By Karen Pennebaker
If you are thinking about homeschooling, summertime is a perfect time to do a "trial run". Unlike public schools, homeschools do not have to go by an annual calendar. There is no reason that school can't be open at your convenience! Summer is an ideal time for many activities, especially in cold climates where working out of doors on projects is only possible in warm weather.
There are as many styles of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers, I believe. However, they can be broken down into a few basic groups, such as:
Unschooling: those of use who "unschool" do not use a curriculum or lesson plans (unless the child requests that sort of structure). We teach what the child wants to learn and we practice "lifetime learning" in the process! If a child wants to work in workbooks, we get workbooks. If the child decides to write a novel, the child writes a novel. This style of learning and teaching is not everyone's "cup of tea", especially those who expect learning to be related to "school"! But it works well with gifted children and with children who have special interests and talents.
Eclectic: those who are eclectic borrow what they like from other styles. In essence, most homeschoolers fit in this category! The basic difference between eclectic and unschooling is who directs the learning - the parents direct the learning in eclectic, whereas unschooling is child led.
Unit study: these homeschoolers work in subject matter that is packaged in units. Some parents design their own curriculum but many use prepackaged materials. Rather than a schedule of subjects during the day, the student works on a particular unit until it is finished and then goes on to another unit of work.
Curriculum based: This is the method that is most like a public school. The work is broken up into subject matter and "x" number of lessons in one subject must be completed. Many people who really haven't a clue of what to teach can do very well using a prepackaged curriculum (available from many different sources) that includes lesson plans, work sheets and tests in the package.
Structured and semi-structured: these are the people who make lesson plans and schedules. They buy Daytimers or Franklin Planners and know what they are doing from one day to the next. Some children learn best with structure and knowing that at 9 AM, we do math or at 11:45 AM, we stop for lunch. (Other children balk at being pigeonholed into a calendar page!).
It's summertime, and the livin' is easy.
Sit back with a glass of iced tea and watch your children play. You will learn a lot about how they learn by how they play. Watch them, quietly. As they get more and more involved in play, their vocabulary changes to fit the fantasy. Creative people never lose that ability to play!
Summertime is also a good time to spend hours in the library (which is probably air conditioned!). Yes, we can find volumes of information on the internet, but there are times that the library works much better for the student. Learning to use a public library is a skill everyone should learn, as much of the information any of us need or want can be found in a library. If you have young children, check the library schedule for a story hour or children's craft experience!
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