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Finding Your Homeschool Style

Summer vacation….it’s rapidly coming to an end but each school year I look forward to summer vacation and building my garden. I dream of fat, red tomatoes, an overabundance of squash, and piles of kale ready to be eaten. My mouth waters as I envision harvesting long stalks of plump Brussels sprouts, my favorite vegetable!

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However summer is never just an endless stream of lazy days! My kids are busy–very busy!! There are swim lessons, VBS, working at the county fair, and our annual family reunion. Each spring I plant everything I dream will make my garden like the photos that splash across my seed catalogs. There’s just one problem! I don’t have the time to spend all day with my sunbonnet and gloves pampering my plants.

We are blessed to belong to a lake community where my children have an absolutely magical slice of childhood each year. We love the time we get with our beach friends those few short weeks each summer. No matter how much I love ripe tomatoes, it won’t replace the sweetness of being with our beloved friends.

Then there is that family reunion, a week of catching up with family from across the country and making priceless memories. It’s also the week that the cabbage moths peak! I have tried everything to protect my delicious brussels sprouts but it invariably rains the first day we are gone and washes away my garden soap citadel. Every year, just as my kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts are showing so much promise, I come home to chewed and mangled plants that are barely usable!

This year, I had a realization. Maybe my perfect garden just doesn’t have any cabbage plants! I mean a garden without tomatoes is still a garden, right? Enter in my new best friend, Red Dock. A lovely green that is beautiful and tasty, but best of all need very little maintenance AND the cabbage moths just flit on by!

Growing Your Homeschool

Homeschooling is very much like gardening. You plan and toil, you wait and see. You prune here, fertilize there, and keep your eye out for dastardly weeds. It’s also like gardening because it gives you the most joy and fruitful harvest when you plant what fits your family, schedule, and needs.

For years, I chased after THE perfect math curriculum. I implemented strategy after strategy because an expert said it was the best way to go. I jumped through every homeschool hoop and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me that I couldn’t make it work!

It turned out that I spent all my time looking at the glossy seed catalogs, if you will, and no time in my own garden beds examining what it needed to blossom and grow!

What’s Your Homeschool Style?

Did you know there are different styles of homeschooling? It’s often assumed that homeschooling is just another school options–public, private, and home! It’s all the same, just matters where you are educating. However, that is so far from the truth.

While public school is generally the same everywhere with differences in quality or resources, homeschooling is an entirely different situation. Homeschooling is education at home. Just as every family is unique, so is each home school.

Your homeschool should reflect your uniqueness and showcase your strengths because education is more than math textbooks and grammar exercises!

Finding my perfect style revolutionized our homeschool. I went from feeling like I couldn’t make it work and counting the days until summer vacation by the minute, to seeing my children thrive and enjoying the journey.

What’s The Difference?

You may wonder what could possibly be different, after all, 1 + 1=2 everywhere! However, there is so many ways to teach that simple concept. Here are just some things that make styles different.

Schedule

How long you school and when is just one of the choices that homeschoolers have. Some styles include short lessons over a number of days, others have times of intense study and then times of quiet contemplation. There are styles that follow a school model with class periods, and those that follow no schedule at all.

Materials

Textbooks are what we think of first when considering curriculum, however they are only one way to teach. The materials used often define the homeschooling style. There are styles that use living books or only hands on projects to teach. Other styles use the world around us as the main source of information.

Teaching/Learning Technique

How do you like to learn? It is probably similar to how you like to teach. Styles vary from hands-on, kinesthetic learning to passive, deep reading. Listening to lectures or following your own hypothesis, both educate but are very different. Discovering how your family learns and your comfort zone for teaching is one part of discovering your style.

Assessment

How achievement is measured and demonstrated also varies greatly among styles. Lapbooks and notebooking are much different than standardized tests, however both can be used as a form of assessment. Assessment of learning is an essential part of a good education, however there are many, many way to determine if a child has mastered a concept. Choosing an assessment technique that works with your style will make everyone’s life easier.

How Do I Find My Style?

My best recommendation is to sit down and look at what works and what doesn’t. If that best selling science curriculum makes you want to scream and cry each time you take it out, it just is not for you! Don’t get bogged down in what everyone else is doing, take a step back and decide what you need to do.

Secondly, research the different styles from Waldorf and Montessori, to Classical and Worldschooling. Understanding what styles are out there will be liberating. You can then evaluate which ones will work. Also, you can seek guidance from others using that style via Facebook groups, blog, tutorials, podcasts, and books.

I also wrote a book, Sound Foundations, to help homeschool moms just like me 10 years ago who had more questions than answers!

Sound Foundations: A manual for building a thriving and successful homeschoolSound Foundations: A manual for building a thriving and successful homeschoolSound Foundations: A manual for building a thriving and successful homeschool

Remember, it isn’t about growing what everyone else is, the important part is nourishing your family!

What is your homeschool style? Do you know, yet?

Jennifer Elia is Founder of Aurelius Cabrini Homeschool Resource Center which is dedicated to giving homeschool moms the tools they need to thrive in their home education career. Jennifer provides mentoring, curriculum creation, and practical advice for those just beginning their homeschool journey, as well as those who just need a little boost. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children whom she has been educating at home for the past 10 years. When Jennifer isn’t busy researching the best curriculum solutions, she enjoys gardening, crafting, and writing. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Pinterest.

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