Now that the homeschool year is under way, there’s a lot of talk about homeschool style.
What does homeschool style mean anyway?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a 10-minute quiz you could take somewhere to find out? It could be like that What Color Is Your Parachute test that’s supposed to help you find your dream job. In less than half an hour, you’d know exactly what to do to find your joy. (In theory.)
Quizzes are the best. Remember all those Cosmo magazine quizzes, like “Which Lorelai Gilmore Quote Should Be Your Life Mantra?” or “Which Kardashian Child Are You?” A quick way to find answers to the big questions in life.
Believe it or not, I did a Google search for homeschool style quizzes, and there are a lot out there. I started one on homeschool.com. The teaching terms on the few questions I read were so technical, most folks wouldn’t be able to understand them. “Immersive learning?” “Living books?” Help!
The truth is, the most a quiz like that will do is give you a starting point. It takes time to find a homeschool style that’s right for you and your kids. A quick quiz isn’t enough.
Here’s one thing you do need to know. You don’t have to pick a homeschool style and stick to it all the way through.
You can mix and match and experiment as much as you need to until you find what’s right for your family.
Homeschool Style Defined
You're the homeschool teacher. You decide how your kids get the skills and knowledge they need to graduate high school and succeed life.
The approach you choose for your kids to get that information is your homeschool style.
In the brick-and-mortar school classroom, we call it teaching style. When you’re a classroom teacher, if you’re lucky, you get to choose your own style. But you, a homeschool teacher, are free to choose any approach you like.
Enjoy that freedom of choice! It’s a wonderful opportunity for creativity.
As you explore your options, keep the following questions in mind.
First, what are your reasons for homeschooling? For example, is it for religious reasons? Do your kids have needs that public schools can’t meet? Do you live in a remote area? Being ultra-clear on your reasons why will clarify what you value and want for your kid’s education.
Second, what are your most positive memories of your own schooling? What did you enjoy most when you were a kid?
When I was in high school, I remember one French teacher that actually planned a lot of varied, fun activities and units for us on French culture and history. We used to have slide shows on French Impressionist art, work in small groups to prepare skits on things like the druids and the making of Roquefort cheese, and we had the occasional French food day. Yum.
I’m many decades away from that time, but I still remember what I learned from her.
Do you have any memories like that? Rely on those to guide you.
It’s going to take some time to sort out your homeschool style. You’ll know right away which styles won’t work for your family at all. For other approaches, you might need to take some time to try them out.
And as your homeschool evolves, your kids grow, and you become a more experienced teacher, your homeschool style may change too.
The Different Homeschool Styles
There are a lot of different homeschool styles out there. Plenty of curricula are available to you for each style.
But remember this... for all the differences in their WAY — the way they teach skills and knowledge kids need -- their GOAL is the same.
All the homeschool styles have the same goal: to educate children and prepare them for the world.
There are about 7 formal homeschool styles out there: Unschooling, Funschooling, Charlotte Mason, Traditional, Classical Conversations, and Eclectic.
Some of those homeschool styles have similar characteristics. Several are religious, meaning Christian based. Some focus away from traditional classroom schooling that relies on lectures and textbooks. Several are a combination of the seven.
I’m sure you’ve read about them. It would be fantastic if you found the exact right homeschool style for all your kids right out of the gate. But that’s in a perfect world.
What’s Your Kids’ Learning Style?
Once you’ve considered your reason for homeschooling, your family values, and how you like to learn, it’s time to think about your kids’ learning styles.
How do your kids best like to learn? What sorts of lessons or learning activities do they respond to the most?
For example, a child might prefer to read and write creatively, while another may be more mathematical and logic oriented. Some kids are more physical and others more musical. Some children prefer to work alone, while others hate working alone and prefer to work with a partner or in a group. Some kids may be more spatial or visual, meaning that they’re good at design or charts and graphs.
Over time, as you observe your children’s favorite learning styles, you’ll adjust your homeschool style to meet them. In other words, you’ll pick a style that allows them to learn in the way they learn best.
This way you’ll give them an optimal homeschool experience.
Yes, there are a few things to consider as you figure out your homeschool style. It takes time to sort out who you are as a homeschool teacher.
There’s only one thing you must do as you go along.
Keep track of what your kids need to know and be able to do by a certain time, according to your state’s requirements. Make sure you hit those benchmarks somehow. That’s all.
What do you think of your homeschool style so far? What have you noticed about your kids’ learning style? Tell me about it in a comment below.