Homeschooling as an educational alternative is one
of the oldest
methods of instruction in this country. There are a lot of reasons why
parents choose to educate their children at home. Once the journey
begins you will likely seek to define a particular way of
learning. The term "homeschooling" will often conjure up images of
children confined to their kitchen tables, being taught the
fundamentals by their parents in reproduced miniature classrooms. Often
these families are viewed as doing it for religious reasons. On the
other hand, the term "unschooling" may bring up images of children
loafing around on the couch doing nothing at all. However, these
archaic stereotypes do not come close to describing the vast diversity
in the homeschooling community today.
On one end of the spectrum you will find a more structured, "school at
home" approach, and on the other end a very unstructured style called,
"unschooling." In between these two ends are many different mixtures of
instruction. No two families are going look exactly alike. Over time,
usually with a degree of trial and error, homeschooling families will
form their own way of learning to best suit their specific needs.
There was a time when the terms homeschooling and unschooling meant the
same thing - not going to school, or simply learning at home. John Holt
originally coined the term "unschooling" in his newsletter, "Growing
Without Schooling". While one phrase has remained the generic
description of educating children at home, the other has grown into a
specific style. Some unschoolers even believe it is not just a way of
learning, but a way of living. Other terms used to describe it are -
child-led learning, interest-driven learning, natural learning, and
Unschoolers believe that every person is born with a natural desire to
learn. Parents, sometimes referred to as facilitators and guides, trust
and nurture that natural desire. It does not mean leaving a child alone
to fend for himself though. Just the opposite, actually. These families
are very interactive ones. Parents must learn to listen to their child
carefully, be ready to ask and answer tough questions, provide endless
resources, and encourage every one of their child's interests. It is a
family effort, with the parents learning right alongside their
Learning to trust your child is the hardest part of the unschooling
journey. Most parents who are doing this with their children today,
grew up in a much more traditional education setting. To switch into a
more natural way of learning, requires them to throw out everything
they were ever taught about how people learn. This style not about
randomly filling a child's mind with facts and figures at predetermined
times, but about showing them the pure joy of learning. It is about
giving children the tools to find out what they need to know, when they
need to know it.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to home education. Each
child and family will search and decide upon whatever is the best fit
for them. Regardless of the style chosen, homeschooling in any form
teaches children responsibility, independence, and self-confidence.
Here are descriptions about some of the
different styles and methods:
"School at home"
This is where parents try and re-create a public or private school
classroom setting at home. There is usually a special room or place set
aside just for this. It is very structured, usually using a packaged
curriculum, and working around predetermined schedules.
This is based on something called the trivium, which means three-fold
way or road. The three stages (or ways) of learning are - Grammar,
Dialectic, and Rhetoric. Each stage is taught in order, and uses
language, rather than images.
"Charlotte Mason Method"
This method uses "living books" that are full of characters and places
that come alive, instead of dry, boring textbooks. It's focus is
strongly on the liberal arts.
A specific topic is chosen, and all subjects - Math, English,
Geography, etc. - are integrated into that one topic.
Eclectic learners pick and choose from all the different educational
methods to develop a unique learning style that works best for them.
This term was originally coined to describe "not going to school" or
"learning without school." They believe that a person does not have to
be in a school setting to learn, and that learning is not something
that needs to be restricted to a specific time of day.
About The Author:
Karole Dolen-Proffit is a website designer and freelance writer from Northern California. In addition to being a blessed member of a proud unschooling family, she runs several websites including http://unschoolers.com
, Your Go 2 Girl
, and http://moonriverdesigns.com