For many, the thought of home schooling calls to mind a picture of two or three children sitting at a kitchen table and writing feverishly in workbooks. Mom or dad is standing by their side waiting to fire the next series of questions or recite the next lesson. This is rather far fetched from the truth of how most of us home school.
There are many different methods and styles of home schooling. The method you choose will decide the curriculum and allotment of lessons for each day.
Below we explore some of the more widely used and influential home schooling styles.
Charlotte Mason Method
Charlotte Mason is known as the founder of the home schooling movement. A home schooler herself, she was passionate in her zeal to lay out the foundations for an effective and complete home schooling program that is fun and educational at the same time. The Mason Method focuses on all the core subjects with emphasis placed on classical literature, poetry, fine arts, classical music and crafts.
Mason used a variety of books from classical literature, which she called ‘Living Books’. Since this method encourages a passionate awareness of literature, the child is read to daily from the ‘Living Books’. After this, the child is asked to narrate what she has heard. This process begins at the age of six, and by ten the child is expected to write her narrations in her book.
Mason believed that development of good character and behavior was essential to the complete development of the child’s personality. Mason also advocated the use of ‘Nature Diaries’. After each short and interesting lesson, the child is asked to go outside and draw observations from their natural surroundings. Through this the home schooled child gains a sense of respect for her environment.
Eclectic Home Schooling
Eclectic home schooling is a mixture of various home schooling styles and techniques. In this style, creative and innovative parents trust their own judgment and pick out topics and study methods that make the best curriculum, not by governmental standards, but for each child individually.
Parents who home school this way are continuously on the look out for the best products to meet the needs of their students. Most Eclectic home schooling curriculum is improvised. Basic curriculum is ready-made and parents make changes in the curriculum to accommodate the individual child’s needs and interests.
The child’s gifts, talents, temperaments, and learning style dictate the methods and subjects taught. Eclectic programs include visits to the museum, libraries and factories, and cover all aspects of day to day life and responsibility.
Un-schooling Home Schooling
Although it seems a contradiction in terms, un-schooling is a very popular and authentic educational style. The Un-Schooling method was led by Boston public educator, John Holt. John Holt believed that children learned best when they are free to learn at their own pace and when they are guided by their own interests. His message to educators and parents was to ‘unschool‘ a child.
This method is a hands-on approach to learning, where the parent takes definite cues from their students. There is no definite curriculum, schedules or materials. This method is the most unstructured of the various home schooling techniques, but has seen some of the biggest success stories.
The Montessori Method of Home Schooling
If you hadn’t heard of home schooling until today, chances are good that you have at least heard of Montessori. Developed from the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, this style of teaching aims at duplicating natural laws that a child faces in life.
The Montessori method of teaching is especially suitable to the preschooler who wants to do everything by himself. Finding ways in which your child can participate in the cleaning, washing, cooking, gardening and other ‘adult’ activities sets the perfect backdrop for the learning experience. By providing such opportunities for independence, the child’s self-esteem is also well established.
This educational method began in Italy, when it was observed that children have acute sensitive periods, during which they undergo periods of intense concentration. During such phases, a child will repeat an activity till he gains a measure of self-satisfaction.
The aim of the Montessori teacher is to control the environment and not the child. Studies of children resulted in observation that children who are left free to interact with their environment developed an innate self-discipline, love for order and natural curiosity.
The Montessori method depends on a prepared environment to facilitate learning. All the materials used in this method are designed to satisfy the inner desire for spiritual development of the child. The materials used progress from simple to complex, and are rather expensive.
Artistic, cultural and scientific activities abound in the Montessori 3-6 class. There is no TV, junk food, or computer. Material is selected carefully and a child is never forced to work, instead the students are encouraged to do things that interest them, and the teacher picks up the teaching from cues given by the child.
The Montessori method focuses on the child’s inborn ability to learn from his surroundings. Thus the teacher aims to encourage the natural curiosity of the child. He is never forced to learn or explore. When the child understands why he needs to learn something, he will love the learning process.
The four teaching styles above are just a few of the variety of methods available to home schooling families. Whatever the method, the underlying factor is flexibility and a keen interest in the desires of the child. The secret is in adapting curriculum and method to each child – to inspire them to learn more.
This article on home schooling styles was originally published on GoodByeCityLife.com in 2008.