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Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method


Charlotte Mason, known as the founder of the homeschooling movement, wanted all children to develop a love for lifelong learning. As a child she was homeschooled by her parents in England. She made education her life's work after being orphaned at sixteen years of age. As an adult she wrote a six-volume set titled Home Education. She opened many schools for children throughout England and worked with homeschool families through correspondence.

The Mason method incorporates all core subjects, with a strong focal point on the humanities-classic literature, noble poetry, fine arts, crafts, and classical music. Charlotte Mason used the best books, the best music, and the best art possible. A variety of classical literature books are used--she called them "living books". Living books are books of high quality that often include stories of real-life characters a child can easily connect with. Mason spoke highly of the importance of poetry, the enforcing of good habits, the importance of nature diaries and the value of dictation and spelling. She believed that the development of good character and good habits was essential. As the parent models these integral traits and makes use of all teachable moments, the child will develop completely. This method is supports the child's own learning style and abilities.

The structured academic lessons are short and interesting, and last for about an hour a day. When lessons are complete, the child goes out into nature to draw what he observes in what Mason called a "nature diary". By interacting with nature, the child gains a sense of respect for the environment around him. Since the Mason method involves developing a passionate awareness of literature, the young child is read to daily. After reading short excerpts from living books, the child is asked to narrate or tell the adult what they have learned, giving back the information that was just read to them. Narration is casual and natural. It begins as early as age six and by age ten the child is expected be able to write her narrations in her nature notebooks. Narration puts the emphasis on what the child knows, not on what she might have missed. As soon as the child can rename or recite it, she observably knows it. After lessons are complete, the child is given the free time to pursue any and all interests.

This method was developed by a homeschooled student specifically for homeschool students. There is no curriculum to buy; books are available at the public library. It can be used on its own, or it can be used as a supplement to other educational methods.

Additional Resources:

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Classical Homeschooling Method


The classical educators firmly believe that the brain develops through three stages-grammar, logic and rhetoric.

The grammar stage starts at birth and generally continues until age twelve. In the grammar stage the child is taught through listening, reading, writing and observation. The child is taught the fundamental rules of science, are or the subject of study. Each child is given only the basic concrete information based on facts only. Since the child is unable to reason, only concrete and truthful knowledge is given. In this way the child will not be subjected to abstraction, but has been given only the facts and the truth to set his foundation. The grammar curriculum, also call the correct usage of language, includes: orthography-the study of the elementary sounds, letters, and syllables for our English language, phonics, etymology-the study of classification (parts of speech), derivation (suffixes and prefixes), and properties of words (nouns and verbs), syntax-the proper construction of sentences, and spelling.

The second stage of the trivium is called logic or the science of reasoning. The logical stage for the child generally begins in middle school and continues through high school. The child is now independent, abstract and analytical. In the logical stage the child is critically thinking. They are able to take the facts that were given in the grammar stage, and ask "Why?" The logical child will dissect everything that they have learned and examine it under natural and unalterable laws of reason. At this point the child is given all the tools needed to look for the truth in the information given and to arrive at valid and accurate conclusions. The child will gain a great understanding of the subject matter in this stage because the truth is now proven through this process.

The high school child is in the rhetoric stage in pre-adulthood. In this third and final stage, the child is able to combine the mechanics of study and his thinking skills into one. The child, becoming a persuasive adult has completely reached abstraction. He will take all the knowledge that he has learned and expressively, effectively and eloquently communicate the facts to others through the written and spoken word. It is also believed that because the child at this stage knows the facts so well and has tested them thoroughly, he can now begin to test the unknown. At that point the child can now move from being practical to theoretical.

Classical education has considerably grown within the homeschooling community. Textbooks are now available for purchase. There are also a number of websites that are available for your viewing.

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Eclectic Homeschooling Method


Eclectic Homeschooling, as the name implies, uses a variety of homeschool approaches. Eclectic parents are innovative and flexible. They trust their own judgment to pick out or piece together the best curriculum from various methods and philosophies to complement the academic and experiential learning of their child. They are more inquisitive about educational materials, books, programs and theories. Eclectic parents continually shop for good products that will meet the needs of their homeschoolers.

