Home Education and Home schooling are general terms which encompass any style of learning that is based in the home, not in an educational institution. I personally prefer the term Home Education as it is a much broader term and because Home schooling seems to imply we educate our children in the same way a school does but we do it at home.
It is a common misperception amongst the general population that home schooling is a copy of the school system; that our days are run on a school type model, e.g. that we have a set starting time, lessons, break, lessons, lunch, more lessons etc and that home schooling parents ‘act’ as teachers, implementing programs, discipline and generally controlling the learning environment. Some Home Educators do work in this way but many don’t.
Distance Education or Correspondence School is most like school at home. Children are enrolled in a learning institution and learn this set curriculum. Depending on the institution there is more or less contact with teachers. Some Home Educators purchase ready made curricula or design there own and also stick to a more school like style.
But even with these school-like styles of Home Ed. The average day is still a lot more flexible than a normal school day. You can start at a time that suits your family, there is no rush to get up in the morning, find a clean uniform, get dressed, hurry breakfast, clean teeth and rush to the school bus or through peak hour traffic.
You don’t need set break times. This is great as the children can eat, drink and play when they most feel like it. They can eat while they work or not if they are not hungry. Many homeschooled children are more in tune with the natural rhythms of their bodies and the days and seasons instead of being in tune to a preset time-table.
There is so much time saved in one-on-one teaching. No time wasted settling down a class of 30 individuals, no disruptive behaviour from other kids. Children don’t have to work at appropriate levels to stay with the work the class is doing. No need to do colouring in to pass the time because you finished first, no rushing work because of time-limits.
No homework, it is all done during the day. And days are flexible, if Wednesday is busy, do school on Saturday.
Traditional Home Ed was taught as above but as more parents re-evaluate what education and learning actually mean many alternative approaches to Home Education are emerging. Some of these are Natural learning, Child-led Learning and Unschooling.
All of these terms have fairly open definition. As they are ideas that differ from the main stream approach there are many interpretations of what each means. Some parents choose not to define their learning style at all but do what naturally feels right.
Child led Learning is about following the interests of the child. Letting these interests define the learning program. It is a very broad term and can be used by some to describe how they come up with their child’s curriculum. For example if a child is interested in Dragons the parent might create maths, science, English lessons all around this theme.
Others use the term child led learning to indicate a more free schooling approach. Learning occurs around whatever the child is interested in at the time.
Natural Learning Philosophy believes that children (in fact all of us) have an innate desire to learn. We are born with curious minds and will learn no matter what context we are in. Children will naturally lean to learning about the things that interest them and lead them on their life’s path. Some parents integrate natural learning in a curriculum based way while for others in leads to a whole different approach.
Unschooling is more a whole parenting approach than just an educational philosophy. Unschooling uses no curricula. It embraces the ideas of child lead learning and natural learning and extends them to let the child live a free life; free from any kind of manufactured education. It relies on a trust in the child. And treats them as an equal and intelligent person who given the freedom will follow there own destiny and learn everything they need to know in this life.
It questions the validity of Society’s definitions of ‘must-have’ knowledge. It questions the traditional beliefs about raising children; parenting is no longer a power struggle with adult imposing their will over the child but an equal journey of mutual respect.