Homeschooling essentially means that your child is receiving their education outside of the typical brick and mortar institution of a school. Traditional homeschooling takes a curriculum that would be taught in school and teaches it at home, but this method definitely isn’t the only way to provide your children with an education outside of the classroom. There are many other educational methods that fall under the “homeschool” umbrella aside from teaching a classroom curriculum at home.
The traditional way of homeschooling, also known as school-at-home, is simply bringing the school into the home. The parent, guardian, or individual who is delivering the material is essentially the “teacher” in this method. They would provide the entire educational program, set the schedule, and assess the student’s progress. Curriculums can be purchased, found online for free, or created by the individual providing the homeschooling. This option is appealing for those who want the structure of school but wish to educate their children at home.
Online schooling is the closest thing you can get to traditional schooling except the classes are delivered online. Online schooling, or distributed learning, isn’t technically a form of homeschooling but because it can be done at home it is worth mentioning when discussing homeschooling.
Many school districts offer free online learning but if this is not available in your school district or if this system isn’t what you’re looking for, there are many independent online schools as well. Public schools and some independent companies offer free curriculums, others are paid, and most involve online interaction with teachers, mentors, and other students. Online schooling may incorporate offline assignments, hands on projects, or virtual field trips.
Project-based homeschooling can be used as an educational method or may be implemented into another method as a technique. The project-learning style is usually child led with only guidance and support from the parent’s end. This method allows children to create projects around a subject or challenge and by doing so, provides them with a deeper knowledge of the topic. It also gives them the problem solving and critical thinking skills required to plan, develop, and present their work. This method encourages confidence and independence as children become more comfortable taking on larger and more complex projects.
Unschooling discards all of the structure and direction that is associated with traditional schooling. There is no schedule or curriculum and the child is in control of choosing what they would like to learn about, how they’re going to learn it, and how long they’ll study this topic. This method, and the relinquishing of so much control, may sound scary to some parents. Unschooling puts all the trust in the child and allows them to pursue their interests and passions. The role of the parent or guardian is to provide support, guidance, resources, inspiration, and encouragement.
Radical unschooling, or whole life unschooling, is very much like unschooling but on a much wider scope. Radical unschooling is a type of lifestyle for a family that gives children complete autonomy. This usually includes bedtimes, chores, eating habits, clothing choices, and anything else that occurs in the child’s life. Essentially, the child has a say in every aspect of their lives. This is not to say that they aren’t taught to be respectful, to understand boundaries, or are allowed to put themselves in danger, they are simply given more control over their own lives.
Roadschooling may refer to any method of homeschooling while travelling but typically this method involves integrating what is being seen and experienced on the journey into the child’s education. This may be structured more strictly like the school-at-home approach or may be open and child led in the way unschooling is.
Worldschooling can be similar to roadschooling but the term often refers to a learning plan that incorporates more focus on learning about the world. This can range from local, to nationwide, to international. Travelling and experiencing other cultures is a common component of worldschooling. Even when learning from a home base, focus on geography, social studies, current events, and different cultures may be heavily emphasized.
Classical homeschooling is an educational method which is based on three stages of learning, known as the trivium. The first stage of the trivium is grammar, which teaches language and establishes concrete facts into the child’s mind through memorization. The logic or dialectic stage is where children start to analyze, question, and understand how everything fits together. The rhetoric stage takes the knowledge they’ve gained from the first stage, the understanding they’ve developed from the second stage, and allows the child to express their own original thoughts, judgements, and wisdoms.
Charlotte Mason Method
Charlotte Mason, an English educator in the late 1800s, early 1900s, is the face behind the Charlotte Mason method. It follows a principle that “education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life”. Students are encouraged to gain knowledge from reading living books, rather than textbooks, which make the subject come alive rather than simply providing information. Her method puts a good deal of focus on nature, art, music, and an overall wide and varied curriculum. Her approach was designed to reinforce good lifelong habits and provide children with valuable, first hand experiences to prepare them for life.
The Montessori method is named for Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who was born in Italy in the late 1800s. This method encourages self-directed learning using hands-on experiences rather than children simply being taught at. Her methods are meant to connect the learning materials and subject matter to the interests of the child, acknowledging that every child is a unique individual.
The Waldorf homeschooling method, popularized by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900s, is designed to create individuals who are well-rounded in their bodies, minds, and spirits. This is taught through a learning plan that includes the typical academic subjects as well as art, music, emotional, social, and physical education. It encourages an understanding that many subjects are connected rather than each being their own separate topic and infuses the natural world into all facets of the learning plan.
Eclectic homeschooling is a bit of a mashup between homeschooling and unschooling. The child doesn’t follow one rigid curriculum but instead the parents choose the topics and set the schedule. This can be a very flexible option that still provides some of the structure the school-at-home method offers while still allowing parents to assess their children’s interests and make adjustment to the course material. This type of homeschooling may incorporate pieces of any other homeschooling method.
Many parents may find that even if they pick one specific method, they might find themselves pulling elements from some of the other educational philosophies. Every method offers different levels of control for the parent and autonomy for the child. While one type of homeschooling style may be appealing for you and your family, you may end up adjusting it a little to make it fit your needs.