well to being questioned. In the public-school setting, the very act of conformity, regardless of the how, when, what, or why, is treated as the highest form of success. Anyone who disrupts that path to uniformity is not only considered a disruption but also a hindrance to efficiency in the goal. The truth is, however, that children should be critical thinkers. This is how information is gathered, broken down, assessed, and analyzed. With unschooling, those kinds of questions are not reprimanded, but rather encouraged. And you’ll see the many benefits that come as a result of that as soon as you fully embark on the unschooling journey.
Once critical thinking is unleashed, problem-solving can take place. In public schools, only those adults in authority have the right to solve problems, which automatically puts children at a major disadvantage in life. Problem-solving is a life skill that is, without question, absolutely necessary. In fact, if you ask any employer what they seek in an employee, “problem-solving” would, at the very least, make the list of the top ten. When children are given the right to attempt to solve their own problems, whether it be a math problem, an essay outline structure, or which jacket to wear today, the result is a child that is far more balanced in the here and now and much more equipped to take on life in general.
The opportunity to study deeply any particular topic is abundant in unschooling. As we already know by now, not all children learn the same way, at the same speed, or on the same schedule as others do. One child may be content merely to skim the surface with some topics, while others want to know much more, diving deep into the nitty-gritty. For some children, topics about scientific subjects are their deep-learning favorite. For others, it might be literature, art, physical education, or music. It’s very important to find out exactly what your children love and then see to it that this is pursued when possible. It could be that their “calling” is found in this area. It’s certainly worth it to see how far they’ll take it, within reason, of course.
A more overlooked benefit to unschooling is the ability to get enough sleep. More and more people are succumbing to health problems that might be attributed to lack of sleep so it’s important to make this a priority. It can be hard, especially since society views “late-sleepers” as lazy and ineffective. At the same time, those who work third shift are on a schedule that is easily the polar opposite of the status quo. Children need to sleep for proper brain function which improves their academic performance considerably. With more and more studies showing that a later start to the school day is yielding amazing results, maybe it's time to reconsider the “early to bed, early to rise” quote that has been taught to every generation for years. For those who like to sleep in an extra hour or so in the morning, a few extra hours of study in the evening, or even late night, can make sure they do not fall behind or lack any important information.
Probably the biggest benefit to unschooling is the fact that you can tailor “education” to your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses. For instance, many children are resistant to learning math, especially if they have spent any time at all in a public school. However, there are plenty of ways to teach math that aren’t nearly as painful nor time-consuming. Real-world math rarely includes Pythagorean theories and other abstract concepts, especially if the child has no intention of pursuing jobs that make learning them necessary. Some children love math, are drawn to it, and seem to thrive when learning it. Other children are the exact opposite. But even with the latter group, math can always be taught without tears and frustration. It’s all about finding what works for them and sticking with it.
Sometimes it’s as simple as going back far enough to find math books that teach with more words than numbers. That means, processes, words, ideas, and formulas are EXPLAINED more than they are modeled, making the entire process of learning so much easier. Of course, in public schools, this is not encouraged. But in unschooling, and some other homeschooling styles, it is both encouraged and used very successfully.
The most important take-away from our introduction of unschooling is this: unschooling is not about completely tossing education out the window, but rather disassembling all the rules and regulations found in formal, public education models. We don’t forego academic training by choosing unschooling, we simply utilize different methods with which to capitalize on the strengths and weaknesses of our children!
What About Unschooling Curriculum?
For many families that undertake unschooling, there is no specific curriculum to use. In fact, the very term “unschool curriculum” itself might be an oxymoron, given the facts that we now know about it. Still, some homeschooling families realize that there is a need for some structure, especially in specific subjects such as math and deep sciences. In lieu of a set curriculum, you can actually gather resources from lots of different places including free Kindle books where you’ll find such classics as the McGuffey readers FOR FREE, thrift stores, hand-me-downs, and other interesting sources.
The most important thing when choosing any curriculum or resource is to make sure you actually get your hands on it to examine it live and in person. Many things look appealing on the surface, especially when shopping online, but you’re often sorely disappointed when it comes time to actually use it. Be sure to consider all aspects of any resources you take into consideration for your homeschool. It’s worth it!
The Relaxed Style
Relaxed homeschooling is a simple idea, both in definition and implementation. Even though resources for this style are few and far between, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to learn about and understand it. It could actually be the style that best suits you and your child, which makes it very important, even if you’re the only one doing it!
