With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) causing widespread school closures, children across the country are being given alternate resources, some online, to study outside of the classroom.
Homeschooling refers to the act of teaching children at home, as opposed to in a public school. Depending on where you live, this could look very different. In Australia, for instance, every state has its own laws regarding what is allowed and what isn’t.
Some states only require a homeschool family to keep attendance and take a standardised test each year, while others require complete portfolios and diligent record-keeping. Some states allow co-ops and multi-family homeschools, while other states require that homeschool be kept to one family, in one home. Your state likely has a website with its specific laws.
See information about your specific state here:
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
When it comes to homeschooling, it’s not always as simple as just teaching subjects. Sometimes it is beneficial to find a method that speaks to your family’s individual goals and personalities. A method can allow you to stay focused and can give you the motivation to keep going when you’re worn out (and there will be days that you are just worn out!) A method can also provide you with inspiration when you’re out of ideas or don’t know what to do next.
Curriculums can be helpful along the way. But, many families find out that one curriculum doesn’t usually work for every single subject for every single child. Generally, if you find a method that speaks to your reasons for homeschooling, you will find that the subjects will fall into place.
Charlotte Mason was an 18th-century educator who believed that children are born as who they are, and cannot be moulded into different people. Her method relies heavily on a wide variety of short lessons, and plenty of outside time, especially for small children. Plenty of reading is included in her methods. With a large emphasis on quality literature written by people who are experts in their field.
Charlotte Mason does not advocate textbook-style learning, but instead stories that engage the mind into deep interest and learning. Charlotte Mason wrote many books explaining her methods in detail. Some of them can even be found for free on the internet.
Montessori style learning can be easily confused with the Charlotte Mason method, but there are differences. Of note, Montessori gives the child more freedom to explore on their own what they will, educationally speaking. In the Montessori method, the parent is to thoroughly observe the individual child and provide child-centred activities accordingly.
This method has brought about a plethora of specific Montessori-style toys that cater to this method. The Montessori method advocates largely for time spent in nature and for hands-on activities. It allows children to explore every aspect of what they are learning.
The unschooling method allows a child to learn what they want to. This method is much less methodical and can be formatted to fit any style of learning, and any style of family. The term “unschooling” speaks to the opposite of public school style. Instead of a teacher teaching a child, the child is allowed to learn what they would like to.
With this method, the parent is more of a guide than a teacher. Helping the child follows the whims of life in a natural way rather than coming up with things to learn about. In the unschooling method, a family might read a book and then trace questions and research what they want. Learning along the way in a less math-science-history-writing approach. Instead, all subjects may be combined and learned along with life.
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In a unit studies approach, a family will learn about one thing for a month or longer. Reading all kinds of books on one subject and really digging into it fully. For instance, a unit study on bees might entail planting echinacea (or another flower that bees love) and observing the bees that visit.
It might mean painting bees, tasting different kinds of honey, and then using different kinds of honey to make different recipes. Or, sculpting bees or painting them, or making a diorama displaying bees. It might mean writing a book or creating a poster that tells everything you know about bees.
Remember that each child and each family is different. Some families will be suited for one method of homeschooling, while others will benefit from borrowing qualities from various methods. Homeschooling is a journey that will change along the way. However, learning about different methods can make the journey easier to follow.