Free Online Government/Elections Resources

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Through my husband’s work in local elections, my children gained educational experience in government.  However, I think they need a little refresher and the free resources listed are perfect.  If you are seeking resources to help teach your child about government than look no further.

Ben’s Guide To Government For Kids

Ben’s Guide to Government for Kids provides information and activities designed for educators, parents, and students in K-12 to help teach about our government and how it works. It is an educational site put on by the Government Printing Office, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. You can also download a free activity book for lessons and fun activities.

Election Lapbook

Get everything you need from Homeschool Share for making an informative lapbook about Elections. You wil find printables of the Electoral College map, information on how to register, etc… very nice!

The Constitution For Kids

The Constitution for Kids gives a brief explanation of how the Constitution is the framing document of our country. There are 3 different levels of information and activities: ages K-3, ages 4-7, and ages 8-12. While this website is lacking in bells and whistles, it to has links for a student studying the Constitution and why it matters to each and every American.

Kids In The House

Kids in the House is designed to give children an idea of what the Legislative Branch of government is all about. There is also a section of teaching resources for your lessons. It’s not quite as entertaining as School House Rock, but you could always add that on a rainy day!

Congress For Kids

Congress for Kids has info on all parts of the Federal Government. “Congress for Kids gives you access to interactive, fun-filled experiences designed to help you learn about the foundation of our federal government and how its actions affect you.” For my family, this site could easily be a semester’s worth (or more!) of lessons just by itself.

The Oklahoma Homeschool Website

The Oklahoma Homeschool website has several unit study plans available to homeschool families. One of them is a 12-week study of American Government. The President & Elections lesson plan lists the current president as George Bush, so you will want to change that part of the lesson plan to make it accurate and current. There are  many ideas you can use from the lesson pages as independent lessons if you don’t want to make a unit study of this topic.

National Mock Election

Visit National Mock Election and see the vast collection of information on the voting process, why it matters to the future of our country, and how to get involved. A mock election is held and you are one of the candidates. It’s a great, hands on way to get involved in the process.

The CIA

If your kids are like my kids, they will LOVE the kids pages by the CIA. What better way to get kids to practice analytical skills and memory/concentration than with a game! I have to admit that I really like these kind of games. Break the Code is really fun, even for me! I have been known to leave my kids notes in a secret code, just for a little excitement. Try it!

How To Start Homeschooling: 10 Things You NEED To Know!

Do you want to create a homeschooling environment that energizes and fulfils you and your children? Don’t have an education degree? Don’t worry. You don’t need one to teach your own children. You just need love, commitment, and perseverance.  I know that to a beginner, homeschooling can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!  Here’s a quick guide to get you started!

1. See what your state requires for homeschooling.

Different states take very different stances on homeschooling: some are super lenient and some, well, some are less so. You’ll want to know exactly what is required before you get started. Check out Homeschool Requirements By State to learn what you need to know.

2. Learn what your Homeschooling Philosophy is.

I know, that sounds a little extra. But it’s not as grandiose as it seems. There are several different methods of homeschooling and it helps to know what best fits your family’s style. But don’t panic! You can always change what’s not working, because… homeschooling! Take this Homeschooling Philosophy Quiz to see what looks like the best fit for you. And once you know that, you can check out our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series to learn more about some of the more prominent methods!

3. Take it slow.

While there are definitely times to be prudent and time efficient, it’s really best to take your time when you begin. Think about the ways your kids learn. For most families, this varies widely. Explore the different ways you can be most effective for their different learning styles. If you’re coming out of public school, it might be a good idea to decompress for a while. Take a few weeks, even months off until you feel everyone is ready to dig in. You may even feel the need to “deschool”  for a period of time, to break any old habits and provide a nice, clean slate for new ones.

