As mentioned last week, I'm doing a series this month on lessons I have been reflecting upon as I prepare for Senior year of my last student. It is hard to believe we have zipped from elementary school, math facts and puppet shows.... to finals, SATs and graduation party planning! DON'T BLINK!
It was easy to plug-ahead with more 'students' still coming down the pipe. However, with my last one casting her gaze to the future, I find myself reflecting on the past and remembering how the helpful thoughts of veteran homeschool parents encouraged me over the years... some advice I yielded to and other advice I did not. Discretion... I didn't always use it to my best, but I did my best to use it well! Which leads me to this week's theme
If I Knew Then What I Know Now... About Homeschool Style
If you homeschool, or are considering homeschooling, than you know there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the different styles of homeschooling. From Traditional to Classical... from Charlotte Mason to UnSchooling... from co-op to on-your-own... and variations in-between, including a combination of all the above under "Eclectic". It can be hard to pick JUST ONE STYLE when so many often sound great and are just as equally billed as the "best" choice for you and your student(s).
Don't despair though.
#1 - Yes, know the different styles of homeschooling.
It doesn't mean you need to follow every.single.one. And, no, your student will not fail if you pick what you fear is the "wrong" style! But first, do a simple Internet search and grab a quick synopsis of each style. Read a little deeper on the ones that interest you most. As you dig, take note of:
- Style Strengths
- Style Weaknesses
- Teacher requirements (and weigh this out if you are teaching more than one kiddo at a time)
- Student requirements
- Materials necessary
- Cost of Materials necessary (and does it fit your budget)
You don't need to stress about the choice, but you do need to be fair and honest of what is required of you and your kids if you are going to hook into a good fit.
#2 - The best way to choose is...
First, prayer! Pray over how God would have you homeschool. You may, logically, know what is strategically best... but spiritually, God knows what the future holds for your time to teach and the needs of your children (and your family as a whole). Invite God to impassion you for His course of action. Then, secondly, consider your kids' learning styles. Knowing how they best learn (and being realistic on if they are ready to learn) will help you narrow down a program or programs which will work best for all of you.
#3 - There is no "bad choice" in choosing your homeschooling style!
I will admit, there may be some choices which are better for your family than others. However, it isn't about what style you stick to in your homeschool... it is about whether or not you and your kids are moving forward in learning!
#4 - When more than one style of homeschool seems necessary.
Out of 4 kids I have 4 very different types of learners. This is not uncommon. This is also why I considered our homeschool style "Eclectic". There is also the adaptation approach: taking the style you feel Led to use in your homeschool and adapting it for the various ages/grades/learning styles. My ADHD student may loathe workbooks while my traditional analytical one can't get enough. I may teach a lesson and set my traditional to task with text while jumping into some hands-on interactive activity with my ADHD.
#5 - Dash the label.
Others will ask: "What curriculum do you use?" or "What homeschooling style do you follow?" It is OK to say "Eclectic" or "Classical with some Charlotte Mason thrown in". It is also OK to say, "We never thought to label our style." I think we ask this of each other because we are curious... just like the unknowing public... "What does your homeschool day look like?" or "How is that working for you?" ...but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong if you can't 'label' it!
#6 - Own your choice.
I could put that statement on repeat and make that my ONE message to all homeschooling moms out there. It is easy to feel like we are failing our kids or like, if we don't do this homeschool style thing just right we will be messing up big time: letting our kids down, our husband down, and looking bad to society as a whole. Box that idea.
When we first started homeschooling, years of my own public school attendance coupled with the 9 years my kids had collected to that point, made me feel like I HAD to to "School-at-home" complete with circle time, tight schedule, and desk-type settings. The only good learning, I mistakenly thought, came from text books and work books and pop quizes.
At one point I was turned onto the idea of Charlotte Mason (CM). After devouring books and articles on the topic I decided I loved her method of teaching but still couldn't figure out how to mesh it into my starched idea of what school was... or keep-up the image to those around me that we really were learning. I couldn't understand then how positively valuable and diverse the CM style was so we only adopted certain points.
If I knew then what I know now, we would have jumped into the CM method with both feet! But as it is, I was afraid to own my choice. I worried more about one way of learning and what others thought instead of seeing this great possibility God presented me.
#7 - Keep Moving Forward
Don't regret. Also, don't be afraid to make changes as you see they are needed. It is OK to say, "We did Classical last year but we are trying CM this year..." or any other variation which strike your fancy. Just don't stop... keep on moving and trying and trusting. You DO got this!
Are you looking for something to help you organize your curriculum scouting for the next school year? My newsletter for May contained a FREE downloadable PDF packet of printables designed to help you collect your thoughts! When you sign up with my FREE e-newsletter I will send you May's issue containing this and other great material attached! Information below....
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