Most eclectic programs start with a curriculum foundation that corresponds to their own views of education and their child's learning style. The educational information used generally comes from diverse materials. Most eclectic homeschool households purchase a curriculum, then refine it and supplement it to meet the particular needs of each child. The curriculum is chosen to meet the child's temperament, gifts, interests, and learning style.

Although most eclectic homeschoolers teach academics, textbooks are not used alone. It is believed that each child needs the freedom to explore his interests and to take advantage of everything and anything that can be a learning experience. Many eclectic homeschoolers attend private or group music and dance lessons, or go to classes with other homeschoolers. Eclectic programs often include venturing out to museums, public libraries, or nature walks. Eclectic homeschoolers believe that their method provides them with an extremely effective and functional system of learning.

Additional Resources:

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Free Homeschool Resources


The Homeschool Learning Network's mission is to provide low-cost, organized resources, curriculum and community utilizing the power of the Internet.  Towards that goal, we have collected the following free resources available not only to free or upgraded HLN Community members, but also to the public.  We hope you find these resources helpful to you in relation to your homeschooling or education goals!

 

New to Homeschooling
Find answers to the most common questions about homeschooling here, along with related articles and links to learn more about each topic.

Homeschooling Newsletters
hether you would like to join our newsletter, or would like to find other related homeschooling newsletters, this is a growing list of what is available to you.

Homeschooling Links
What are the major homeschooling sites out there?  What are the major educational sites out there to aid in your homeschooling?  Find them on this page!

Homeschooling Methods
What homeschooling method is right for you?  Do you understand the difference?  Navigate here to read about the ten most popular ways to homeschool.

Homeschooling News and Articles
With so many great homeschool e-magazines out there and so many places to learn more about the culture of homeschooling, it is easy to get lost on the web!  HLN has compiled a list of top articles about homeschooling here, and we plan to grow this list of new articles as they become available.

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Homeschool Methods


The Home School Learning Network provides this Homeschool Approaches Center to help you learn about some of the most popular homeschool philosophies and learning approaches that are used today!

Every family finds their own use and adaptation of the approach (or approaches) they choose. By keeping your children's needs and learning styles in mind during your decision-making process, and by fully understanding the various homeschool approaches, you can make the most informed decision on what is right for your family.

Please browse the following pages for more information about each of the homeschooling methods:

 

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Homeschool News & Articles


Below you will find links to news articles and informational articles about many aspects of homeschooling. Currently, we are listing articles from three sources as noted below, howevr, if you would like your published article(s) listed here, we will be happy to review them for possible listing. You may use our Contact Us form to let us know about your article, and we will review it for appropriatness and relativity for listing.

Homeschool Articles from HomeEducator.com:

Articles from The Old Schoolhouse Online Magazine:

Articles from Eclectic Homeschool

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Homeschool Newsletter

 



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Homeschooling and the Power of Play

By Elizabeth Kanna 

The Cleavers were America's favorite TV family in the 1950s. Mrs. Cleaver was a stay-at-home housewife and Mr. Cleaver was the breadwinner. They lived with their two boys in a modest suburban home, and spent lots of quality time together as a family. My family's lifestyle is very different in almost every way. With three homeschooled kids, five pets, and two working parents, we have to be creative to get everything done – especially the homeschooling – and everyone has to pitch in. Due to my current work schedule, my husband does most of the cooking and shopping. Our three girls do a substantial number of household chores. We require quite a bit of technology to keep our lives and work running smoothly: multiple computers, printers, fax machines, extra phone lines, and cell phones.

My family may not look like the Cleavers, but like many other homeschooling families, we have a "Cleaveresque" – i.e., family-oriented-lifestyle. That's because homeschooling gives us more time and flexibility to focus on family, community involvement, and providing our children with one of the most important gifts we can give them – an old-fashioned childhood.

In his best-selling and highly respected book The Hurried Child, David Elkind writes:

 

The concept of childhood, so vital to the traditional American way of life, is threatened with extinction in the society we have created. Today's child has become the unwilling, unintended victim of overwhelming stress - the stress born of rapid, bewildering social change and constantly rising expectations.