4. Don’t try to replicate school at home.

One of the reasons many of us choose to homeschool is because our kids were struggling in school (or public school wasn’t meeting their needs). That’s why it’s so funny when we start homeschooling and we decide to replicate school at home. Homeschooling doesn’t quite mean school at home so there’s no need to model your homeschool after the school system. Trying to make your kids follow the same routine as they did in school isn’t always the best approach. The best thing to do is to create your own routines and schedules based on your family’s needs and your personal circumstances. Kids don’t need to sit on a desk to get their work done. They don’t need to do school for six or eight hours a day or follow a five-day schedule if that doesn’t work for your family. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. There’s no one “right” way to do things. Embrace that!

5. Keep your lessons and school day short.

Depending on the ages of your children (and their grades), a couple of hours a day is probably all you need to get all their school work done, especially before Junior High levels. I know this can feel weird at the beginning when you remember that they used to spend between seven to eight hours in school every day. But, don’t fall into the temptation of thinking you need to fill every hour with one activity or another, because this is the fastest way to burn out and take the fun out of homeschooling. When you keep your lessons short and focused, you should be able to cover everything that you need to do each day.

6. Have some kind of structure.

Yes, I know I just said you should ease into homeschooling and not replicate school at home, but you do need some kind of structure to your day if you want to accomplish anything. This is even more important if you are a work-at-home mom or have some other responsibility you need to take care of. Create some routines and schedules that will serve as some kind of road map, but you don’t need to live or die by them. Use them as a guide and tweak them when necessary.

7. Consistency is key.

Unfortunately, homeschooling doesn’t mean working only when everyone feels like it, or when your day is going well. Trust me, you’ll have lots of days when anything that can go wrong is going to go wrong, and homeschooling frees you to have recover from those days. Of course, too many of those and important things can get missed. Being rigid is not necessary (or encouraged) but learning to be disciplined and consistent will all but guarantee that you succeed at homeschooling.

8. Embrace learning for yourself!

Don’t forget to keep investing in personal growth and development. Find ways to keep improving. One of the easiest ways to learn is by reading books. Read homeschooling books, read your children’s history, literature and science books. Homeschooling is actually a good way for you to fill in some of the gaps in your own education. It’s really amazing to me how much I have learned since I started homeschooling, so make good use of this opportunity and continue to invest in your personal growth and education.

9. Get advice from the veterans.

When it comes to your kids, nobody knows better than you. That’s true when they’re little and can’t articulate when they’re sick. It’s true when they’re in the moody pre-teen or teen stage and just seem to be acting off. You can solve the puzzle because YOU know them best! It’s also true homeschooling! And while we all really do know that deep down, it can still be really helpful to hear that from veteran homeschoolers. Here is a collection of excellent Advice For First Time Homeschoolers to read before you get started. It’s a treasure trove of helpful advice!

10. Enjoy it!

Without a doubt, the most beautiful element of educating your children is the time you spend together. It affords flexibility and freedom to dive deep into things that really interest you. And it also gives you the reigns to be the boss of your own schedule and to mold little your little learners into critical thinkers. There will be days where you tackle your to-do list with a fury and check every box. There will also be days where everybody needs a recharge and you watch history and nature documentaries under a blanket. And, with some thoughtful discussion, those days are no less productive than the rest! You can go for walks, explore the yard, bake cookies, and take trips to interesting spots around town. Enjoy this priceless time with your kids by making memories because they are always learning and you are always teaching!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series!

When we started our homeschool journey years ago, I was a complete novice. I didn’t know there were different approaches to at home learning, and I certainly didn’t know I could choose whichever method best matched my children’s learning style. Well, you don’t have to be like me! You can take advantage of some hard-won knowledge and learn basics right here! Think of this post as your one-stop, homeschool methods 101, crash course. Also, if you’re not sure where to begin, take this Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to find out what fits your family’s style!

There are actually many different methods or approaches to homeschooling, but for the sake of efficiency we’ve collected the most prominent 6 for you here.

The Classical Approach

Why not start with the classics, right? The classical approach is a very popular method that parallels a teaching style dating back to the Greeks and Romans. A classical education is language-based, rather than hands-on or video-based like many of the other homeschooling styles. Subjects are taught in chronological order so they can overlap historically making events in history much easier to follow. Learn more by clicking here!

Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason was a highly respected British educator of the nineteenth century. She believed in teaching to the whole child and that all learning should be delightful. The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” Read more here! 

Traditional or Textbook Approach

This one is a tried and true way to educate, and also probably the easiest for beginners, since it most closely resembles the traditional school setting. There are lesson plans for you to follow, children learn with textbooks at a desk or some other designated learning space. Read all about this method here!

Unschooling

I know what it sounds like! But this approach works wonders for lots of people! In basic terms, unschooling is a method of learning that does not follow a curriculum, but instead allows a child’s natural interests to guide the parent in what to study. It’s outside the box and unique, which are pillars of many homeschool families’ core learning principles. Click here for more information on unschooling.

Online Schooling

This is quickly becoming the more popular method of homeschooling! Online learning includes a variety of options for guided or self-paced studies, and lesson plans and grading are all done for you! Check out the details here! 

Eclectic Method

Homeschooling definitely requires consistency and dedicated effort. But it also affords flexibility like no other form of education can. This method maximizes that flexibility, allowing you to utilize whatever styles work best for you and your kids! Read all about it, right here!

Homeschool Philosophy Quiz

If you’re unsure where to begin, don’t stress! Here is a handy little quiz to find out what method best fits you and your family. You may even find that a blend of styles makes the most sense for you!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

7 Tips For When You Feel Like Your Child Is Behind In School

Have you ever been concerned that your child might be behind in their grade level? Or, have you seen your child’s peers excelling in areas where she struggles? Or, do you “know” that your kiddo is struggling and now  you’re considering putting him back into a formal schooling situation to catch back up?

If that’s you, then please keep reading! My hope is that you walk away from this post encouraged and more hopeful.

We’ve all been there!

The thing is, most (if not all) homeschool parents have worried at some point that they won’t teach well, and that their child will get behind as a result. All parents want their children to succeed, after all.  And we want to be sure that their children know what they “should” know at each grade level. So we buy books that tell us what every __th-grader needs to know and make sure we cover everything listed. And that is fine. Except when it becomes apparent that a child is not going to make it through the list. So then what?

A Quick Story:

A friend of mine illustrated this perfectly. When her daughter was in kindergarten, she was working through the ABeka kindergarten curriculum. About the time they were coming to the section about how to tell time, they got distracted away from school for a couple weeks. She was adamant about getting back to that workbook to be sure that her kiddo learned how to tell time. Because that’s an important box to check — right? Well, the couple weeks turned into several weeks, and then months…it might have been summertime… But guess what? The beginning of first grade came around, and somehow, magically, my friend’s daughter already knew how to tell time. Even though they had never gotten back to that workbook that said she should learn it in kindergarten. Which brings us nicely to number one!

1. Often what kids “should” know is a function of what they NEED to know.

That experience teaches a HUGE lesson: if they need to know it, they will learn it eventually. And WHEN they need to know it will vary from year to year, age to age — and child to child.

2. Don’t let worry of falling behind exist in your mind any longer.

There is no absolute SHOULD list for each grade level. The appropriate list will be based on who your child is and how they learn. That’s something that only YOU will know best. I want to reassure you that even if your child is doing work that is “below” their grade level, there is no need to feel as if you are failing or that your child is not learning what they should.

3. Everybody learns differently.

I remember reading levels being a really big deal when I was in grade school. After some standard test or other, I recall feeling particularly proud of  a score that said I read 2 grade levels higher. My math scores, however? Let’s just say they were not nearly as impressive! My brother took the same test and was reading a grade below his level, but his math scores were 3 levels higher! This illustrates what you probably already know, especially if you have more than 1 child: kids, even siblings, learn at drastically different paces! And those variances actually tend to increase in homeschooled kids, as they are typically given more flexibility to pursue their interests than what standardized education allows for. So don’t be concerned when you see these distinctions: they are completely normal.