There are several similarities between unschooling and the relaxed style, but through the relaxed method, the parent is always in control of the experience, versus the child-led approach seen in unschooling. Even with fewer curriculum options, the core educational materials take a higher priority, and thus parents often choose how the day is played out. Still, it’s an easy-going approach that many children find calming and easy to relate to. Changing things that aren’t working is much easier in this style, since you probably haven’t ordered an entire packaged curriculum, and it’s much easier to take on a busy family schedule than with other instructional options.
One of the most prominent ideas in relaxed teaching is that life presents plenty of opportunities for children simply to learn, absorbing tons of information and life-lessons through everyday life in general. Again, this sounds a lot like unschooling, but whereas unschooling allows the child primary rein over their academics, relaxed instruction offers a bit more structure and focus where a bit of routine and accountability are important. On the other hand, this homeschooling family might live in an area that requires more paperwork for records. Either way, it offers an excellent foundation and plenty of opportunities to introduce topics your child might not otherwise come in contact with on their own.
Advantages of Relaxed Homeschooling
One thing is for sure when you undertake relaxed homeschooling: you and your child will both be more relaxed for the average school day - every day. There’s nothing worse than starting your day, or your child’s day, by stressing over a to-do list that you’re pretty sure you’ll never accomplish because of the day’s appointments, etc. The learning environment is just better all-around when the events and needs of your teaching style aren’t creating unrelenting pressure.
FUN is a major component in this style since children will have the option to learn about things that make them happy. When children are interested in the topic, you just know things will go more smoothly. Better still, you can change things up quickly and easily. For instance, if you were planning on going to the park to learn about plant life and ecosystems but the weather turns dreadful, you can switch over to some other means of information-gathering such as educational videos, a trip to the library, or even a museum visit, if you live in an area where that’s possible.
With relaxed homeschooling, “sick days” are never a schedule-ender. They aren’t fun, that’s for sure, but if your child isn’t too sick, it’s easy to do low-impact learning such as coloring, writing, listening to podcasts or watching video programming. That ability to tailor each day as it comes is worth so very much that it makes this style beneficial for lots of households. Even a trip out of the country doesn’t hinder your child’s learning. Instead, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn something new, even if it wasn’t scheduled!
If you decide to give relaxed homeschooling a try, be sure to include lots of free time, games, and opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors. You never know what your child will learn on their adventures.
What About Relaxed Homeschooling Curriculum?
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t a lot of curriculum options for this teaching method, though you’re perfectly free to piece one together to personalize your child’s academics. A great way to see a vast number of available curriculum and resource options is to attend a Great Homeschool Convention, which offers seven conventions across the country. There are extensive curriculum dealers that make it easy to examine resources, put your hands on them, and consider the implications of each one, no matter which teaching style you choose. Be sure to consider attending one of these conventions near you!
You might also want to consider utilizing unit studies, hands-on activities, note booking, and living books. All of these provide excellent opportunities for your child to dive as deep into the material as they want while still providing structure for the lessons. On the other hand, shorter lessons, which are often seen in this homeschooling style, are also available from a variety of resources.
The Eclectic Style
Eclectic homeschooling is a kind of culmination of both unschooling and relaxed homeschooling. Still, it has its own category, simply because it borrows from other different styles. As the name implies, some of the things that distinguish an eclectic style include pulling from different curriculum sets, utilizing a variety of resources, having no strict set of guidelines, and being different for every family that uses it.
You can compare creating your eclectic program to what it’s like to build a house. The foundation must be stable and secure, as that’s how homeschooling should start, regardless of your style. After that, you’re able to construct the framework and superstructure that is compatible for its intended use. Pull from different types of curriculum, look for resources that are eclectic as you need them to be, and generally build what works for your child.
Eclectic Homeschooling Advantages
The greatest advantage of the eclectic style is being able to combine specific aspects of all your favorite pieces of curriculum and resources. For instance, the Abeka English curriculum might be your child’s favorite for working through literature, but they might be better accustomed to working with their hands on a chalkboard for math. An unschooling approach might be a favorite for science, whereas Charlotte Mason’s Method to arts and music makes a great impact. The most important thing is finding out what works for your child and capitalizing on that, specifically.
The opportunity to utilize a variety of resources makes this style easy to put together. In addition to physical curriculum pieces and books, you can also include music lessons, language lessons, co-op participation, online courses - the choice is yours. This ability to tailor avenues of learning can have a massive effect on your child’s academic borders. They’ll be able to experience things it would be impossible for a child in public school to experience, giving them greater life-lessons and opportunities to socialize outside their own age group.
