HOMESCHOOLING IS AWESOME!!! (just in case you were wondering)
There are actually a number of methods to homeschooling. Each family has its own style they are most comfortable with and choose as the best method for their homeschooler. As an evaluator for other homeschoolers (Pennsylvania is a state which requires each homeschooler to be evaluated by either a licensed psychologist, school psychologist, certified teacher, or other persons meeting qualifications and approved by the school district in which the student resides), I am able to see the results of all of these methods over time. They are all wonderful methods. But not all methods suit all children or all parents for that matter.
I am only offering a simple overview here. It is by no means an overall account of each one I mention. If you are looking into homeschooling, I suggest you pick a couple that resonate with you and read more about them. In time, I will try to add a list of sources with each one.
There is always what is sometimes called the 'Public School at Home Method' which just means the parent uses standard textbooks (sometimes even borrowed from the public school) and the child uses these texts and standard paper and pencil tests for evaluation. Some parents use Cyber Schools (the student has textbooks at home and attends 'class' via computer at home) to incorporate this style. Most would not call Cyber Schools true homeschooling and I would be inclined to agree, but if your goal is to simply have them at home away from the influence of youngsters in the public schools, then this might work for you.
The ones I heard about the most when starting out were the Classical Method and the Charlotte Mason Method. The Classical Method is based on a philosophy which is built on a three-part process to train the mind. This is known as the Trivium. In the first step, the child learns and memorizes facts. In the second step, connections are made between those memorized facts . The third step is when the student forms opinions of his own about those connections he or she has made with the known facts. The Classical Method generally involves the use of the Socratic method and the classic books of the Western tradition, extensive learning of Latin as well as Grammar, logic and rhetoric. There is a LOT of reading and writing involved with this method. The homeschooling families that I have witnessed using this system thrive on the structure involved! So if you don't like structure, this is definitely NOT the method for you. And if your child is not a strong reader or writer, it may be difficult to manage.
Sources: The Well Trained Mind
1000 Good Books List
Classical Homeschooling Curriculum
The Charlotte Mason Method is based on the teaching methods of Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The Charlotte Mason focuses heavy on LIVING BOOKS, books that pull the reader into the subject and touches upon your emotions usually written by one individual (vs. a textbook written by a group of authors) who is obviously passionate about the subject. This method also heavily uses the tool of narration (verbal and written), short lessons, the study of art, nature and poetry and focuses on the importance of teaching good habits. Parents who choose this method enjoy being heavily involved in the process of the child's education discussing books, listening and reading narrations, enjoying art, music, and nature together and does not feel the need to have their child take formal tests.
Sources: Who Was Charlotte Mason?
Simply Charlotte Mason
The Unit Study Method has the student focus on one specific topic and incorporates as many of the academic areas around it as possible. For example, a student may be intensely interested in the Civil War. So besides the obvious readings good historical fiction books and biographies (history, literature) about people of that time period, the student will study the geography(geography) of the areas the battles were fought in. They may research what scientific discoveries(science) were made at the time and make graphs (math) of death tolls for various battles. All of this while listening to music (music appreciation)composed or enjoyed at that time and study paintings of the war (art). A lot of people using these methods love making scale models of various things or some sort of final project to demonstrate what they have learned. This method really helps parents who are teaching children at various levels and enjoy doing hands-on-projects and do not worry about following the traditional scope and sequence of subjects.
Sources: Five In A Row
Unit Study Resource List
The Unschooling Method allows the child to lead the way in learning. The parent will offer resources based on the interests of the child at that time. This method does not in any way follow the traditional textbook, sit at a desk, formal test method of public schools. The child determines, based on their motivations and interests, what they want to study at a given time and the parent provides books, materials, possibly even online or local classes on the given subject at hand. This may mean that the student may be 'behind' in certain areas in comparison to a public school child but may be well advanced in others. He or she may quickly catch up in those areas of lesser skill as soon as they move on to other interests. I have seen this method work very well with friends and colleagues who have taken part in it and the knowledge that these children acquire can be astounding but I would strongly advise preparing in advance and understand the method before proceeding with it as I would hope anyone would with any homeschooling.
The Eclectic Home Schooling Method tends to be what I see the most of and what I have used myself in the past and currently with my high schooler (I am researching another method extensively to use with my toddler). In this method, a variety of home school methods are used depending on the learning style and interests of the child. Instead of choosing just one method, the parent may use various methods and various sources depending on the subject. For example, one child may use a classical approach for history, a Charlotte Mason approach for science and literature, a 'school at home' type method for math and other subjects with an occasional unit study thrown in.
Sources? See all of the above 🙂
There are certainly other approaches as well but these seem to be the most common. If you are new to homeschooling, I'd advise starting with researching these methods a bit more and see where that takes you. There's a huge world out there! I recall being absolutely awestruck at our first CHAP convention in Harrisburg, PA. I had NO idea how big homeschooling was! I had NO idea how many people were involved. I had NO idea how much curriculum was available. I had NO idea how many options there were and I had NO idea how much support there was or how much I would fall in love with it all!
Feel free to ask me questions about homeschooling if you'd like. I can't promise to have all the answers and I only know the homeschooling laws of Pennsylvania, but I can share with you what I do know and what my experiences have been. And if I don't know the answer, I might know of a source to get you the answer. My FAVORITE homeschooling source is HSLDA, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They are more than just lawyers and I always recommend to my clients that they join. They have been a tremendous wealth of information to me over the years.
I will try to add more sources for the above methods listed as time goes on. If there is one that interests you, in particular, let me know. If there is another method I haven't covered here and you think I should, send me a note and I'll try to address it in the future!