4. There are a lot of chances to “catch up” in development

Development does not, contrary to popular belief, happen on a timetable or in concrete stages. And what appears to be true at one age can change over time. For example, brain development occurs earlier in girls than in boys, hence, the saying that girls mature faster than boys. But boys do catch up. Or for example, babies born prematurely often show some developmental delays, but  many catch up to their peers by the time they are in adolescence. And we don’t really know how or why this happens developmentally. Each child is on his or her own course.

5. You are not ruining their lives or messing them up.

I know that fear all too well. Will they learn what they need to know to be successful? Are we covering all the bases; checking all the boxes? Am I doing enough? Don’t we all have nights like that; staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, wondering if they will be messed up for life. We can convince ourselves of the worst things, but we often forget how capable we actually are, especially when it comes to knowing what’s best for our kids!

6. With some time, you will better understand your child learning style and how best to plan their educational path.

And the most amazing part is, that they too will most likely understand better how to walk along that path to a place of progress and increased knowledge. As the years go by you will begin to see that what you thought was so detrimental in the beginning wasn’t really anything to lose sleep over — and that everything is gonna turn out just fine. For now you may just have to trust me on that.

7. So be encouraged!

This homeschool life we’ve chosen is challenging enough without taking on more than we need to. Yes, we should practice due diligence to be responsible to fulfill the task of educating our children — but that doesn’t always have to look like we’ve been conditioned to think it does. The cookie cutter standard isn’t really real. Embrace your baby’s individuality and enjoy the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling can allow in your schedule. And enjoy the journey, without so much of the worry!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Homeschooling Vs Public Schooling At Home

With so much recent interest in homeschooling, this is a question I’ve seen a lot lately. So many parents are educating at home for the first time, whether by choice or due to district circumstances, and there are a lot of uncertainties in the beginning.

To clear up one thing…

Public schooling at home is actually very different than homeschooling. In fact, the being-at-home part is really about the only thing they have in common. The rigorous structure and lengthy run time of the public school classes might make more sense in a classroom full of 20-25 kids, but it isn’t really necessary with an individual child at home.

While there are many ways to compare these vastly different education methods, for the sake of time I’ve condensed them down to the 3 that I deem to be the most informative.

Time Management

This is probably the biggest distinction. Trying to implement a public school class model at home means using as much, or nearly as much class time as they would in person. This usually means close to an 8 hour day. As a homeschool mom, let me tell you that even our heaviest days have never lasted longer than 4 hours. Asking young children to sit in one place for even 2 hours just isn’t realistic. In person public school classes break up the day with activities, art, music, physical education, and recess. When you remove the time it takes to accomplish all of those things with a bunch of kids, you can shave hours off of your day. Art takes much less time with 2 or 4 children. And P.E. can consist of playing in the yard or going for a walk!

One of my favorite benefits of homechooling has been my children learning how to manage their own time. Now, this is something that happens at different ages for different kids, but in my opinion, the sooner they start, the sooner they master it. Both of my kids were public schooled until 6th grade and it took all of 6th and some of 7th to get them working mostly independently. But once we got there, it freed up a lot more of everyone’s time. They could come to me with questions and to take tests, so I had more free time in the day. In addition, they were able to move through their studies at their own pace, increasing their independence and thus, their confidence.

Accountability

This is a big one. It may seem like the public school route makes this easier, since the teacher makes the lesson plan, administers tests, and keeps track of grades. But as parents, we are still be the driving force behind accomplished tasks, just like always. We will be the ones reminding them about due dates, which chapters they should have read, and how many notecards should be finished by the end of the week.

This happens in your homeschool day as well, but the schedule and due dates are up to you. What is also up to you is the flexibility to double up when assignments are short or simple, and to take extra time when needed to tackle the more complex items in your week. Lesson planning may require a bit more work on the front end, but the freedom to switch it up make it fit your schedule makes it so worth it!

