Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Finding Your Homeschooling Style

When I first looked into homeschooling I was confused by 'styles'. What did they mean style? Wasn't homeschooling just well, homeschooling? When we were considering home education as an option, mentally I found the fact there wasn't a "This is exactly how you do this" guide to be a challenge. It was difficult to know where to start and easy to be anxious that I was going to get it wrong!

Now, I realise this is one of the benefits of homeschooling. We don't have to teach our children the same way and we certainly don't have to replicate the mainstream school environment at home.

Most homeschoolers teach children essentially the same things but in a way that flows from individual value systems, family life and children's learning styles. 

We often follow our children's lead. What difference does it make if a child learns about the butterfly life cycle when they are 4 or 10? As long as they learn this at some point in their education - why enforce it at a particular time? It is so much more fulfilling for the child when they make discoveries about things they are actually interested in and developmentally ready to absorb. Apparently this way of looking at education has a name - it's called delight-directed learning.

Each homeschooling family is unique and the way or 'style' they homeschool is different. Some families are highly structured while others are fairly relaxed. Some families spent lots of time at home doing lessons while others spend more time out and about engaging in activities and outings.

Initially, I found myself drawn to a classical style of homeschooling because we enjoy bookwork and literature. I love sitting down and teaching my children but we don't like doing that ALL the time. I'm also drawn to natural learning. I am continually amazed at what my boys create spontaneously when given the space and freedom to explore their own ideas. I blogged about the day DS7 decided he wanted to make a snakes and ladders game and spent a whole day playing with cardboard boxes. Currently, as I type my boys are outside dressed in superhero costumes writing secret code in sidewalk chalk.

So really, our 'style' probably fits in to the eclectic category - a bit of this and a bit of that because it works for our family. 

 We spend most mornings doing more formal work but in a fun and engaging way. We include lots of games, manipulative's, different curriculum, books, online resources and ipad apps. Our formal work isn't just boring worksheets as many would envision. Our afternoons are the time for more natural learning where I will (sometimes) provide them with an idea or something, like sidewalk chalk, and encourage them to explore. Computers and TV are limited in this time so they are encouraged to 'use their brains' as I tell them. Most of the time they do this outdoors but sometimes it involves laying on the couch with a good book!

Sometimes I get paranoid that we are not doing enough. Our local friendly homeschool inspector (well, that's what I call him) has always been impressed with what we do but I still doubt myself at times because a complete manual for homeschoolers doesn't exist. But that is the beauty of home education.

One thing I am learning about 'learning' is that not all learning is measurable...and it doesn't have to be. 

So when it comes to finding your homeschooling style I don't think we should stress about it or compare ourselves to other homeschoolers as we are all as unique and different as our children! 

If you are interested in learning more about homeschool 'style's' then I recommend visiting Homeschool Australia's to learn more.

Do you have a homeschooling style? How did you find your style?

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