…Unfortunately, both the value and the meaning of play are poorly understood in our hurried society. Indeed, what happened to adults in our society has now happened to children – play has been transformed into work. What was once recreation – sports, summer camps, musical training – is now professionalized and competitive. Perhaps the best evidence of the extent to which our children are hurried is the lack of opportunities for genuine play available to them.

Play, in its varied forms, helps children develop many of the skills vital for academic and life success. It stretches the muscles of creativity and imagination. It provides opportunities to cooperate as well as to try on the leader's hat. It's a way to both gain and dispel energy. Play is indeed a child's most important work. Homeschooling's one-on-one attention to a child's academics is so time-efficient that the homeschooled child has bonus hours for additional play. Homeschoolers just need to "keep the calendar clear" and resist the temptation to fill that free time with too many structured activities.

This summer, like the last, we didn't fill every minute of our girls' time with enrichment courses from surfing to college prep. Instead, our girls, ages eight, eleven, and fourteen, enjoyed a summer reminiscent of the typical life of an American child in the 1950s. Our girls participated in many community-based programs, including the swim team and our library's ice cream socials, bake sales, and summer reading clubs. But most of their time was devoted to unstructured play. They built impressive neighborhood forts, ran through the sprinklers, made money with a neighborhood lemonade stand, slurped ice cream, created a neighborhood all-girl rock'n roll band, and played made-up games with other kids in the neighborhood until well past dark each night.

When summer ended, the other children in our neighborhood returned to school, keeping schedules similar to those of working adults. Our girls began spending a few more hours on homeschooling each day, but their lives aren't much different than they were during the summer. They continue to build forts (including indoor ones, when the weather is bad), participate in community projects that interest them, and play made-up games with the kids in our homeschooling support group each week.

As homeschooling families, we can choose to utilize any of the modern conveniences that work for us, but homeschooling also gives us the time and flexibility to rekindle a family lifestyle from America's past. And by doing so, we give our children something very rare today – an old-fashioned childhood.

 

 


Copyright info:

Elizabeth Kanna is the Contributing Editor-at-Large for Homeschooler Network, 
co-founder of Homeschool.com, co-author of Homeschooling For Success, and co-founder of GenieU.com. 

Permission granted by www.HomeSchoolerNetwork.com 
© 2000 - 2004 Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Homeschooling Links


The Home School Learning Network provides you with this guide to homeschool resources on the Internet to help you find out what you need to know about homeschooling.



General Homeschool Guides



General Education Guides




Lesson Plan Resources




Resource Lists




Tutors and Consultants


  • Education Early Start
  • Florida Homeschooling provides legal and practical information and support for new and experienced homeschoolers in Florida. Only site to offer county-specific listings of evaluators, tutors, non-traditional schools, and support groups. All welcome.


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Montessori Homeschooling Method


The Montessori method and philosophy began almost a century ago, on January 6, 1907, in a San Larenzo apartment building in Rome, Italy. Maria Montessori, a scientist, physician, anthropologist and philosopher, developed this method of education for children as the result of continuous scientific observations of the children of San Larenzo.

Maria Montessori noticed that the children had sensitive periods. During these sensitive periods the child works within one area of the environment at a time. Sensitive periods bring on intense concentration, so intense that the child will be almost unaware of the rest of his surroundings. The child during sensitive periods will also continuously repeat an activity until an inner satisfaction is met. The Montessori method calls this process of repetition normalization.

Montessori explained the accomplishments of the child's highly developed cognitive skills with a description of what she called the absorbent mind. Montessori often said, "Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it" (Absorbent Mind, 1995). The absorbent mind first prepares the unconscious. The mind then slowly awakens to the conscious level, establishing memory, and the power to understand and reason. The knowledge that the child is internally seeking is then absorbed.

The Montessori method was created so that Maria Montessori's philosophy could be implemented. Montessori believed the environment was second to life itself. She said, "it can modify in that it can help or hinder, but it can never create" (The Montessori Method, 1912). The Montessori environment is called the prepared environment. There are six essential components to the prepared environment: freedom, structure and order, reality and nature, beauty and atmosphere, the didactic materials, and the development of community life.

