Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning Styles

My first misconception about home schooling was that there was only one or two learning styles. And of course we all know what happens when you assume...

So before I launch into the whole to-do, I'll break them down:
  • Traditional School at Home
    • Home Schooling Unlimted's definition:  Traditional homeschoolers usually purchase a complete curriculum which includes textbooks, teacher’s guides, tests, schedules, and grading and record keeping materials.
    • My definition: It's what you think would happen if you removed the building but kept everything else the same. You have specific schedules and curriculum for each subject. You're tied to the same constraints and (in Pinellas County) can even register your child in their zoned school so the technically "attend" public school.
  • Classical
    • The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child's definition: The classical method is based on a revival of the educational approach called the trivium, a three-part process of literally training a child's mind.
    • My definition: The first stage is sheer memorization; cramming as much knowledge in as possible. The second stage is logic; who, what, when, where, why. The third any final stage is rhetoric; processing information on a refined level.
  • Charlotte Mason (a whole style named after a person)
    •'s definition:  Children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits
    • My definition: A pretty free flowing way of doing things. Reading literature instead of textbooks, describing and discussing instead of straight Q&A. This method really focuses on the environment of the child.
  • Unit Studies
    • definition: Find a unit study on that topic, and take a week or two to teach it. Do your kids find black holes fascinating, and does the science text cover them in a paragraph or two? Looks like a unit on astronomy may be in order.
    • My definition: Find something you love and do it till it kills you! (another Hunter S. Thompson quote snuck its way in) Basically whatever it is that captures the interest find everything (book, movie, field trip) you can and study it exhaustively.
  • Eclectic
    •'s definition:  Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.
    • My definition: Welcome to the catch-all of homeschooling. It's flexible, fun and can be made to suite the family's needs.
  • Unschooling
    • Wikipedia's definition: Parents who unschool their children act as "facilitators," providing a wide range of resources, helping their children access, navigate, and make sense of the world, and aiding them in making and implementing goals and plans for both the distant and immediate future.
    • My definition: No more pencils, no more books... The inmates are running the prison. Okay that's an overstatement. This method embraces the fact that children are natural little sponges and it's our jobs as parents to immerse them in as much as possible.
  • The Co-op (Cooperative Learning)
    • The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child's definition: Free of government regulation, free to be whatever those who create and utilize them want to be.
    • My definition: "It takes a village..." Here you get to network with your community and decide as an independent PTA, if you will, what and how your children will learn. These can be "Private" schools or simply a support group who hires tutors to come in and teach a class or two.
  • Online
    •'s definition: More flexible and customized than traditional school, yet more structured than typical home school.
    • My definition: Just like regular school, you have grades and schedules and curriculum and textbooks yet you're free to study in your PJ's and it can cost a bundle. However for those who aren't quite sure where to begin, this can provide an excellent framework.
Now you have my (very) abbreviated explanations here's where I've landed (that is for the moment). My initial thought was the online or school-at-home. It was the most familiar to me since I've taken online courses at USF for my BA and familiar is safe. It also appeared to be the least likely way to screw up my child's learning experience. After all, if I did exactly as I was told, then it would all work out.

That defeats the whole point!

I wanted to take charge of her education. She was going to have this wide variety of opportunities and here I was subscribing to someone else's ideas of what she should learn. Take two!

The co-op seemed like an interesting option. Community, friends, that all sounds like good stuff. Of course, I have yet to find one that caters to working parents. You'll find that that tends to be a sticking point. And again we have the "someone else at the helm" issue. Yes, I am that much of a control freak.

So, to make a long story short (too late), we've settled on Eclectic/Unit Studies. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Of course you can combine methods, this is home school; you can do anything you want! You can spend every day on a new roller coaster, feeding gummy bears to a chimp on its birthday. Find what works and go from there. Reach out to your community, but trust your instincts. Google away, but remember, as the parent, you're the one seeing this through so don't break yourself trying to conform to someone else's view or method. Or find what doesn't work and avoid it like the plague, but be open to the possibility that you just haven't found the right one...yet.

"Never say you know the last word about any human heart"
~Henry James

Happy hunting from Bat Country

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