real encouragement for real homeschool moms

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Are you just beginning your homeschooling journey or are you a seasoned veteran wanting to re-evaluate your approach to teaching?   Confused by all the curriculum packages and homeschool mom lingo? Wondering what methods might best suit your children and you? Here is a short overview of the six most popular methods for learning and teaching; you can also find more information by listening to the discussion that HEDUA CEO Rebecca Keliher and I shared on this topic.

 

Delight-Centered Learning/Unschooling

Central to this method is recognizing the natural curiosity of children and determining their particular interests, using those to ignite interest in other subjects and ideas. Gathering a substantial home library combined with following a child’s personal growth results in a home atmosphere of learning and doing.

If you listen to homeschooling families who tell you they embrace the unschooling or delight centered method, you may be surprised to hear a wide variety of views and philosophies that make up this approach. From parents who take a hands-off attitude to those who provide a rich environment of activities and resources, this method continues to grow in popularity as it challenges the more traditional styles.

  • Attention is given to child’s natural desire to learn as he experiences life.
  • Most families don’t use a structured plan, curriculum, or schedule.
  • Home is filled with real books and hands on resources; time is spent reading and researching their interests.
  • Practical life skills are interwoven with independent study.
  • Wide variety of parental perspectives and extent of involvement.

 

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was an educator who lived during the early part of the 20th century and her philosophy and educational methods have enjoyed resurgence within the last decade among homeschooling families. Based on the desire to approach each child as an individual who has the desire to explore and discover rather than as “containers to fill,” Charlotte’s ideals and methods are a natural fit for many homeschooling families.

Charlotte believed that a child’s education is “an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” Simply explained, she recognized that a child’s environment and those people who share his life have a profound effect on the child. She observed that building good habits is the foundation of success and that learning must not be merely a collection of facts but must happen in the context of real life.

Hand-on nature study, narration, handicrafts, art and music, reading living books, fresh air and exercise, combined with short, thorough lessons in the basic subjects, are the cornerstone of the Charlotte Mason method.

  • Atmosphere of learning, character building, and being involved in real life activities
  • Living books that explore particular subjects in details rather than textbooks that provide an overview of many subjects.
  • Quality literature, music and art appreciation are important.
  • Narration, dictation, copy work, and notebooks in short lessons that alternate subjects that require intense concentration with those that require less.
  • Much physical activity, nature study, self-exploration.
  • Lessons completed in mornings to allow time for handicrafts and studies of interest to individual children.
  • Use of library books encouraged; free lesson plans available online.

 

Classical Education

The Classical Education method is based on the idea that there are three stages of development as young people grow and that each stage has specific abilities that make learning particular skills favorable during that time.

Beginning with the “grammar” stage, ages birth to 12, students are trained in elementary subjects with an emphasis on memorization followed by the “dialectic” stage that emphasizes analytical thinking in the junior high years. The high school years or the “rhetoric” stage are when expression and abstract thinking are taught.

Students who learn with the classical approach will have a rigorous education, will be well-versed in logic, and will have much exposure to history and classical works of literature. Future statesmen are often prepared in the classical method.

  • Based on the philosophy of the “trivium,” material is divided into three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
  • Students learn Latin, Greek, logic, and read and study the Great Books of the Western World
  • Memorization and drill work in early grades
  • Public speaking and debate in high school years
  • Intense research and study for full day

 

 

Come Alongside

One of the most encouraging aspects of homeschooling today is the fact that there are so many wonderful individuals and organizations that are willing to come alongside you on your homeschooling journey!  Here are few options but the ideas are endless, especially given the creativity of homeschooling families!

 

  • Co-ops formed by families or within churches
  • Distance learning where curricula is packaged and lessons are graded
  • Umbrella schools sponsored by local churches or private schools
  • Homeschool-based charter schools sponsored by local public schools
  • University model (college prep) schools

 

Traditional Textbook

The Traditional Textbook Method is the one most familiar to all of us and for many reasons is the one most frequently used by new homeschoolers. Teachers/parents are provided with materials arranged in various grade levels, and should plan to expand the condensed information back out as time allows. Based on an established set of standards provided through various publishers, students also learn by using lectures, workbooks, and sometimes recorded materials. Prewritten tests and answer keys are available for each subject and the goals for each lesson are provided and clearly stated.

Textbook curriculum companies typically offer testing for students to determine what grade level is best to purchase for the coming school year. This is important because there can be a variation in subjects covered as well as expected mastery of a certain subject matter. There is also an observable worldview that is unique with each textbook company that should be considered as you make your selections.

Textbooks can also be used as a key resource for homeschooling families as they branch out into other methods of learning. For example, as a mom prepares a unit study for her children, a textbook can be used as a check-off list for knowing which subjects should be included.

