Homeschooling – Part I: 7 Great Options for Alternative Learning
Hey KC! As you prepare to start a new year off on the right foot, you may be considering making some major changes in your family life. For a lot of families, homeschooling may be one of them. Most families tend to withdraw their child or children at the end of the year to avoid any chaos with planning and major changes. Another favorited time to start a homeschool journey is in between semesters. Again, there is less going on and families can make what I call a “clean break” from public school and an easy transition into homeschooling. If you are planning to go the homeschool route at any point, I have compiled a guide of different methods for you to choose from!
Each of these methods are unique in their own way and you never really know what is best for you and your soon-to-be homeschoolers until you try it!
#1 Project Based Learning
Project based learning is almost polar opposites to the learning styles of public schools. There are a lot of projects, hands on learning materials and your child really can “direct” themselves in learning about topics they choose. When doing PBL, it is important to remember that your homeschooler is in control. Try resisting the urge to correct their projects or be helpful when they are creating. Learn more about Project Based Learning to discover if it’s the right fit for your K-12 homeschool needs.
#2 Unit Studies
Unit studies approach is also similar to PBL when it comes to homeschools. Unit Studies focus on a theme and all of the subjects are based off of the chosen theme. For example, when picking a theme you would do research on the history of your particular theme, study the scientific process of it and make a replica of it out of clay. Unit studies really focus on your child’s interests and they are incorporated throughout the learning process.
Unschooling is one of the most unique approaches homeschooling programs where your child takes the lead. They learn things they want and daily living is their teacher. From a simple trip to the grocery store to daily chores, unschooling allows your child to explore the world around them.
#4 School at Home (School In a Box)
This is one of the more traditional approaches to homeschooling. School in a box is very similar to the public school learning style. You can purchase a full curriculum and complete assignments through text books based on grade levels. There are also many online homeschools that meet this criteria as well.
The Montessori learning method is more rigorous in terms of language, numbers and life skills. Simple tasks like cleaning up after themselves or washing their own dishes teaches them more independence in their daily lives. If you’re considering the Montessori approach, dive into researching this homeschooling option before you make the choice.
#6 Classical Approach
This approach teaches children to think as opposed what to think. This approach focuses more on thinking, grammar and speech. With different stages of learning, the classical approach is very rigorous and requires more formal study habits from your homeschoolers.
#7 Eclectic Homeschooling
This approach combines the best of all styles. Eclectic homeschooling is a lot more relaxed than most methods but still maintains more structure than some.
With so many methods to choose from, it can feel overwhelming and confusing. It took me almost 2 years to settle into an eclectic learning method before I felt confident! Remember, no two families are the same, no child learns the same and every family knows what works best for them. I hope this list is easy to follow and helps you find the best approach for your family!
From iFamily to Yours,
Back to School as a Homeschool Family
Considering the entire year of school, I definitely have to say that fall is my FAVORITE time to be a homeschooler. While everyone else is rushing to pick up school supply lists, find backpacks, and prepare little ones for the emotional adjustment of entering school – we are lucky to just be able to continue life as is.
Should I Homeschool My Children?
Spring is upon us and that means many families are thinking about school plans for next year. A growing number of those families will choose homeschooling.
If you are one of them, here are a few tips to get a jump start on your homeschooling year:
- Talk with your kids. Explain to them why you’re choosing homeschooling. Depending on the ages of your kids, this will look different. For a younger child, you may be playing together and say, “I’m so excited that we are going to spend more time playing and learning together at home.” With an older child, explain that you are eager for him to have extra time pursuing a passion of his. This will be an ongoing conversation throughout your child’s school years. Be sure to include your kids in the planning process so they can take ownership too. Our family has made posters with everyone’s reasons and we hang them in our school room.
- Develop relationships with another homeschool family or co-op. These people will be your mentors and support system. Take the opportunity to learn from someone else’s experiences, ask lots of questions and develop allies.
- Visit Mardel in Independence or Overland Park. They have a huge homeschool section and I’ve been known to spend hours reading through books to find just the right thing for my kids. If there’s something you love, make a note of it (I take a photo with my phone) and come back during their homeschool sale.
- Visit a homeschool convention, used book sale, information night or other event. The Midwest Parent Educators convention offers a vendor hall and a variety of speakers. Take time to peruse the vendor hall and, if your kids are old enough, have them look with you. Listen to the speakers and absorb all that you can. Don’t buy anything the first day. Think it over and come back the next day. Something I learned: it’s worth the cost in shipping if you decide to get something after the conference rather than buying a bunch of stuff that you don’t end up using. If you can’t make it to the convention, several libraries and co-ops will host events throughout the spring and summer to help you get started.
- Get a planner and start writing everything you do with your kids. Better yet, get them in on the process and discuss it at the end of each day while you write. If they’re old enough, have them do the writing. We’ll talk about why later, just do it!
The most important tip I would offer is to not to sweat the first year.
Your homeschool doesn’t need to replicate the classroom. Spend time teaching academics, but focus on developing character and relationships and set the course that you want to take over the next few years with your family. Homeschooling your kids isn’t a sprint, it’s a long distance run and you will be so glad you chose it.