A child having freedom in a prepared environment will be able to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally to his or her full potential. The child uses this freedom to work with the educational materials and to socialize with others. All the materials are designed to fulfill the inner desire for self-construction and spiritual development of the child. The materials indirectly prepare the child for future learning by capturing the child's attention and initiating concentration. The materials at first are concrete and gradually become abstract. Each set of materials progresses from simple to complex. The prepared environment and its atmosphere must be pleasant to encourage positive growth and spontaneity. The environment must be cheerful, relaxing and warm, inviting the child to participate so he can fulfill his inner will.

Implementation of the Montessori method can be expensive, especially if you are planning to purchase Montessori materials. Fortunately there are many books, retailers, and Web sites that can help. A wonderful book for Montessori homeschool implementation is Teaching Montessori in the Home by Elizabeth Hainstock. Hainstock has also written books for Montessori homeschool implementation by age or grade. These books give detailed instructions on how to build or make your own materials and how to use them. The books are available in most bookstores and public libraries.

Additional Resources:

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New to Homeschooling?


Whether you are just beginning or are still in the planning stages, the resources in this section will help you get started down the road to homeschooling! They will provide you with resources that will answer your most basic questions, and guide you in your decision-making process. 



Why should I homeschool?

There are as many reasons for homeschooling as there are homeschool families! Everyone who chooses homeschooling has their own unique reasons and family situation that informs their decision to homeschool. Some families live in a remote or rural area that is not easily accessible to a school. Others have religious beliefs that they wish to nurture in the home environment. School violence and learning difficulties have also influenced the growing homeschool population. In a world full of divorce and family separation, homeschooling provides families a way to reconnect.

Learn more:



Am I qualified to homeschool?

Yes! You have credentials that you probably have not even thought of. You have already been your children's teacher for the first years of their lives. You love your children, and know them better than anyone else. Because you are considering homeschooling, you show the desire to do whatever it takes to obtain the best possible education for your child. With online resources, support groups and a little research, you are not only qualified, but you are most likely the best teacher for your child!

Learn more:



What are the legal requirements for homeschooling in my state?

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Each state has set its own laws and regulations, so it is important to research what the laws are in your state.

Learn more:



What exactly do I need to teach my children? What materials will be useful?

There is a wealth of information online on homeschooling materials. Once you have researched and chosen a homeschool approach, you will have another level of understanding of the types of materials that you will need.

Learn more:



Where can I find other homeschoolers in my area? Is there support?

Today, homeschoolers have the opportunity to choose or combine online support groups and local support groups. Choose the mode of support that best suits your needs!

Learn more:



How can I provide an environment where my child can interact with other children?

Is school the agent for socialization? Or is social development built on the self esteem of a positive learning environment, whether that is school or home learning? Homeschooled children can participate in extra-curricular activities, sports, and homeschool learning groups. Socialization is one of the most hotly debated and defended homeschool issue.

Learn more:



Can I find out more about my child's learning style and choose a curriculum to match?

Understanding your children's learning styles is an important part of finding a homeschool approach and curriculum that will best suit their needs.

Learn more:


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Structured Learning Homeschool Method


The structured approach, sometimes called the traditional approach, or the scope and sequence approach, is the homeschooling approach that most resembles education in institutional schools. It's called scope and sequence to emphasize the scope is the body of knowledge to be taught and the sequence--the way it is divided up, usually into grade levels. It is the "school model".

In this approach to homeschooling, the child works on each subject separately every day. All learning is planned and followed by grade level. Schooling does not get off track and everything is covered, with no worrying about learning gaps. Many homeschool programs that use the structured approach provide textbooks for each subject, along with a teacher's manual. Tests often follow each lesson, to be sure that the child is learning. Most structured homeschools have a daily schedule. Some structured homeschoolers run their programs Monday through Friday, from June through September; others run a year-round program.

Most structured homeschools enjoy the curriculum since the units and textbooks can be purchased (no need to create them). With a purchased structured curriculum the schedules, lessons, scope and sequence are planned for you. Some parents purchase a preplanned, structured curriculum so they have something to fall back on, diminishing the worries of homeschooling. Many parents that are new to home education start with this type of program.

