Read these 36 Home Schooling Methods Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home School tips and hundreds of other topics.
When homeschooling your child, you can pick a project to work on and then spin off dozens of academic topics from the original activity. For example, if you and your child chose the project of buying and taming a pet parakeet, you could expand that experience into the following areas:
Geography and Biology, in studying where in the world parakeets originated and how they live in the wild.
Math, by recording and then graphing how often the bird engages in a certain behavior, over time. Or, by weighing how much food it eats each day and calculating the cost of feeding it.
Animal Behavior, as you teach the child to record and shape the bird's actions.
Nutrition, as you and the child study what the bird needs in its diet and why.
Reproductive Biology, if you decide to get a pair of birds and breed them.
Art, making all sorts of photos and drawings and paintings of the bird.
Poetry and writing about the bird, and how the child feels about the bird.
Online networking with other pet owners, and sharing photos.
Responsibility, in having the child be responsible for the bird's care and well-being.
This is just a sample of the unlimited possibilities offered by flexible home schooling.
Children of all ages love to "publish" their own books. Books create a permanent record of his or her progress. Creating one's own book requires a variety of skills including organizing one's thoughts, drafting, writing, drawing (or painting, etc.), designing, layout, and bookbinding. Best of all, a self-published book instills a sense of pride each time it is brought out and shared. Create a library of home-published books.
Most in-school reading is controlled by teachers who assign chapter-by-chapter segments of fiction or textbooks. When children are free to read, they become excited about a book and often want to read it straight through. Let them!
Rather than interrupt your child's reading to practice multiplication tables, for instance, wait until he or she is tired of reading or finishes the book. And, make sure that you have plenty of high-quality reading material available at home.
Teaching your kids doesn't become easy but it can get easier once you finally figure out what type of learner your student is. Most schools are just now starting to decipher "learning styles" and using the information to teach effectively. Read about the different "styles" here, decide which one your student is, and develop a plan that will be beneficial for your children. For all children, there is at least one "right" way (the most productive one) and several "wrong" ways to teach. Here are the seven learning styles. Please look for tips explaining them and how to engage children that have them!
• Bodily-Kinesthetic Intellligence
• Interpersonal Intelligence
• Intrapersonal Intelligence
• Linguistic Intelligence
• Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
• Musical Intelligence
• Spatial Intelligence
Every child is strong in at least one of these but has some of each. Analyzing learning styles and personalities really entails no more than carefully examining the dynamics and fibers of every individual. If you find that one particular method that you are using is not working, try looking at your child's learning styles again to see what would appeal more to his needs.
People with this form of intelligence just can't sit still. They wiggle constantly, make noises—they can't wait to be outside playing, running, climbing trees, etc. This type of person has intuitive feelings about academic material. They may know the answer to a problem, but not know how to get the answer on paper. They just "feel" it. They learn through their bodies, so to speak, doing action things (touching, physical contact, working with their hands). A great example is a young boy who memorized the capitals of 50 states over a period of five days while rollerblading on the family's patio and repeating them after his dad. To do the same work sitting down would have required ten days of struggle rather than 5 of fun.
A child with this type of intelligence will not get along in a "regular" school setting. Most schools teach in a way that is more conducive to the logical-mathematical intelligence. In "regular" school, this child would frequently be labeled as "ADD" or "ADHD" and Ritalin or some other controlling drug would be strongly suggested.
FMath: Make a trip to the grocery store, with child totaling the bill and budgeting with the calculator.
FPenmanship: Copy poems from a favorite book.
FGeography: Plan a trip to Washington, DC, using travel brochures and maps.
FSpelling: Play Scrabble.
FOutside Class: Child might have a series of classes away from home such as dance, music or art.
FMath: Spend 20 minutes or so calculating how far it is to Alpha Centauri.
FAmerican History: Read "The Men Who Built the Railroad Across America" from American Adventures, Pt.1 by Morrie Greenberg, and then watch the Kaw Valley video about the same topic and discuss it.
