You don’t have to be homeschooling long before you start hearing terms like approach, style, and/or method. Truth of the matter is getting caught up in trying to strictly homeschool according to one of those can be a little stressful and quickly lead to burnout.
Over the past six years of my homeschooling journey, it’s safe to say that I’ve dabbled with a bit of everything out there. Shucks, I even wrote a book that has an entire chapter dedicated to homeschooling methods and styles.
Choosing an approach, style, and method in and of itself isn’t a bad thing IF you know how to properly incorporate it into your own homeschool style. Too often, though, what ends up happening is that moms try to fit (and shape) their family into a style instead of the other way around (tweaking a method to their unique family dynamic).
I want to chat with you for a moment about a stress-free approach to homeschool to consider for the upcoming year. This approach can fit with any other style and method that you choose. The point in me sharing this particular approach is to help you think of your home education journey outside the box.
The Holistic Approach
The term holistic gets tossed around and slapped on everything, but it is certainly a good way to look at your child’s home education. In and of itself, the term holistic simply means thinking about the big picture.
In terms of homeschooling holistically, it means to consider more than just the academics. A child’s education becomes one that is filled with the development of emotional skills, social behaviors, spiritual beliefs, and community connection.
If you’re like most spiritual-based home educators, then you’ve probably already figured out a way to incorporate Biblical studies and beliefs into your schedule. However, often times, the others listed are not seen as viable ways of learning unless you’ve already tapped into some philosophies such as Charlotte Mason, Montessori, or Waldorf.
How to Start Homeschooling with a Holistic Approach
When choosing to homeschool from a holistic perspective, I believe it is important to rid your mind of what typical learning and education should look like. In other words, there could possibly be some deschooling for the homeschooling parent that needs to take place. Most of us who have had any kind of traditional (public/private) schooling have been conditioned to see “school” from a certain perspective,
This perspective typically says that a, b, and c have to take place in order to reach x, y, and z. It leaves out individuality, room for natural growth and development, as well as learning outside the box. Of course there are states, providences, and countries that have placed strict rules and laws on homeschooling families, but even those can be abided by using this approach.
Once a homeschooling parent can begin to see their own style, understand the learning styles of their children, and have established their own sense of what education for their family will look like, the holistic approach becomes a walk in the park!
What Does the Holistic Approach Have to Offer?
Keep in mind that this approach is one that focuses on the whole child and not just the academics. When it comes to fostering the different areas of your child’s growth and development, the holistic approach can cover that and some.
As with the Charlotte Mason method, exploration plays a huge role in a child’s learning experiences. They are able to take learning outside the home while tracking what they learn in notebooks and lapbooks. Exploration also helps children pay attention to the details around them.
Play & Expression
This is speaking the Waldorf method’s language, but its true. Play and expression are often seen through the lens of not learning; however, if you watch and listen closely, your children will disclose quite a bit of what they know during these times. Believe it or not, play and expression actually works on critical thinking skills!
Many parents have told me that they aren’t sure how to handle allowing their children have control over what they want to learn. Another common concern is understanding how to plan for such a journey. Both are good concerns rightfully so, but the idea is to come from a position of pointing them in the right direction while embracing what they want to learn.
That “c” word is becoming a stress-filled word the more that comes available for homeschoolers. It can be overwhelming sure enough when you have hundreds of curricula to choose from. From the major companies down to educational resource creating bloggers (like myself), there is almost too much to choose from.
My suggestion is to start with free resources by searching Google, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers. Keep in mind that worksheets and textbooks doesn’t always constitute a good education, and having more isn’t necessarily a good thing either. When you’re ready to spend money on some resources, spend SMART by asking yourself the following questions:
- Does this purchase make sense?
- Is it actually manageable and/or (low) maintenance?
- Will it cause me to take action (as in will I actually use it)?
- Will the purchase help me reach the educational goals set for my child?
- Is this resource a waste of time (or not)?
With these questions and an idea of what your children would like to learn in mind, you’re now ready to begin piecing together a schedule, learning experiences, and opportunities to help foster their learning!
Homeschooling with a holistic approach can help boost your child’s confidence in so many ways. They are able to see that what they want to learn matters. Not to mention, their interest is already peaked so being able to go where their mind is leading is a plus.
Confidence is also increased when children are not pressured to finish a certain task or learning objective in a particular amount of time. Homeschooling allows us to take our time and go where our children’s needs lead.
The holistic approach adds to that by saying, “We don’t have to focus so much on math this week. Let’s do more art!” And boom – a child’s confidence is increased!
What Does a Holistic Approach Actually Look Like?
Of course I can’t leave you hanging with wondering how this actually plays out in the life of a real homeschooling family. Let’s use a real-life example from one of my children who is set and stoked about all things vehicle engineering. In other words, he wants to get involved in all steps from design to making the actual vehicle.
Here’s what my vehicle engineering lesson plan looks like:
- Reading literature-based and/or living books about cars, their design, different makes, models, etc.
- A field trip to local car dealerships and mechanic shops.
- Learning about the different sizes and shapes of vehicles (math).
- Studying the build of vehicles (science) and drawing some out (art).
- Volunteering at a local dealership (connecting with community).
- Notebooking/lapbooking the history of vehicles (history).
More could be added to this list, and usually as time progresses I usually do end up adding more. A trip to a car museum (the Corvette museum isn’t far from us), watching YouTube videos on how to build car parts and learning how they work are just a few more things that could fit here.
This same layout is used with my son who loves trains and my daughter who is into volcanoes! Yes, they may be a time for worksheets and textbooks, but they certainly aren’t the main focus of our holistic homeschool!
CHIME IN: Do you have a holistic homeschool? If so, what’s yours look like? If not, does this sound like an approach you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments below!