Additional Resources:

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The Moore Formula Homeschool Method


Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, known as the grandparents of Christian homeschool education, created their own education system through years of research, and have written countless books and videos. In the 1980s they were one of the very few voices heard on homeschooling and its benefits, methods and advantages.

The Moores believe in a homeschool method that allows the child to develop at his own pace through informal education until the age of eight. Between the ages of eight and ten years (depending on developmental readiness) the child begins formal education. Following the Moore formula, the child trains in good habits and obedience, and cultivates a sense of togetherness within her family, as well as at church and in society at large.

The Moore formula is based on a balanced approach that includes study, work and service. The child's interest is the focal point for learning. Depending on the child's developmental level, she studies each day for a few minutes to a few hours. Work, called entrepreneurship by the Moores, is considered key to the curriculum. Whether in the family home or in a home-based business, work should be incorporated within any unit of study. Service, either in the home, the church, or out in the community, is also a key component of the curriculum. By providing service to others, the child is learning patience and the moral value of helping others. The Moore Formula is a Christian-based program, so Bible study and memorization is essential and should be done daily. It is believed that through this curriculum, and the guidance and examples set by parents, children will become practical, productive, disciplined, responsible, mature leaders and have excellent character.

The Moore curriculum was specifically formulated for the homeschooled student. It is considered to be a low-cost and low-stress curriculum that provides the homeschool community with a highly successful work-study and behavior program.

Additional Resources:

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The Reggio Emelia Homeschool Method


In 1963, the people of Reggio Emilia, Italy, wanted to insure that their children attended a school system that provided opportunities to develop their intelligence and to prepare for the successes of life. So, over three decades ago, a municipality-sponsored preschool began. Loris Malaguzzi and the parents and community of this close and communal town headed the new program. By 1967 there were 20 municipality preschools for young children between the ages of three and six years. The first municipal infant-toddler program also began in that year. 

The people of Reggio Emilia view the child as strong, rich in potential, powerful, competent, resourceful, curious, and loving. They see the child as having a tremendous desire to learn and the capability of constructing his own education. The child, in Reggio Emilia, is a researcher and is allowed to take a lead in his education. The child is encouraged to wonder, take notice, and make new relationships that allow him to reach a new level of understanding and development. 

The Reggio Approach is often called "the education based on relationships." Since the Reggio community believed the child had the appropriate capabilities, they created a program rich in research, learning, reconsideration, communication and reflection in a sociable environment. Parents, teachers and children have strong communication networks. They focus on each child in relation to other children, family, teachers, the environment of the school and community as well as the child's relation to society at large. 

The Reggio curriculum is founded on projects. Projects emerge from the children's expressed interests. They are not planned out in advance, but rather build upon the continued experiences of the child in the process of constructing his knowledge. Projects can be short term, lasting a few days, or long term, lasting a few months to a year. Projects usually require little money and lots of fantasy. There is usually more than one project happening at one time, so each project may not be worked on daily. The children often revisit and refine a project, constantly moving from theory to practice until their inner knowledge is reached. 

Art is the staple to all projects. In Reggio Emilia preschools, art is not considered just "art" but symbolic expressions. These symbolic expressions are called "the hundred languages" of children. Loris Malaguzzi explains the child's hundred languages the best in the beginning of a poem he wrote (The Hundred Languages of Children, 1998): 

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts.
A hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking.
A hundred, always a hundred ways of listening, of marveling, of loving.
A hundred joys for singing and understanding.
A hundred worlds to discover.
A hundred worlds to invent.
A hundred worlds to dream. 

Another key element to the Reggio approach is documentation. The children's work is documented by transcribing conversations and discussions with peers and teachers which is placed next to photographs, sculptures, drawings and paintings. Documentation is considered part of the curriculum and has several functions. Parents become aware of the children's experiences and stay involved with the children's learning process. Documentation helps the teachers to grow professionally by evaluating their work and facilitating the exchange of ideas between each other, as well as to gain a better understanding of the children. 

