It is important to determine what philosophy is going to assist you in achieving the goals you have set for your home, family and student(s). If you are a person that needs to start small and “wrap your head around it all”, let me over simplify it first. Any time I meet a first time homeschooling family, I tell them to look the following three:
- Subject Learning
- Self Teaching
- Charlotte Mason
Of course, like with anything else, you can complicate it beyond that. For example, let’s take “subject learning” from our list above. Can a student teach themselves a subject? Sure. Does everyone study the same subjects? No. Some study a basic set each year – Language Arts, Math, History, Science, etc. – while others may concentrate on a few and rotate year to year. Some use a box curriculum, others may pull a subject from and other from there, and still another family may do everything with “unit studies”.
In a unit study, we may learning about butterflies. We do everything with butterflies. We read butterflies, we spelling with butterflies, we do science on a butterflies, we learn geography through butterflies, we learn to count with butterflies, etc.
The “subject learning” philosophy will most closely reflect the normal idea of schooling.
Now, let’s talk about “self teaching”. This philosophy takes the approach that either the student is driving what and how things are learned or that the student is teaching themselves what has been decided upon.
The extreme version of the student led approach would be those students that are allowed to do whatever all day everyday. This might be sleeping until 2:00 p.m. and then playing video games until dinner. They will learn to read on their own because they will be drive to by interacting with others in the video game. They will have to learn to count so they can win. This could also be referred to as an “unschooling” approach and you can find plenty of articles laying out methods, pros/cons, success stories and videos.
A less extreme version would be that you teach around what your student is interested in now or give the student the tools they need to teach themselves and allow them to explore as their interests change.
On the other end of that spectrum would be a set curriculum that the student can follow to teach themselves the required learning, with no or minimal “teacher” involvement. You could argue that Florida Virtual is self teaching, though there is a teacher they have to be accountable to but it does allow them to pick and choose what they study. I think the best example of this method with the Robinson Curriculum. Find and watch any lecture by Dr. Robinson and this philosophy will be made very clear. A close second to Robinson is A2 Curriculum.
Finally, spend a little time with Charlotte Mason. This a “whole person” approach that uses short lessons with observations and creative play. Here a few websites to get you started:
This was the simple and digestible version. If you want to get even deeper, check out this blog post: Education Philosophies – More.