Methods of Madness

Globe and BooksA large portion of homeschool blog posts discuss which method of homeschooling you use. Should I be Classical, Unschooled, a little Charlotte Mason, or perhaps Montessori?

It all makes me pause and think… Do I have a homeschooling method? I confess, I had never thought about it! When we went into homeschooling, all I knew was that I wanted to be with my children and follow the calling of the Lord.

It wasn’t until I had already picked my curriculum and started schooling my little ones, that the thought even occurred to me. Do I have a method? If I do, which one do I subscribe to? Does it benefit me to stick to a method?

Reading about the different methods, I can see the benefit of each one and the purpose behind their philosophy. Each one brings something different to the table of learning. On the other hand, I can see the weaknesses in each one; the areas that just don’t meet our family’s needs. Like the Cinderella story, I need the perfect fit.

Looking through our curriculum choices, I went with what worked for my kids. I didn’t worry if that fit a particular method. I prayed and went with the company that best met my standards.

After reading the different methods, I think I have finally found where we “fit in”. We are eclectic home schoolers. There is no one method that completely fulfills all we need. So, we take a little of everything, add a huge dose of prayer, mix in real life, and run with it.

I have come to realize, it doesn’t necessarily matter which method we use. If the Lord is the center of our home and growing in His wisdom is the backbone of our learning, we are sure to succeed.

Time to Chime In: How do you feel about the different methods of learning? Do you have one your family prefers?

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27 thoughts on “Methods of Madness

  1. I’m one of six children. My mother home schooled us all (God bless her) all the way through. I can say that with my education, most of which was haphazard and non-progressive, I have made it to the summit of my professional field by the age of 27, and can out think, out write, and have a great level of comprehension that most of my peers, regardless of their age. I agree with you in that, there is no one method. I have always preferred Bruce Lee’s idea behind Jeet Kune Do; the style of no style. No rules or laws, just, whatever works. That’s how I was raised, and in addition to having a fun and a relatively open curriculum, I had free time to explore the woods, the read books without needing to report on them…. I was free for hours a day to grow and learn on my own. I think every child needs that, and that would be one of my focuses if my wife and I do decide to homeschool when the time comes.
    Regardless of what your path is, it does sound like you are at peace with the path you’re on. I wish you the best of luck!

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  2. You raise an interesting conversation and struggle for many families. When choosing to engage in homeschooling there are many options…some you can download information from a variety of sites on the Internet (pick and choose method), purchase an entire package through a reputable company, contact your local public school and get the textbooks and materials that are being used there and adapt them for your own use, etc. It can be overwhelming. I found it…almost liberating! We gathered a multitude of materials and worked with the kids to develop something uniquely individualized. For instance, my daughter wanted to focus on music history and science so we developed a number of those things around those interests with the beauty being she could change her mind and focus without repercussions or feeling stifled.
    I think part of the freedom of homeschooling and unschooling comes with the struggle of figuring it all out with your child. And eventually finding that good “fit” for each child. It may take some time to figure that out…but well worth it.
    Thank you for starting this conversation…it’s a good one for parents considering homeschooling for their children.

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    • You’re right! Sometimes it does take a little while to get all the kinks worked out, and even then it might change periodically. Hopefully, through a little trial-and-error, we find the right ‘fit’ and make it work. 🙂

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  3. I was relieved to find the term eclectic homeschool. I like the idea of unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, etc etc. Even the idea of school at home has its appeal… So picture perfect, though it would never happen here. Over time we’ve found the blend that works for us… And just to make it complicated, what works seems to change over time. I have no doubt my daughter will have different needs than my son. I’m so grateful we have the freedom to choose what works best!

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  4. I like the “thought” of classical…… However, I can never commit to it! I admit it bores me. So, I learned early in my homeschool journey that I am extremely eclectic. I have embraced it and just read about all the wonderful adventures of classical homeschoolers online.