Implementation of the Reggio Approach is not extremely costly. However, to fully implement the approach to the best of our abilities in America, a group homeschool setting with children of differing ages that meets often (more than once or twice a week) is the ideal. 

The Reggio approach is fairly new to America, so unfortunately much of the information available is in Italian--although information published in English is rapidly growing. At this time, there are a number of articles, Web sites, and a few books published in English. 

Books or Periodicals for Reference:

Edwards, C., Gandini L., & Forman, G. (1998). The Hundred Languages of Children. Connecticut: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Young Children. (1993). Washington: NAEYC (A number of articles available in this issue.)

Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia. (1996). Municipal of Reggio Emilia. (This is available on the CDACouncil website for a fee.)

Innovation in Early Education. Michigan:The Merrill-Palmer Institute, Wayne State University. (This is available on the Merrill-Palmer Institute website for a fee.)

Additional Resources:

  • Reggio Emilia Approach - This section of the ECAP/ITG Web site contains information and resources related to the approach to early childhood education developed in the preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. 
  • Reggio Emelia Approach - This is a link farm to in-depth information, white papers, and articles regarding the Reggio Emelia approach. 
  • Reggio Emilia: Some Lessons for U.S. Educators. ERIC Digest - This is an article for professionals that explains the Reggio Emilia approach in terms of its value to US educators. 
  • The Project Approach - This site focuses on the principles of Reggio Emilia by focusing on in-depth descriptions of the project-based approach to learning for early childhood and elementary school children. 
  • Reggio Emilia Educational Philosophy - This site provides a general overview of the philosophy. 
  • Reggio Emilia Links - Web sites about The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education follow.
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Unit Studies (Thematic) Homeschool Method


The unit studies approach is designed to give both in-depth and broad understandings of subjects revolving around some entire theme that interests the child. This integrated approach includes science, math, geography, art, music, history, language, literature, drama, and creative movement. It is often referred to as a multi-disciplinary or a thematic approach. It is an experiential, hands-on approach to learning. It is believed that when children go into such depth, and spend a generous amount of time on each theme, their retention of the subject is higher than in traditional methods.

Since the central focus is on one theme, all core subjects are integrated together based on that particular theme. The primary advantage, of course, is that the subjects are blended together and not learned separately. There are many other advantages with the unit study approach:

  1. Children of all ages and different levels can learn together.
  2. Unit studies are relatively low in cost, especially if you create your own unit.
  3. Because the studies are learner-generated, the child gets an in-depth understanding of each topic, and in turn develops mastery and retention of the material.
  4. Since there are no time restraints, the child is given ample time to think, experiment and discover each topic through his own natural way of learning.
  5. Since unit studies are multi-aged, the younger child learns immeasurably from and through the older child.
  6. The creative hands-on projects and activities are great fun.
  7. Anything can spark an interest: television, radio, books, and common conversations. This makes unit planning fairly easy.

If you are new to homeschooling, or planning on using the unit study approach, there are many Web sites, books and preplanned units available free or for purchase.

Additional Resources:

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Unschooling Homeschool Method


The term unschooling originated in the 1960s in the teachings of a Boston public educator named John Holt. He did not agree with the way children were being forced to learn through teacher dictation. Holt believed that children learn best through free or child-led education, where the child is free to learn at his own pace, in his own unique way, guided by his interests. Holt often lectured on his view of free education, hoping to change the public education methods. After becoming disillusioned with the public schools' resistance to change, Holt began to encourage disheartened parents to try unschooling or schooling in the home. His basic message was to "unschool" their children, a parent only needs to allow the child to direct his own learning through his interests and provide the child with educational experiences and materials. If the child asks questions, simply answer him; if you don't know the answer, show the child the direction needed to discover the answer.

The philosophy behind the unschooling approach is that the child learns and retains much more when allowed to follow interests, share in real life experiences and exploration. The adults within this approach recognize how imperative it is for children to have access to the things that interest them. Because of this, the unschooled parent is always seeking materials, classes, and other teachers that can take the child to deeper depths and broader horizons. The parent understands that learning can occur anytime and anywhere, so she is constantly facilitating, and mentoring this collaborative process. In this independent, natural and experiential philosophy, it is important for the child to feel comfortable so that he can perceive the interconnectedness of everything.

