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Why do I homeschool?

June 21, 2011
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When a brand new homeschooler comes into the store looking for some direction, I always point them to our Parent Resources section first. I think it’s important to know WHY you’re homeschooling before you try to decide what to use or how to make it happen.

There are a few general philosophies of homeschooling that most people can connect with. Of course, we’re all so unique that many of us will be a blend of a few different approaches but it is good to have a basic understanding of these foundations before you start.

CLASSICAL – This philosophy of education is based on the three stages of the learning process called the Trivium. The Grammar Stage, Logic Stage, and Rhetoric Stage. Many people break these into four-year increments;

Grade 1-4 is the Grammar stage where students learn the basics and memorize facts. Grade 5-8 is the Logic stage when students learn to make logical arguments and to reason well. Grade 9-12 is the Rhetoric stage when students are able to use all previous knowledge and begin to form their own world view and life philosophies.

One other hallmark of Classical education is that all subjects are interrelated and not taught in isolation. This means that you learn language skills while studying geography or history.

Here are some resources to help you homeschool the “Classical” way:

Case for Classical Christian Education

Teaching the Trivium

The Well-Trained Mind

CHARLOTTE MASON – Charlotte Mason lived in the late 1800s and developed an education model that was different than her peers – Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life. People who homeschool from this philosophy use “living books”, “dictation”, “narration”, and “character training”. They believe in educating the child as a whole person… not just segregating school from church or family, etc.

Here are some resources to help you homeschool the “Charlotte Mason” way:

Charlotte Mason Companion

Charlotte Mason Education

The Original Homeschool Series

TEXTBOOK –  If you and your children just love the smell of a brand new textbook or the open space of a workbook just waiting to be filled in, then this might be the homeschool philosophy for you! This approach usually follows the learning outcomes from your local school board since it is really copying the model of the public school system. It is also a great way to get started in homeschooling if you just feel overwhelmed with the other philosophies as it is straight forward and easy to follow. Just remember that the textbook is there to serve your educational goals… you aren’t there to serve the textbook.

Here are some resources to help you homeschool the “Textbook” way:

Streams of Civilization

Evan Moor products

Plaid Phonics

UNIT STUDIES – The general idea behind a unit study is to integrate as many different subject areas into one topic. For instance, we did a unit study on horses which covered Math, Language Arts, Science, History, Geography, Art, and Music.  This is a wonderful way to teach multiple children at once since you can just adjust the difficulty level for the older students but everyone can still study the same basic topic. It’s also a great way to engage a reluctant learner since you can choose topics that are of interest to them.

Here are some resources to help you homeschool the “Unit Study” way:

Five in a Row

History of the Horse

Prairie Primer

COMPUTER BASED / ONLINE  – Many schoolboards offer online courses so if your student is the type who can really relate to this environment and learns well this way, ask your faciltiator what they might have to offer. You could also look into a program called Switched on Schoolhouse. For students, multimedia features such as videos, animated clips, interactive timelines and learning games, as well as immediate grading and feedback add lots of excitement to the learning process. And parents benefit from highly adaptable features such as time-saving automated lesson planning and grading, customizable record-keeping options, and many other flexible curriculum options.

Here are some resources to help you homeschool the “Computer Based” way:

Exploring Creation series on CD-Rom

Saxon Dive CDs

UNSCHOOLING – this is an educational method whereby formal school work  is generally replaced with real-life learning. There is really no right or wrong way to unschool and it will look different for each family who chooses this route. Some ways of learning you will find in an unschooling family are reading, playing educational games, singing, dancing, hobbies, writing, etc.

Here are some resources to help you homeschool the “Unschooling” way:

Science Kits

K’Nex building sets

Educational Games

ECCLECTIC – This approach takes the best of all the above and creates a tailor-made program. I have found that most of my homeschooling friends fall into this category. We may be die-hard “Charlotte Masoners” one year then, due to circumstances in life, take an Unschooling approach or decide that this is definitely a year for Textbooks. As we journey through the years, we each find the things that work for us as homeschooling parents as well as the particular needs of our students.

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