When we embarked on the journey of homeschooling, choosing the right homeschool curriculum was a topic that weighed heavily on our shoulders. We were after all choosing the main focus of our children's education and we didn't want to get it wrong.
But as we read more and more about the various homeschool styles it became apparent that we would need to find a style that not only fit our children's learning style but one that fit our teaching style as well, because how could our children effectively learn if we struggle as teachers.
Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum
A close friend of mine suggested that, as first time homeschool parents, we attend a homeschool conference to learn more about the different curriculum and popular learning styles among homeschool families to help us in choosing the right homeschool curriculum for our family. And to be honest, THIS WAS THE BEST ADVICE EVER! Seriously!
A homeschool conference has every type of curriculum available along with a representative to answer any questions you may have. It's also a great opportunity to browse the school literature to get an in-depth look at the of the scope and sequence of each topic to help you decided what learning style is right for your family.
Once you learn more about the various homeschool styles, choosing the right homeschool curriculum is easy.
The most popular homeschool styles among homeschool families are:
- Traditional – Also called ‘The Socratic Method' is based on the Trivium, a method of teaching children according to the phases of a child’s cognitive development around three phases of learning/thinking: Concrete (K-6th) where the main focus is absorbing facts and building educational foundations; Analytical (7th-8th) where students become more argument-oriented and are ready to be taught logic and critical thinking; Abstract (9th-12th) where students become more independent and articulate in their thinking and communicating, readying them for learning rhetoric, the art of speaking, communicating and writing.
- Unschooling – Also referred to as “Child Led Learning” or “Natural Learning”, does not use curriculum or any scheduled or formal lesson plans. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences, following their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do-by pursuing an interest or curiosity.
- Eclectic Homeschooling – Eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and typically taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects. Sometimes referred to as ‘Relaxed Homeschooling' the Eclectic Homeschool parent forms his/her own homeschool approach from a variety of sources in the way of ideas, curriculum, and methodology.
- Charolette Mason – With its core the belief that children are not mere containers waiting to be filled with knowledge but persons in their own right deserving of respect, the Charlotte Mason method of learning is centered around the belief that children learn best from first-hand, real-life situations.
- Montessori – The Montessori method emphasizes ‘errorless learning' where the children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential. The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and quality and avoids things that are confusing or cluttered.
- Waldorf – Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole child – body, mind and spirit. In the early grades there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves.
What did we choose? Since our children have already attended a formal school we're doing a traditional/eclectic mix for our homeschool. The core subjects will be taught in a traditional classroom setting paired with plenty of opportunities for our children to learn through hands-on, life experiences.
What ever homeschool style and curriculum you choose, rest assure in the knowledge that you can alter and change your classroom style from year to year. There is no right or wrong way of homeschooling, as long as your children are growing and thriving year after year with the knowledge they receive.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.