There is no one right way to educate children, and many different styles of homeschooling have been developed to cater to the individual needs of children and their families. The following is a brief introduction to a few of the most common homeschooling styles, but it is not intended to be an exhaustive list or a comprehensive description of the style.

Charlotte Mason Style

This approach advocates reading good books from original sources and spending lots of time in nature.

Charlotte Mason was a British educator, who was born in 1842 and died in 1923. During that time, she developed a Philosophy of Education that has proved very adaptable. Designed for homes and private schools, her blend of practices (for she never claimed to have invented these, only to having adapted and combined them) includes narration and copywork, nature notebooks, fine arts, languages, a literature based curriculum instead of textbooks, and real-life applications. “Living books”, of excellent quality, are used to make subjects come alive.

She also did not claim to have finished or perfected her Philosophy. The complete title to her last book, Volume 6 of her Home Schooling Series, conveys this concept - "An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education". She was constantly developing, refining, adding as she learned herself. Her practice was to stimulate others with ideas and suggestions.

Classical Style

Many families prefer a liberal arts education for their children, including lessons in Greek and Latin, as well as formal instruction in Logic.

Classical Education is based on the Trivium:

Grammar Stage (Mastery of the Facts)
Grades 1-6. Knowledge: receiving and gathering up information. The subject of Grammar is the heart of the grammar stage curriculum.

Dialectic Stage (Study of Logic)
Grades 7-9. Understanding: for arranging and connecting the information in a logical order. The subject of Logic is the heart of the dialectic stage curriculum.

Rhetoric Stage (Use of Language)
Grades 10-12. Wisdom: for putting this gathered and ordered information into practical expression.

The goal is to teach children the art of thinking.

Traditional

This schooling approach is highly structured and formal. It relies nearly entirely on textbooks and workbooks, following a scope and sequence based upon generally accepted public and private school subject areas and standards. This method most closely resembles the educational experience found in the school setting, and may come in the form of textbook programs, video programs, or computer courses on CD or through the Internet.

Unit Studies

Unit studies or thematic units take a topic and "lives" with it for a period of time, integrating science, social studies, language arts, math and fine arts as they apply.

Unit studies, sometimes called thematic units or integrated studies, are very popular with homeschoolers. Unit studies usually use a hands-on approach for effective learning. The child learns by actually experiencing or discovering through different methods and activities, rather than just reading a chapter from a textbook.

Co-ops

There are many homeschool co-ops (co-operative learning groups) located throughout CT. Each co-op operates differently. Some require at least one parent to be involved by teaching, assisting, or other tasks. Others hire tutors/teachers and may be a drop-off center. Some meet once per week; others twice per week; and others twice per month.

Co-ops are families gathering to share learning and pool resources together. Each parent or tutor shares their knowledge and strength with the group. One parent may enjoy teaching foreign language, another cooking, another creative writing, and another science. Some co-ops share a religion and gather to teach according to their beliefs.

Unschooling

Unschooling was pioneered by John Holt, a 20th century American educator, who concluded that children have an innate desire to learn and a curiosity that drives them to learn what they need to know when they need to know it. This approach is the opposite end of the spectrum from the Traditional Approach. Highly unstructured and informal, it is student initiated and student-led, relying on the interest of the child to determine the subject and depth of study. In his book, Teach Your Own, Holt wrote, “What children need is not new and better curricula, but access to more and more of the real world.” Unschooling also refers to any less structured learning approach that allows children to pursue their own interests with parental support and guidance.

Montessori

The Montessori learning environment is much different than the traditional model. Instead of information passing from the teacher/parent to the student/child, the teacher is skilled in putting the child in touch with the environment, and helping him learn to make intelligent choices and to carry out research in a prepared environment. It is the role of the adult to prepare the environment, to link the child to it through well-thought-out introductions to books and materials, projects, and lessons, which nurture the child's exploration and creativity. The Montessori environment is arranged according to subject area -- cooking, cleaning, gardening, art, caring for animals, library corner, etc. In a day, all subjects -- practical work, math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc. -- will be studied.

Waldorf

Developed by Rudolf Steiner, this method emphasizes arts and crafts, music and movement. Students learn to read and write by making their own books.

The best overall statement on what is unique about Waldorf education is to be found in the stated goals of the schooling: "to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives". The aim of Waldorf method is to educate the whole child, "head, heart and hands". The curriculum is as broad as time will allow, and balances academics subjects with artistic and practical activities.

The Waldorf method is dedicated to creating a genuine love of learning within each child. By freely using arts and activities in the service of teaching academics, an internal motivation to learn is developed in the students, doing away with the need for competitive testing and grading.

Mixed/Eclectic

Many homeschoolers use a blend of the various approaches from year-to-year or even within the same year among their individual children. For example, they may use the Charlotte Mason method to teach science and language arts to their younger children while using traditional math and science textbooks for their older children. Or, they may build unit studies around historical periods that include language arts, music, art, science, and literature, while at the same time using a curricular approach for math.

Summary

There is no right or wrong method of educating your child. The best method of homeschooling is whatever works for you and your child, accompanied by love, patience, and consistency. To contact Great Ways to Home Educate (GWHE), please email us at information@gwhe.org