Monday, July 30, 2012

Homeschooling Methods - We're an Eclectic Bunch


When we first decided to homeschool my head was spinning with all the terminology.  It wasn’t as easy as picking out our textbooks and doing school at home.  There was SO much more to it – so much more than I could have possible anticipated.
We decided in June or July we would be homeschooling come the end of August.  Yikes!  I surfed and surfed and looked and looked to find what would be “right” for our family.  I tried to read as many books as I could in that short period of time and absorb what I could.  How do I pick a method?
Well, we are now four years into it, starting our fifth year, and all those methods, I discovered, are just guidelines.  You don’t get locked into one philosophy or the next when you start.  I like something about every method out there, bits and pieces of each work for us.  So, we are labeled Eclectic.
Unit Studies is where we started.  I liked having everything integrated.  What we studied in history we pulled over into science and literature.  It kept things cohesive and helped me figure out what was working and what wasn’t.  We’ve done Latin and literature ala Charlotte Mason.  Latin being terrific for vocabulary and SAT’s down the road, and literature is a wonderful way to understand history in a fictional setting. 
Now, with my oldest doing high school and my youngest finishing middle school – we combine the methods even more.  We use online classes, video based classes, textbooks and experiential learning.  I’ve discovered as I’ve schooled my boys what approach works best for each subject.  I’ve learned what they are more willing to learn from someone besides me and what I can handle. 
We love our co-ops!  Not because they do the classes for us, but because they add structure.  We are definitely a structure kind of family.  I would say we leave our unschooling for summer and follow structure during the “school year”.  Co-ops, I’ve found, add a level of accountability that my boys wouldn’t have just by doing work at home.  They aren’t just answering to me!  (Read more about this on Friday!)
If you’re new to homeschooling, don’t panic over what METHOD you will use.  Instead, spend time discovering what approach fits your children, your family best.  If you are combining ages, that will be different than if you are separating them or homeschooling one age range.  There’s no locked in!  You can change mid-year or mid-week, or you might find one method works for your entire homeschooling journey.  It’s what works for you! 

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