Are you interested in homeschooling? Maybe traditional homeschooling? Unschooling, world schooling, or maybe even a mix of them all?
If you’re new to homeschooling like I was when I was given the opportunity to educate my children at home, you’re probably wondering what the heck this all means. Before we left our little hometown with one caution light, a supermarket, a K-12 school, and cows for miles, we felt like homeschool was on our hearts. My children were getting their education from our local public school. They made great grades and were very good students. Their teachers were great and everyone involved in the school are wonderful people. But my heart longed for more time with them. But I was afraid I couldn’t give them the education they needed. I felt unqualified. So I always chickened out when the first days of school would roll back around, and back to target we went for supplies. My husband and I always dreamed about the freedom to travel with our kids if they were homeschooled and see the world in different ways. Sitting on a beach in a foreign place watching the kids collect seashells while we watched the sun go down. But somehow those dreams never became anything. We would talk about how we could do it then go back to our everyday life of work and school schedules and extracurricular activities. It was like we felt the call to do it, but never made it a priority to actually go.
But then God pushed us in a new direction in our life. My husband called me from work and said an opportunity came up that would allow us to travel for his job. I immediately imagined a beautiful ocean shore and envisioned the kids playing with the locals. So I said “Of course! Where is it?!” Texas. Texas? What do you mean? That’s only a state away! It wasn’t the destination I had been dreaming up in my head, but we said it was a chance to travel and see what that would be like. It would still be a new place full of new things to learn and experience. So he accepted the offer.
The more I googled things to do with kids in Texas the more I loved the idea. This was it. We were really going to do it this time. Then it dawned on me. Education. How will they learn? Are we going to enroll them in a school there? Or am I going to get out of my comfort zone? I chose to pursue the homeschool option because it has been on my heart for years. This was my opportunity to really get that time with my kids and be a part of their education. So back to google I went.
“How to homeschool” pulls up quite a few things. From traditional homeschooling to unschooling to eclectic schooling. Then theres Charlotte Mason and Waldorf and the list goes on and on. At the time I had no idea what any of this meant. So I wrote this list to see what was the best option was for our family. So here’s a little list of the methods we checked out!
Traditional Homeschool or in other words school at home. In traditional homeschool you follow a similar guide as a public or private school would. A scheduled day and textbooks are usually involved. I think this is good for starting out if you are new to the homeschooling scene because it gives you an idea of where to start. Especially if you’re like me and are worried they wont learn what they’re “supposed” to learn at the expected time. It’s also good to have some sort of structure for us. My children thrive on schedules. Overall its the most basic way to begin and provides a sense of confidence for us moms (and dads!) that we are really doing enough. I do feel that this alone could become overwhelming overtime for our family but it may be the perfect fit for yours!
Virtual School or online public or private school are charter schools that are state approved and it counts your child as present for attendance as if they were in public school. This is also great because the teachers are teaching the classes your child is enrolled in and you can feel like you aren’t alone in this journey. This is also a great option for not being stuck inside a classroom all day. More time to be kids!
Classical Education aims to train your children’s minds using a three part process. Based on the way our children’s learn, process, and develop at different times and using it to your advantage when teaching. Then moving into analytical thinking, and eventually to rhetoric. This wasn’t a great fit for our family. It focuses on language over pictures and video to prevent the learners mind from becoming lazy. I feel my kids learn better with more creative outlets.
Montessori is child led learning and connecting the child’s interest to their curriculum. It encourages exploration and creativity. Wild + Free is a great source for Montessori learning. We love this approach because it keeps our children interested and thinking outside the box. It’s very hands-on learning and play. Using this as an “extra” alongside another type of homeschooling is also a great idea, and also makes you eclectic, but we’ll get to what that means in a minute!
Waldorf approaches homeschooling by focusing on child development stages, proposed by Rudolf Steiner in the 1900’s, who believed in three distinct stages of about seven years each. Early childhood education should be creative play & active hands on learning. Elementary education introduces academic learning, increasing imagination + creativity and managing emotions. Lastly the Waldorf method focuses on critical thinking, empathy, and community service. Basically it is an integration of the natural world into all aspects of education.
Charlotte Mason Ahhh one of my favorites! “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life” Atmosphere refers to the surroundings in which our children grow up. Discipline is the discipline of good habits, especially habits of character. Finally life refers to academics. Charlotte believed in giving children living thoughts + ideas, which is why all of her methods are built around that concept. Education for the whole child, not just their mind! Check out a list of living books here!
Eclectic or mixing curriculums and styles to create a personalized learning environment for your children. This is what we chose because we see a lot of good from several of the homeschooling approaches.
Unschooling is living with the mindset that school doesn’t exist. It rejects the concept of traditional schooling altogether. There is no curriculum and the children learn whatever they are interested in! The children are in control of their education and it’s a learning process for the parent to trust that their child will learn everything they need to know. Complete freedom from “school”
Roadschooling+Worldschooling are turning our world into our classrooms and ultimately our teacher. This is the approach where education + travel come together. Everyones world school or roadschool looks different from the next persons. Travel is an important part of education in these approaches! I feel like World-Unschoolers are probably the coolest of us all! Watching our children grow and wonder and follow their interest to the fullest is the heart of every homeschooling mom (and dad!)
We use Monarch curriculum for math, bible + language arts but everything else is basically unschooling. We incorporate Charlotte Mason methods some days. My son is interested in computer programming/coding & designing video games and my oldest daughter is all about art. My three year old loves to create stories and act them out. They are all so creative & so talented in their own ways. There are so many resources at our fingertips with the internet. Some days we read and do our Charlotte Mason copy work outside under our trees & some days we’re all learning together piled on the couch or doing science experiments in our kitchen. Now with our big move to Texas, we’ll be roadschooling and I hope eventually world schooling. There are plenty curriculums to choose from. Easy Peasy offers a free curriculum & its fantastic! There faith-based curriculums & there’s no curriculums at all. However you decide for your family is up to you & this is your reminder that you can do it because you know what’s best for your children!
Ive realized it doesn’t matter where you “school” whether it’s in our backyard, on a mountain or on a foreign seashore or even in a public school classroom. It doesn’t matter what curriculum we choose or not. What matters is that we are faithful with what God has trusted us with. Luke 16:10 is my reminder to be faithful with a little, so that I am capable of being faithful with a lot. So try one, or all of them. Finding what works for your family will probably be different from the next family. What works in third grade may not work with seventh grade. But that is the beauty of homeschool. Having freedom to change things up to fit your children’s learning and your family’s personal needs!
XOXO, The Morse Family
Thank you for reading! What style of schooling do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!