Educational Gaps

You may worry that it’s taking forever to complete the curriculum you’re using. You feel guilty for not getting through it all. Will your kid learn everything they are supposed to?  Are they experiencing gaps in their education? At the public school they are more on top of things like this, right?
Well…. teachers can take up to 6 weeks off of the regular curriculum (every year) to prepare for standardized testing. Because if they score well on the test, the school gets more funding. So rather than finishing out the tough concepts at the end of the year,  focus goes on  multiple-choice logic questions and learning how to read graphs- for weeks.

Lots of things take up instructional time in a public classroom: school assemblies, pep rallies, holiday celebrations, field trips, fire drills, disruptive behaviors, movie days, substitute teacher days — and the list goes on. Many teachers never finish a given curriculum. Now, those distractions might not be happening with virtual learning at home, but many educators are expected to fill most of that time anyway.

The bottom line is…

You can do it! You are more than equipped to educate your children at home, your way. Meaningful education that fits your individual children is easily obtainable, affordable, and can fit seamlessly into your family’s lifestyle. There are a ton of great resources to check out on this page, and support to help you with your questions!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Eclectic Style: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

You may have heard about Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschooling.

You might know people who utilize co-ops or outschool-type classes, where kids go once or twice a week for instruction and tests from a specialized teacher, but do the bulk of their work at home.

You may be familiar with textbook style, traditional homeschooling, where you purchase curriculum, plan your lessons for the semester or year, and handle the instruction yourself.

Each of these options can be fantastic, and we’ve used most of them over the years. But sometimes it can be a challenge to find one style or method that fits your schedule, or your teaching style, or your kids’ learning style. Or, what worked for older ones, isn’t cutting it for younger siblings. Because, as we all learn, kids are all different, with unique needs and aptitudes.

Well my friend, allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is Eclectic homeschooling!

Sometimes, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

It’s a pretty obvious concept, when you really stop and think about it. I mean, we don’t only enjoy one kind of food, or wear one color exclusively. The same is true for learning.

Each of us learn different things in different ways. I think we’ve been conditioned to believe that standardization is the best way to educate, but on an individual level, kids do better with variety.

That’s what homeschooling gives us the freedom to do! And this method allows for the most freedom and flexibility within that framework.

Education Specialized To The Individual

The eclectic method is probably the most popular and easiest to do because it’s not one particular approach. It’s called eclectic because it’s a combination of the others. The parent may pick from several methods combining favorites parts from each.

This is another excellent technique to use when you are just starting out homeschooling, especially if you aren’t sure of the style you’d like to use. Try out some different materials and see which one resonates with your family or specific children.

You may love unit nature studies for science, a classical approach for history, an online program for math (maybe because you’d rather have someone else teach this subject), traditional textbooks for reading, and letting your child lead and explore on his own for arts and creative activities. That’s what eclectic is all about.

It’s Up To You

I have been homeschooling for over several years now, and we are definitely the eclectic homeschooling style in my household.  I have one VERY visual learner who has to see it to understand it, and one with a kinesthetic learning style who needs hands-on practice to drive home new concepts. One homeschooling style would not have worked with both of them.

It became very obvious early on that I needed to individualize the materials for each of them. This does not mean the curriculum needs thrown out. It may simply need some tweaking. If you bought a traditional textbook for a child one year and want to use it with another child who does better with a Charlotte Mason style, one example of a change would be to have the child narrate answers back to you instead writing everything down. There are tons of ways to change up materials. It’s okay to do that!

Freedom And Flexibility

There are a-lot of homeschoolers who utilize this method with great success. Ask around! Get some advice from people you know, or join a group to ask questions and get feedback. There are SO many different ways to make this free-style homeschooling work wonders for your family!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Online Method

Unschooling Method

Classical Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Online Schooling: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

 

Online Homeschooling Is Easier Than Ever

As a home educated kid myself, I know how much easier I have it than my mom! She read articles, joined groups, scoured expos and conventions for deals on curriculum; she was a trooper in the homeschooling world, pre-Pinterest. Today, most of that information is available at the click of a button. There are support groups I can join to get insight and great advice without ever leaving my house, and I can read reviews and get opinions from people all over the world with only a few mouse clicks.

