We are on our 3rd year homeschooling and have pretty much found our own grove when it comes to the style of homeschooling and curriculum that work for each of our children. Yet, for those who are just now researching homeschool as an option for their children it can be very overwhelming and down right scary. I think that is because there are so many extreme ways to homeschool. I thought I would list a few that I found interesting and my take on them.
Lets start with what has historically been the number one type of homeschool family, Those who homeschool for religious reasons. Even in this one area you have two major extremes that tend to fight each other a bit when reading blogs or articles. You have on one hand Young Earth believers- they believe the bible is 100% literal. The world was created in 6 days. Dinosaurs and man lived along side each other. They tend to use a good bit of Apologia curriculum. On the other hand you have Old Earth believers, they want to incorporate a strong biblical moral life in their children. Yet they except a good bit of modern science and believe the Earth is millions of years old. There is a big difference in a world that is a bit over 6,000 yrs old and one that is millions of years old.
Now lets move on to one of the most controversial and in some cases the most extreme form of homeschooling, The Unschoolers. I will be 100% honest here no one seems to agree on what this is or how it is done. It seems to look different to each and every family that call them selves Unschoolers. For the point of my own post I am going to focus on what I believe it to be. First let me say it is a bad case of just all out bad naming. Unschooling makes people think the kids are learning nothing. That is not the case. If I were to name it I would have named it Natural Learning or Interest Lead Learning. In my opinion that is what I see when I have encountered an unschooling family. They do not set up their homes like a school room, They do not in general have a set curriculum. They do not believe their children must learn a set of skill or concepts by a certain age . They do how ever see the world as their classroom, life as a never ending learning experience. Most unschooling parents are some of the most engaged hands own teachers out there. They strive to not just give their children a book on any given topic that child is interested in but to give them a real life lived experience of that topic. They will use anything and everything to not only teach but bring that tpic to life for the child. They do however not demand or push certain topics that are the norm for education on the child.
Then there are the Secular bunch. These are homeschool families that like to keep the separation between church and state literally. The want no religious dogma in their general every day curriculum . They tend to be more on the side of science. Some will cover religions but not just one but all. They like to look at religions a lot like mythology and give their children a basic understanding from a more geographic or cultural view point not from a belief view point. They do not generally homeschool for religious or spiritual purposes but for more personal ones like bad schools or more time with family.
Last but not least we have the Eclectic homeschoolers.These are the ones that have the view point if it works for my child I do not care if it does or does not have religious dogma in it. They tend to pull from just about everywhere, Most piece together or create their own curriculum using everything from text books to movies. I fall into this area of homeschooling. For me it is important to not worry about religion but to worry about whether or not my child masters any given concept. I like to use everything from literature to visual and hands on materials to cover most topics. For us personally it is about the love and excitement of learning the topic.
If you are just now starting to research homeschooling as an option I would first look at what type of homeschooling fits your family. Then I would narrow down the curriculum to the ones that are geared toward that type/style of homeschooling. If you know you do not want a religious based curriculum you can right off the back wipe out all curriculum that is religious based. If you really feel drawn to unschooling you may not need to research curriculum at all but will need to have an arsenal of material/websites/ projects to cover any given topic. For the unschool family let the library be your book store. Not matter what style of homeschool family yours is I hope you find the journey with your children as rewarding as I have. I wish you all the success in the world. Just know you are truly the best teacher for your children. You not only love them more than anyone you know them better than anyone. You will one day look back on these homeschooling years and they will be some of your most treasured memories with your children. You will also know that as their parent you gave it your all to not only protect and love them but to give them the best education available. I say this because homeschool children have out scored their peers for many many years both in the public and private school domains. The latest comparison I read scored homeschool children against public school. In all ares homeschool children scored between 86%-89% and the public school children scored 49%-50%. That is a huge difference and just goes to show that homeschooling is the best educational option.