Flexibility in homeschooling is far more important than many first-time homeschoolers think it is. If you feel like you are roped into a specific schedule or tethered to your day planner, there will be an unnecessary load of stress placed on your shoulders every single day. Leaving yourself, and your child, plenty of wiggle room means that even if your best-laid plans are hampered for some reason, you can still move forward in learning. Things don’t have to come to a screeching halt simply because your social activity got rained out, or because the weather put an end to your day at the park. Always - ALWAYS - have a plan “B” and give yourself the grace to use it!
With the eclectic style, affordability is also a great benefit. Since large amounts of curriculum are not commonly used, you’re free to take advantage of more free resources. There are extensive amounts of worksheets, texts, workbooks, lesson plans, and teacher resources available for free all over the internet. A quick Google search reveals most of these with ease, and Pinterest can be utilized with a fair amount of success as well. If you know how to use specific software programs, you can even create any number of worksheets or handouts, while quizzes and tests can be made and emailed to your student. When they complete the quiz, you will be notified and you’ll have an excellent resource for printing and inclusion into your child’s portfolio.
The ability to design specific lessons based on your child’s needs is a great way to really focus on where your child needs extra help. Whether using free resources or a curriculum piece, you can reach your child right where they are and compensate weaknesses to quickly overcome them quickly and move on to something else. Of course, these will have to be in line with their particular learning style, which you know better than anyone, and can give them more self-confidence in areas where they might previously have struggled.
It’s a perfect approach for children with special needs in any area. For the particularly gifted child, you can count their fast-moving love of learning as classwork, since gifted children advance through many courses faster than their peers. This also allows you NOT to cap their learning potential, which opens an entire world of knowledge they certainly wouldn’t have access to through public school. At the same time, special-needs students that have autism, severe social anxiety, or some other assumed deficit won’t get lost in the crowd as they do in public school. Instead, you can structure their day anyway that works best for them, adding elements or removing them for better access to knowledge in general. In this latter group, celebrating every single victory can be the key to opening up their self-confidence in moving forward in education.
What About Eclectic Homeschooling Curriculum?
Like our first two styles, a set curriculum for the eclectic teaching style is not available as a whole packaged unit. That would defeat the very purpose of the style itself and the option to tailor it to your child’s needs. It’s important to view as many pieces of curriculum as you can, and in-person if at all possible, to get an idea of what’s available. Some pieces may be the exact opposite of what you need whereas others will feel as if they were made just for your child. Check out curriculum vendors such as Abeka, Classical Conversations, Teaching Textbooks, etc.
Creating a personalized curriculum for your child is easier than you might think. Start out by making a list of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, what their learning style is, and what their greatest academic challenges are. Take all possible life circumstances into consideration if the pose the opportunity for big schedule changes. This could be the case if you’re getting ready to move across the country to take another job if you’re getting ready to have another child, or even if you’re planning on an extended vacation over the holidays.
The Charlotte Mason Style
Another teaching option without a specifically designated curriculum is the Charlotte Mason style. The overall philosophy of this style is that all children learn in their own way, but certain guidelines must be provided. Short lessons offer the opportunity to benefit from specific sets of information while not overdoing it to the point that your child becomes bored and uninterested in the topic. Instead of using typical textbooks, Scriptures and Living Books such as autobiographies, poetry, and accurate histories are used instead.
Charlotte Mason Advantages
Instead of grade levels, this style focuses on age groups, with specific bits of information required for each level. For instance, oral narration is a strong point for those ten years old and younger, while written narration becomes a focal point from that age, forward. Dictation is of the utmost importance, as is copy work, for grammar studies and reading lessons. For all age groups, a study of the arts and nature was extremely important in this style. Not only does it help to balance the education, but it also helps your child better to understand the world as a whole.
Free afternoons are another core aspect of the Charlotte Mason style. During this time, children are encouraged to work with crafts, hobbies, and other interests they may have outside the normal academic expectations. Special toys, games, puzzles, and educational materials are often put in place for children to access in their free time, with emphasis on simply absorbing knowledge rather than attempting to force it.
Short lessons last between twenty and forty-five minutes. In this style, more time is given to lessons as the child ages and becomes better able to handle the longer periods. This assures that attention spans do not waver, allowing better academic performance. These days, ADD and ADHD are often blamed for children having these shorter attention spans. The truth is, however, that children are naturally flighty in wanting to move quickly from one thing to the next. For some, this is simply how they learn and it can be worked around to ensure all academic needs are met.
