If you haven’t been in the homeschooling sphere long, there will be many terms that are confusing and unusual. Don’t despair, I will guide you through the many choices of homeschooling methods.
I have been researching homeschooling since my oldest was 3 months old back in 2002. I have become somewhat of an expert in the different genres of homeschooling, having attempted many myself. Sit back, relax and come along with me on a journey through the sometimes despairing vocabulary that is homeschooling.
Traditional / Classical Method
At the heart of classical homeschooling is what is called the Trivium. There are 3 levels of learning called the Grammar Stage (typically Grades 1-4), the Logic Stage (typically Grades 5-8) and the Rhetoric Stage (typically Grades 9-12).
There is a strong belief towards instilling a balanced approach to learning and with subjects such as History, Science, Geography and the Arts rotating on 4 year cycles, it gives the child a chance to go around the subject 3 times throughout their schooling.
The Grammar Stage is based around fact memorization. Young children are eager to soak up facts and the “building blocks” of grammar rules, mathematical facts, foreign language vocabulary and scientific truths. This four year stage is where the ground work is laid for future stages.
The Logic Stage is a time of change, of analyzing and reasoning the information that has been obtained in the earlier Grammar Stage. This is the time the student begins to question the why behind all the knowledge.
Logic is applied to all subjects, causing the student to dig deeper into the why in English (thesis development and essay writing), the why in Math (algebra and geometric theories), the whys of History (why were battles fought, what logical decisions and fallacies shaped the world) and the why of Science (where they learn the Scientific Method) and the why of Foreign Language (Latin and Green are often a staple of this method).
The Rhetoric Stage is typically the High School years. A time of self-expression, self-examination and learning how to communicate that to the world with clarity and purpose. This is a time to dig deeper into subjects that specifically interest the child.
Many people who are drawn to the Traditional or Classical Method are Christians who strive to base their child’s knowledge in a Christian Worldview. If you are interested in reading more about Classical Christian Education, I would encourage you to head over the the Well Trained Mind website by Susan Wise Bauer. There are books and encouragement to help you along the way.
Charlotte Mason Method
In the later half of the 1800’s into the early 1900’s Charlotte Mason was a British educator who’s philosophy was comprised in a series of lectures that became a 6 volume series called Home Education. Her belief was in creating a well rounded child through atmosphere, discipline and life.
The website Simply Charlotte Mason, puts it as such, By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that the ideas that rule your life as the parent make up one-third of your child’s education.
By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits—and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education.
The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.
The basis of any good Charlotte Mason education are “living books”, books that draw you into a story that puts your imagination in the middle of whatever subject you are learning. No dry textbooks or boring lectures. Children experience, feel, do the work.
Some of the important cornerstones of her philosophy are Narration, Copywork, Nature Study, Hymn Study, Art Study, Music Study, Spelling and studying foreign languages.
This method was invented by an Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori who placed emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural pyschological, physical, and social development.
According to the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators the Montessori Method would include
- A carefully prepared child-centered environment
- Mixed age (family groupings) per classroom
- An opportunity to progress at his/her own pace
- Activity-based learning
- Freedom and responsibility
- Co-operation, collaboration, not competition