Here we are in week 5 of the Many Little Blessings and iHomeschoolNetwork.com “10 in 10” series and we are explaining why we chose our homeschooling method. When we first started homeschooling, I really wasn’t even aware that there were so many different named methods: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Unit Studies, Lapbooking, etcetera. Those terms just weren’t in my vocabulary. I basically went with my instincts and what I felt would work for us. As we have traveled the homeschool road, these are the reasons that we have followed the eclectic path of learning.
- When the kids were in elementary school, I would grab a list of the standards that the public schools said our children needed to know in a certain grade and I tailored our learning to cover those topics, using traditional textbooks that I would pick up at the second hand book store. Boring.
- As I became more comfortable with homeschooling, we began to follow our interests a little more and tailored what we were learning to those, still being aware that we needed to be accountable that we were covering the basics, still relying on traditional methods, but stretching out to incorporate less traditional books. The library is invaluable when looking for books to cover specific topics.
- We have done unit studies, though I did not know that was what we were doing at the time. I just thought it made sense for us to connect all the subjects to what we were interested in and make them relevant. We did an animal unit, a weather unit, a plants unit, a pilgrim unit, and a gardening unit. We dabbled in lapbooking doing an Explorers unit, a few other history units, and a literature unit. While I loved lapbooking and thought it to be a wonderful way to present learned information, my kids weren’t thrilled with it. They just did not enjoy the cutting and pasting involved and thought it to be to ‘childish’. Too bad, I really enjoyed them, but I did not want learning to be something they dreaded so we moved on.
- We have always tried to be sure our literature books went along with the current topic we were working on at the time.
- I tried using ‘boxed’ curricula, but found many times there was a lot of what I called ‘busy work’ that just seemed like it was taking up valuable time and not really adding much meat to our studies, not to mention that it created frustration in my children that it took forever to finish their tasks with so much redundancy.
- As the kids grew I became better at determining what was working and what wasn’t. I began to learn that it was ok to change gears in mid-stream when something just didn’t prove to be the learning tool for us. Instead of continuing to battle with trying to make something fit and struggling to get it to help educate my children, never mind fretting over the ‘good money spent’, I would just try something else. I believe you can’t put a price tag on education (and besides there always seems to be someone who could use what wasn’t working for you.)
- There were many times that we were interested in a topic that I just could not find prepared lessons and curricula for, so I set about creating my own lesson plans and putting together our own supplements for the studies. This was especially true for our Bible studies. There are many fabulous programs for Bible study out there but I really wanted to focus on character development. That’s one of the reasons I came up with the Biblical Character Traits to Live and Learn copybooks and the free Princess and the Kiss workbooks.
- By the time my son was in high school it was getting more difficult to do classes together because my children were at different learning levels. This is when we became really eclectic in our school. I would find books that would address particular studies and skills I felt the kids needed to master. I began to just select items from many different curriculum providers that seemed to fit their learning styles. That often meant that each child was using something totally different from the other. We did try to do at least one class together, usually creative writing, and we have always kept a timeline book, adding items from all subjects through the years, but for the most part they were working independently.
- This past year both my kids were in high school (9th and 12th grades), and because it was the last year we would be working all together, I tailored their curricula so that many of our classes were done together. I could not find a homeschool botany course and they really wanted to study this, so I created our own course using a lot of different resources, (you can read what we use and did in this posting). We also had started using the Mystery of History the previous year so we continued with that. We did Spanish together and Speech. They each had their own math course, but for English and Literature I put together a course for them that we also worked through together.
- In the course of the eight years that we have been homeschooling, we have included unit studies and lapbooking, followed Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of short lessons, copywork, and nature studies, included classical thinking that logic and great books are necessary, and delighted in a bit of unschooling when we wanted to follow the rabbit trails to exploration. We have left the traditional textbooks and cookie-cutter public school method by the wayside and followed a very eclectic path of education. Because of our flexibility and willingness to try new ways of learning things, I feel that my children are being equipped to continue into a lifetime of learning. For us, it has been a wonderful journey of freedom and discovery.
So what sort of path have you been following while homeschooling your family