Sure, it might initially be easier to grab a package of material and go; but how do you know it will take you where you are headed — unless you know where you are headed? Developing your own approach to educating your children at home does require an investment of your time and a willingness to learn. But the long-term benefits for you, your children and your home-life are definitely worth the investment. Besides, learning is fun! (And isn’t that one of the concepts we hope to impart to our children?)
Use this opportunity to gain insight from those who have gone before, keeping in mind that someone else’s approach is not your approach. It most likely will not work “as is” in your situation or environment. Prayerfully investigate these methods — develop an understanding of the various educational philosophies, noting any ideas that you find especially appealing, or concepts that would be particularly effective in assisting your children. Then pick and choose the ideas that will work for your family. When you are finished, you will have a wonderful start on formulating your own approach. Here are a few other ideas to keep in mind:
No two families are the same. Your family is unique, created with a unique purpose. You will come across families, for example, who are certain that classical education is THE way to educate their children at home; after all — it works for them. See the fruit! And so it does. This family followed God’s design for their home. He surely has a unique design for your family as well. Copying others will not bring your family success.
No two children are the same. Of course you know this. But keep your children in mind as you begin investigating different ways of educating at home. What might work for one child, may not fit another. An avid reader may prefer more living literature on which to chew, while a child who loves structure may enjoy the traditional way of doing things. Obviously I’m not suggesting that if you have ten children you should find yourself burdened with ten different educational frameworks. Rather, you can pick and choose among those distinctives from each method that work for each child within the greater educational framework you have designed for your family.
One method can have many faces. The same educational approach may look different in each family as they adapt it to fit their circumstances. There are very different implementations of the classical method of education in homeschools (not to mention in private schools). Delight-directed homeschooling can range considerably in structure. Unit studies can vary from simple units put together by Mom to intricately detailed, published studies. Various educational philosophies offer a wide range of ideas from which to choose; but they need not be prescriptive. We can put those theories that we believe will help us reach our goals for our children into our educational toolbox without overlaying an entire approach on our family. Despite what you might hear, you are not failing your family if you decide not to implement every detail of a particular method as suggested. One of the biggest advantages of home education is the process of individualization!
Methods may vary with the subject matter. While discovering the past through great literature is a engaging way to experience history, it may not adequately cover geometry. Many times we feel skills need to be developed in the old fashioned way, while the various content areas may have more “sticking power” when they are approached in a different manner. There is no need to follow an all-or-nothing approach to any particular method unless it fits your family to do so.
Methods may vary with developmental levels. College-level work tends to be limited to the traditional lectern and textbook method. Kindergarten is generally experienced in a more hands-on environment. Our educational approach may vary as our children mature.
Methods may vary with the one doing the tutoring. In the end, your approach will reflect you. If you have ten children, you may find it difficult to teach at ten different grade levels. If you are a very structured person, you may find an eclectic approach to educating your children at home unwieldy and time consuming. If you are more of a free spirit, you may find the traditional way of doing things too restrictive. A particular approach may have a certain appeal, but we may find that it simply will not work in our circumstances. This is one of the reasons why it is important to develop our own approach to educating our children at home — an approach that reflects ourselves and our family.
- 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
An “Approaches to Learning” questionnaire helps us zero in on our preferred methods of education.
- Making the Case for Educating Ourselves
A cursory examination of a handful of approaches to homeschooling will likely provide us with a starting place. There will likely be one approach that we will gravitate to, and that will deserve more in-depth study. So we can begin with a program that serves as a framework whether it follows a classical, literature-based, unit study or traditional (without all of the bells and whistles) approach, knowing that we are free to keep the pieces that work for us and rid ourselves of methodologies that only burden us.
Other thoughts on developing your approach.