Teaching Methods For Homeschoolers

Understanding various teaching methods are essential in establishing a successful homeschool program.

Homeschooling families have a lot to sort through. Once the decision to homeschool is made, curriculum choices become a primary concern and the options are almost overwhelming. Before deciding on a specific curriculum for your child, try to determine which teaching method(s) work best for your child's learning style.

Most students have strength in one or more styles of learning. Some are textbook learners, and respond well to a disciplined regimen of text reading, drills and reviews. Others may be more motivated to learn through a focused topic or extra hands-on activities. Finding out your child's primary style of learning is the key to establishing a beneficial teaching method.

Classical education is a liberal arts teaching method with Greek and Latin enhancements. Verbal and math arts are broken down into categories known as the Trivium and Quadtrivium. For verbal arts the Trivium is compromised of grammar, logic and rhetoric. For math arts, the Quadtrivium is comprised of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. Each level is taught at the developmental level of the student. For families interested in classical education, Dorothy Sayer's essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning," would be the ideal starting point.

Charlotte Mason education is a literature-based style of learning. Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late-19th century that developed a teaching philosophy used by homes and private schools. Art, nature and writing are some of the key elements in the Charlotte Mason method. Reading good books from original sources and journal writing are bedrocks in the philosophy. There is no specified curriculum for Charlotte Mason studies, although many publishers do offer books and other materials suggested for incorporation.

Eclectic homeschooling is another popular teaching method. As its name indicates, eclectic education is a compilation of many styles and materials. Ideally, anything that fosters student autonomy and motivates a love of independent learning is open for consideration. Unlike unschooling, eclectic homeschooling is somewhat more deliberate and parent-involved. Unit studies, field trips, experiments and a host of other learning tools are used in accordance with the student's topic of interest or current academic subject. Rather than an avoidance of absolute structure, eclectic education is a willingness to deviate from a strict textbook formula in order to allow for a wider variety of opportunities.

Unschooling is designed to reject the rigid structure and perfunctory drills of classroom and textbook methods. Taken from a term used by John Holt and often called a child-directed philosophy, unschooling allows the student to determine his or her areas of interest, how they learn and when they learn. It is the parents' role to offer opportunities, support, encourage and guidance. The structure of grade levels and grades are most often not used in an unschooling environment. The principle behind unschooling is that all children have a natural need and love for learning, and left to explore that they will develop a well-rounded education for themselves.

In addition to the above methods there are a host of others you can explore. Unit studies, the Montessori style, the Waldorf Method, and Distance Learning are all established methods of learning. Know your child's learning style first and finding the method -or combination of methods- will be much easier.

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