Sunday, October 29, 2006

What type of homeschooling do you practice?

I get this quesiton a lot. Mostly in conversation with friends, relatives or others who are out there, silently reading the blog. It's good to know you're there. :-)

So, here's the answer: We do what we need to do, as it works for us. How's that for elusive?

If I have to give a more defined answer I'd say that we defy categorization. I've never been one for following rules. Although we honor the schedule, understand the need for structure, and have a few tried and true beliefs, rigidity in any form is not our way.

That said, for those who'd like to know here are three areas we fit into:

Unschooling. Unschooling is a term coined by educator John Holt. He wrote many works about revamping public schools and how kids learn. Unschooling is kind of a hot topic these days. We are not radical unschoolers or parents who use the label and then ignore what happens. Rather, we try to follow our kids' lead; their natural curiosity generates their will to learn. We simply help them find the means. For more info check out this article: What is Unschooling? or The Sudbury Valley School.

Waldorf Inspired. Waldorf is a method developed by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian Philosopher in the early 1900s. This method emphasized child development and art.
We say Waldorf Inspired because we don't follow Waldorf exclusively. There is a lot I like about the Waldorf method, especially for the younger ages, in fact Waldorf inspired pedagogy is what we are mainly following these days (within our schedule and lesson blocks). However, some of the philosophy simply does not work for our family in this modern age. There is an intersting article entitled Oak Meadow and Waldorf that talks about this very topic. Oak Meadow is a Waldorf inspired homeschooling curriculum used by many. We use it and really like it. For more information check out this site: Waldorf Homeschoolers. Plus there are some Waldorf Resources within the links to the right.

#3 Core Knowledge. Core Knowledge Foundation is a non-profit that conducts research on curricula and developes materials. It was founded in the late 80s by Edward Hirsh and offers a variety of books on what the foundation deems: core knowledge.
The Core books were created to be used by teachers in the classroom and as supplements by parents of publically schooled children. We like the series "What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know." These are pretty rigid books, but they are well written, easy to follow and provide a good map of what a child might be ready for. Lots of homeschoolers use this series as the basis of their schooling. We like them and use them mostly as reference points and to see what public schooled kids of the same age might be up to. I also get some good ideas for answering questions that Nightowl frequently poses.

So there you go, that's how we homeschool - most of the time. While we draw from these sources we don't use them exclusively and sometimes we use them not at all. Sometimes we look at work by Charlotte Mason, Suzuki, various library materials, UU materials or we draw from our own experience. We also get a lot of information and ideas from other homeschoolers. We are finding that there is no single, correct map for learning. Our kids don't fit conveniently into any mold - and we like them that way.

1 comment: said...

Although we have a few years before we need to determine curriculum, I am very interested in several types of homeschooling. It is nice to see someone articulate a blend of methods. -Nina