FReading: Student reads aloud 20 minutes to mom from "With Lee in Virginia" by G.A. Henty.
FGrammar: Mom and student spend 20 minuets working from grammar workbook Explore the Code.
FPoetry and Literature: Mom reads Uncle Tom's Cabin aloud for 20 or 30 minutes. Or the child vould begin memorizing a favorite poem, possible the same one copied for penmanship on Monday.
FMath: Mom writes out and explains the times tables from 1 to 5.
FPenmanship: Child writes a letter to Grandma.
FGeography: The family plays Take Off.
FSpelling: Mom and student spend 20 minutes looking at the book English from the Roots Up about words with Lain and Greek roots.
FOutside Class: Dance.
FMath: Student skipped math to watch calf being born. Later helped Mom balance the checkbook.
FAmerican History: Began reading a novel by Oliver Optic (Lost Classics Books).
FReading: This is covered by History assignment.
FGrammar: The student could work in the grammar workbook for 20 minutes, or mom and student could discuss how language is different in the Oliver Optic book from language today.
FSpanish: If the student is studying the language at home, one of the slf-teaching methods can be used; otherwise, an outside teacher can do the instructing.
FThis could be a day off or a free day when the student chooses what s/he wants to do.
Strengths of the Unit Study Approach:
• All ages can learn together
• Children can delve as deeply into a subject as they like
• The family's interest can be pursued
• Students get the whole picture
• Curiosity and independent thinking are generated
• Intense study of one topic is the more natural way to learn
• Knowledge in interrelated so is learned easily and remembered longer
• Unit studies are fairly easy to create
Weaknesses of the Unit Study Approach::
• It is easy to leave educational "gaps"
• Hard to assess the level of learning occurring
• Record keeping may be difficult
• Prepared unit study curricula are expensive
• Do-it-yourself unit studies require planning
• Too-many activity-oriented unit studies may cause burnout of teacher and student
• Subjects that are hard to integrate into the unit may be neglected
Reprinted from the 2000 Elijah Company Catalog.
For a free copy of this catalog, contact:
The Elijah Company
1053 Eldridge Loop
Crossville, TN 38558
The trivium method focuses on a three-subject curriculum of grammar, logic and rhetoric. This method defines grammar, logic and rhetoric differently than do our modern definitions:
•Grammar: This means the fundamental rules of any science, art, or subject of study. In the trivium, it means obtaining basic information, facts, and knowledge (mechanics) when the student is in his or her elementary stage, up to approximately 12 years old.
•Logic: The literal meaning is the study of reasoning and reliable inferences. In modern English, we call this critical thinking, in which the student learns to look for truth in information, for instance, to discern untruth or manipulated fact, and to recognize how these manipulations take place.
•Rhetoric: One definition of the term is the study of the effective use of language. In the trivium context, this is the act of combining and integrating the mechanics and the thinking skills into one's self, and then being able to communicate the synthesized fact to others. Presumably, once the student has mastered this process, she or he may be able to extend the knowledge base of a topic beyond synthesis.
The trivium approach has had resurgence in the US in private schools. The Bluedorn family of Moline, IL is one of the only connections today for homeschoolers wanting to use the trivium method.
The eclectic method is not so much a method in itself, as it is a way of doing other methods.
Eclectic homeschoolers take their educational information from a variety of sources and often follow a patchwork curriculum.
Eclectic homeschoolers are much more aggressive and inquisitive about materials, programs, books and even theories of teaching than non-eclectics.
The Parental Approach to homeschooling is essentially just teaching your kids what you think they ought to know in the manner you deem acceptable. It is not rigidly structured.
The Parental Method takes the pre-compulsory attendance approach where children are taught things in order to be successful in many areas in life, usually only focusing on the three R's and on the student's strengths.
