The Right Homeschool Method

In an earlier post, I compared a homeschool method to a baking recipe.  A method is an outline of how you will put together your curriculum and educational activities.  A recipe is also an outline of how to put ingredients together.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden/
Image courtesy of Simon Howden/

Just put sugar cookie in a Pinterest search, and you will find a million different recipes.  The good thing about homeschooling is that the methods for teaching children have not reached a million…yet…

The number of defined homeschool methods is quite small.  But, how do you know which method or “recipe” is right for you?  It’s just like choosing a sugar cookie recipe!

Look through the options

If I am going to make sugar cookies, I will first look at the recipes I have or that are most popular.  So, check out the homeschool methods.  Ask your friends which method they use. Get a general feel for the “recipes” that are available.

Image courtesy of artur84/
Image courtesy of artur84/

Do you have the ingredients needed?

Many times I can quickly set aside a recipe based on the answer to this question.  If it’s not in my house, I can’t cook it.  This is true for homeschooling!

Some homeschool ingredients include:

  • Your Way

What method do you already do naturally?  For example, if your family loves hiking and being out in nature, you will already have a lot in common with Charlotte Mason‘s philosophies of nature study.

You might be extremely creative.   You may already see your children’s interest and create something to feed that curiosity.  You could already be “unschooling” and not even know it!

  • Your Why

Another homeschool ingredient to be considered is your Why.  Why are you homeschooling?  Does a particular method promote your reasoning and purpose?  If a method is contrary to your Why, then it needs to be set aside.

  • Your Child

What excites your child?  If a worksheet makes a child cry uncontrollably, then the Textbook Method may not be a good first choice.

I thought my children would love doing lapbooks and unit studies.  So, I started using this method for science studies.  After the first lapbook, my ladies were complaining about cutting and pasting.  They didn’t enjoy the creativity.  Your children might not enjoy it either.

Do you have the time required?

If you only have an hour to get it done, then a recipe which requires more time will not even be possible!  Or, you may be able to put in the extra time to get a better result.

Sometimes you start homeschooling in the middle of your child’s school years.  You won’t have the luxury of establishing some of the early foundations that some methods require.  You could take the time to “catch up,” but you and your child will need to be ready for the extra time and effort.

Often, it is the parent that needs to decide the time commitment they are willing to give to homeschooling.  A child who devours books and loves to solve puzzles will probably want to study classical literature and need to be directed in their logical thought process.  The Classical Method may be a challenge for mom, and she has to decide to commit extra time to meet the needs of her child.

Can you use more than one recipe?

Definitely!  Sometimes I even take a few recipes and mix them together to make my own creation!  It can be hard to use a different method with each child, but you could mix and match to keep all your children excited about learning.

If you have more than one child, you are probably going to adopt more of an Eclectic Method.  You may follow one method primarily, but you will incorporate others as needed to inspire a child.

This is me.  I am Eclectic.  We primarily follow the Classical Method, but I use resources from other methods to keep things interesting!

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

What if a recipe doesn’t work?

Sometimes the first batch of sugar cookies comes out bland and maybe even burned!  What do you do?

You start over.  It’s OK.  You learn from the first batch.  You now know what doesn’t work for you and your children.   It may be something that needs to be changed for only one particular subject.  It may be that the whole method needs to be ditched.

I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10, 000 ways that won’t work.

– Thomas Edison

To be honest, I am still working on our science studies.  We are getting closer, but I have struggled for over 10 years with several different methods and curriculum.  We are discovering that a good old textbook is probably the best for us!

Don’t give up.  Keep trying.  You will find the right homeschool method.

Let’s Chat:  What are some other “ingredients” to be considered when choosing a homeschool method?  Click here to share your thoughts.

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