The unschooled method is a hands-on approach. The adult takes learning cues from the child and introduces all education subjects through the child's interests. There is no set curriculum, materials or schedules. The days flow to the child's changing needs and experiences. Topics or interests come from rich experiences or experimentation in a conducive environment or are sparked from books, television, radio, computers and conversations. Learning experiences can last for a short period of time or a long period of time. Learning experiences are based on the child's timetable, interest and readiness.

The unschooling method is the most unstructured of all of the homeschooling methods and philosophies. This less formal approach to education has been often said to be a good transition for children coming from institutional experiences. Many parents have reported that they used the unschooling method until finding an approach that worked best for them. Others have started the unschooling method and never left it.

Additional Resources:

  • What is Unschooling? - An article by Earl Stevens that was published in "At Home In New England" 
  • Family Unschoolers Network - The Family Unschoolers Network provides support for unschooling, homeschooling, and self-directed learning. You will find newsletter articles, reviews, resources, websites, books and lots of other information to help your homeschooling or unschooling efforts. 
  • Resources for Unschooling - Newsletters, legal issues, articles, resources, link and book reviews. 
  • Unschooling Fallacies - Teri Brown enlightens people on the misconceptions and stereotypes or unschooled homeschoolers. 
  • Radical Unschooling - This is the "office" of Sandra Dodd, who thinks and writes and speaks about unschooling, and whose children were always unschooled. 
  • Homeschool Zone Unschooling Support Center - A Support group, FAQ's, and articles. 
  • Unschooling or Homeschooling? - What is the difference between unschooling and homeschooling? At one time they were just two terms for the same thing, 
  • A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling - A wealth of information on child-led learning, creating alternatives to education, deschooling, unschooling and natural learning, five steps to unschooling and much much more.
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Virtual Schools Provide the Power of Choice

by Elizabeth Kanna

When Russian-born Wimbledon Champion Maria Sharapova was asked by the press how she continued to impress everyone she met with her literacy and ability to speak fluently and intelligently, she promptly told them she was a student at a virtual high school in the United States. The ability to continue her academic education while she swept tennis tournaments across the U.S., culminating in a stunning victory at Wimbledon in July, is a testament to the power and inherent flexibility of virtual schools. Virtual schools provide parents and children, from Oregon to New York and across the globe to Russia and other countries, with access to world-class curricula, myriad teachers, and support, just about anytime and anyplace. Most importantly, virtual schools provide the power of choice.

The "common school movement" that Horace Mann, Henry Barnard and other reformers created in 1852 did not provide families with many choices. These new public schools were for the training or educating of future factory workers. One hundred and fifty years later, parents have more options available to them for their child's education: public schools, homeschooling, charter schools, homeschool charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, and virtual schools.

Today's virtual school movement has its roots in distance-learning programs and correspondence schools dating as far back as 1929, when the University of Nebraska started distance-learning high-school courses. The new "virtual school" movement underway in the United States is fueled by a technology-rich society, a motivated and literate population of parents, and visionaries in education, technology, and business. Today there are very few paper-based and snail-mail correspondence programs in virtual education; children everywhere can attend a virtual public school at home. Virtual access gives children online curriculum opportunities like "traveling" with Robert Ballard, the scientist who found the R.M.S Titanic, and "visiting" remote locations around the world via the latest satellite and streaming media capabilities.

Like most technology-based products and services in use today, virtual schools, courses, and supplemental programs will continue to improve in usability, power, and speed. For now, the power of technology-delivered, virtual educational programs adds to the options parents can investigate as they make a difficult decision with life-long implications: how their child will be educated.

Are Virtual Schools a Type of Homeschooling? 
The answer to this question depends on the virtual school. While most of the learning happens in the home with virtual schools, many of them are public schools without doors. Students who register with a public virtual school are counted as public-school students, not homeschoolers, in their state. These public virtual schools collect ADA (average daily attendance), just like the neighborhood brick-and-mortar school. They offer a standards-based curriculum; require attendance keeping, frequent assessments, and progress reports; and comply with mandated state testing. Some virtual schools or programs are tuition-based, and a parent can choose to use an entire grade's work or supplement in math, driver's education, foreign language, history, and other subjects. A high-school student can participate in make-up and credit programs to enhance their high-school experience.