People who possess logical-mathematical intelligence think logically and easily see patterns. Logical-math people are very good at transferring abstract concepts to reality and are often able to communicate these concepts to others. They may also enjoy solving life's puzzles through sciences and can be very good inventors, having the skill to visualize (conceptually alter) an invention before they even make a prototype.
A person such of this type may enjoy Mensa puzzles and games or a card game such as Set, in which players must compare against each other to find the most combinations of similarities or differences in designs and shapes drawn on a deck of special cards. This requires lightening-fast visual analysis and the ability to process information in a certain way. These people normally do well in "regular" school, which was designed for their type of intelligence. The old-fashioned IQ test measures this type of intelligence more than any other.
For children with this intelligence, you can easily get them involved in learning less "mathematical" or "logical" subjects simply by working from the direction of "how-to" rather than relying on teaching facts and figures and hoping for those to somehow "mystically" connect.
The principle approach is based on the following seven Biblical principles:
VCharacter (Biblical New Testament)
VA Christian form of government
VA restoration of unity in government (Christian unity)
Proponents of this method believe that Christian leadership must be restored to the US and the world. The academics are taught from a biblical POV with the quality of a classical education. Those outside Christianity could not follow this method.
The eclectic is more a way of doing the other methods than a strict method in itself. If you are a person who requires an externally imposed structure or authority (like someone else's curriculum choices and lesson plans), then the eclectic approach is not for you.
FIf your child has been in school, I recommend taking a week or two off just to be together and to spend time getting to know each other. Near the end of the week off, make a list of your child's academic strengths and weaknesses and in-betweens. Being very honest and very careful, categorize each subject by these headings—make sure to ask your child's opinion. Once you have categorized them, talk about "electives" (subjects that aren't taught in school but which your child is interested in). Looking at your list, you have your curriculum.
FIn order of importance: Give priority to the weaknesses, then to the in-betweens, and, lastly, to the strengths (I recommend the weak subjects be taught every day for a period of weeks or months). Weak subjects should have top priority on the daily time schedule to bring them to at least the "in-between" level. If math is weak, teach it early in the day. The strengths simply have to be maintained and can be further developed at a slower pace.
FHopefully, you have been stockpiling books and materials that you want to use in your home school. Now, remembering your list, sort them and compile a daily schedule. Each day of the first week can be a "dry run" that will give you opportunity to test your book choices and your schedule for bugs. Once you have completed the first week, take a second look at your plans and your materials. Make adjustments.
FDon't be afraid of reworking everything if needed. Make a new schedule based on your first week's experience and your list of strengths, weaknesses and in-betweens. During the second week, teach your child with the specialized plan you developed for improving strengths and weaknesses and maintaining strengths, using the curriculum and materials that you have chosen.
FLook for the tips "Sample Eclectic Schedule" to see how you might accomplish your objectives.
A unit study takes a theme or topic (a unit of study) and delves into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social science, math, and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying eight or ten separate, unrelated subjects, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project.
A unit study on birds could include reading and writing about birds and about famous ornithologists (language arts), studying the parts, functions, and life cycles of birds and perhaps the aerodynamics of flight (science and math), determining the migration paths, habitats, and ecological/sociological impact of birds (social studies), sketching familiar birds (art), building bird houses or feeders ("hands on" activities) and so forth.
Reprinted from the 2000 Elijah Company catalog.
For a free copy of this catalog, contact:
The Elijah Company
1053 Eldridge Loop
Crossville, TN 38558
The Parental Approach is simply the school day following the parent's lead. What you think needs to be taught, when and how you want to teach it is really all it involves.
In order to follow the parental approach, you must first know yourself. You have to have a firm conviction that your values are right for your family and appropriate to form the cornerstone on which all else is built. You have to believe that even your "tastes" are valid.