From a Charlotte Mason standpoint, education and the formation of habits were - and are - interchangeable. All children have specific habits, some good and some bad. The difference is that good habits require cultivation that leads to excellent traits later in life. Both diligence and consistency are required for such habits to succeed and survive into adulthood and it’s an endeavor worth pursuing. Focus on habits such as truthfulness, cleanliness, respect, and diligence, but do so one at a time so neither you nor your child becomes overwhelmed. It seems like a lot if you consider the whole, but when broken down into increments, it’s much easier.
Living Books are another aspect of the Charlotte Mason style that makes it a beloved homeschooling style for many. These are any kind of books that both children and adults can enjoy and that are well-written from an academic standpoint. They should edify your child in some way, which makes reading them much more worthwhile. Textbooks can often be boring and full of lists of facts that our brains often skip over for sheer escape. Living Books, on the other hand, actually make a connection, allowing children to invest in the journey of learning. You’ll find your child is better able to make sense of subjects such as science, geography, and history when they are learning from books like these.
There’s no better way for a child to show what they’ve learned than through narration. Narration can come from personal experience, artwork, story paragraphs and tons of other options that are exciting for the child. It helps increase memory retention and actually becomes a natural habit, once put into practice. Allow your child to narrate by retelling their favorite story, acting out a scene from a beloved book, or even drawing a picture. Yes, drawing and art are as much examples of narrative expressions as the spoken word. No two are the same, reflecting the individuality of the child and what they received from the information taken in. If the idea of narration seems foreign to your child in the beginning, be ready to prompt them along by asking about specific characters, what they were doing, and whether or not there was a specific point in which they encountered trouble. Any question that gets them to thinking is proper.
Copywork is a multifaceted way for children to learn and places the primary focus on the quality of the work, not the quantity. You can use it to teach spelling, handwriting, sentence structure, style, grammar, and more. The child will quickly become well versed in the correct formation of letters as well as focusing on the proper use of punctuation. Since such emphasis is put on copy work in this teaching style, be sure to choose passages that are well-written such as Bible verses, poems, quotes, and portions from Living Books.
Art and music studies are very important in the Charlotte Mason homeschooling style, as she thought it extremely beneficial to the overall character of any child. Artists and composers are studied, through their masterpieces, as much as the subjects themselves. Not only are the artists studied, but ample time is given to get to know them by reading and narrating. By using this information as a means to analyze their work, one gets to know the artists on a deeper level. Only one artist or composer should be studied per term and can be addressed in many ways including museum visits, music lessons, and concerts.
For many reasons, the study of nature is a foundational element of this particular instructional style. The study doesn’t have to be extremely formal, although a nature notebook can be very beneficial for a variety of reasons, the idea is that a child should spend as much as six hours each day outdoors. The area right around your home is a good place to start, even if you’re not predominantly rural. There are always opportunities to see and learn new things when you discover the world around you. For the most part, especially in the electronic age in which we now find ourselves, it’s easy to be consumed with fast-paced forward movement. It’s hard to explain in words the benefit of simply slowing down, especially in nature.
Crafting is another great way for your child to become engaged while still learning skills that can even be put to use later in life. Skills such as baking, cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, making soap, or painting all have practical uses. Others such as making necklaces, drying flowers, making a bird feeder, or creating cards are enjoyable exercises that can easily be utilized in gifting or holiday items.
The Unit Studies Style
Often called Themed Study Units, the unit studies style of teaching makes it possible to cover every subject while remaining within the confines of a simple unit or theme. The idea is that by study each area deeply, which offers a better ability to master a subject instead of simply touching on it and moving on. It’s perfect for homeschooling multiple children in different age groups and information is easier to grasp as a result. It’s the perfect answer for the child who is easily bored with mundane repetition that is often present in other homeschooling styles (certainly in public school) and makes it fun and exciting to learn.
Natural curiosity is often the very thing that creates a real passion for knowledge-gathering and is a strong suit in unit studies. As teachers, we label the action “learning” when it’s really a kind of exploring for your child. It opens up an entire world to them and they can slowly take it to another level, one study at a time. They’ll be cultivating investigation skills and personal learning styles that persist throughout their lifetime, making it easier to learn anything and everything.
Unit Studies and Its Advantages
The unit studies approach to learning often encourages your child to research just about everything for themselves. This is a skill that is extremely important for life, no matter what a child intends to do, making it one of the most beneficial learning styles of all. There is no set length assigned to specific subjects, so every topic you study can be expounded on as long as the child shows a viable interest. Furthermore, you can focus on topics and themes you know your child enjoys, such as a favorite book or movie, to truly dig deep.