In the homeschooling world, children who attend conventional schools, either public or private, are considered to be receiving a "traditional" education. "Traditional homeschooling," on the other hand, has typically indicated a family using varied approaches and curricula to have their children learn at home (outside the auspices of a public school). Many traditionally homeschooled children use private distance-learning or a tuition-based virtual school for all or part of their homeschooling career.

Is a Virtual-based Education for Everyone? 
Like any school, curriculum, or program, virtual schools work for some families and not for others. Public virtual schools have the same requirements and regulations that brick-and-mortal schools do, along with the support of a credentialed teacher; detailed, standards-based rich lessons; continual assessment; and supplemental learning resources. Some families choose a virtual school because they believe it combines the best of both worlds: the flexibility and individualized instruction inherent in traditional homeschooling, joined with the support and accountability of a public school.

Families facing educational choices need to research all options thoroughly. They must examine their educational priorities in order to determine which features best support their goals. Most importantly, they must decide which method best serves their child's unique needs and talents.

Maria Sharapova's passion is tennis, so her academic training needed to be adjusted to work within the confines of her intense tennis training and playing schedule. A virtual school has helped her continue to learn while she reaches for her dream.

 


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Elizabeth Kanna is the Contributing Editor-at-Large for Homeschooler Network, 
co-founder of Homeschool.com, co-author of Homeschooling For Success, and co-founder of GenieU.com. 

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Waldorf Homeschool Method


Waldorf education was developed by the Austria philosopher and metaphysicist Rudolf Steiner in the 1920 and is based around his views on Child development. Steiner believed that the development of children paralleled world history and the development of mankind and tailored the Waldorf school curriculum to compliment that. A good example of this aspect of Waldorf education can be seen in the Waldorf social studies curriculum:

  • Grades K-1 - Fairytales and folktales
  • Grade 2 - Fables and stories of the saints
  • Grade 3 - Old testament of the bible stories
  • Grade 4 - Norse & Native American legends and sagas
  • Grades 5 & 6 - The Indus Valley cultures, Egypt, Greece, & Rome
  • Grade 7 & 8 - The Middle Ages, Renaissance, Age of Enlightenment and Revolutions
  • High school - The modern world and their future.

Lessons consist of in 2-3 week long Blocks or thematic units in which all subjects - Math, science, history, language arts - are related back to the main theme.

Steiner also believed in educating the "whole" child and integrated a strong arts and movement based teaching style into Waldorf Education. Each morning is begun with movement and recitation exercises designed to stimulate the child's mental functioning and alertness. This is followed by the main lesson - an intensive 1-2 hr lesson on the main topic being studied. The Waldorf curriculum also includes regular weekly lessons in geometric form drawing, water color painting, crafts, and movement arts.

An important aspect of the Waldorf philosophy is that if the curriculum is properly laid out that the children will learn the main concepts on their own. Students are not told the main concepts, but guided to discover them on their own thus stimulating their creativity and higher thinking skills.

Steiner also believed in the importance of the child having a strong and long lasting relationship with their teacher. In the Waldorf lower school teachers stay with the same class, often for eight years (Grades 1-8). The belief being that a child can develop a trust for that teacher and the teacher will know on a much deeper level what is best for that child. This depth of understanding goes one step further in the homeschooling parent.

Waldorf Education in a school setting is often expensive, depending on the social philosophy embraced by the individual school. Steiner himself believed strongly that schools should implement a sliding scale based on ability to pay, but few schools have been able to make that work today.

Additional Resources:

  • Steiner Schools in Australia - This site contains lots of information on Waldorf Education in Australia, and beyond. 
  • Waldorf World - This is a great site to come learn about Waldorf Education. Included are school directories, articles, teacher training and employment links, plus links to other sites. 
  • Live Education! - Here you'll find commercial homeschooling supplies for families inspired by a Waldorf perspective. 
  • An Introduction to Waldorf Education - by Rudolf Steiner, 1919 (translated from German)

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