Sometimes when you are searching for teaching materials for your children, it’s not just the number of products that is confusing, but it’s a shock to discover that the products are coming from different ideas of how children should be taught and what they should be learning.
A home school curriculum fair is kind of like an interdenominational meeting, but there aren’t just doctrinal differences–there are different educational philosophies, different teaching approaches, and different convictions about what kinds of lifestyles home schooling families should have.
Common teaching approaches
All home schooling materials fall into two main categories: traditional textbook curricula and non-textbook curricula.
The Traditional Approach
In the Traditional Approach, graded textbooks or workbooks follow a scope and sequence that covers each subject in 180 daily increments over a span of 12 years. Teacher’s manuals, tests, and record keeping materials are usually available that correspond to each of the texts.
Although there are a number of excellent textbook and worktext programs available, many home educators object to the fact that textbooks are teacher-directed, chalkboard-oriented, and seldom take into account different teaching approaches or the different ways children receive and process information.
John Gatto says, “Real books educate. School books school.” With textbooks, parents may feel they are “bringing the classroom home” instead of educating their children in a way that is uniquely home-based. These parents have found alternative teaching approaches that allow them to tailor their home schooling to their family’s particular needs. Here are the six most common non-textbook teaching approaches:
The Classical Approach is derived from successful courses of study throughout history and recently revived through the writings of Dorothy Sayers.
The Principle Approach is based on the premise that our nation is a unique and vital link in the westward chain of Christianity.
The Living Books and Life Experiences Approach of Charlotte Mason treats children as persons, not as containers to be filled with information.
The Unit Study Approach integrates several subject areas around a common theme.
Unschooling assumes that children are natural learners and gives them resources to do so.
The Identity-Directed Approach is based on discovering each child’s unique temperament, talents, giftings, and skills as well as spiritual destiny and crafting a course of study around materials that will develop those talents, skills, and destinies.
The Eclectic Approach
Many homeschooling families use a blend of the different approaches. For example, they may use traditional math and science textbooks, but build unit studies around historical periods that include language arts, music, art, and philosophy, and then choose a computer program to teach typing.
An Eclectic Homeschooler is one who looks at the different approaches and methods of homeschooling and takes from each, forming his or her own unique philosophy.