Finding a curriculum that suits your individual family needs can be very difficult.
Homeschoolers often classify themselves under different methods, and if you are new to the whole idea of homeschooling you might be confused by some of the terms you will hear. Familiarize yourself with the methods first.
Classical homeschooling involves teaching based on the three stages of learning: the Grammar stage, the Logic stage, and the Rhetoric stage. The Grammar stage involves learning facts, memorization, and knowledge gathering.
Unit studies are a popular homeschooling method because they can be hands-on, literature-based, or even geared towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit Studies typically encompass all of the scholastic subjects through the study of one topic (Weaver units or KONOS character units, for example), although they can be specific to a specific subject (like Evan-Moor science units or Teacher Created Materials units). Since it is easier to teach different ages the same topics with multi-level unit studies, they are popular among homeschoolers wanting to keep all of their children on similar topics at the same time.
Charlotte Mason Method
Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who believed “the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.” Some of the characteristics of a Charlotte Mason education are using living books, keeping a nature journal, and introducing music, art, poetry, and great literature among other resources.
The range of homeschoolers claiming the unschool label vary from “radical unschoolers” who disdain any form of curricula or textbooks to those who prefer child-led learning but might also be called eclectic. All homeschooling was originally called unschooling by John Holt, one of the pioneers of the movement. Gradually the term has come to mean those who use no formal curricula but make liberal use of the learning opportunities that present themselves in daily life. Without outside intervention in the form of forced teaching, learning naturally happens. Unschoolers attempt to provide the best environment to allow that natural learning to take over.
Raymond and Dorothy Moore are often called the grandparents of the homeschool movement. Their Moore Foundation has been providing support and guidance for parents for many years. The Moores are best known for their theory that formal school is better started later than early, with very little or no formal schooling taking place before age 8. That does not mean that children are left to their own devices during the early years; instead, they focus on service as well as playing. Chores within the home and volunteering with their parents outside of the home are emphasized in the Moore Formula.
The Waldorf homeschooling method was popularized by Rudolf Steiner in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Waldorf approach is a holistic liberal arts education where subjects are not separated from one another and education covers body, mind, and spirit. Textbooks are not used until the children are older and then only infrequently, and moral qualities are subtly emphasized through life.
Most computer-based homeschooling is really just an off-shoot of the textbook method. Instead of paper books, the child’s curriculum is either through an online company, or completed online with pre-recorded or live videos.
If you find yourself combining several of the homeschool methods you are probably an eclectic homeschooler. Eclectics tend to gather what works for them from multiple styles of homeschooling and leave what doesn’t fit with their family. Unlike a Classical Education, Charlotte Mason homeschooling, or the Moore Formula, eclectic homeschooling is not a style itself but a combination of styles that work for an individual family.
Many new homeschoolers feel most comfortable replicating school at home. The use of textbooks is most common the first year or two of homeschooling while the parent builds their confidence. Many homeschoolers continue to find the textbook method works for their family while others may continue to use textbooks for some subjects and branch into unit studies or relaxed learning for other subjects.
The hybrid model mimics the University Model that many private schools are now offering. With the hybrid model the student participates in an actual classroom or online live session with an instructor once or twice a week. Then curriculum is provided by the school or the instructor for the parents to work on with the students the rest of the week. Many enjoy this method because it allows the student to work ahead or at their own pace. The parents are able to get the best of both worlds in regards to instruction.
STEPS TO BEGIN YOUR HOME SCHOOL
1. So your ready to home school? This is a HUGE decision, so do not take it lightly. Before removing your child from the school we encourage families to sit down and discuss it. This can not be what a mom/dad does hastily because they are angry at the teacher. Removing your child will also remove them from what they are use to-from their friends, from electives, from their normal schedule, from special education services they are receiving, and from school programs/clubs. So please take the time to give a few days to discuss your plan with everyone in the family, including your child. You will need to have a set schedule in mind, have a record keeping plan in mind, goals for a diploma must be set, decide if you will home school all year long or a regular school year, pick curriculum you will be using, and designate an area in your home you will use for schooling.
Once your ready, the first step is to let your child's school know. This can be done in person, on the phone, by email, but make sure they are aware. (Otherwise, schools have been known for reporting excessive absences to county Family and Children Services.) It is recommended that you let your child's individual school know, and the Board of Education in your county.
2. Then Google your state's Department of Education. Once on the site, look for the home school section. Every state has to legally have it listed. You will find the Intent To Home School Form on that page. Complete the form, either by online submission or print it off and mail in. But this needs to be done immediately, you do not wait until the next school year begins.
3. Third step, a regular school day is 180 days. If you have removed your child before the school year is up, then decide when your home school year will end. Many home schoolers teach all year, but some follow the normal school year.
4. Fourth, set a schedule for your family. Some home school 9-1, while some teach 2-7pm. The amount of time and the set time depends on your current situation.
5. Fifth, will you home school your child alone or will you seek out help? Many parents feel comfortable teaching most subjects. But they are always a few subjects they feel weak in like Trig, Chemisty, etc. You can seek out website resources, dvds, online teachers, or tutors for those areas. Another great option, is to enroll your child in a co-op or a private school part time for those courses. The options are limitless. But finding a support system is very important.