• You must know your religious beliefs if you are going to incorporate them into teaching. If you are a believer (whatever your religion- God-based or otherwise) know your beliefs. If you are not a believer in a religion, know that, too. If going to a worship service is not important to you, then starting merely because you are homeschooling makes it a chore, not something that you enjoy—think about that.
• You must know your cultural heritage. You are the only preserver of your unique family culture. Your spouse's is totally different—even if you grew up next door to each other. Your job is to know your personal culture and to teach those ways to your children, both by telling them about it and living it.
• You must believe that you are the right person to be your child's guide, mentor, and authority figure. If you are uncomfortable with these, or if you're waffling back and forth over nearly every issue, I recommend that you stick with a boxed curriculum.
• Determine your schedule. I advise beginning homeschoolers to spend four hours per day (mornings are really good).
Those with intrapersonal intelligence have strong personalities, but they manifest it in a more personal way than do those with interpersonal intelligence. The intrapersonal type can happily work alone. They possess a deep awareness of themselves and have a highly developed inner world, which they do not characteristically enjoy exposing or sharing with others.
If a person of this type is skilled in music or another art, she or he can be very accomplished in the art form, although performing may not be appealing because of shyness. Children with this predominant form of intelligence can be bookish and quietly knowledgeable, but they do not necessarily fare well in "regular" school. They are often autodidacts-people who teach themselves. They may become self-educated once they get beyond high school or college academic imposition of grades and such. They possess an inner discipline and will to learn real things, not achieve synthetic grades. They also manifest themselves as independent and express strong opinions and feelings in heated discussions.
* Give a child with intrapersonal intelligence plenty of opportunity to work alone, without keeping a heavy hand on them.
Whether or not you follow a regular school year depends first on your state laws and second on your lifestyle. Following the public school year is a necessity when the state requires parents to keep and submit a very accurate attendance record. A more flexible schedule is realistic in states that do not require this.
Children whose parents are engaged in seasonal occupations may follow an academic calendar that follows the parents work schedule. Many parents use a boxed curriculum because of the simplicity of the school year (you teach 180 days per school year and that's that). Since homeschooling is much more academically active than regular schooling, your child will cover more than one grade in 180 days, which is fine.
Keeping journals is a great way to keep creative writing ideas alive! It is also excellent fodder for some other assignments. As just one example, if the student's journal entry is as simple as "I ate a biscuit and then brushed my teeth but I feel excited today," why not have the student do some math by finding a biscuit recipe to cut the recipe in half or double it?
For another assignment they can write down the ingredients in the toothpaste and search for definitions. That would be a science project. For creative writing, have the child write down what some reasons are that he or she may be feeling excited. Anything that is written into a journal has room for expansion.
Unschooling is a child-led method of teaching and learning. Let the child show you what he is interested in and work on that with him. Some of you, trying this, may be faced with the problem that Junior wants to watch tv all day. What do you do as an unschooler? Aren't you supposed to let him pick what he does?
If Junior wanted to eat sugar three meals a day, you would know that's not healthy and wouldn't allow it. The same is true about watching television all day. If you remove tv from your home, you'll be going a long way toward ending your problem. No matter how "addicted" to television someone is, other activities soon replace it.
Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Moore invented this method. It involves following the Moore formula:
zStudy every day, from a few minutes to a few hours.
zManual work, at least as much as study.
zHome and/or community service, an hour or so per day. Focus on kids' interests and needs; be an example in consistency, curiosity and patience. Live with them! Worrly less about tests.
This is not an unschooling program; it is placing work interests before "book-ish" academics.
People with this form of intelligence have a strong personality and are sensitive to others and what is going on around them in general. They make great social types. Great salespeople have this type of intelligence.
These people tend to have "street smarts." Children with this type of intelligence may enjoy playing in group games and activities and they tend to be very outgoing, often serving as the peacemakers in disputes. Teach this child through games with other children. Let them interact in order to learn.
Many parents are faced with the problem that they really enjoy homeschooling but their children want to go back to public school. John Holt, when dealing with this, said, "If your child wanted to jump off a cliff would you let him?"
