Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Homeschool: How to Home School

Now that you've identified the primary reason you are homeschooling as well as any secondary reasons, it's time to start thinking about curriculum.


It is a difficult task to choose a curriculum for homeschool. What style teacher are you? What style learner is your child - or even harder, children? Do you want it all set out before you or do you want to have freedom? Do you like textbooks or life experiences or a little of both? And not least - How much money do you have to invest?


If you want to follow a traditional path a "boxed curriculum" or "complete curriculum" may prove very useful. There are many options out there from secular to religious. While this isn't exactly easy, it is probably the most simple of the options. There are still all the reviews and samples to check out. Remember, though that you aren't marrying this curriculum. If it's not the best fit, you can try a different program the following year and if it's just terrible, you can switch mid-stream.

I'm not going this route, so I have no "official" opinion on these but here's a short list:

Secular

K12 Virtual Academy (a good place to start as some states, like mine, provide it for free)

Curriculum Services

Oak Meadow

Christian (there are, I'm sure, curriculums for other religions, but they are a bit harder to find and many are piecemeal)

Sonlight

A Beka

Calvert School

Perhaps you're on the opposite end of the spectrum and the thought of having your child on a strict curriculum, or even having yourself on one, makes you bristle. More than just bristle, maybe you want to run away screaming. Perhaps "unschooling" is for you. Although, I think the "un" part is a misnomer. The unschooling child and unschooling family probably spend much more time overall on school than the ones on a strict curriculum. In that respect, it is probably the most difficult method for the parent-teacher. That being said – I would recommend this route to only the most involved parents. I don't mean micro-managing I mean you put a great deal of thought into all your child encounters. From the time they wake, to the time they go to bed, you've thought out their day. You know they can get color theory lessons while they dress, counting practice while they brush their teeth, measuring/weighing lessons at meals, life science lessons at the park, economics lessons at the market… The list goes on and grows on as they get older because you'll have to fit in complex concepts like calculus and abstract knowledge like world history (abstract in the sense that there's limited hands on material you can encounter for certain eras). I myself am not disciplined enough to go whole hog into this world, though I do take from it. Check out Unschooling.com for some more information including a link to their yahoo group. E-how has a brief article to get you started, How to Unschool Your Child, be sure to check out the related articles link on the left of that page.

There are other methods that are in between these 2 extremes. Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf School) come to mind. Each of their methods have some general structure but are child led. You'll find support in terms of teaching guides, outlines and lists, but there is no set plan for the day to day. Mother nature, good books, art, and hands on practice are the common threads of these methods.

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