This is a question that I think is key when starting out as a homeschooler. However, let me just warn you…your answer may change over time. As you begin your homeschool journey and learn more, you may decide that what you’re doing isn’t working. Therefore, you switch strategies. In doing so, you move away from the type of homeschooler you thought you were. At least that’s what has happened in OUR homeschool journey.
Here are some various types of homeschoolers…
- School at home – You use traditional textbooks and worksheets and follow a structured curriculum program. There are traditional subjects, lessons, tests, grades, etc.
- Unit Studies – You pick a topic and cover that for a period of time.
- Relaxed, Eclectic – You use some aspects of several of the different types. For instance, you may use a curriculum for some subjects, but you leave other subjects up to chance or personal choice.
- Unschooling – You trust that learning will happen daily and there are no rules, lessons, etc.
- Radical Unschooling – The ideals of freedom and choice apply to education as well as daily living. Learning and parenting are not separate from any other life activity.
Over the years, I have grown away from using curriculum for all subjects. While I’d love to just drop all curriculum and give Caleb choices in his schooling, that’s not what is best for him or me. So, now, I would classify myself as a Relaxed, Eclectic Homeschooler.
I feel that Caleb benefits from having a formal math and Language Arts curriculum. These are the two areas where he struggles the most, and I feel that throwing those to the wind and allowing him to grab them as he chooses would not be a good idea. My gut tells me that he’d stray as far away from them as possible. So, for his sake
In regards to the other subjects…history, science, reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, art, music, etc…I’m fine with giving him the reins and letting him have freedom. All I do is make sure that our home is full of things in those areas that will spark his interest and entice him. There are lots of books for each area and plenty of manipulatives, games, learning kits, and arts/craft supplies. I also ask him what he’s interested in learning about or take cues from the conversations we have, the movies/shows he watches, the books he picks up at his leisure, etc. Then I spend time gathering books from the library, printing off lapbook/notebooking components, finding Internet resources, etc on the topics. He gets to choose WHAT he learns and WHEN he wants to learn it. I’m not dictating that he must study ancient civilizations in 5th grade or animal life cycles in 3rd grade…he gets to make those decisions.
This is how homeschool is approached in our house. I’ll be the first to admit that it was not easy to hand the reins over to him. However, he has shown that he is able and willing to learn and study topics that interest him. Right now, he wants to learn about the Civil War, so that’s what we’ll spend some time studying. I don’t know what he’ll choose next, and that’s okay. I’m here to offer support and encouragement. The rest is up to him.
Our school day may look very different from what goes on in your house, and that’s fine. Homeschooling is not the same for everyone…that’s what makes it such a good option. You can customize it to fit YOUR family, YOUR child, and YOUR needs.
This is where are are right now in our journey, and I feel confident that this is where we’ll stay for some time…at least in regards to Caleb. As for Micah – well, we’ll see what happens…LOL!
What type of homeschooler are you? Have you changed your methods over the years?