Get off the curriculum hunt and get back to understanding just your child. It sounded sane enough and it was because it was my mother’s advice. Today, in mixing it up: how to combine homeschool approaches (without losing your mind) is not about loving or leaving a homeschool approach, but how to combine your favorite ideas from each one.
When You’re Not a Curriculum Expert
It can be painful to make a decision that you thought was the best for your family. It was for me. Not only was it painful to leave my loved classical approach, but it can have you questioning your ability to teach your kids.
Finding balance is not easy and like others, I made some knee jerk decisions about curriculum with my classical approach and then found myself coming back to some of the things I loved about it. Look at my post, How to Use a Boxed Curriculum Without Giving Up Your Homeschool Approach.
Look at these things that I learned and that I hope will help you to avoid the same insane trip I made.
Analyzing a few of these things before I dropped my homeschool approach would have saved me needless stress.
Forget What Type of Homeschooler You *Think* You Are.
I know, we all like to say that we are classical, unit study homeschooler or unschooler or whatever type, but I learned that choosing an approach right away is not what is most important.
What is important is analyzing which parts of a homeschool approach will work for your family.
By labeling yourself right away or identifying right away with a group, you think you may have to follow all of the parts of a particular approach.
That is what I did. Because I wanted strong readers, I felt the only way to do that was with a classical approach.
That brings me to the second point, which is to identify the teaching idea or suggestion that makes you excited about teaching.
Examine EACH part of a Homeschool Approach.
Research in great detail about what you do like about the approach you are drawn to.
Again, I did this wrong. I read in generalities about the different homeschool approaches and then I chose a homeschool approach instead analyzing the pieces first.
It reminds me of a point that Susan Wise Bauer said when teaching reading and that is to teach pieces to whole.
Teaching is much the same when you are trying to determine a starting point. What am I talking about?
Look at these fine points that I wanted to teach though I didn’t know how to bundle them up, so to speak, as a homeschool approach.
- Having a love for learning lifelong was important.
- Being able to teach not only rigorous academics, but a Biblical view was important.
- Having lifelong readers was important.
- Hands-on learning is important, especially for wiggly boys.
- Learning as much together as we could.
Comparing what is the mainstay points of each homeschool approach with your goals allows you to see the strong points and the not so good points about each approach.
It Only Matters How Your Kids Learn.
Another vital point to mixing homeschool approaches is to read about, become an expert in and learn the best points of each homeschool approach that works for your kids. This was a fantastic point made by my mother.
Again, this is a huge area I made a mistake in. Not only did I overwhelm myself in trying to understand all the approaches, my focus first should of been on how my kids learn.
That is the reason I had to let go of doing classical homeschooling because it is not hands-on focused.
Mix It All Up and Determine Which Approach Has More of Your Checklist.
Then next because you need a starting point for curriculum, one homeschool approach needs to be your dominant approach.
It helps to narrow your focus not only for curriculum, but about following homeschool blogs and reading books that give you tips on how best to teach the homeschool approach you chose.
For example, look at this list below that helped me to see that a unit study approach was a much better choice for my family.
- Though reading and history are two favorite luvs of my mine, my goal is to have my sons to introduced to a well rounded list of literature. I know the classical approach is primarily history focus. So I crossed out that part about the classical approach. The unit study approach allowed us to read what we are learning about or our topic and it is a much more better fit for my kids.
- When it comes to history, the classical approach about covering history in order makes complete sense to me and my kids. So we followed the classical approach when studying history.
- I love the hands-on approach to unschooling because thought it’s not my learning style, most children thrive, including mine, with a large dose of hands-on activities. However, I prefer a much more predictable start and end to my day and do not leave it completely up to my kids (child lead learning) to find out what they want to learn about. We need more organization, but I take the hands-on aspect of this approach.
- The relaxed approach of unschooling also appeals to us because it is opposite of my personality. I other words, I don’t leave it up to me to make the complete decision because my teaching style in the beginning tended to be strict and austere. (ugly, I know, but it’s true.) I followed how my boys learned with a relaxed approach and that dictated taking that piece from this approach.
- Another concept that appealed to us that I did not find in the classical approach or the unschooling approach was learning until mastery. Unit study is a mastery learning approach. My children could learn until their appetite was satisfied and some subjects have very little review or repeat the next year because of how in depth your child go when learning a topic.
When I learned, albeit the hard way, that mixing a homeschool approach should start first with understanding the way my kids learn best and not what just appealed to me and letting go of my ideal homeschooling (i.e. fantasy), it allowed me to follow my homeschool dreams.
Knowing where to begin is key.
Are you struggling with your homeschool approach?
Hugs and love ya,
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