If you begin with your educational philosophy in mind, everything will begin to fall into place. You can save a lot of time and heart-ache when you use your philosophy as a guide to choosing your curriculum or designing your own.If you begin with your educational philosophy in mind, everything will begin to fall into place. Click To Tweet
In a Nutshell: Unschooling is just that–the opposite of what you traditionally think of when school comes to mind. In unschooling, the child has more choice in what they want to study. It’s a more relaxed environment, without pressure to learn a certain list of things by a certain age. The belief is that the child will eventually learn what they need to know when guided by their own natural curiosity. This is a also a popular temporary choice for families who need to adjust to homeschooling after leaving public or private school.
Pros: Who wouldn’t want to be more relaxed and have less stress?! Everything in day to day life can be viewed as an opportunity for learning. When your child is leading the way, you aren’t going to hear the dreaded, “Do we HAVE to have school today?!” Peace is a beautiful thing!
Cons: Is it possible that some children may never develop a natural curiosity for trigonometry? Could there be “holes” in a child’s education if you don’t think about what you want them to be learning at a certain age?
In a nutshell: Charlotte Mason was an educator from the early 1900s who had some innovative ideas. Instead of mere book work, Charlotte Mason followers take lessons from everyday life. Science often revolves around nature walks and careful observation. Afternoons of art and useful handicrafts are not uncommon. This is followed closely by a love for “living” books–full of rich words and deep meaning. “Twaddle,” or lesser quality literature, is not tolerated. (Captain Underpants, anyone? Formulated series like The Babysitter Club do not stimulate the mind.) There is an emphasis on developing good habits and becoming a person of character.
Pros: Perhaps I am being redundant here, but did I mention beautiful nature walks? Afternoons of crafting (if you are into that sort of thing)? Great literature? Children of character?
Cons: If you are the type of person who likes to plan lots of things and pack your day full, this relaxed approach may make your head spin. If you aren’t a naturalist at heart, you may need a little guidance with your “relaxed” nature studies. The mess made by all that crafting may drive you up a wall, but children with good habits are great at cleaning up, right? What adult hasn’t enjoyed a little “twaddle” at some point in their lives?
That being said, I really do love the Charlotte Mason approach. In fact, I’m speaking at an online Charlotte Mason conference coming up soon!
In a Nutshell: Learn the way the popular theologians did. Everything students do, from Bible to grammar, to Latin and history, is organized around 3 stages of learning.
- When children are young, they focus on memorizing because it is easy for young children to memorize. This helps them remember basic facts that will help them as they further their education. This is called the Grammar Stage, though it has almost nothing to do with what we commonly think of as “grammar.”
- The Dialectic Stage is next. In this middle grade stage of life, when students typically become argumentative by nature, the children are taught logic for reasoning through their arguments. They are also taught language skills to back them up.
- The Rhetoric Stage further hones the language skills and teaches students how to be persuasive, putting those reasoning skills previously learned in the dialectic stage to good use.
Pros: The Classical Philosophy is scientifically backed up, teaching the way most students learn at the various stages of life. There are many organized communities, called Classical Conversations, to help support this form of learning and help you learn as you teach your children. Regardless of whether you join one of these communities or follow this approach on your own, it basically cycles through history in a chronological order so students develop deeper understanding.
Cons: While the content is rich, there is a very good chance that there will be information that parents may have never heard before, thus requiring a lot more preparation before teaching. Many don’t like that younger students are memorizing information, but have no idea what they are memorizing until they are older. Classical Conversations can be quite pricey, although you can get some of the materials from the first stage to do at home (if you want to tackle Latin on your own). Classical Conversations materials for the Dialectic and Rhetoric stages can’t be purchased unless you are officially participating in the community.
In a Nutshell: Think about your picture of a typical public school. That’s traditional education. Keep in mind that this “traditional” education where we send our kids to a school to learn from textbooks with kids that are their exact same age has only been around 200-or-so years. It’s teacher directed, with little room for individual student choices. We are teaching our students to be good followers, not independent, critical and creative thinkers.
Pros: Society needs some good followers. Think of what life would be like if people simply followed the rules! A basic understanding of all the subjects is presented.
Cons: If you want your children to be World Changers, creatives, and independent, this probably isn’t the approach you should take. The world has enough robots who follow the crowd.
In a Nutshell: Interested in dinosaurs? Great! Let’s find out everything we possibly can about them, read books, make projects, do reports, throw in some dino art and word problems! In the Unit Studies approach, you pick your topic and let your imagination soar with all the possibilities (or buy a pre-planned unit study that someone else has thought out for you). This is your chance to become a mini-expert on various topics of interest.
Pros: What are you interested in at the moment? Great! That’s your topic! Everything can relate back to it if you so desire, or not.
Cons: While Unit Studies may be fantastic for a lot of things, sometimes you just have to sit down and do some plain old math.
In a Nutshell: Take a little of this and a dash of that, and you have an eclectic homeschool!
Pros: There are good things about each philosophy. It’s hard to pick just one to follow. The good news is that you don’t have to. The beauty of homeschooling (depending on your state’s guidelines), is that you can do almost anything you want. At the very least, you have a lot more freedom than you would in either public or private school. Pick and choose from the philosophies that you and your children like and forget the rest.
Cons: Sometimes there are so many good things, that it is hard to narrow it down. Trying to fit all your favorite things in may be overwhelming. When we try to do too much, we may find that we don’t have time to really do anything to the best of our abilities.
Each of these styles have value. I’m just trying to present both sides of the coin and the arguments you may encounter should you choose them.
So Where Do You Go From Here???
Here are few first steps that, while not mandatory, may help you to start your homeschooling journey off on the right foot…
- Pray for God’s direction.
- Decide on a curriculum that fits with your philosophy. Or decide to create your own, but know that is going to take a lot more work!
- Join HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense) and look for other homeschool groups in your community. FaceBook has curriculum groups and groups for people with like-minded philosophies. No man is an island!
- Pace yourself. Give yourself grace. Don’t expect the first day, week, month, or even year to be perfect.
- Go to conventions and read books. Keep an open mind. The way you start doing homeschool probably won’t be the way you finish. We learn and grow as we go. Every child is different. It’s all an adventure. The journey is just as exciting as the destination!
Is there anything else you would like to add about a particular philosophy?