This is the most common question for anyone getting into homeschooling, and it’s probably the toughest one to answer. Actually, there really isn’t any answer on the one best method on how to homeschool your child. There are lots of approaches, and most people take bits and pieces from several of them to create their own unique homeschool environment. Here are some popular methods, so you can see different ideas and start getting a feel for what might work with your family:
School at Home
This one doesn’t have a fancy name, and it’s simply recreating the typical school environment at home. You have a set plan for curriculum, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be a complete purchased set. There will be a schedule, worksheets, projects and maybe even grades. It’s school, at home. A lot of homeschoolers start here just because it’s the only way they can envision school. Some will stay with this method, some will adapt other ideas as they go along.
Charlotte Mason thinks that access to nature is how to homeschool your child, and spending time outdoors is a big part of this approach. This method is all about interest and keeping things filled with enjoyment and play. Texts tend to be novel-style living books rather than dry academics, for example and there is a lot of time spent on arts and nature. Schedules are usually loose and flexible.
Classical homeschooling takes a historical approach, and breaks learning down into various stages such as grammar, rhetoric and dialectic. The idea is that kids of varying ages learn differently, so the material is presented differently at each level. It’s a fairly strict homeschool method, with books, plans and a strong focus on historical studies often learning Latin.
Waldorf & Montessori
Ok, I can’t really tell these two apart so I apologize if I am missing some of the nuances. They both focus heavily on the arts, the mind and spirit connection and nature. They both teach at the child’s natural pace and allows for a lot of free time to explore their own interests.
An approach I personally like, is the unit study. Instead of breaking all the subjects apart to each separately, you tackle a single topic that mixes them all together. So, perhaps a study of dinosaurs for example. You can learn history, geography, geology, math, biology and writing as you learn about dinosaurs. A unit study can last a few weeks, or half the year, depending on the topic and how many things you can think of to explore.
This is how to homeschool your child without any school at all. It’s a bit radical for some people and often a target of debate. All learning is done through living, with no curriculum, no worksheets, no set plans and usually not many rules. Parents can help steer or guide kids through different interests, providing them with the opportunities to research or experience things but only if the kids are making the choices. It’s sometimes called “life learning”.
This is the catch-all term used for anyone homeschooling who uses a mix of these ideas, along with any others. Though some people do follow a method to the letter, the majority of homeschoolers really fall under this category. No one method works perfectly for everyone, so it’s pretty common to take what works and run with it. You may choose to unschool reading and language by letting your kids read whatever they want without any actual spelling or grammar work, but then take a strict workbook approach with math or science.