While it’s important to consider your child’s learning style, it’s just as important to determine your own teaching style. What method suits you best as you educate your child at home? Do you like everything planned out ahead of time? Some curricula provide the exact words to say to your student as you go through the lesson. Does that kind of detail bring a sense of relief, or does it cause stress because you tend to stray away from the plan? Do you enjoy looking through bookstores and libraries for “gems” to add your curriculum? Do you search websites for games and crafts that you know your student will love?
If you try to incorporate a style that doesn’t suit you, you’ll most likely find yourself feeling unqualified, frustrated, and constantly behind. That’s not to say that your style won’t change as your children grow. But it helps to know how you manage best in the season of life that you’re in. Here are some types of teaching styles to consider:
School at Home
I have friends who homeschool this way, and they do so well with it. This method simply moves the classroom into the home. Students follow a typical school-day schedule, work at desks, and use traditional textbooks. We never tried this method, as our school year is always broken up with visits from extended family, trips, and other get-togethers. In exchange for our less-regulated approach, we always end up schooling through the summer.
As technology continues to improve, this option becomes more and more popular. Students can take courses online in which they interact with actual teachers through Skype, discussion boards, and emails. Your student doesn’t have to do every class this way; there are online teachers available for individual subjects as well.
I loved doing these when my older children were little. This approach brings math, literature, science, history, and art together all under one theme. While you can purchase unit studies, I enjoyed creating them myself, and I made up games and crafts to go along with them. As the kids grew older, though, I found myself needing to incorporate more traditional curriculum.
Charlotte Mason and Living Books
Following the Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, this method uses good literature, nature study, art, and music to encourage children to learn on their own. I loved this idea, and (briefly) tried to implement it, but it didn’t work well for us either. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, so I felt like they were missing aspects of their education. I found that textbooks tend to reassure me.
The Classical Education
This style incorporates the three stages of learning: grammar for grades 1-4, dialectic for grades 5-8, and rhetoric for grades 9 -12. It involves lots of memorization during the early years. This is what we started with when my oldest was in first grade, and we followed the plan while he was the only one I was teaching. Then life happened (as it often does), and I never did get on-track with my second child. And despite my best efforts, no one has yet learned Latin.
This method of teaching is student-directed; the child pursues those subjects they are most interested in. I was never confident enough to follow this method, though many homeschoolers do fine with it.
Eclectic Teaching Styles
Our mixture of curriculum definitely puts my family in this category. We use the language arts portion from one curriculum, the math portion from another. Science and history come from two other sources. I’ve used textbooks for subjects I’m feeling unsure about, and collections of library books when I’m feeling more confident in my choices. Some of the books work well with one child, while other resources work better for another. I plan out the year myself based on the books to be covered and what I know we can do. In this way, I can combine both my chldren’s various learning styles with a more relaxed teaching style.
By understanding your teaching style, you’ll be able to discover which types of curriculum would work best for your family.
What method works best for you? Have you changed methods as your children have grown older?