Homeschooling Methods

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

For many people, homeschooling may call to mind the picture of two
or three children sitting at a table and writing feverishly in
their workbooks, while mom or dad stands nearby. This is the not
entirely true. There are different methods of homeschooling,
and the method you choose will decide the curriculum and your
style of teaching. Given below are some of the most influential
and popular homeschooling methods.

The Charlotte Mason method:
Charlotte Mason is known as the founder of the homeschooling
movement. A homeschooler herself, she was passionate in her zeal
to lay out the foundations for an effective a complete
homeschooling program that is fun and educational at the same
time. This method focuses on all the core subjects with emphasis
placed on classical literature, poetry, fine arts, classical music
and craft. Mason used a variety of books from classical
literature, which she called 'Living Books'. Since this method
encourages a passionate awareness of literature, the child is read
to daily from the 'Living Books'. After this, the child is asked
to narrate what she has heard. This process begins at the age of
six, and by ten the child is expected to write her narrations in
her book. Mason also advocated the use of 'Nature Diaries'. After
each short and interesting lesson, the child is asked to go to
Nature and draw observations from Nature. Thus the child also
gains a sense of respect for her environment. Mason believed that
development of good character and behavior was essential to the
complete development of the child's personality.

The Eclectic Homeschooling:
This is a mixture of various homeschooling techniques. Here, the
innovative parents trust their own judgment and pick out the
topics that make the best curriculum for their child. Such parents
continuously look out for the best products that will meet the
needs of their homeschoolers. Most Eclectic homeschooling
curriculums are improvised. This means that the basic curriculum
is ready-made. The parents then make changes in the curriculum to
accommodate the individual needs and interests of their children.
The child's gifts, temperament, learning style and interests
dictate the curriculum. Eclectic programs include visits to the
museum, libraries and factories.

A Boston public educator name John Holt laid the beginnings of the
unschooling method. He believed that children learned best when
they are free to learn at their own pace and when they are guided
by their own interests. His message was to 'unschool' the child.
This method is a hands-on approach to learning, where the parent
takes definite cues from the children. There is no definite
curriculum, schedules or materials. This method is the most
unstructured of the various homeschooling techniques.

The Montessori Method:
This method began in Italy, when it was observed that children
have acute sensitive periods, during which they undergo periods of
intense concentration. During such phases, a child will repeat an
activity till he gains a measure of self-satisfaction. The
Montessori method depends on a prepared environment to facilitate
learning. All the materials used in this method are designed to
satisfy the inner desire for spiritual development of the child.
The materials used progress from simple to complex, and are rather

These are just a few of the methods of homeschooling. Whatever the
method, the underlying factor is flexibility and a keen interest
in the desires of the child. The secret is to use the child's
desire for knowledge to further his education.

Homeschooling Hours

Thursday, 2 April 2009

How many, how often and when? These are some oft-repeated
questions when it comes to homeschooling hours. Flexibility is of
course one of the key underlying principles behind homeschooling.
This flexibility applies not only to the curriculum but also to
the number of hours. It is only natural that parents, especially
if they have just started out on homeschooling should feel that
their children should be at their books all the time when regular
school-goers are at school. This is not only fallacious but can
also be damaging and counter-productive.

One of the most ignored but glaring drawbacks of the public
schooling system is the sheer waste of time and energy that it
causes. Many periods are simply wasted away and the child
effectively derives only 1-3 hours of study everyday. Then, there
are days when the studies become too intensive and other days when
it's only games and no work at all. There is a lot of 'invisible
wastage' involved here.

Early on in your homeschooling practice, work out a schedule. It
is advisable to stick to the same hours everyday. A routine makes
it easier to learn and gives structure to the learning experience.
It also tells the students that parents are strict about their
learning. A routine also allows your child to free his mind from
other activities and concentrate on studies. He knows that a
particular time is strictly set aside for learning.

The actual number of hours that you need depends on the curriculum
you have chosen and the learning style that suits your child. If
you are dealing with a subject that seems to be more complex, you
may need to sit with the child for a longer period. Using various
techniques, it may be necessary to demonstrate what you are trying
to teach. For instance, a lesson in Algebra may take more time
than a lesson in English.

Homeschooling does not refer to the practice of sitting in front
of the books and learning the printed matter. Field trips,
watching documentaries, visiting factories and libraries also make
up an important slice of the homeschooling process. It makes sense
to intersperse these activities so that learning becomes fun.
You may want to finish off the few hours of textbook learning
in the morning and dedicate the afternoons to these kinds
of activities.

Given the fact that too many public school hours are wasted in
meaningless activities ranging from talking to extra-curricular
activities, do not allow public school hours to dictate the time
you should spend teaching your child at home. Remember that at
home, he is getting a high-quality one-to-one time that is highly
productive. About 1-3 hours of study is enough in the primary
level. It is of course true that the more number of hours you put
in, the more learning takes place. This is also the reason why
homeschooling children are much smarter and more balanced than
regular school going children.

Homeschooling and The Family

Monday, 30 March 2009

According to the National Center For Education Statistics, almost
1.1 million children underwent homeschooling in 2005 alone. That's
a lot of children. Once upon a time, homeschooling used to be a
radical statement - something like a declaration of independence.
It was the conservative Christians who advocated homeschooling in
the '80s and legalized it in every State. But the typical
homeschooler of the day is not religiously motivated.

Recent surveys indicate that parents are actually quite fed up of
the public school systems where much of the learning is
superficial and compulsory. They are also concerned about negative
school environment ranging from drugs and abuse to negative peer
pressure. As a result, we have a surprising mix of people who form
the homeschooling world of today. They cut across all religious
and regional borders. Their main aim is providing meaningful and
productive learning through a method that strengthens the bond
between the various members of the family.

All these families have one thing in common - a long enduring
commitment to the sanctity of childhood. The children in these
families are accorded a primary position. Many believe, and
rightly so, that homeschooling allows parents to bring up children
in a more natural and nurturing environment. Public schools can
make one nervous, diffident and downright mean. Children who get
schooled at home are protected from these damaging negative
influences till they reach an age where they can handle it.

Homeschooling draws the whole family into the almost religious
task of schooling. Everyone is put to work. The parents together
form a bond with the children. Any experience can be turned into
an educational experience. Both the parents are aware of exactly
what is going into their child's head. Parents also have greater
control on the kind of religious and moral values that the child
imbibes. Even watching a movie together can become a learning
experience. Trips to the libraries and other places become
educational as well as recreational.

A homeschooling family is primarily dependent on the income of one
earning member. That means that often spending has to be curtailed
and proper planning of expenditure is a must. This helps to bring
the family members together and everybody gets involved in the
process of saving money.

Having a parent at home to supervise, to nurture and care for the
children brings with it a lot of love and caring. Even your
husband chips in and there just is no room for boredom. Yes,
problems do crop up, and there are a lot of misgivings in your
mind. But when you know that your kids can always count on you,
and your kids know it too, then homeschooling becomes a ric