One of the perks of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to choose your own curriculum and homeschooling style. There are a variety of options for homeschool curriculum, so much that it can become overwhelming to decide what is right for you. If you are new to homeschooling, you may be unfamiliar with some of the terms used to describe the different styles of homeschool (eclectic, classical, virtual school, unschooling, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Moore).
Before choosing a homeschool curriculum, it’s important to identify the homeschool style that is right for you. This will be a huge factor in which curriculum you use if any. Many families who homeschool long-term find that they work their way through different styles, so
Different Homeschooling Styles
This style of homeschooling is what most people imagine when they think of homeschooling. School-at-home is very similar to attending public school, except that the students might have desks at home or sit at the kitchen table doing a set curriculum each day. Those who school-at-home typically purchase a full curriculum that is ready-made for them and are pretty strict about following it.
2Virtual (Online) School
Many families are now using a virtual/online school for their studies. Technically, this is not homeschooling because the child is enrolled in a school and supervised by a teacher. However, this gives the family the freedom to have the child at home, without the responsibility of doing all of the actual teaching. It is becoming a more popular option with today’s technology.
This is a language and faith-based education that focuses on teaching through three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. This type of education starts with grammar, moves to logic around fifth grade, and into rhetoric in high school. Many homeschool families who choose a classical education participate in the widely known co-op called Classical Conversations.
Montessori traditionally means using a Montessori-trained teacher at a specific school designed for this education style, however homeschool families can implement Montessori methods. It involves giving children real-world experiences to learn from, such as cooking their own food instead of using a play kitchen. Montessori style is a holistic approach that many families choose because it prepares children overall to be independent and learn life skills they won’t learn from doing textbook work.
Divided into three stages much like Classical, Waldorf teaches in stages. This style of teaching is focused on developmental appropriateness. For example, reading is not introduced until much later than other education methods. Waldorf also doesn’t introduce technology until high school.
The Moore Formula was created by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, who are best known for their belief that formal education should be started later rather than earlier. Following the Moore Formula, formal learning wouldn’t begin until around the age of 8 or later.
7Unit Studies/Interest-Led Learning
Unit Studies or Interest-Led Learning incorporates different subjects using one theme of interest. For example, if a child was interested in dinosaurs he/she would learn about math, history, science, etc. through different materials related to dinosaurs (counting dinosaurs, etc).
This homeschooling style is focused on “living books” rather than textbooks. Living books are engaging and often based on the lives and events of characters. Charlotte Mason also focuses on nature, music, art, great literature, and poetry.
The definition of unschooling tends to vary from family to family, but is mostly child-led learning. The basic idea is that the child is in control of their own education, and chooses what they are interested in learning about. The parent is still very much involved and is the facilitator, but the child decides what they are interested in learning about and when.
Those homeschool families who tend to worry less about timelines, milestones, and schedules are relaxed homeschoolers. They use a set curriculum, but they do not follow it on an exact schedule or worry about working on each subject every day.
Deciding on the Right Homeschool Curriculum
Once you have decided which homeschooling style will fit best with your current schedule, child’s needs, personality, and family’s beliefs, you can take the next step towards choosing what curriculums or resources you’ll need to make it happen.
- Child’s Learning Style – It’s very important to consider your child’s learning style when considering a homeschool method. All educating is much easier with a willing and enthusiastic participant. If your child learns better by doing hands-on activities, for example, you may lean more towards a Montessori approach. If your child enjoys book-work and sitting for lessons, you may choose a homeschooling style that follows an exact text-book curriculum.
- Teaching Style – Almost as important as your child’s learning style is your teaching style. When considering a homeschooling style and curriculum, consider how you would like to teach, so you too can be enthusiastic and excited about what you are doing. This will make a big difference in your homeschooling experience.
- Budget – While homeschooling can be done on a very small budget, there are options that are more expensive. Some curriculums are more costly but cover your entire year besides extra activities, while others have no upfront cost but you may spend more here and there throughout the year on activities and resources to fit what you’re doing at the time.
- Time – Time is a big factor to consider when choosing a homeschool curriculum. If you plan to do a classical education, for example, you will likely spend more time per day on sit-down homeschooling than someone who is using an unschooling approach, for example.
Priorities per child – You will want to factor in specifics about your child including areas where they struggle or need to focus more and areas of interest. You may need to spend more time
onwriting or math, for example.
As you compare and decide on a homeschooling style and curriculum, it’s important to remember that homeschool is not like public school, and it doesn’t need to be just like public school. Once you choose a style and whether or not you’ll need a curriculum to go with it, proceed with an open mind. You can always change course and try something new at any time, that is the beauty of homeschooling!
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