Evolution of Modern Homeschool- Part Three

How Styles Have Changed

In the previous blogs, we have seen how homeschooling has grown- especially over the last 20 years. Homeschooling has also grown globally and is increasing in popularity in several countries; including countries where it was formally illegal or severely restricted. Along with the increased growth, methods and styles of home education have also grown. Availability and access to technology and social media have contributed to the growth of home education in many new ways. Previously, students learned almost solely by textbooks and materials from local libraries. Today, students have access to unlimited information and families can connect with home school groups around the world through social media. Home education styles are as diverse as the families that create them. For some families, structured homeschooling is best while others like “free-styling” their learning. Yet others like a blend of homeschooling and participating in a homeschool based style “school.” According to Time4Learning, a popular homeschool education and research site, there are ten widely recognized styles of home education. Most contemporary articles about home educations methods agree that the most common styles are:
  • Eclectic
  • Unschooling
  • Traditional
  • Classical
  • Charlotte Mason Method
  • Montessori Method
  • Waldorf Method
  • Roadschooling
  • Worldschooling
As much of the data on homeschooling, statistics on the various styles of homeschooling and how families use them is difficult to come by and often varies from source to source. In order to simplify the numerous educational styles for discussion, it is worth noting that there are some that present several similarities. Most sources agree the most popular method of homeschooling is Eclectic. Eclectic homeschooling is a method where families essentially “pick and choose” what they feel are the best subjects, materials, and methods for their students to learn. Parents may instruct students in the literature using the Classical method but take a Montessori approach to math. They may even “hybrid” school and both homeschool and send students to the public, private or charter schools for select classes. Eclectic covers a broad range of home education and is as unique as the families that use this method. Unschooling, while not as popular as Eclectic, is similar in families use what they believe is best for their student’s education. However, there is one significant difference. While Eclectic is driven by student interest it is largely organized and structured by adults. With Unschooling, all education is purely student-driven as well as student-led. Students who are unschooled are seen as responsible for their own education and are encouraged to explore learning with little to no adult involvement. Traditional homeschooling continues to be a very popular choice of home education. The main difference between traditional homeschooling 20 years ago and today is technology. Technology has opened up traditional homeschooling to many more students- not just in the United States, but around the world. Technology allows students to have access to all the information contained within libraries and learning institutions. Students can take traditional classes online from home. Classical Education methods are also similar. Traditional style focuses on the basic studies of reading, writing and math skills while Classical takes academics a step further. Classical emphasizes traditional subject studies but approaches these from educational methods of antiquity. This method includes studies such as languages and philosophies and begins from a young age with not just the memorization of information and facts but the use of reason to teach students to progress their own understanding of subjects. The classical method also has options for students to participate in tandem with a classroom setting- whether online or even attending one or two of the classes physically. Charlotte Mason Method, Montessori, and Waldorf are all education systems that encourage home-like environments and child-led experiences. Both Charlotte Mason and Montessori promote learning through play and work. Children are taught that daily chores are an integral part of life and students are given regular tasks such as doing dishes and sweeping floors. Schools that embrace these methods often have “play” kitchens and other household items so that children may learn about work through play. Waldorf also has an experiential approach but incorporates interaction with nature and art to a higher degree. Roadschooling and Worldschooling are educational concepts that have only recently begun gaining popularity. These methods are not new but have not been commonly employed. Both Roadschooling and Worldschooling emphasize learning through on-site experience. Families travel to various locations to take in the whole environment of a known site; perhaps a battleground, a famous architectural structure or a historic town. Worldschooling includes locations and cultural interactions around the globe. Although students can “travel” through video tours, global “classrooms” and other ways of participating, these families prefer to travel have the full experience of physically visiting the location. The fundamental methods of home education models themselves have not varied much over the last two decades, but how families and students are using them certainly has. Technology has unquestionably created new opportunities for homeschoolers and most certainly has contributed to the overall growth of home-based education.

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