Getting Started Homeschooling Post 2- What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

In post one of this series, I talked about having a vision for homeschooling- knowing why you’re doing it and why you should know why. Once you have a vision, you can move on to deciding what kind of homeschooler you are going to be.

Homeschool methods

There are probably as many opinions about ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. But, if you keep your focus on your big picture, the decisions you make about the way you are going to homeschool will be easier. I am going to describe some of the most popular methods or styles of homeschooling and list some websites that will give you more information or resources for that method. This is in no way meant to be all inclusive list but will hopefully help a new homeschooler get started and maybe even inform a veteran homeschooler of some new methods.

Traditional school approach: Some homeschoolers like to set up school at home. They have a specific schoolroom with desks and chairs, wall charts, and workbooks. They typically buy curriculum in sets which include teacher’s guides, workbooks, and tests and answer keys. They keep a school-like schedule and usually have students sitting at desks and working for much of the day- just like in “real school.”
Some popular curriculum choices for more traditional schoolers: ABEKA, BJU Press, Alpha Omega Horizons, Rod and Staff
A variation of this approach is to use paces, which require students to work through material at their own pace with little direct teaching. School of Tomorrow and Alpha Omega LifePacs are two popular pace curriculums.

Unit Studies: This approach is used by homeschoolers who want more project type learning. Some homeschoolers use bought, packaged unit studies. Some like to develop their own based on their own interests or the interest of the child. Units can revolve around history, science, literature, the Bible, or any topic of interest. Lapbooking is a relatively new learning project that often goes along with a unit study. It involves the student making a notebook type project to demonstrate what has been learned in the unit study. Most unit studies cover all areas of the curriculum except math.
Konos and Alpha Omega’s Weaver are two Bible-based packaged unit studies. Mystery of History is a popular history based unit study. Sonlight is a popular literature based unit study curriculum.
Hands of a Child offers lapbook packages for many different unit studies.
Homeschool Share has free unit study and lapbooking ideas.

Unschooling: Unschoolers have the philosophy that life is school. They probably do very little sitting at a desk and working in a book. They tend to be child-directed and very project oriented. They may grow a garden, make bread, go on a field trip, learn to change the oil in the car and call it a school day. Don’t think they aren’t learning just because it doesn’t look like “school.” Many children respond well to the option to learn what interests them and do lots of hands-on projects.
Obviously there is no “curriculum” for unschooling, but I found this site to be a good description of unschooling.

Eclectic homeschooling: Eclectic homeschoolers will use whatever works for their child and their family at any given time. One year they might do more workbooks; one year they may spend all year doing unit studies. One child out of the family may respond well to workbooks while another does well with hands-on learning.
I would consider myself an eclectic homeschooler. We have used workbooks, unit studies, lapbooks, projects, etc. I have a couple of children who respond very well to workbooks and would sit and work for hours. I have one who absolutely is miserable if he works in a workbook for too long. He needs to move and do. I have one child who loves literature units and lapbooks. Another loves science and experiments. Because of my big picture vision- to have children who are seeking what God wants them to be and to promote family unity and togetherness- being eclectic is just right for us. It allows me to custom fit the method of homeschooling to the individual child which allows them to develop in the areas God has gifted them. It also allows the flexibilty to work on behavior and heart issues when needed and to promote family unity as we all work and learn together. You can see the eclectic curriculum I’m using this year in this blog post.

A very interesting website I found recently is Design Your Homeschool. It discusses some of the methods I’ve reviewed here as well as some of the basic philosophies of homeschooling- which is what my next post will be about. It also guides you through determining what type of homeschooling fits best for your family.

Stay tuned for post 3- What Do You Really Believe About School and Learning?

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