 

  • Material presented via textbooks for each grade level, workbooks, and sometimes recorded lectures.
  • Lessons and curriculum driven by established set of standards offered through institutions or publishers’ scope and sequence charts.
  • Much reading, writing, and seat work, full day schedule.
  • Testing is given and grades assigned with objective outcome.
  • Parent/teacher preparation provided in teacher manuals.
  • The goals and objectives for this method are provided in the material with some companies offering assistance via phone or e-mail.
  • Costs variable, non-consumable textbooks can be resold or reused.

 

Unit Studies/Lapbooks

One of the most popular methods of homeschooling over the past two decades has been the unit study approach. Also known as an integrated method, students study one particular topic, “integrating” all the subjects into the study. Literature, language arts, science, and history are examined as the students learn as much as possible about the chosen topic and projects and applied activities enhance the research and reading. A unit study could be based on a time in history, a passage of Scripture, a work of literature or art, an individual, a discipline of science, or any number of topics that a child might be especially interested in knowing.

One of the best reasons to consider the unit study method is how well it works for homeschoolers because a variety of ages are able to participate. Little ones might learn the basic information while older children research in-depth knowledge of a particular subject, all of them enjoying the field trips, DVD’s, and projects together.

Recently, using lapbooks as part of a unit study has become a creative and economical way to engage those learners who love the hands-on approach. Materials for making lapbooks can be purchased, downloaded for free, or made with materials you have on hand.
• Concentrated study of subject of choice: topics, time in history, portion of Scripture, works of literature, etc.
• Projects and activities are chosen for each age level, all associated with the theme
• Used to teach all grade levels in your home at once
• All subjects can be integrated together (science, history, art, music, literature, Bible, character qualities, etc.) Math is usually done separately.
• Projects and field trips are often planned that coincide with the lessons
• Lapbooks

 

(originally published in Home Educating Family Magazine, 2013)

8 Responses to We’re Going to Homeschool! Now What? ~ homeschooling methods at a glance

  • Sky says:

    Such a helpful resource! I’m frequently wrestling with bringing my son home- this is really good information for crossing that bridge if it comes! Pinning to refer to- thanks!

  • Honest says:

    So much has changed in the homeschool world since I was young. This is great information. I’m pinning it for later, too. Thank you!

  • fiddlrts says:

    I think we are using some elements of all of the methods. I wonder if it is a second generation homeschooler thing. My wife and I experienced various methods when we were learning, so nothing feels completely unfamiliar.

  • Kris says:

    This is great information! We greatly enjoy the unit study method, although our writing is done separate because of my son’s needs. He really remembers what we learn from our unit study with the library books, classical books, activities and field trips. We only do lapbooks when they are needed as he is not a fan of them.

  • becky says:

    I would add online schooling and public school classes to the “come alongside” category. Though my term for it is “outsourcing.” (I like your term better, btw!)

    This is our second year to participate in Potter’s School online classes and we’ve been pleased. This year we’re also taking advantage of our public school district’s willingness to let us pick and choose classes. My son has is taking just two freshman classes at our local public high school (and he’s involved in their sports program). I was a bit worried about doing this but our son was really interested to try it and it’s turned out to be a great experience so far. (I’m sure this would vary greatly by school district. Several around here that we talked to were very anti-homeschooling…thankfully the district we reside in has been very welcoming and easy to work with)

