Homeschool Methods Style Quiz
The evolution of homeschool methods
Are you researching homeschool methods, trying to find the best fit for your family?
That was probably the single biggest hurdle I had to jump as a new homeschooler. It paralyzed me, because I wanted to make the best choice for my children.
As a newcomer to the whole thing, the only thing I definitively knew I wanted was a rigorous education, because the word rigorous seemed to be attached to all the best ivy league prep schools.
What does that even mean?
Rigor is hardly quantifiable.
How does a mom know when she’s found it?
I read every book on homeschooling our local library contained. There weren’t that many, so I moved on and read through the education section, and then the child development section. They weren’t particularly helpful, and the internet was in its infancy back then.
I wanted to know which method was the best.
Surely there were some statistics somewhere that compared the academic prowess of graduates of each of these homeschooling methods.
I wised up quick.
The real question to ask when researching methods is which homeschooling method is best for your child and for you and for your family.
Finally, after researching all of these homeschooling methods, I was convinced that a Classical education was the way to go. It sounded the most rigorous, and studying Latin appealed to me. The Well-Trained Mind laid out Classical education so clearly that I could visualize it happening in my own home, while some methods seemed like trying to pin down and organize clouds.
So I set up an adorable school room, complete with tiny desks for my children. I bought enough curriculum to drown a world class scholar. And off we went.
I spent a difficult couple of years trying to cram Latin down my ungrateful childrens’ throats.
A few parts of the method worked well for my family, but 90% didn’t. In order to survive, we mixed things up, tweaked things, and discarded Latin and logic and most of the things that had made us Classical homeschoolers in the first place. We embraced interest-led education.
The one helpful thing I learned from the experience was that the ‘Homeschool Method Purist Police’ wouldn’t show up at my door to throw me in jail for my cafeteria approach to homeschooling — picking and choosing my favorite elements of each method. And I became a cafeteria homeschooler.
In public, I call myself an eclectic homeschooler, because my fellow homeschoolers know what that is. Nobody knows what a cafeteria homeschooler is!
I freely admit these days that I have an unschooling streak, though that took me a long time to admit because for the longest time (until I read some John Holt and Peter Gray) unschooling just sounded like a glorified word for educational neglect. It seems pretty typical for homeschoolers to start out more structured in the beginning and become more flexible and relaxed as time goes on.
So there you go. I started out Classical, but have evolved into a relaxed (that’s the unschooly part), eclectic homeschooler. Eclectic feels like a large enough box so as not to feel too restrictive. (I chafe at boxes and labels, because I can’t stand it when someone slaps a label on me and thinks they have me all figured out.)
I told you this long story with the intent of assuring you that your homeschooling philosophy will grow and change and evolve as you gain experience, and as your family grows and changes. Regardless, it’s good to understand where you are at the moment — which homeschool method best serves your educational goals and priorities.
You’ve probably done a great deal of reading yourself about the various homeschool methods. You’ve probably realized that all of them are very similar, or at least contain similar components.
After seventeen years of homeschooling, I still mix them up sometimes. I think in my head that Maria Montessori advocated imaginative, outdoor play and then I have to consult my notes and remind myself that Maria Montessori was all about developing practical skills, Charlotte Mason advocated outdoor play, while the Waldorf method advocated imaginative play.
Does it even matter?
It doesn’t matter who advocates which idea, so much as you’re doing the right thing for your children, and continually reminding yourself of your own educational goals. It does help to read widely and diversify your homeschool gurus.
The more widely you read, the more you know about the various homeschool methods and education in general, the better equipped you’ll be to make the best decisions for your family. The experts you find along the way will inspire you to try new ideas and apply the things you’ve learned.
Successful homeschoolers build the school their children need. In that vein, I think you’ll all end up with scores that transcend the boundaries of any single ideology. You’ll probably all be eclectic, but in different proportions.
I couldn’t possibly fit everything about all of the homeschool methods in one article, so here’s a list of all of them. You’ll want to start with the first and work your way through all of them in order to gain a really great understanding of the various homeschool methods.
Reggio Emilia Approach (also known as project-based homeschooling)
Unit Studies Approach
A Warning About Homeschool Methods
As you research the various homeschool methods, you’ll probably encounter some of the same problems I did. Two problems stand out to me.
Many homeschool methods claim to be The One True Method and the only way to achieve the educational results you want. A book about one homeschool method seemed to claim that anything but their method would leave my kids on the conveyor belt (their term for traditional education) to conformity.
Another problem that really bothers me is that of labels — them vs. us. When we fall into the trap of defining our homeschools by these labels, we miss out on beautiful and valuable opportunities for learning.
“You want a princess dress?” Maria Montessori said that children should be engaged in practical work and play, not imaginary.
“You want to read Harry Potter? Charlotte Mason would have called it twaddle!”
“I can’t answer that question. The Reggio Emilia method says to let children figure everything out on their own!”
I know those examples are silly. There’s nothing wrong with any of these homeschooling methods. In fact, I think each of them is pretty fantastic.
The problem is with the inflexibility homeschoolers impose upon themselves as they attempt to follow the often arbitrary “rules” of the various homeschooling methods. Don’t be a slave to a homeschooling method.
All homeschooling methods are built 0n the same courageous, lofty, admirable idea that children should be educated at home. Homeschooling is bigger than labels. You pick and choose the individual aspects of each homeschool method that work for you and leave the rest. Anyone who tries to tell you that any particular homeschool method is the one true way to educate is flat out wrong.
The Homeschool Style Quiz
Keep in mind that your answers to this quiz should be in regards to your family only, rather than how you feel about education in general. Answer the questions according to what you do. Not what you wish you did or what you think you ought to do, but what you actually do.
For example, I really would love to do more projects. I love the idea of experimenting and building, and connecting projects long-term to create wonderful things and throwing curriculum and schedules to the wind. I think it sounds like an exciting, joyful, effective way to learn.
But when push comes to shove, I can’t stand the mess. I would be a very unhappy mom, and when mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
So we do little projects and experiments here and there within the context of unit studies, and we enjoy them immensely, but the mess has to be cleaned up and put away before dinner.
If I answered questions based on ideals, I would look like a Reggio-inspired, project-based homeschooler. The reality is much different.
This homeschool style quiz will help you to understand yourself and your own preferences and ideas, so that you can fully embrace them and discard the ones you don’t love. It gives you something to strive for and something to research. Keep learning and embrace what you love. Dig deep into reading and studying. No pressure. No guilt.
Does that make sense? Ready to dive in?
This Quiz will help you narrow down your homeschool style. Be sure to click on more details afterwards, if you want to learn more about each of your strengths.
I’d love to see the results of your ‘Homeschool Style Quiz’! Please share them in the comments below!