Your child is just that - a child. You are the parent and therefore have not only the responsibility but the ability to choose what is best for your child!
Those with linguistic intelligence are likely to be born poets and writers, loving to play with words just for the fun of it. If they are less predisposed to writing, they may make excellent verbal storytellers. People with linguistic intelligence tend to love to read books and other forms of print and are naturally good spellers, possessing a strong memory for words in all their forms, both as children and adults. They may also enjoy playing Scrabble and doing crossword puzzles or anagrams.
These types are probably skilled at learning more than one language, noting the universal similarities among all the spoken/written forms of communication. Such people learn best by seeing, speaking, or hearing words, so reading print, listening to lectures, and taking notes are comfortable successful ways for them to take in information.
Telling others about this information helps them to reinforce the learning process. If your child majors in linguistic intelligence, he probably would fare well in "regular" school and that might be a great way to teach him at home. Many curriculum publishers have videotaped lessons for use at home—try “School for Tomorrow” or “ABeka”.
Unit study is very flexible and is very effective. It is the latest fad in public education. You can do the unit study method from an unschooling approach or from the parental approach. Some examples include;
• You can plan a unit study on astronomy and, if your child is more interested in the planets than the constellations, you can concentrate on that aspect, yet still "cover the material" by working it into other parts of the curriculum.
• If you follow the parental method and want to use a unit study, you could create your own unit about the Romantic period (1820-1900) in European history. You could design your own timeline of Europe, showing the great achievements in art, music, and thought and then study the cultural atmosphere, the attitudes of government and the people around the Continent during that time.
• You could study Renoir's paintings and artistic methods and perhaps read a book about his life. Or you could listen to Beethoven's music and read a biography. While reading about them, you could learn to prepare period food.
*Please check under the "Resources" category for Unit Study suppliers.
Strengths of the Classical Approach:
• Is tailored to stages of mental development
• Teaches thinking skills & verbal/written expression
• Creates self-learners
• Has produced great minds throughout history
Weaknesses of the Classical Approach:
• Very little prepared curriculum available
• Requires a scholarly teacher and student
• May overemphasize ancient disciplines and classics
Reprinted from the 2000 Elijah Company catalog. For a free copy of this catalog, contact:
The Elijah Company
1053 Eldridge Loop
Crossville, TN 38558
People with musical intelligence often hum or sing to themselves. They have a great aptitude for music in general, being able to remember melodies after only three or four hearings, and they possess excellent pitch and usually a good sense of rhythm in varying degrees.
This type often learns by hearing information set to music or by writing their own music to it. They often concentrate better with some type of music playing in the background. To teach one with musical intelligence, you might use tapes that contain the information set to music, or use music as a mood-enhancing tool.
True unschooling is doing everything but what the schools do. Unschoolers follow the practice of letting the child determine the curriculum. Some, completely, others by subtly controlling the environement the child is in.
Many unschoolers believe that children are born naturally curious and their intellectual drive comes from within. Therefore, trying to lead them academically stifles their creativity and curiosity.
Boston educator John Holt first came up with the ideas behind unchooling in the 1960's. His approach was basically "don't do what the schools do - stifle natural learning impulses, force intellectual activity to be subject to a rigid timetable, and so on." Today, many parents simply take this to mean "Don't do anything academic unless your child initiates the interest."
Most families that follow the unschooling approach do not allow television, video games, or other activities prevalent today in their homes or in their children's lives. To create an unschooling environment in your home, have lots of stimulating books around and read them as a family. Whatever your kids show interest in is what you should teach them, albeit in an academic way! Take a cooking class together. Listen to all different kinds of music. Learn to play an instrument yourself. Play board games ( like Scrabble, Uno, chess and Set). Put things in front of your children that will stimulate their interest in the three R's. Then you can teach them –without sitting in a classroom at a desk.