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truth from the Word
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73: 25-26
more truth from the Word
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." ~ Ephesians 4:32
William Carey says:
"Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."
Tim Keller says:
"God’s love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deliberately oppressed or even murdered people, or how much you’ve abused yourself… There is no evil that the Father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace." ~ Tim Keller
Tim Keller also says:
“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” ! Tim Keller in The Reason for God.
Oswald Chambers says:
"If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His." ~ Oswald Chambers
Phillip E. Johnson says:
“When pressed in interviews to name my heroes, I have spontaneously responded that they are homeschooling mothers! To me, the heroic mothers who nurture the next generation of faithful Christians are among the leaders of the church.” ~ Phillip E. Johnson
John Stonestreet says:
“C.S. Lewis said that for every new book we read, we ought to read three old ones. But I think for every latest, greatest new homeschooling book you read, go find three old homeschooling moms and ask them what happened and what worked.” ~ John Stonestreet
Carolyn Custis James says:
“The power of our theology comes alive when we take the truth personally. Holding God at arm’s length—no matter how much theology we think we know—will never make us great theologians. We have to learn to write our own names into the plot. God will always be the subject of our theological sentences but our sentences are incomplete until we make ourselves the direct objects of his attributes…..Simply knowing a lot of theological ideas, no matter how orthodox and sound they are, will never turn us into great theologians. Theology isn’t really theology for us until we live it. Not until we learn to make explicit connections between what we know about God and the race we are running will we taste the transforming power of our theology. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means reminding ourselves of all that He is to us now. He brings meaning to our routines and energizes us to tackle the difficult tasks at hand. Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us hope to offer disheartened husbands and hurting friends, and the wisdom we need to raise children who will fix their eyes on Him, too.” ~ from Carolyn Custis James in When Life and Beliefs Collide
Anne Ortlund says:
“So what do we do to encourage them to grow inwardly, to become resourceful and creative, to think, to meditate, to lay the foundation for growing up well? Don’t push, but affirm them! Give them the sense that all is well, that their rate of progress is acceptable to you, that you like them just the way they are…..Guide them but be delighted in them. Let them know that life is to be reached for and drunk of deeply…..Enthusiastic, that’s how you want them to grow up! The word comes from “en Theo,” or “in God.” Support them with words of faith, hope, and love, and in that framework “in God,” they’ll be ready to tackle everything. Fears and cautions are built in at an early age but so is courage! Tomorrow’s world will be different if your child has been released to experiment, to risk, to lead others, to pursue righteousness, to be an affecter for good in society, to go courageously after God.” ~ Anne Ortlund in Children Are Wet Cement
J.C Ryle says:
"Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys, these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily, these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart." ~ J. C. Ryle in The Upper Room
Clay Clarkson says:
“Many Christian parents, myself included, tend to speak to children as though they were Pharisees. We can speak harshly and with judgment, implying by our manner that their hearts are hard and resistant. But this attitude is not justified by Scripture. There is no record of Jesus ever speaking to a a child in a harsh tone. When the Gospels record Him speaking to a child, it is always with gentleness. Our children are not our adversaries. Though our children’s hearts are corrupted by sin, they are not hardened sinners who have made conscious choices to reject the Savior. Our children are simply immature and childish. That’s why children need love and compassion, not harshness and guilt.” ~ Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline
Tim Kimmel says:
“Grace can’t be some abstract concept that you talk about in your home. It has to be a real-time action that ultimately imprints itself in your children’s hearts. To talk about grace, sing about grace, and have our children memorize verses about grace – but not give them specific gifts of grace – is to undermine God’s words of grace in their hearts. Grace means that God not only loves them but that He loves them uniquely and specially. The primary way to give our children grace is to offer it in place of our selfish preferences.” ~ Tim Kimmel in Grace-Based Parenting
Chuck Swindoll says:
"You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here's how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do's and don'ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately...yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur. "
Kathy Thile says:
"I say this gently, as the parent of grown kids, knowing *insert parenting guru* is also the parent of grown kids: we have wonderful children — he does, I’m sure — and so do I. But without even knowing his children I can know this about them: they are not perfect. They hurt. They make mistakes. They struggle. They are prideful and overly simplistic at times; and crippled by shame and hesitancy at others. Yes — they are beautiful examples of human beings, his children (I assume), and mine (I know.) But they are not perfect. If they were, they would not be human. If it were possible to raise children to perfection, then God would have sent a parenting method, not Jesus. Our marching orders are not to raise our children by a method to be like *insert parenting guru* children. Our marching orders are to be Christians to and with our children." ~ Kathy Thile
Anna Quindlen says:
“The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less." ~ Anna Quindlen
Winston Churchill says:
“My education was interrupted only by my schooling." ~ Winston Churchill
John Taylor Gatto says:
"The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real." ~ John Taylor Gatto
Fred Rogers say:
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” ~ Fred Rogers
thatmom says
"The truth is that the way a marriage becomes truly heavenly is for each husband and each wife to pursue, really pursue, a relationship with Jesus Christ, to commit to obey the Word of God, to set aside each of their own agendas and paradigms, and then as they walk in the Holy Spirit, as they are sanctified, a little at a time each day, they will grow closer to one another. Godly wisdom will manifest itself in purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, a willingness to submit to one another, the fruits of the spirit, and no role-playing (the true meaning of hypocrisy). (James 3:17)" ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"We need to approach our children not as character projects, but rather, we must see them with hearts of sympathy, with compassion and understanding, and with ears that listen. You see, homeschooling is not about lesson plans and research papers and standardized tests. Homeschooling is about building a relationship with our children, friendships that will last our entire lives on earth and clear into eternity. Homeschooling is merely the tool whereby we build those relationships." ~ thatmom
thatmom knows:
As a homeschooling mom, I have realized that everything, ultimately, is outside of my own control. I have learned that the unique circumstances that happen in my family have occurred because God’s plan is so much bigger than my own. It is knowing this truth about God and in experiencing that truth with those in my home that has enabled us to face past challenges and that will prepare us for all those difficulties that still lie before us.
thatmom realizes:
If I think about 37 years of marriage, times the number of loads of laundry I have done for 2 parents, 6 children and 1 grandma, I am amazed to know that I have washed, dried, folded, (sometimes ironed) and put away roughly 27,526 loads of laundry. That is over 215,000 socks! Or, in that same amount of time, provided 38,324 meals for a family and sometimes guests. Or that I have overseen nearly 21,500 hours of education of one sort or another during that time. Just thinking of these numbers takes my breath away. ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"Real books from the library, a tub of art supplies, being read stories rich in vocabulary, a variety of good music, the daily discussion of God’s Word and how it relates to the world around him, and the attention of a loving parent who includes him in all the activities of real life are the secrets to a great learning experience for children." ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"Being a mom is sort of like being all the people who crowd into a basketball arena all at once. Sometimes we are the players, the ones who are responsible for everything that is going on and our presence is front and center. Sometimes we are the coaches, giving comfort and encouragement, instructing with a clipboard in hand. Other times we are the referees, no striped shirts required but whistles are a must to break up the disputes when the game isn’t played as per the rules. Still other times we are the fans, cheering wildly from the stands, shouting from a distance but not from the floor. And then there are the days when we are the cheerleaders, the ones who scream 'Yeah, you can do it.' " ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
“The beauty of homeschooling is building relationships within our families and inspiring our children to become lifelong learners, gently leading them into the truth of Scripture and trusting that the work we have begun will be brought to completion by a sovereign God who has a plan for building His heavenly kingdom.” ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"A family that embraces a paradigm becomes lazy and doesn’t study the Word of God for themselves. They take what others state as gospel. They have to check in with the “expert” blogs to see how so and so is doing it. It requires little effort and, truthfully, little leadership on the part of the parents. Dads who think they are turning the hearts of their children to themselves are really turning the hearts of their children to the dad’s gurus!" ~ thatmom
thatmom also says:
“After parenting for 36 years, I have come to realize that all paradigms are basically a list of do’s and don’ts that someone has created. Instead of embracing a list, I have discovered that it is best for me to run all ideas, philosophies, and paradigms through my “one-anothering hopper.” I ask myself if the suggestions or ideas I am hearing will serve to build my relationships or will serve to tear them down; will they reflect the one-anothering commands of Scripture? I ask if they are a picture of Christ and His relationship with me as His needy daughter. If not, I am not interested, no matter how much appeal they might have for any number of reasons.” ~ thatmom
thatmom says this, too:
“The word wisdom is used in Exodus to describe the knowledge that the Lord gave to the skilled artisans so they could make Aaron’s garments for worship. We are told that these workers “were given wisdom and understanding in knowledge and all manner of workmanship.” I have never had to sew any garments for a priest to wear for worship. I have not had to sew any draperies or build any walls or prepare any inner sanctuary as per the Lord’s instructions. But I have been called to give all I can toward the goal of building up children in the faith, preparing children for life outside my home, children whose bodies, we are told, are called the very temple of the Holy Spirit, children whose job it is to worship in spirit and in truth." ~ thatmom
what does thatmom believe?
" What is thy only comfort in life and death? "That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him." ~ Heidelberg Catechism
What does it mean to be a Christian?

