Homeschoolers often look for an integrated method to guide their instruction. Such a method can make the presentation of curriculum easy and well-coordinated by guiding nearly every aspect of instruction. This article provides an overview of some major homeschool methods.
Some homeschool methods are geared for a particular circumstanceâ€"such as children of a particular age or a developmental stage, a particular focus of study (sometimes called a unit), or a particular subject areaâ€"while others can be used as an overarching approach to the entire homeschooling experience.
For methods that are aimed at particular circumstancesâ€"or that you feel may work well for one, but not all, of the children you are homeschoolingâ€"you may find yourself using several methods in combination. Or you may choose to combine methods from philosophical reasons, believing that children should be exposed to different approaches to learning. In any case, this article will help you to locate materials for a number of the best-known and most widely used instructional methods that are used in homeschooling situations.
No matter what kind of materials, methods, or curricula you are considering, make sure that you research it thoroughly, reviewing online samples or review copies. If you do not feel that you have the expertise to judge the material, find a friend or associate who can give you an opinion and/or seek online reviews to help you establish the caliber and quality of the product or information you are considering. A fact of the Internet is that pretty much anyone can say pretty much anything. What some person (or companyâ€"corporate logo is no guarantee of accuracy, unfortunately) says represents Maria Montessoriâ€™s thoughts, the best way to teach your child grammar, or the facts of music may or may not be accurate. Make your own judgment.
Unified methods may grow out of pedagogies, philosophies, or beliefs. In each case, you are likely to find some free materials and advice, and other materials for purchase. For example, Maria Montessoriâ€™s innovative, child-centered curriculum has an international following. Use in both private schools and homeschooling, you can find material adapted for its application in homeschooling situations at: http://www.montessori.edu/homeschooling.html
Montessori training is available for those who wish it. You can find more information here: http://www.montessori.edu/
Another educatorâ€™s desire to educate â€śthe whole childâ€ť has led to another method that is widely used: the Waldorf method, based on the work of Rudolf Steiner. The Waldorf method adapted to homeschooling is discussed at http://christopherushomeschool.org/index.htm A more general introduction is given here: http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/02_W_Education/index.asp
Great Books Method
The Great Books Methodology is an outgrowth of the educational approach of Robert Hutchings and Mortimer Adler. Founded on a liberal education in the traditional understanding of this concept, the Great Books program offers a literature-based curriculum that runs from preschool to Grade 12. You can find information specifically about the homeschool version of the Great Books program at:
Based on the concept of the Triviumâ€"grammar, dialectic, and rhetoricâ€"the classical education is divided into those three parts. Some organizations combine the features of a classical education with a Christian education. More information can be found here: http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/ and from http://www.triviumpursuit.com/
Charlotte Mason Education
Charlotte Mason, a British educator, developed an educational philosophy not tied to a particular curriculum, notably in her book â€śHome Education.â€ť Her approach is explained here: http://homepage.bushnell.net/~peanuts/faq1.html with more material here: http://simplycharlottemason.com/ Some have connected Charlotte Masonâ€™s approach to the approach called â€śUnschoolingâ€ťâ€"see below.
John Holtâ€™s approach to child-directed learning, which he called â€śunschoolingâ€ť is another method without a set curriculum. One way of looking at it is that the curriculum is chosen by the student, whose parent supports whatever learning the student wishes to pursue. Several sites that present this method are: http://www.unschooling.com/ and http://www.unschooling.info/
Distance learning can broaden the resources available to the homeschooler. I am explicitly not recommending http://k12.com/ to you because the first material I looked at on that site had a flagrant factual error. I would suggest that you may wish to consult the Yahoo! Home Schooling Distance Learning directory at http://dir.yahoo.com/Education/Theory_and_Methods/Homeschooling/Distance_Learning/
Just as many public or private school classrooms are, homeschools can be run from one or more publishers materials, either textbooks, or thematic units. In either case, the idea is that once having chosen the materials, those materials guide the curriculum and pedagogy. Of course, this can be adapted to suit your needs. For more information, see the article on Homeschool Curriculum.
This name covers homeschools who mix and match methods as they deem appropriate to their circumstances and children. For example, they may use discovery learning in science, a textbook for math or spelling, and a Christian-oriented textbook for history, so that history is placed in a faith-perspective. If the result is within the boundaries of your stateâ€™s requirements and works for your child, then youâ€™re set.