It’s no surprise that this medium has lent itself so seamlessly to homeschooling. A wealth of information on anything has been condensed and made available in safe, reliable formats to help you educate your kids in exciting ways, all while maintaining a level of involvement that you’re most comfortable with. We’ve used this method on and off over the years and loved the flexibility it has afforded us, while keeping a high standard of education!

Some Of Our Favorite Options

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a fantastic homeschool resource. It can be used as a homeschool supplement or as a complete course. This secular is most famous for its quality math lessons, but there is actually quite a wide variety of classes available! Students can study science, history, economics, fine arts, coding, and more.

Oh, and it’s completely free!

Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool

Another fantastic free option is Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool. Easy Peasy offers Christian, online homeschool classes for free to support your home education adventure. Classes are available for preschool – 12 Students access the lessons through a student portal (EP Assignments) and just follow the directions. The courses are organized well laid out. The detailed syllabus is available online so you know exactly what to expect with each class.

Time 4 Learning

Time 4 Learning offers math, language arts, science, and social studies online homeschool classes for students in kindergarten – 12th grade. This program is self-paced so kids can work at their own speed. Time 4 Learning will teach and grade the assignments, but parents can monitor their child’s progress online.

The membership cost is $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for each siblings.

Schoolhouse Teachers

Schoolhouse Teachers offers a wide variety of Christian homeschool options for the entire family. Courses are available for preschool – 12th grade. Class offerings include core subjects like language arts, math, science, and history as well as a ton of elective options. Each class is a little formatted a little differently. Some courses are taught online through videos and others require parental involvement. The courses that require parental support include the lesson plans to make it as easy as possible.

They charge $18.97 for a monthly family membership. Quarterly and annual memberships are also available.

Enjoy The Journey

These are just a few of the many online schooling options out there! There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Unschooling Method

Classical Method

Eclectic Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Traditional Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

 

Traditional (textbook) Or School At Home Method

When we began our homeschool journey, I felt clueless and overwhelmed. I wanted to make sure the education I provided was comprehensive and conducive to my kids’ needs, so we could be as efficient and cover as much ground as possible. I’ve since adopted a much more eclectic homeschool method, but this traditional, textbook style felt like it was well tested and that even I could implement it, despite my lack of experience. If this rings any bells then keep reading!

The traditional or school-at-home homeschooler teaches much like a teacher in the school system would. Parents teach from traditional textbooks similar to what they use in a regular classroom. Some parents borrow the actual books from the school. This method is very appealing to new homeschoolers in that it helps build confidence as they become more comfortable. Because it lays all the lessons out and there is a scope and sequence to follow, they don’t worry about missing skills. Many traditional homeschoolers opt for a complete curriculum package, which can be pricey, but it’s a trade off when everything is thought out and planned for you.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, using the school system’s books is cheaper, however, you risk them not having enough leftover for your child, not getting the books to you until after the school year begins, or having to turn them in before you are finished. This is something to take into consideration. If you plan to put your child back into the school system at some point, this may be the best route. He will be on the same track as his peers and be able to jump right back in.

A Gentler Transition From Public Schooling

Traditional home education is (compared to other home education methods) the closest parents get to replicating the school environment in their home. Many parents who use this method try to create a school-at-home environment with desks and chairs in which homeschoolers sit until their homework is completed. Most homeschoolers take an average of two to three hours to complete their homework, but a traditional curriculum may take a little longer due to in-built busywork.

A drawback to this method is it binds students to a set curriculum and they may not have time to explore other interests. They can also get bored quickly. While textbook style learning can ease the transition from school to home when you’re just starting out, as you gain more experience, you might consider branching out to other approaches if your child isn’t thriving. As we see from our spotlight series, there are SO many options for you to choose from!

