Homeschool Philosophies

Written May 2010 for Christian County Headliner News, MO

Classical, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason; these are just a few of many different home school philosophies.

Let me simplify this before I give descriptions of these philosophies. Homeschooling is just that, completing school at home. But, that does not mean that homeschoolers must take public school books, schedules, and requirements and put them into practice in the home. Quite honestly, it doesn’t work. In fact, the majority of new homeschoolers do just that, they bring public school into the home. The problem is that those textbooks are made for a teacher to instruct out of to a large group of students. The students then take their homework home to do their own version of home school. Homeschoolers do not have the formalities of going to lockers, taking attendance, handing in papers, waiting in line, and other time consuming rituals. Homeschoolers are able to sit down and get their work done usually at a much faster pace and move onto chores, work, play, or personal interests.

So, what does all of that have to do with Classical, Unschooling, and Charlotte Mason? Since we do not desire to bring a public school system into our home, we must find another system that does work for our family. There are many choices, so I will only touch on a few.

Classical Education typically produces a very complete, higher education. Latin, Greek, Logic, and Rhetoric, and the basic core subjects are examples of subjects taught. It is a very thorough education with a systematic way to teach the different subjects. I have studied this philosophy and have found many great attributes. I do incorporate some into our curriculum.

The opposite end of the home school spectrum is Unschooling. These parents allow their children to focus more on their own interest and do mostly Unit Studies. They read at different ages, when they are able to, not when a Scope and Sequence says they should. They explore, experience, and document life. Textbooks are completed as needed.

Charlotte Mason was an amazing woman after my own heart. She desired to instill a love of learning in children. She encouraged a combination of Classical and Unschooling; taking the richness of a good education and placing it deep within the hearts of our children. I encourage all homeschoolers and public school teachers to read her books. They will change your life and the life of your students.

Some homeschoolers need a more rigid set curriculum with schedules and accountability. They may call A beka, Bob Jones, Switched on Schoolhouse, or Sonlight and ask them for the specific grade boxed set of textbooks. They teach each subject from a teacher’s manual and take up most of the day to complete the assignments. Others may do this same structure, but on line or through an academy.

Konos is a good Unit study curriculum. The students learn how all school subjects intertwine with each other; how History and Science may have different information in their books, but are actually very similar.

So, what philosophy do I follow? Throw all of the above into a pot and you have my home school recipe. I have used different ideas, plans, books, videos, on line, and academies over the years. I try to tailor my children’s education to their ever changing personalities and needs. I try to give a good foundation, a love of learning, good character, a work ethic, and the ability to find the answers to their questions and needs. I do my best and ask only that they do theirs. They will fail. We all do. I teach them to learn from their mistakes and try not to make them again. We find their strengths and try to strengthen their weaknesses. It is a big job, but we can do it.