Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop - Homeschool Methods

We are heading into our 8th year of homeschooling. {Thank you Lord!} Over the years I have read about many different methods of homeschooling. In case you aren't familiar with the different methods of homeschooling let me share them with you. Well, at least the most popular ones that I am familiar with. These are my definitions as I have learned about them through the years.

Charlotte Mason - Charlotte Mason taught that children learn best when they have a love for learning. Children learn from living books rather than textbooks. They learn early grammar and writing skills from copywork and then progress to dictation. Mrs. Mason also felt that a good amount of attention should be focused on good habits and nature study.

Classical- This method focuses on the trivium. The trivium teaches in 3 stages:
  1. The Grammar Stage - students focus on memorizing facts. {elementary}
  2. The Dialectic Stage - this is the reasoning stage. Students begin to have a better understanding of the facts that they have previously learned. {middle school}
  3. The Rhetoric Stage - this stage, from what I understand, is more about expression. This is the stage that students take everything else and make it more personal in their writing and speech.{high school}
The Classical method usually studies history in a chronological manner using a 4 year cycle. Repeating the cycle at each stage in the trivium and learning more each time.

Computer Based Learning - this is pretty self explanatory, it is what it sounds like - computer based programs and online classrooms. Teaching Textbooks would fit into this category.

Delight Directed - This type of learning rolls with what the child is interested in. If little Johnny all of a sudden has new found fascination with airplanes then mom takes the ball and runs with it. She may go to the library and get several books on planes along with some on science and air, the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart. She would probably also check out some videos on planes or visit youtube to see what kind of videos they have on planes. Mom may even head over to Homeschool Share to see if there is a unit study or lapbook available.

Eclectic - this is kind of taking a little from each of the other methods to fit your family, individual child and season of life.

Montessori - focuses on hands on activities as well as the child's natural ability to explore and play.

Traditional - This method tends to use textbooks , workbooks and tests for all or most of their subjects. Traditional curriculum would be like Abeka or Bob Jones.

Unit Study - similar to delight directed in my opinion, except this might not be something that little Johnny was interested in prior to starting their study.

Unschooling - I have read about varying degrees or what unschooling really is. Some unschoolers allow their children to take charge of their whole day and whether they want to learn or not. Others are more structures with math and language arts and allow the children to pick and choose how to spend the rest of their time. Some unschoolers are a little more structured and require learning to happen during certain hours.

Where do I fit in all that, you may be thinking. Well for me, it has taken me a long time to figure out our homeschooling style. I have finally concluded that we are a Charlotte Mason, Classically minded, Computer Based, Delight Directed, Traditional, Unit Study using homeschooling family. Say that 5 times really fast.

Honestly, I think that I take and apply a little bit from most of those methods that I listed. My methods and ideas on homeschooling have changed through the years. At first I started my homeschool journey like most new homeschoolers with the Parent and Child Kit from Abeka. I am sure at least a few of you will get a chuckle out of that! {SMILE}

The Lil' Chef had every K4 and K5 workbook, flashcard and reader that they offered. AND we did them all! I can remember making her color every single page like the manual told us to. I thought that is what I was supposed to do. That poor child hated to color and I hated flashcards! 4 kids later, if a child wants to color great if not I am not all bent out of shape about it. For the record, I didn't completely ruin her, she loves to draw and color now.
I do still use traditional textbooks for subjects like math and language arts. I have learned that I still love Abeka for phonics, I do not follow it to a "t" instead I tweak it to work for us. I still like Abeka for the early math. We also really love their spelling books. My girls both have had the opportunity to change to a different spelling program and neither of them wanted to.

As far as history and science goes I have moved from textbooks to living books. We do use some Apologia but even that textbook is Charlotte Mason-y and hands on, they are not stuffy and boring. We love reading biographies and history fiction books and we actually learn a lot from them.

For the most part I like to teach history is a chronological matter, this just seems to make sense to me. We have strayed from this at times though.

My kids love to play online games. They have loved and learned from playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego {geography, thinking skills}, Starfall {phonics and reading}, Times Tales {multiplication tables} Spelling City {spelling, vocab} and our favorite Teaching Textbooks {math}. The Lil' Chef was struggling math but has been doing great since we switched to Teaching Textbooks. She even is getting ready to start Time 4 Writing next week, which is an online writing course. I think incorporating computer lessons is a great way for kids to learn.

I like to study things in depth with the kids and unit studies are a great organized way to do that. In Trail Guides to Learning - POE we are studying Christopher Columbus for 6 weeks. In that time we will learn about Columbus' live and travels, the country of Spain, the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and ships. We will cook recipes from Spain, build boats and so on. Everything we are learning right now is some way relates to Columbus. We are very much unit study oriented.

If my children have an interest I definitely try to take advantage of the opportunity. I will encourage them to take that interest and learn from it but I don't always fly the "Hey you are learning" flag. Like our American Girl Book Club, not quite sure that they know they are really learning stuff and that I am jotting it all down in my school planner. Shhh, don't tell them! The love reading these books and in the mist of that they are learning about the different time periods and cultures. They are also learning crafts and making recipes from these time periods too. Lots of learning going on and they don't even realize it, to them it is all fun, fun, fun! This my friend, is delight directed.

As you can see I glean from each method and apply them as they best fit with each subject and child. I do what works and stop what doesn't. To sum it all up, we are Eclectic.

If I could give you one piece of advice about homeschooling methods it would be this, don't put your homeschool in a box. Allow yourself the freedom to do what works best for your family.

What methods of homeschooling have worked best for you?



Stefanie said...

I did get a chuckle over the Abeka parent child kit. lol I managed to dodge that bullet. I had used when teaching private school and the reason I actually thought about homeschooling was because I met someone who was using Sonlight and all those books hooked me. lol

Brandi said...

Abeka is a very solid and thorough program but can be stressful for a new homeschool mom that feels like she has to do every s i n g l e page in ALL of the books. We still do love them for phonics and spelling. Glad you got a chuckle AND that you dodged taht bullet : )

I was looking at Sonlight for this year but really felt that the Lord was leading me to Trail Guide to Learning.


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