Dear Homeschool Newbie: You Got (Homeschool) Style

So, you’re thinking about homeschooling? I thought I’d write a few posts about it, since we’ve been at this for 8 years, now. I am NOT going to cover logistics, since homeschooling is handled differently in every state. I’ll send you over to HSLDA where they list legal requirements for each state. It’s the easiest, most reliable guide I’ve come across for that information.

Briefly, there are a few most common styles of homeschooling:

  1. Traditional – This is basically school at home. Those of us raised up in traditional school settings usually start here at first.
  2. Classical – Based on the Trivium – Concrete (memorization), Analytical Thinking, and Abstract Thinking. It’s rich in history and classical literature.
  3. Charlotte Mason – Nature and living book focused. Emphasis on writing and journaling and exploration.
  4. Unit Studies – Pick a subject or topic of interest to your students, and branch out into all the different aspects of that topic. Think of a Ferris Wheel; the topic is the center cog that keeps the wheel moving, and the different cars are the different focuses from the topic.
  5. Eclectic – Exactly what it sounds like! A little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and a little sprinkle of this for good measure. (Spoiler Alert, this is where we fall under!)
  6. Unschooling – Student-led learning. This scares a lot of people, but it’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s lots of reading and projects and field trips. It’s just having things on hand for your students and letting them decide what to learn about.

(For more information, I’d go here and here. Lots of great information.)

I would describe our homeschool style as Eclectic with a definite Unit Study and Charlotte Mason bent, with a little bit of Classical sprinkled around for fun.

I thought I’d just share a bit of our journey with you. I was, admittedly, scared to death. We were starting with Kindergarten, and I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to teach my daughter (who has always been a pretty smart cookie!) to read. Scared.To.Death. She didn’t love it at first, and I didn’t want her to correlate bad feelings with reading, so I laid off our reading lessons for a little bit and just let her do some alphabet worksheets, a number workbook (from the Dollar Tree; it was a Sesame Street themed with The Count! Great memories!). After a while, I brought our reading book back out, and she flew through it! And retained everything! And then just started reading, and reading by herself. She’s 13, now, and I have to take books away from her, or she won’t go to bed! HA! (Like mother, like daughter).

I started with a book that literally held my hand the whole way through Kindergarten. I liked the structure, liked being told what to do and what needed to be done. But year 2 (or, 1st grade), I went out a little on my own. We started with Amanda Bennett Unit Studies. We started with the Autumn Treasures Download ‘N Go, and I fell in love immediately! There was a book list, and video links, and all kinds of suggestions. I like to credit Amanda Bennett for getting me off the “school at home” train. I heard her speak at a homeschool convention, and it changed our homeschooling lives. Not exaggerating. Not being over-dramatic. Seriously, it was a game changer, and I am forever thankful to her!

Before I go, just a couple of things:

  1. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO HOMESCHOOL. Whatever you use, whatever combination, as long as it’s working for your family, it is the right way. Also, please don’t feel married to any particular style of homeschooling. Some years, Unit Studies have been my very best friends! Some years, we have done not much more than read books! Some years, we rock the textbooks! There is freedom in this homeschooling journey.
  2. When you have sparked a desire to learn, to find out more, to be curious, you have done your job. The skills they learn when digging up information about something they love will transfer to other subjects when they’ve outgrown their Dino Dan or Medieval Princess days. Because they will outgrow them. I know, we’ve got a lot of Wiggle DVD’s to prove it!

Trust me, I know how intimidating this can all seem in the beginning. How you are worried that you will forget to teach math or spelling. But, guess what? No matter the type of education, there will be gaps. Because we are all human, and no one education is perfect. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that the Holy Spirit will fill in the gaps. It’s not all on your shoulders. And, the most important thing? Enjoy the journey!

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