Have you considered which method or style you’ll follow though? Not that you’ll ever have to choose and stick with only one method – one style may suit you for a while, one style may work best for your family dynamic. The method you choose will have an impact on the curriculum and style of teaching for the time though.
Personally we bounced between Unschooling and Eclectic. For Veronica’s personality and my own skills (or lack thereof) these two seemed the most natural for us.
The Charlotte Mason method is named after Charlotte Mason, who is known as the originator of the homeschooling movement. She herself was a homeschooler, and she wanted to establish a basic plan for a complete and effective homeschooling program. The Charlotte Mason method emphasizes poetry, fine arts, classical music, crafts, and classical literature. This method is designed to encourage an awareness of literature and involves reading to the child every day. The child is then asked to tell what he or she has heard. This starts at the age of six. By the age of ten, the child is expected to write narrations in a book. Mason encouraged the use of nature diaries as well. The child writes observations of nature in the book as well. This creates a sense of respect for the environment in the child. Mason thought that good behavior and character were critical for a child’s complete personality development.
The Eclectic Homeschooling method is a combination of several techniques. Innovative parents rely on their own judgment to select topics that make up the curriculum for their own child. These parents are always looking for the best products they can find to help them meet the needs of their home schoolers. Many of the curricula in this method are improvised. This means that, while the basic curriculum is established, parents change it to adapt to the individual needs and interests of their children. The curriculum is generally established according to the temperament, learning style, and interests of the children. These programs typically include visits to libraries, factories, and museums.
John Holt, a public educator in Boston, developed the ‘unschooling’ method. Holt believed that children learn best when they learn at their own pace and are guided by their own interests. He wanted to ‘unschool’ the child by requiring parents to take their cues from the children. This approach has no set curriculum, schedules, or materials. It is the most unstructured of the homeschooling techniques.
The Montessori method had its start in Italy. It was found that children go through extremely sensitive periods in which they experience periods of intense concentration. In these phases, children will repeat an action until they receive some measure of self-satisfaction from it. This method relies on prepared environments to facilitate learning. All materials utilized in this method are meant to satisfy the child’s interior desire for spiritual development. Materials for this method range from simple to complex, and they are relatively costly.
Whatever method is selected, the underlying concept is flexibility and a strong interest in the child’s own desires. The key is to use children’s desire for knowledge to further their education.