New to Home Schooling?
Helpful Tips to Help You Get Started
Step 1 - Visit the Texas Home School Coalition website. Most, if not all, your questions are addressed on the website. Extremely helpful!! Register for free and visit their Frequently-asked Questions page, too.
Step 2 - Choose your Curriculum
Do you have a homeschool philosophy? Maybe not, but you may want to explore some of these philosophies/methods to help you narrow down the enormous amount of curriculum offerings available to you.
Here is a list of differing philosophies and methods. Possibly you will recognize a method that might function well for you and your children. Links are provided for those who want to know more, although there are more sites, books, etc... for each style than are listed here.
Home School Philosophies and Methods
Traditional -The traditional method would look very similar to how you were taught in school, with traditional textbooks. The main difference is that your children are in the comfort of their own homes with sometimes very little guidance needed from mom/dad. The traditional method would also include computer-based learning and teachers on DVD. Abeka and K-12 are good examples of a traditional method.
Classical - Classical education has had a resurgence in the last few years. This method (more of a lifestyle, really) is based on a well-known book called The Well-Trained Mind written by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. The heart of a classical education lies in the trivium — grammar, logic and rhetoric stages — these coincide with what our natural learning tendencies are during childhood. The WTM lays out some great ideas to build a classical education on, but for most families it is a dedication to an in-depth education in Latin, mathematics, the arts and sciences, elocution, and a deep understanding of world history and its effects. For more information on this style, check out Classical Conversations.
Charlotte Mason - A CM schedule would feature short lessons (10 to 20 minutes per subject for the younger children, longer for older ones) with an emphasis on excellent execution and focused attention, whether that is in thinking through a challenging math problem, looking carefully at a painting and then describing it, copying just a few words neatly, or listening to a short Bible episode and telling it back. Habit training is emphasized from a young age; children are taught the meaning of the CM school motto “I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will.” There are no gold stars or prizes, and competition with others is discouraged; each child is simply encouraged to do his best in everything. For more information, see Simply Charlotte Mason.
Unit Studies - Unit studies are a popular homeschooling method because they can be hands-on, literature-based, or even geared towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit Studies typically encompass all of the scholastic subjects through the study of one topic. They can be specific to a particular subject, like the Evan-Moor science units or Teacher Created Materials units. For examples of this curriculum style, try Sonlight, Five in a Row, or KONOS.
Biblical Principle Approach -The Biblical Principle Approach is a philosophy and method of education based upon Biblical reasoning and a Biblical, Christian worldview which requires considering and pondering the purpose of everything in God’s universe.
Relaxed, Unschooling, Delight-directed, or Interest-directed - Generally implies that the parents have consciously adopted a lifestyle with few textbooks or workbooks, and no grades, tests or labels. The child is encouraged to learn at their own pace through hobbies and interests that the he/she wants to pursue. For more information, explore the Moore Foundation website or any of the books by Raymond and/or Dorothy Moore.
Whole-Heart Learning -Encourages the use of real “living” books rather then text books. The family who wants to focus their lifestyle on whole-heart learning will set goals for the family as a whole and for each individual child. This lifestyle, known as whole-heart learning has a firm belief that the heart is the key to all learning. Ruth Beechick and Sally Clarkson are two advocates of whole-heart learning.
This article is reprinted here (with some revisions) courtesy of The Curriculum Choice, a wonderful online resource for home schoolers.