Choose Your Flavor: Getting Started in Homeschooling, part 3

If you were riding in the truck with my husband and me between conventions, you might hear a conversation like this.

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know; what are you hungry for?”

“Well, we did Mexican for lunch. How about a sandwich for supper?”

“Oh, there’s a sign for an Italian place! How’s that sound?”

“Or we could try that Chinese place over there.”

Sometimes these conversations can go on for quite a while. It’s a wonder we get to eat at all!

But even if it creates decision-making delay, it’s nice to have options. It’s nice to be able to choose the flavor that you like best.

As we talk about getting started in homeschooling, you will be pleased to hear that you have options. Homeschooling does not have to look like school at home. You can choose which flavor, or style, of homeschooling fits you and your family best.

Here is a brief introduction to five flavors of homeschooling. These are broad overviews, not detailed descriptions; but hopefully they will get you started thinking about which flavor appeals to you most.

Traditional—This is probably the way you were taught in school. You have a separate textbook and/or workbook for each subject. The student reads the assigned information and answers the questions (multiple choice, T/F, short answer), and he is expected to remember the facts until the test. In broad terms, the emphasis is on knowing the facts.

Classical—This flavor is based on the Trivium, which is a three-stage process that divides the children according to age. In the Grammar Stage (ages 6–10), the children focus on absorbing and memorizing facts. The focus shifts in the Dialectic Stage (ages 10–12) to logic and the why’s behind the facts. Then in the Rhetoric Stage (ages 13–18), emphasis is given to developing a persuasive use of language. For the Classical flavor, you could say that the emphasis is on learning how to think.

Charlotte Mason—Named after the British educator who taught this way, this flavor uses literature and living books instead of textbooks. Rather than answer questions over the content, the children are expected to re-tell all they can remember in their own words. A wide variety of subjects is provided, including regular academics, fine arts, handcrafts, time in nature, and habit-training. The emphasis of the Charlotte Mason flavor is on forming personal relations with—not just facts about—God, with people in the past and present, and with creation around you.

Unit Studies—A unit study takes one topic or theme and arranges all the school subjects around that theme. For example, if the theme were castles, you might read about the Middle Ages for history, study the physics of a catapult for science, design a coat of arms for art, and learn words like medieval and knight for spelling. It usually involves lots of hands-on projects. You might say that the emphasis of unit studies is to learn by doing.

Unschooling—While there are many variations on this flavor, in the pure sense of the word Unschooling is child-directed. One mom explained it this way: “What do you want to learn about today? Go figure it out.” It usually has no set curriculum or agenda. The Unschooling emphasis can be summarized as learning by living.

There you have them in broad strokes: the five main flavors of homeschooling. I will be presenting a free workshop at the Teach Them Diligently Conventions called “Five Flavors of Homeschooling” that will dig deeper into each flavor, exploring what it might look like in your home and helping you determine which might be the best fit for you and your family. We’ll also spend some time talking about how to choose curriculum and use it most effectively. Then you will have a guided tour through the exhibit hall where all five flavors will be represented. Your tour guide will point you in the direction of vendors who cater to your selected flavor.

Plus, you will find many other workshops throughout the Convention that will equip you with more details for whatever flavor you like best. For example, I’ll be presenting one on “Charlotte Mason and Her Methods” to give you a taste of some of the methods in the flavor that I use.

It promises to be a great jump-start to your homeschooling experience! Make plans now to attend!

Speaker Tip
One thing that I wish I would’ve known when I started homeschooling is how much each different homeschooling method/philosophy has to offer and that I could incorporate the best parts of all of the methods in our homeschooling journey.
Rachel Holland, Teach them Diligently Speaker: How to Homeschool for Free