This method has no absolute hoops to jump through, but be sure to check the laws of your state before heading down this road. Many states require certain curricular items to be taught and ask for evidence of such items.
vThe basic Charlotte Mason philospohy includes "regular school" plus the humanities. Originally, the humanities meant things people make - music, art, and crafts.
vA typical day using the Charlotte Mason method would include one hour of structured academic time. Charlotte believed that parents should schedule as little as one hour per day in the morning to do academics and then the parents and the child should go out into nature and sketch.
vChildren should have plenty of free time to pursue their own interests.
vParents should frequently read aloud to their children and then have the children paraphrase what they have learned. This is referred to as the narration process.
Having this form of intelligence gives one the ability to think and see in pictures and images. This would be a form of intelligence of a painter or a sculptor who can see in her mind's eye and bring forth in detail what others might miss. T
hose with this form of intelligence love to make charts and maps, so get your student involved by having her make simple maps of your house, your neighborhood, and your city. Let her work on geography as much as she wants.
Charlotte Mason believed that children should love to learn. The basic philosphy of this method includes "regular school" plus the humanities (music, arts and crafts).
The Mason method says that parents should frequently read aloud to their children and then have their children paraphrase what they have heard/learned. This is referred to as the narration process.
If you wish to supplement your child's public school education without choosing the full route of homeschooling, there are many lesson plans and helpful products available. A first good step is to find out more about the curriculum that is being taught in the child's school. You will not want to start something completely different, but rather add to the learning experience. Check online for lesson plans that homeschooling parents offer freely to each other. Request a few homeschooling catalogs. You do not need to be a full time home educator to order some products that may help with things such as mathematics, creative writing, and English.
Unit Study involves taking a particular topic, such as Ancient Rome, and studying it for a month or longer. During a study of Rome, you can incorporate different academics (by using Roman games, coins, numerals, literature, history, and even Latin) to gain insight into the Roman world. You can also cook and eat Roman food, go to a museum to see Roman artwork, read history about Julius Caesar or even Cicero, and read the poetry of Virgil.
*You can also do unit studies from both the unschooling approach (by letting the child pick the topic) or using the parental approach (you pick the topic and write the curriculum).
People who begin homeschooling often feel they need the warm hand of a certified teacher on their shoulder, guiding them along until they get the hang of it themselves. That is exactly what the public ISP (independent study programs) appears to do.
In most states, ISPs use the same curriculum that children at the local public school would use. If you choose such a program, you are assigned an ISP counselor (a certified teacher for the public school teacher who usually keeps track of between 100 and 300 families like yours). You are also given the curriculum to follow and must report to the counselor weekly, bimonthly, or monthly.
*Most families find, after two or three months, that they love the freedom of homeschooling and want to be on their own.
Playful Learning incorporates hands-on activities into standard lessons. Math, science, reading, writing, social studies, art, music, and nutrition can be taught using this method.
Here are some techniques used with this homeschooling method:
For writing and reading, students learn how to make a book using a twig, rubber band and notebook paper. The handmade books are used for nature journals, short stories and printed photos.
Math is taught using the clothes pin technique that involves jars with different numbers of small objects and index cards that students clip with clothes pins according to the count.
For art related activities, students are presented with an open space that is fully equipped and fully accessible. Items include stamp sets, stickers, paints, and craft materials, which are made available to a student without a stringent set of instructions so to encourage playful learning.
A science themed area equipped with magnifying glasses, specimen jars, rulers, blank observation notebooks, water trays and sand-filled containers. Students are given free reign for experimentation using the items.
In Playful Learning, students explore subject matter after they are given a specific idea or topic to think about. They are encouraged to ask questions and to test out ideas using materials and their natural surroundings. Unlike traditional homeschooling models that involve worksheets and sitting in a single desk throughout lessons, Playful Learning by nomenclature makes learning fun and more like playtime than class time.