Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Homeschooling Methods: An Overview on a Few

This past month, I spoke at an “Educational Options” night at our local library. It was a great little get together with nine speakers, each taking between 5 and 7 minutes talking about the educational method that has worked for their family. The speakers were followed by half an hour of a “curriculum crawl” where folks displayed their favorite learning tools and people were free to ask questions, look around, and handle curriculum. It was a really inspiring night.

I spoke about All the Wrong Questions and encouraged those considering homeschooling to answer the WHYs of wanting to homeschool before they invested too much into the HOWs.  I also provided an overview list of a few popular homeschooling methods and resources local to the Treasure Valley in Idaho.  There wasn’t time or space to mention ALL the homeschooling/alt school options (I don’t know that I even know ALL that are available!) but wanted to offer what I could—getting into homeschooling can be SO overwhelming, it can be hard to know where to start.

Below is the handout I made available to everyone. I share it here for those looking for a place to start, along with helpful links, as I could find them.

An Overview of some homeschooling ideologies and methods:

Classical: Defined by a three stage approach to learning: Grammar stage (emphasis of memorization of facts), Logic Stage (emphasis on analytical thinking/cause and effect), and Rhetoric Stage (emphasis on expressing oneself clearly and eloquently.)

Books about Classical Education: A Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise and The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of a Classical Education by Leigh Bortins

Websites about Classical Education: www.welltrainedmind.com and www.classicalconversations.com

TJEd: Thomas Jefferson Education, also known as Leadership Education is an educational ideology and methodology that emphasizes learning through classic books in all subjects, family work, family projects, and through parental and mentor examples

Books about TJEd: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century by Oliver Van DeMille and Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille

Websites about TJEd: www.tjed.org

Charlotte Mason: This ideology emphasizes respecting children as whole persons and offering a broad education through "living books" (not textbooks), nature study, art, and music appreciation

Books about Charlotte Mason Education: The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte M. Mason, A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola

Websites about Charlotte Mason Education: simplycharlottemason.com, amblesideonline.org

Waldorf: This ideology and method was developed in a more traditional school setting and emphasizes delaying academic studies until about age 7, reasoning that young children learn best through imitation and imaginative play. Heavy emphasis on art and developing autonomy and self expression.

Books on Waldorf Education: Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash, Waldorf Education: A Family Guide by Pamela F. Fenner

Websites about Waldorf: christophorushomeschool.org

Project Based Homeschooling: This ideology centers on combining personal interests with learning through making, doing, sharing, collaborating, and acquiring real-life skills.

Books about PBH: Project Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self Directed Learners by Lori Pickert

Websites for PBH: http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog

Unschooling: An ideology that advocates learner-chosen activities and personal interests as the primary learning tool. Unschooling is the most misunderstood homeschooling philosophy. Originally "unschooling" meant "not associated with public/traditional schools" and encompassed all the previously mentioned ideologies and methods. The definition/perception of unschooling has evolved to indicate child-led learning and to imply (falsely) no rigorous academic study. "Radical unschooling" is a term that typically denotes a complete rejection of formal academic curriculum, in favor of real life, hands-on experiences to learn life skills.

Books on Unschooling: Learning All the Time by John Holt, How Children Learn by John Holt, How Children Fail by John Holt, Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education by Clark Aldrich

Websites about Unschooling: http://sandradodd.com/unschooling  and http://unschoolers.com/

Local Online Public/Private, and part time schools and co-operatives:

Online Charter/Public: Public school curriculum online and facilitated through your local school district--different programs are available IDEA, IDVA, Connections Academy, Harmony Educational Services

Websites for Online Charter/Public schools: http://www.idahoidea.org/about-us, http://www.connectionsacademy.com/idaho-online-school/home.aspx, K12 Idaho 

Online Private School/Distance Learning: Liahona Academy (LDS Education) www.liahonaeducation.com

Part Time Private Schools and co-ops: Local part time private schools in the Treasure Valley are available to help supplement your child's learning at home. A few options are: Aaron Academy: www.theaaronacademy.com, Glen J. Kimber Academy: google kimber.academy, Vineyard Christian Home School Co-op: www.vineyardboise.org (families must sign a statement of faith to enroll--in which case,Vineyard may not be appropriate for Catholic, LDS, and non-Christian students.) Treasure Valley Commonwealth (A TJEd co-op that meets once a week): www.treasurevalleytjed.blogspot.com,

This list is not exhaustive---Google is your friend!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

All the Wrong Questions

All the Wrong Questions

As I’ve mentioned before, we are huge Lemony Snicket fans—and today, Calvin brought this lovely volume home from the library.  I’m laughing already and I haven’t even read the thing yet.

But this post is not about delightfully droll books, dripping with sardonic humor.

This is a post about being asked about homeschooling.  I have had a few people approach me lately wanting to know what curriculum to use and how expensive it is to homeschool.  These aren’t BAD questions, but for folks just beginning to look into homeschooling, these are the WRONG questions to start with.  Of course, they don’t know that, and it’s no fun being told you’re asking the wrong questions, but these really aren’t the best first questions to ask when considering homeschooling.

It’s natural enough to jump from “I think I want to homeschool my child” to “What curriculum should I use? And “How much does homeschooling cost?” but the answers to these questions depend entirely on a different set of questions, which are much more important, but may not be easy to answer without a lot of thought about them.

I remember when I first began researching homeschooling—I asked every homeschool parent I could find “What curriculum do you use?” and “How much does it cost?” and “How do you schedule your class time?” and EVERYONE answered “It depends.” I would press for details and I usually came away with some variation of “Well, we did this one thing, and it worked for awhile, and then we did this other thing, but now we do something else.”


Turns out, I was asking the wrong questions—but I only learned that after I fumbled through a few months of homeschooling, myself.  THEN, I knew why I felt I was only getting non-answers.  The homeschoolers weren’t trying to be vague—they were being honest.  Their mindset and mine were very, very different—and I was asking them questions from a public school mindset—when homeschooling is altogether a different one. I was coming from a public school lifestyle.  Their answers were coming from a completely different lifestyle. And, regardless of method or schedule or curriculum, homeschooling IS a lifestyle.  I needed a paradigm shift.

So---what are the right questions for the homeschool-curious to ask?

Before you ask ANYONE else about homeschooling—you need to ask yourself:

Why am I considering homeschooling?

How do I define a good education?

What do I value?

What do I want my children to value?

What experiences knowledge do I want my children to have?

What am I willing to do or sacrifice to make that happen?

These are not simple questions—in fact, they can be kind of loaded—but they are absolutely necessary to answer for yourself.  Once you’ve done that (and it takes some time---it’s a good idea to write it all down on paper---and write everything that comes to mind, no matter how silly or wacky your answers may sound) it’s a good idea to ask your spouse these questions—Have your partner answer the questions for him/herself—then compare your answers. 

You may find you have similar definitions, values, and ideas (this is, of course, ideal) but you may find that you have wildly disparate answers to these questions.  If that’s the case, before you can seriously consider ANY form of homeschooling, you need to work together to get on the same page—to have the same ideals and goals for your kids’ education.

These are not “sexy” questions—they require some real thought and effort—and might even require some deep discussions with your partner.  If you have older kids you are thinking about homeschooling, it might be wise to ask them these questions and find out what their answers are.

When you have a pretty solid idea of what you, your spouse, and possibly your children think—you’re almost ready to ask about curriculum, cost, and schedules, but not quite—you need to do a bit of research first—your answers to the above questions will lead you to the KIND of homeschooling that will fit your family’s needs best.

More on that next time!