As you consider homeschooling, you may be trying to decide on which approach or philosophy fits your child and family. Do you like things relaxed and informal, or do you prefer a more structured approach? How much time do you have to devote to homeschooling, and what is your child’s learning style? These and other questions come into play as you consider your homeschooling philosophy.
Following are some of the approaches that homeschoolers use when teaching their children. Hopefully, you can use this list as a guide to help you decide which philosophy is right for your home. (Also, many homeschoolers try one philosophy or approach one semester and find it isn’t a good fit after all, and switch to another. That’s perfectly all right!)
The unschooling philosophy takes its inspiration from the child’s interests, passions, and learning style. Unschoolers do not use a curriculum; they teach according to their child’s inherent desire to learn and nurture that desire along the way.
For practical matters like learning math facts and handwriting, unschoolers may say something about how their child will want to learn to write and tell time – and therefore ask to be taught – when the need arises. Unschoolers prefer to wait until the child expresses interest, as this is seen as a sign of readiness to learn a concept.
You have probably already heard Charlotte Mason’s name if you have talked to other homeschoolers. Mason is sometimes thought of as a sort of homeschool “founder,” or at least an inspiration behind the homeschooling movement. Her method stresses character development and good life habits, and homeschooling teachers are encouraged to look for “teachable moments” in their students.
Charlotte Mason methods include the core subjects, and poetry and classical literature are often incorporated.
Many people don’t realize that Montessori is also a homeschool philosophy. It’s based on the work of Maria Montessori, a rare female physician who lived and practiced in the late 1800s. She opened a children’s school and the students, who were rejects of the traditional school system, began outperforming the students of the rich families. Her methods thus gained attention!
The Montessori philosophy encourages the “whole child” to learn; senses, body movements, and so forth are all incorporated in the learning method. Montessori respects and emphasizes each child’s individual capabilities.
When you implement a unit study, it’s something like a theme. You decide on a subject or a particular book and learn about it in depth, and learn the core subjects through that subject. For instance, you might do a unit study on Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. You would glean the chapters for things to learn and design lessons accordingly. There are some unit study-based curricula that you can purchase, too; you don’t have to design your own.
This certainly isn’t all! There are traditional styles of homeschooling, where the homeschool class is run much like a traditional school room, even using school textbooks. There are Bible-based homeschool philosophies, too. Hopefully, you will find the right one for your homeschool classroom!