1.We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. “For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

2.We are all accountable for our own sins before God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

3.There is only one way to be forgiven of these sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

4.If we confess our sin to the Lord and repent of it (not allow it to rule in our lives) we can be forgiven and be in right standing with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousenss.” (1 John 1:9)

5.Genuine salvation will result in living lives of good works but none of those works contribute in any way to our standing before God which is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

6.We all, men and women, boys and girls, have direct access to the throne of grace because everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ is called a “priest and king” in God’s economy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

I believe that many of the false teachings within the patriocentric movement are in direct contrast to these Scriptures and I would encourage each of us to first examine what we believe about Jesus and His work on the cross, its implications and its marvelous power.

Secondly, I would challenge anyone reading here to examine your own heart and ask yourself whether you have been trusting in good works….baptism, homeschooling, church attendance, modest dress, the list goes on and on, or if you have placed ALL your faith and hope in Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone.

And finally, I would challenge you to examine the teachings within your own church system, whether it is Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc. Ask yourself what your church teaches about ecclesiastical authority and family authority. Does it line up with the Word of God? It is a top down system that requires certain works in exchange for a relationship with Jesus Christ or do you have the assurance that you are saved for eternity by His death on the cross in your stead? Does it teach that the fruits of the spirit and obedience to all the one anothers is what our lives will demonstrate or is there a list of man made rules?

If you desire to talk with me about this, please send me a note to shesthatmom@gmail.com. My desire is that no one who visits this website will leave without knowing the glorious truth that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can enjoy a life filled with His goodness and grace!

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Adoration of the Home was painted by regional artist, Grant Wood. The original hangs in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Ben Campbell and Lon Eldridge deserve extra cookies for writing, performing, recording, and mixing Mom’s Prairie Song for the podcast intro and outro. Great job, guys. Garrison Keillor would be proud.

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