Models of Learning

Homeschool Models of Learning

Type of Homeschool Models

Let’s delve into the various homeschooling approaches to curriculum and overall philosophy. 

There are generally seven routinely recognized types: classical, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, traditional, unschooling, unit studies, and eclectic. Some families stick with one model throughout their homeschooling journey, others switch things up every so often, while still others are truly eclectic using a mix on a constant basis. I fall into the latter category, having always mixed some classical, traditional, Charlotte Mason with a little sprinkle of Montessori in the younger years. 

     The first method to investigate is the classical model. This builds off the three stages of learning: the grammar stage, logic stage, and rhetoric stage. Grammar is primarily centered around learning and memorizing important facts and is associated with the elementary years when children are very well situated for absorbing large amounts of information. Logic then evolves into applying the stores of information into reasoning and critical thinking as a basis for organized statements and arguments. Rhetoric is the last stage and emphasizes the application of material that has been memorized and understood. The goal is to be equipped for having more in-depth discussions about real-world events and utilize thought-out debate skills. 

     The Montessori educational model was developed by an Italian physician, Maria Montessori. The premise of the method emphasizes that children are naturally thirsty for knowledge and can initiate learning on their own given a well-prepared learning environment. The emphasis is a sense of hands-on independent learning through exposure to lessons and activities that build upon a skill set. The core of this emphasis is on freedom in learning while working collaboratively and honing critical thinking skills through the process.

     Charlotte Mason education is based on the beliefs of Charlotte Mason, a British educator that believed in educating the whole person and not just the mind through discipline, atmosphere and life. Atmosphere refers to the surroundings in which the child grows up meaning the home should be conducive to a love of learning. Discipline zeroes in on the cultivation of good habits, particularly habits of character. The life part has to do with giving children living thoughts and ideas, not just rote facts. Narration, time spent outdoors, handwriting and spelling by copying passages from great books, studying artists and composers are some of the hallmarks of this education method. 

     Traditional schooling incorporates many of the disciplines and structure of brick and mortar schools. This might include well-known curriculum, workbooks, regular testing, and a stricter daily and yearly schedule. 

     Unschooling is a newer addition to the models of education. This is not the absence of education, but the mode of learning that does not follow a set curriculum. It is an interest-driven model based on the child’s natural bent toward certain topics. 

     Unit studies, sometimes referred to as “thematic units” incorporate several subject areas into a defined topic for a specified amount of time. One might study mammals and utilize many subject areas to complete the unit. The theme could also be a specific book series such as Lord of the Rings with all subjects ensconced within a study of the books. While this method does allow for an in-depth look at a particular theme, one could argue that certain subject areas, such as math, might be lacking based on the topic. 

     Eclectic homeschooling combines many of the various models. I have always considered myself to be an eclectic homeschooler mixing in parts classical, Charlotte Mason, and traditional depending on the subject matter and the goals I have in mind. The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to do any of this. Find out what is the best method for your family and dive in. 

     Homeschooling models are varied and all have their pros and cons. The most important thing is to do what is best for your family and fits your various needs and schedule. The freedom to choose is one of the most amazing aspects of homeschooling. It does not have to be the school district’s way, your neighbor’s way, or the clerk at the grocery store’s way, but your own way! 

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