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      • Honestly, pride. I was very concerned of what the end result would be for my children. It appealed to some of my own fears and doubts of what “successful” homeschool results should be measured against. However, I now truly believe that consistency and diligence are more important than the method used.

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      • Thank you for sharing with us. I’m sure many of us have had fears and doubts about how ‘successful’ our children’s learning is measuring up. This is something we can all relate to.

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  5. I will have to read about the term eclectic homeschool. We are preparing to start homeschooling after Christmas break. I have found in my research that we don’t really fit into a method either as far as our plan for homeschool either.

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  6. I always wondered if we had “a method” as well. We seemed to float in one for a while and then another a little later. Some of my kids thrived under certain ways of teaching, while another might struggle. All of which to say, that’s what’s so wonderful about homeschooling; you’re not stuck long-term doing something that doesn’t work!

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  7. We are eclectic too. None of the “Methods” would work for my children. I’m glad some have found exactly what they need in a “method,” but sometimes there is just not a fit and you make your own way. I like the eclectic approach. It pulls everything I believe my children need and it has worked for me now for 4 years. My children are happy, they know what to expect, and they have flourished greatly. Thanks be to God that he lead me in this direction!

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  8. I think the last time I described my homeschooling method I used the phrase Classically grounded with Charlotte Mason tendencies and a few Unschooling based projects…or something like that. Eclectic would likely be a better term.

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  9. We’re four years in, and I still couldn’t really tell you what all the methods are about. We just do our own thing (whatever works for us at the time), so I guess we’re eclectic. 🙂 I do follow the public school curriculum as a general guideline.

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  10. I agree that we do need to pick the one that fits our family. I also agree that if God is the center of our family and school, we will succeed. Success to me is that my Children know Christ and that they choose to live their life for God. My hope is that my children will believe that they are made in the image of God and that they are loved. I want my children to be and do what they were created to do. Education should be a time for us to help our kids discover what their gifts and talents are so that they can better serve the Lord with all their heart and minds.

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  11. Great blog entry! We too chose curriculum that best fit our family. I homeschooled our children for ten years….and I believe with all my heart that there are pros and cons to all curriculum. Even as a public school teacher, no one method worked best for each child, thus the beauty of homeschooling!! The most important thing for us was to make it about Christ, our family and each other. Homeschooling in retrospect, now seems to have been more about communication than anything. My children both grew up and went on to college, one even went on to graduate school. Blessings to you as you pour your life into your family. Precious memories made that I will never forget.

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  12. Such a good topic for me. I’ve suddenly become obsessed with the Montessori method, but that’s probably because I have several “students” who aren’t even potty trained yet. So I’ve begun to incorporate more of their ideas into our homeschooling routine. I still kept my full curriculums but just added some new elements. I love Charlotte Mason, some Classical and unit studies and now Montessori. My personality is a bit eclectic, so why shouldn’t my homeschooling be as well?

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  13. I recall being at my very first home school curriculum fair and running into someone I knew who exclaimed, “oh, I guess you’re doing the classical method?” as she looked down at a book I’d just purchased. Not wanting to look stupid, I weakly replied, “oh…yes”. Well, 12 yrs later I can’t attest to following a classical method, though I’ve some books that would lead people to think this. I’m, like many, a mess of methods. That’s just the beauty of home schooling. I pull from Charlotte Mason ideas and ways, to classical ways, and the list goes on.

    The thing is, when you end up with a few learning challenges in the midst of the handful of kiddos, you have to just do what’s best for them. I’ve discovered in the whole teaching process that I began trying to reproduce what I’d done in school only because it’s what was familiar to me, and also to how I learn things. Having two dyslexic children, I see their perspective is far beyond what I can comprehend, therefore we’ve had many challenging ups and downs to find the right solutions and programs to lead them forward and cater to the whole child more than a program itself.

    I consider it a privilege and blessing to help move them all in their intended directions with what works for each individual child. Not an easy task by any means, but hugely rewarding on both ends.

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