Switch It Up With Block Scheduling

One variation to this is block scheduling: working on one subject each day rather than switching between several subjects every day. This has works well for kids who may have trouble transitioning. When my youngest was just starting we implemented this kind of schedule and went from 7-8 hours a day to 3-4 hours a day. She still got as much done each week, but in half the time. It made our days much smoother!

There are tons of options available for traditional/textbook curriculum. We’ve used and loved Apologia, BJU, Abeka, Alpha Omega Press, just to name a few!

Lots Of Options

These are just a few of the many traditional schooling options out there! There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Unschooling Method

Online Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Classical Method

Eclectic Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Charlotte Mason Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

If you’re a new homeschooler, you might be surprised to know that there are several different methods or styles of schooling at home. Or maybe you’ve heard of Charlotte Mason or Classical methods and like me, wondered what in the world they were! I was completely clueless when we began homeschooling years ago. It can be a bit (or a-lot) overwhelming at first!

So what is the Charlotte Mason Method?

Charlotte Mason was a highly respected British educator of the nineteenth century. She believed in teaching to the whole child and that all learning should be delightful, which was quite progressive for her time. She stressed that lessons should be done in short periods of time, preferably 15-20 minutes for elementary aged students and 45 minutes for high school.

The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”

A 3 Pronged Approach

By “Atmosphere,” she meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that the ideas that rule your life as the parent make up one-third of your child’s education. By “Discipline,” she meant the discipline of good habits—and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education. The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in narrative or story form by one author who has a passion for his topic. A living book makes the subject “come alive.” This methodology was designed to be childled and includes observation with nature, picture studies, narration, memorization, art and music appreciation, poetry, and handicrafts. There is an emphasis put on reading literature from classics, living books, and biographies.

Making It Work For You

This method is easy to implement. Many parents who feel they aren’t qualified to teach a comprehensive curriculum find this approach more manageable. It allows for a lot of flexibility with the child’s interests and ability. It’s inexpensive and children can move along at their own pace. Because this was developed in the nineteenth century for children who were taught by tutors or their nannies, it was primarily geared towards the elementary level. Parents may find as children reach high school age is it more difficult to attain the same level of education for today’s standards. Supplementing with other materials that are not Charlotte Mason influenced can be a solution. Science and math are also areas that are not focused on as heavily and parents may desire to add some supplemental materials for these as well.

This is a gentler homeschooling style that is more laid back and allows interest-led learning. The smaller time periods for learning are quite effective and keep students motivated. You’ll be surprised what your child can learn in short spurts.

Ambleside and An Old Fashioned Education are FREE, online, Charlotte Mason method curriculum.  You can also find the Charlotte Mason book series on amazon. There are also several resources to buy Charlotte Mason or Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum at Queen Homeschool, Alveary, and My Father’s World.

As with all things, there are pros and cons, but this method is beloved by homeschoolers the world over! Now that you have some foundational information, I definitely encourage you to dig a bit deeper to see if this style is right for your family! Happy homeschooling!

Not sure what your homeschooling style is?

Take the Homeschool Philosophy Quiz and see which method is right for your family!

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Unschooling Method

Traditional (textbook) Method

Online Method

Classical Method

Eclectic Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Unschooling Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series


When I first heard this term, I thought it was a joke.  My knee-jerk reaction was that it sounded like non-schooling; a kid’s dream, right? Well, it turns out, there’s quite a bit more to it.

So, what is unschooling?

In basic terms, unschooling is a method of learning that does not follow a curriculum, but instead allows a child’s natural interests to guide the parent in what to study. Marla Taviano puts it this way in her ebook; An Unschooling Manifesto: Unschooling: student-led, interest-driven, mostly-fun, super-meaningful education  that happens at home (and/or any other place along the way). Parents and other adults are valuable facilitators, but instead of lecturing, they’re sharing from experience and often learning right alongside the kiddos. There’s no set curriculum, no list of things the kids need to know, no replication of school at la casa. Creativity and innovation and community (and all the important stuff in life) are encouraged and nurtured. Kids are celebrated for who God created them to be and inspired to become the very best grown-up version of that unique and amazing person. Unschooling families think school cramps their style; childhood’s too short to spend cooped up in a classroom; and learning happens best in the context of real life. And real life starts right this very minute.

