With the increased interest in homeschooling this year, I wanted to share a few things I have gleaned from over twenty years of experience homeschooling both my five (now graduated) children and many local homeschool students who learned at my table and in my classrooms.
Homeschooling is like creating a meal – you need to choose the ingredients that appeal to you and work with your family’s unique needs. Knowing that, here are several “recipes” (homeschool styles) to choose from:
Traditional – textbooks, quizzes & tests
Classical – learn like our founders learned, lots of reading & discussion. Focuses on the trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric, typically from a Christian worldview
Unit Studies – dive deep into topics of interest and cover all the subjects as you follow the rabbit trails
Literature Based – focused on reading great novels and immersing yourself in the time & places you study
Charlotte Mason – great reading, nature studies, sketching
Eclectic – select from any & all of the above to create your perfect-ish* curriculum (because nothing is perfect!)
Unschooling – following the interests of your children, sharing interesting things with them, but not requiring any specific metrics to be met – living life as if school does not exist (aka summer all the time! You’d be surprised what they learn when they aren’t forced – even higher maths!)
Co-ops – a group of families gathering to teach one or many topics to their students, volunteer led and usually offers supplemental classes rather than the core curriculum. Co-ops are ‘cooperative’ groups, each with their own unique styles and focus.
Hybrid or University Model Homeschool – utilizing a Hybrid / Tutorial Style program where the curriculum is chosen by the teachers and the students go to class for one or more classes once or twice a week. You still register with the state, but the teaching is done in class and you help students with assignments as needed.
Before you choose any style, I highly recommend researching each to see which ignites excitement in you and then spend some time de-schooling. And do not forget the importance of seeking the face of the Lord in prayer as you choose which direction to take with your family.
Deschooling can be defined as the process by which one stops seeing school as the only place for learning and realizes learning happens everywhere and no one goes to bed dumber than they woke up! The deschooling process takes 2 weeks to 2 months for each year of schooling. It will take you, the parent, a lot longer than it will take your crew! As Albert Einstein said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
Our family began as traditional homeschoolers, merged into literature based / eclectic with Sonlight and our local co-op then gradually ended up unschooling and using a hybrid school. Whatever style you choose, know that the curriculum is your TOOL not your master – tweak it, change it up, mold it to fit YOU, and if the recipe still isn’t right, don’t be afraid to toss it like a dinner that was overcooked or just did not tantalize the taste buds of your family the way the recipe promised! This is YOUR homeschool, with the wisdom of Jesus and the commitment of your family, you can do this and do it well!
Happy Homeschooling! I have put together a YouTube playlist of some of my favorite homeschool videos – you can access them here: Homeschool Helps
Homeschool Veteran 23 years and counting
P.S. Here is a list of some of my favorite education related reads – most can be found at your local library:
Dumbing Us Down – John Taylor Gatto
The Underground History of American Education – John Taylor Gatto
Teach Your Own – John Holt
How Children Learn – John Holt
How Children Fail – John Holt
Why Johnny Can’t Read – and What You Can Do About It – Rudolph Flesch
You Can Teach Your Child Successfully – Ruth Beechick
Top 102 Homeschool Curriculums – Cathy Duffy
The Teenage Liberation Handbook – Grace Llewellyn
Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe – Todd Wilson
Homeschooling on a Shoestring – Judith Waite Allee & Melissa L. Morgan