Is Homeschooling Right For You?
Homeschooling has become a popular alternative option for students, and parents choose to homeschool their kids for a wide variety of reasons. Whether for religious reasons, a want for more in-depth learning opportunities, or to provide your child with a safer learning environment, you might feel drawn to the idea of schooling your children at home, even if you don't know what it really entails. The truth is, choosing homeschool over public or private schooling might be a viable option for your family that could make all the difference in your child's life.
What Does a Homeschool Day Look Like?
Homeschooling means different things to different families, and what your day looks like will greatly depend on your family's particular goals and reasoning for wanting to homeschool in the first place. You can find a wide range of different methods, curriculum, and learning theories out there. The most popular include:
- Classical - The Classical model is based on the idea that children learn most effectively using a three-stage approach, called the Trivium. In the Grammar stage, children learn through memorization and learning facts. During the Logic stage, kids will start to utilize their reasoning abilities and take part in discussions. In the Rhetoric stage, students will use wisdom and balanced judgment to take part in debates and learn more difficult material.
- Waldorf - The Waldorf method follows the works and teachings of Rudolf Steiner, which promotes the education of the whole child - head, heart, and hands. There is a strong emphasis on preserving the innocence and creativity of childhood, and allowing children to experience a wholesome education filled with nature, art, music, and movement. Handicrafts are often taught along with the basics, which might include knitting, dying wool, sewing, baking, woodworking, and puppetry.
- Montessori - A Montessori homeschool is mostly child-led, with strategically placed stations around your home. The idea, based on Maria Montessori's educational model, is that, given the opportunity, children will naturally want to learn everything they can about the world around them. Along with the basics, which are generally taught using hands-on activities, children are encouraged to take part in practical tasks throughout the day, like sweeping and cleaning.
- Charlotte Mason - This method is based Charlotte Mason's belief that in order to educate a child's mind, you must education the whole person. There is a strong emphasis on reading aloud together, even in the upper grades, developing an atmosphere inside the home that in conducive to learning, developing a discipline of good habits with your children, and teaching lessons based on concepts and ideas, not just the facts.
- Eclectic - Let's face it, not all kids learn the same, and not all parts of a curriculum will work for your children. The eclectic approach, adopted by many families, mixes-and-matches parts of different homeschool methods together into a unique learning environment that's catered to your family's style. Although you might use a Classical math program, you might also present the material using the Waldorf method. Throw in a few Charlotte Mason read-alouds and you can call yourself an Eclectic homeschooler!
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Civilized, Not Socialized
Before taking the homeschool plunge, many parents worry about whether their children will have enough socialization if they're not in a traditional classroom. In actuality, homeschoolers typically interact with the community in a more realistic way than in a classroom filled with kids who are all the same age. Children learn how to get along with and conduct themselves around people of all ages, and with the increasing growth of homeschooling throughout the country, you'll find homeschooling communities that regularly get together for park days, field trips, and classes. With so many parents working together to guide their children on a day-to-day basis, bullying is virtually nonexistent in the homeschool world. A homeschool environment encourages children to form lasting, healthy friendships that build on family values, not the social drama and survival mentality of the traditional school system.
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The World is Your Classroom
When you homeschool your children, the world is your classroom. Learning happens everywhere you go, whether it's practicing mental math at the grocery store, planning a garden in your backyard, or spending a day with your local beekeeper. If you love to travel, learning can hit the road with you. In fact, there's no better way to learn about geography, practice a foreign language, or find out about a different culture than actually visiting another country with your family.
Still not sure if teaching your own children will fit your family's needs? Check out the top 5 misconceptions about homeschooling.
As an award-winning journalist, author, and artist, Kelly Sundstrom has a passion for helping parents feel well-prepared, confident, and capable in the journey ahead. As an Attachment Parenting advocate and homeschooling mother of two, Sundstrom has been a guest speaker on Grassroots TV in Aspen, Colorado, and encourages families across the country to disconnect from media and reconnect with each other.