What do you do when you want to learn about something?

You look it up, right? That’s what I do. I use Google, YouTube, and Pinterest and instantly I have access to information. Or, I find a book that explains the topic or question and run to my local library or Half Priced Books. The same concept is the basis of unchooling. It’s talking with your kids in detail about their interests, asking questions, and pursuing the answers together using whatever is at your disposal.

Unschooling is about creating a lifestyle of learning.

It’s about learning to learn. It’s about following what sparks your child’s curiosity most and diving deep. When you unschool, “school” and life begin to blend seamlessly together and, before you know it, you’re seeing learning opportunities in everything around you.  Sometimes, you have to leave the confines of curriculum and lesson plans to find out just how fun learning can really be. And in this new unschooling lifestyle of learning, you’re free to explore all the nuances of the things your child is really interested in. This leads to learning from even the most ordinary things: Why does toothpaste foam? What role does gravity play in the health and function of my body? How do bridges work? When was my city founded? Who first discovered cement?

Following your child’s interests may sound like a way to just play video games all day but if you really dive deeper into what their interests are, you can find a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be absorbed. And because they’re interested in it, your child will internalize it like no other.

So how do you actually do it?

1.Encourage questions and be ready to research the answers.

If you can’t research them right away, write them down to look up later. These questions are the jumping-off point for engaging conversation and further research.

2. Figure out what your child is really interested in and dig deep.

Dissect these interests. Think about them through the lens of what they have to teach and make a list of those topics. You may be surprised how quickly the list grows. Check out this Unschooling With A Purpose binder if you want to be intentional with your interest-led unschool.

3. Practical skills count as learning, too

Unschooling is about teaching your kids to be citizens of society now instead of being students now and citizens later. That means teaching them practical skills that they will use in the future, like how to cook, do laundry, keep house, do yard work, maintenance appliances and cars, pay bills and budget money, the list is endless!

4. Make resources available.

Once you’ve figured out what really ignites your child’s curiosity, make as many related resources as you can available on that subject. Always provide access to plenty of books, videos, podcasts, classes, games, field trips, and anything else that you need to learn more about that topic.

Look for classes on Outschool. Join a local homeschool group. Visit the library often, not just for books, but also everything else they have to offer.

5. Let exploration and discovery happen naturally.

Don’t force things. Forcing the process can instantly turn something fun into an unpleasant chore.

6. Never stop looking for new things to investigate.

Dive deep but don’t pigeonhole. This helps keep things fresh and prevents boredom. You can always return to previous topics later. You may even find that the new themes you have investigated bring renewed perspectives and ideas to those older topics.

7. Don’t forget the importance of play and imagination.

We adults sometimes think that play is only recreation, but play is a major way kids learn about and process the world around them. We must build in time for play and allow play to “count”. Even if your children are older, they will still use imagination and daydreaming to learn and process information. So don’t think this step is just for the little ones!

8. Stop thinking of yourself as a teacher and start thinking of yourself as a facilitator or guide.

Instead of putting the emphasis on what you teach them, emphasize what (and how) they are learning. Follow their interests like bread crumb trails, providing supplemental resources, experiences, and discussions wherever possible. You’re there to guide them on their learning journey, facilitating the process, and supplementing wherever you can.

9. HAVE FUN!

This is the most important tip I can give you. Make room for fun in your learning. Plan field trips. Do hands-on activities. Go for a nature walk. Read. Play. Explore. You will be surprised to find that you will learn as much (if not more) than your kids as you make this journey together.

Lots Of Options

There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Online Schooling Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Classical Method

Eclectic Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

 

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