There are many ways to cook an egg, earn a living, tell a story, and teach a child.
When it comes to homeschooling, styles range from strict adherence to traditional teaching to complete freedom for the student to follow his or her interests, and everything in between.
Whether you’re new to homeschooling, looking for a different approach, or a seasoned schooler, exploring the ways in which the estimated 2 million homeschoolers learn can help you refine your own technique and open your eyes to other schools of thought.
Consider these common homeschooling methods and where you fit in.
Susan Wise Bauer, co-author of “The Well-Trained Mind,” introduced the Latin trivium -- grammar, logic, and rhetoric -- to homeschoolers in 1999. Built around the study of history, this method stresses memorization, reading, and writing.
Charlotte Mason Method
In the 1800s, Mason advised parents to teach their children at home using living books, not textbooks, and drew heavily on nature.
Not really a style, eclectic homeschooling is a catch-all method for families that borrow useful elements from several approaches. Eclectic homeschoolers use what fits best with each child’s interests and abilities.
Founded by Maria Montessori, this method advocates observing your child, removing obstacles to learning, and providing children with real, scaled-to-size tools to use.
Howard Gardner's 1983 theory outlines strengths besides math and language, including spatial, physical, musical, and naturalist. This approach presents material in a way that matches a child’s strengths, for instance, giving a tactile learner letters cut from sandpaper to trace with his finger, or making a song out of the times table for a musical child.
The goal of school-at-home is to do what schools do, only better. Families who follow this style may set up a part of their home just like a classroom, right down to the blackboard and flag. They generally use textbooks or programs, online or print, that closely resemble the ones used in schools. And they usually judge their children's progress using quizzes, exams, assignments, and standardized tests.
Unit Studies or Project-Based Learning
With the unit studies method of homeschooling, one topic or goal becomes the starting point for every subject from math to literature to science to social studies. Project-based learning approaches learning in a similar way. Students select or are given a problem or goal as the focus of their studies.
Also known as interest-led homeschooling, unschooling lets the child lead the way. Popularized by John Holt in the 1960s, unschooling is rooted in the theory that children learned this way throughout most of human history. The style also incorporates daily life into learning. Radical unschoolers also use it as a template for all aspects of parentin.
Rudolf Steiner’s early twentieth century philosophy prescribes the benefits of movement, art, handicrafts, music, and stories. It emphasizes storytelling and discourages the early use of technology.
What homeschooling method do you use, and why?