This style is another one that’s perfect is you are homeschooling more than one child, or if you are teaching a special-needs child where personalizing the approach is of extreme importance. Being able to move forward as your child feels comfortable is a great advantage, leaving you lots of room to shape and mold the themes to fit a variety of needs. It’s not just about the information itself, but the ease with which the child takes it in, processes it, and then recalls it when necessary. That whole scenario is so much easier when it’s FUN.
Teaching different age groups is a perfect application of unit studies, from elementary through middle school. However, once the child gets older, you’ll want to incorporate different methods such as book reports, essays, and speeches, for a more in-depth look at how they are processing the information. As the high school years approach, you may want to move into a more college-prep centered teaching style, which can help with the college application process when the time comes.
Unit studies is a style, like others we’ve detailed in this article, that can be highly affordable. Many homeschoolers who utilize this style often create their own curriculum, so only a few pieces have to be purchased if they use any at all. It’s very liberating but always be sure you cover your bases, especially in math and science, lest you inadvertently create academic gaps.
The Classical Style
You may hear classical homeschooling referred to as an “ancient form”, being utilized as early as the Middle Ages. In it, there are specific formulas for both teaching and learning, creating levels as the child progresses. Stages are important in this style, and children must have a complete grasp of the stage they are in before progressing to the next one.
The first classical stage, known as the “grammar stage”, has everything to do with preparation. Reading, writing, and mathematics is the focus here and must be completely mastered before moving on. The next stage, known as the “logic stage”, works with grammar, adding information upon information as the child learns and progresses. The last and final stage, focused primarily on “abstract thinking”, is the communication or rhetoric stage that allows the child to show the command they have of a particular subject or topic. Together, these three stages are known as the Trivium.
Very much like the Charlotte Mason style, you’ll find Living Books are a huge part of the classical style. There is great emphasis on math, science, language arts, and history, as nearly every classically trained student must acquire a working knowledge of Latin. In addition, character education is extremely important, allowing children to feel at ease in relating to specific materials in the way they best comprehend them after careful analysis.
Advantages of the Classical Style
When choosing the classical homeschooling style, you’ll be leading your child along in the footsteps of well-known historical figures such as Saul of Tarsus, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, and Christopher Columbus. They might seem like big footsteps to follow, but your child will soon be learning in a way that has been known to work and cause the learner to flourish, for thousands of years, creating some of the most well-rounded individuals. If you want your child to have a solid academic base, the classical style is a great choice.
Thanks to the very specific way this style is structured, it’s set to produce very logical thinkers who may be quite a bit more literate than same-age peers in the public-school setting. The scope of educational material encompasses aspects not normally adhered to in government schools so your child has a much broader grasp in all branches of learning. Because of this, the classical style is excellent for mathematical/logical learners who are more left-brained than right-brained in their learning style.
You’ll have access to many resources that are available for the classical style, as well as online tutorials. Look for social media groups and YouTube channels that can explain this homeschooling style in great detail. Those who have already been teaching this style for any amount of time should be more than willing to help you learn the ropes and make the most of this sweeping style. Furthermore, YouTube channels that focus on this style offer tons of hints, tips, and tricks that make it easier to get started than those who do not pursue such resources.
Classical education is very disciplined. There is a great amount of structure, lessons are often laid out in detail, while still allowing your child to express their own learning styles along the way. The result will be a free thinker that has self-discipline, self-control, and who takes time to think things through, analyzing them in ways that many children simply cannot do. They will be well-rounded young people, highly educated, and more than ready to take on any higher learning institute, having become very equipped for the journey.
What About a Classical Curriculum?
Classical curriculums that work for this style are usually very conservative and most often used by Christian homeschoolers. There’s no reason you can’t pick and choose among resources to find a fit that works best for you, but check out the following curriculum providers, who offer plenty of Classical curriculum.
Classical Conversations is very popular, especially with those who choose to take part in co-op homeschooling. In addition to providing a wonderful social outlet opportunity, these groups also provide a means to engage in debate among peers. Here, you’ll find resources for kindergarteners all the way through the senior year. They accommodate and cater to international families, making it much easier for missionary homeschooling families to find a curriculum they can trust.
