I know a couple of families who are homeschooling, but the things they’re doing are totally different! Shouldn’t all “homeschoolers” be doing basically the same kinds of things at home?
One of the advantages of homeschooing is the flexibility it offers families. Homeschooling families use a variety of methods for teaching and learning, including (but not limited to) those listed below. There are advantages and disadvantages to every style and method, and it’s up to each family to choose what works best for them. (Note that some states may have certain homeschooling requirements that affect the choices families make.)
- Correspondence School:
- A correspondence school generally sends materials, books, and assignments. Students return assignments and tests for grading. The family may have direct contact with a teacher at the school, and the school may give report cards and keep traditional transcripts. Parents will need to pay tuition to the correspondence school.
- Packaged Curriculum:
- Some families purchase a packaged curriculum for each specific grade level. This includes all books and materials needed. Parents are responsible for teaching, grading, and keeping records.
- Home-Made Curriculum:
- Families may put together their own curriculum, using whatever sources they choose. They are responsible for teaching and record keeping. The curriculum may be tailored to meet the child’s interests and abilities.
- Unschooling or Student-Directed Learning
- These labels are used to describe a wide variety of less structured homeschooling styles. Rather than an adult deciding what, when, and how the child will learn, these methods allow students to follow their own interests, in their own time, using a wide variety of resources.
Homeschooling families may also choose the level of structure for their learning environment. Some choose to do “school at home,” basically following a traditional school schedule of times, days, and work. Others alter their schedule to meet their family’s needs, such as working evenings, weekends, or year-round. Other families stay flexible, changing their schedule as their needs and interests change. Still others don’t follow any set schedule at all, instead learning “every day in every way.”
It’s possible for a family to use a combination of the above and other methods, and to change methods at any time–even using different methods at the same time with different children. The important thing to remember is that there is no one “right” way to homeschool. Each family had the right, and the responsibility, to find the way that works best for them.