by Kimberly Miller
Since shortly after the modern homeschool movement began, there have been a variety of philosophies of (and approaches to) home education. Those differences led to an array of methods for homeschooling. Whether you just started homeschooling, or you have been at it for years, it’s always good to have an understanding of the various homeschool methods available.
From done-for-you curriculums to an eclectic mix of styles, and everything in between, there is a homeschooling method to fit every family. If you choose to do your research and try to discover the method that suits your family best, you may just find that having the right approach could be the key to making homeschooling a success for everyone in your family.
In this post, I hope to share a basic overview of the most common homeschooling methods and some of the benefits and drawbacks of each one. (This is by no means an exhaustive list of every single approach used in homeschooling circles. It is just a highlight of the most commonly used ones.) Hopefully, this will help you get an idea of which method might work best for you and your children. Having a handle on how your kids learn best, as well as what will suit you best as the homeschooling parent, can give you a better insight into what method could be the right one for your family.
An approach many brand new homeschoolers tend to gravitate toward, the school-at-home approach, usually consists of a full textbook style curriculum, along with workbooks, tests, and graded materials. It is essentially a curriculum-in-a-box, taking the guess work out of putting together all the educational materials you might need for your children. It is familiar both for many homeschool parents and new homeschool students who are coming out of a more traditional school setting. There are both Christian and secular curriculums available, so homeschooling families from a wide diversity of backgrounds can find something in this method.
The leg work is done for you. Many homeschooling parents like the feeling of having a safety net, knowing that they have covered all the subjects in a systematic way.
This method does not leave much room for individualizing the curriculum to fit the student’s needs. It is a one-size-fits-all approach that some children find too labor intensive. Curriculums in this approach also tend to be rather expensive in comparison to other methods.
By Angela Hurd
Portfolios are important for many reasons. A portfolio is a showcase of your year of homeschooling. It shows not only what your child learned throughout the year, but more importantly, how much your child has grown academically. A reviewer can evaluate this growth with confidence by reading through a well-documented portfolio. It is also an encouragement to you as you are collecting samples and noticing the growth that you may not see on a daily basis. Your child can also look at his or her own growth, giving him/her confidence and pride in the work that’s been done. In addition, it is a wonderful keepsake to look back on. Kids have so much fun checking out their work from a few years back and comparing it to their current work, a great critical thinking skill!
No matter when you purchase your pre-assembled portfolio, it is a great time to get started. You’ll notice that each portfolio has cover sheets for each subject area along with sheet protectors for work samples. You can start collecting work samples any time and put them in the portfolios. You want to put in work samples from all parts of the school year in order to show the progress of your child's skills. It is really important to fill out the cover sheets completely. The portfolio reviewer gleans valuable information from this part of the portfolio: what you used for curriculum and, most importantly, your expertise on the progress your child has made throughout the school year. It is a great place to brag about your child’s accomplishments and overcoming obstacles. You can start filling this out at any time of the year as well. Also, you may want to include photos of things your child has worked on that you can’t fit into a portfolio. For example, you may have an artwork wall. Take a photo and include it in the portfolio. You may be involved in outside activities like a music group or karate. Pictures are a great way to show the reviewer all of the things you are involved in that show your child’s well-rounded education.
By Kimberly Miller
As the mom of nine children ranging in age from one to twenty-four, I have been homeschooling for almost two decades. I have learned over the years that no two school years ever look the same. The combination of kids in my home at different ages, with unique personalities and varying interests, as well as life events surrounding the school year, all have a huge effect on our homeschool experience in any given year.
Currently, I have five children who are officially homeschooling. I have a daughter who is in her last year of school this year, one just starting high school, two who are middle-school-aged, and one son in his second year of “official” school. One of my children has a severe mental handicap, and another has some less severe special needs. I also have a five-year-old who is not officially in school yet, but who is just beginning the process of learning to read. And just to keep things interesting, I have a one-year-old who has just started walking.
The following is a general overview of what a “typical” day might look like in our home if you were to drop by and watch our family in action. To be honest, our day very rarely looks this neat and tidy. There is a lot wiggle room in this schedule, so it hardly ever looks exactly like what I have written about here.
By Scott Woodruff
Senior Counsel, HSLDA
Better late than never.
On July 19, 2019, I asked Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin to put an end to telling local public school superintendents that they must collect the birth dates of homeschooled children. I received no reply.
On October 19, 2020, HSLDA Vice President James Mason followed up and told Makin that we were considering legal action against the Department over the issue.
Today, November 3, Makin sent a statewide bulletin formally retracting the birth date demand.
The many Maine families who withstood truancy threats and continued to defy the groundless demands played an important part in this epic reversal. A great deal of credit also goes to Representative Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred) and her effective personal outreach to Makin this fall.
Homeschoolers of Maine played a pivotal leadership role in standing strong and rallying families to resist the unlawful demands.
For those of you who bore the brunt of the situation because you were personally threatened with truancy, I wish Makin had conveyed an apology. You truly deserve one.
But this Thanksgiving all homeschoolers in Maine will have something extra for which to be thankful.
Scott is a seasoned attorney, homeschooling dad, and homeschool advocate with decades of involvement in homeschool legal issues and cases.
By Jessica Leavitt
Why is it that teaching Physical Education throws so many of us for a loop? Is it because we can’t go out and buy a curriculum? Is it because we aren’t familiar with the skills involved in PE? (Skills? Can’t I just send the kids out to play for 30 minutes?) Or, is it having to prove that we did more than just walk out the door? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these. Maybe it’s because baseball just isn’t fun with only two people. We each have our reasons that make teaching P.E. synonymous with having a tooth pulled. I promise that it doesn’t have to feel that way.
It’s a little-known secret that I taught P.E. for almost an entire year. I think that puts me in the category of “knows enough to be dangerous,” but I hope I can also be helpful. Physical Education looks different for each child, each family, and each age group, so take what works for you and leave the rest for someone else.
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