With a book-based curriculum, Memoria Press specializes in the Christian Worldview and Classical Content. Offering no online coursework at all, they send books according to the selections you make when ordering the curriculum. An entire year-long curriculum is offered, complete with a comprehensive teacher’s manual and detailed lesson plans. It’s easy to personalize these resources to fit your child’s specific needs, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Veritas Press is another very popular choice for the classical homeschooler and is often accessed specifically for virtual learning. Not only are the lessons featured online, but there are teachers available as well, for help any time it’s needed. Students can get in on live courses or choose a self-paced track, for learning on their own schedule. Offering resources for kindergarten through 12th grade, there are three different plans per grade level, offering an excellent variety.
Classical Academic Press adheres to their motto: “Classical Subjects Creatively Taught” with plenty of systematic materials to engage any learner. Grades K through 12 is addressed, with curriculum choices in every academic area. Both text and online coursework are available and multi-child resources can be found here as well.
The Center for Independent Research on Classical Education, more readily known as the CIRCE Institute, has been offering curriculum and resources to the homeschooling community since 1996. With plenty of physical materials and online supports, you can also receive teacher training online to help better know how to address your classical learner. You’ll also find school startup services and an online academy.
The Montessori Style
The Montessori style, also known as the Montessori Method is based on the idea that children should be able to learn at a pace that is comfortable for them and that truly suits their development, regardless of age. Children who are given this method of homeschooling as a foundational base often have higher levels of confidence, a greater sense of self-awareness, and plenty of independence. Specifically for children up to six years of age (although it can be used into the upper elementary grade levels), it is deeply rooted and developed, discarding any resources or activities that create confusion. Some would call this homeschooling style “intense” but the results are highly sought after by many homeschoolers today.
Created by Maria Montessori in the early part of the 1900s, it’s a very well-known program, having been used successfully all these years. The focus is on the early years where the child is forming critical and foundational views in many things. Some of the focuses of this style include self-discipline, problem-solving techniques, compassion, and patience. Giving a child space to truly find themselves - within reason, of course - is a concrete goal in this style and the results are usually everything a parent hopes for, and more.
Montessori Style Advantages
Creating an environment in which a child’s natural ability to learn can be catered to is a great way to help them learn more quickly and in a more structured way. In the early years, modeling behaviors you want the child to learn are preferred to actually teaching them directly. Not only do children tend to retain more information learned in this manner, but they’re also happier to have you as a part of the “play”. Remember, in this homeschooling style, “show, don’t tell” goes a lot further than you think. You’ll wind up with a child that is happy, confident, and always ready to learn.
The hands-on approach of Montessori learning encourages even more desire to learn and it works just as well for gifted and special-needs children, based on their specific needs and levels. Using a mix of materials covering visual, auditory, and tactile learning styles, it’s easy to engage your child, and repetition can solidify that learning.
The principle of movement and perception are major factors in this style, just as they should be. They are certainly not in public school, but after reading the amazing story of Gillian Lynne, you’ll better understand why it’s important not to hamper a child’s innate desire simply to MOVE. Please take a moment to click the link and read her story for yourself. It makes you wonder where she might be today if her mother hadn’t made some crucial life decisions back then!
Allowing a child to play a role in the choices and options that truly matter can give them a massive learning boost, leading to a greater feeling of happiness. It could be something as small as letting them choose their favorite snack or help with schedule creation for a day or more. You could let them choose a favorite book, chime in with field trip thoughts and movie-night plans. All of these things play an important role in allowing children to feel out their role in the home, the school, and eventually, society as a whole. Learning how to make great choices early is best learned when the child is young.
What About Montessori Curriculum and Resources?
Montessori homeschooling is broken down into infant, early childhood, lower elementary, and upper elementary categories. Putting together a curriculum is often as easy as adhering to the regularly suggested coursework put forth by the Montessori schools. However, some parents prefer to mix and match resources based on the needs of their own child.
The best way to find out which curriculum choices will be best for your child is to attend a Great Homeschool Convention where you can meet the curriculum makers, as well as those who have already used them. This is one of the greatest benefits, helping you to weed out pieces that won’t work for you, saving you tons of time and money.
As you review this article, you will encounter some overlap among these various teaching styles. When attempting to choose a style for yourself, make sure you go over every available resource. Just because you find something online that looks good, or a review that makes something sound too good to be true, doesn’t mean that it’s automatically a good fit for you and your child. As homeschooling parents, we have a mandate to do our best to find resources and materials, as well as styles, that work best for our children and families.
Don’t be afraid to try out different things. As we mentioned earlier, there’s always the option to drop a style, a resource, or a curriculum if it’s not working as you’d hoped it would. The truth is, sticking with something that doesn’t work does far more harm than good.