Quiz: Find Your Homeschooling Style

Dear Reader,

One of the pieces of advice I always give new homeschoolers is to think about what your approach is. To aid in this endeavor, I have developed the quiz below.

Why should you take this quiz?

  • Ideas have consequences. Even if you have ever thought about how learning happens or what your goals for your child are, the person who wrote your curriculum has. Those ideas will play out in what is taught and how it is taught. This quiz will help you make sure that what you are using fits your personal philosophy (even if you didn’t know you had one).
  • You are more likely to hit your goal if you know what it is and use the right tool for the job.  If you haven’t thought about what your goals are, this quiz will help you start down that road.
  • You’ll be a more confident homeschooler (and better able to fend off attacks by well-meaning friends and relatives) if you know what you are doing and why. And when your kids some day ask why they need to learn (grammar, algebra, . . . you fill in the blank) you’ll have an answer for them.
  • Your friend’s, sister-in-law’s, neighbor’s goals might not be yours. Never take curriculum advice if you don’t know the approach of the person giving it.
  • There are oodles of homeschooling materials out there. They may be published by lovely homeschooling families (or not), but they are still businesses trying to earn your money. If you are a new homeschooler, this quiz will help you narrow down your choices. If you are a veteran, it will help you make sure you are on the road that is best for you. You may even find approaches you have never heard of or be led to consider new ideas.

How is this quiz different from other ones?

  • I have included no less than 16 approaches to education. (Find them all listed in this Google doc.)
  • I look at not just what is learned and how but also at the big ideas behind each approach — what do they say about human nature?

How do I use the quiz?

  • First, print out the quiz (link opens a Google doc) and circle your answers. With the exception of the last question, you should try to pick the one answer that best fits your ideas.
  • Then print out my list of approaches to homeschooling (again, found in this Google doc). This will be your score sheet.
  • Now read through the answers. For each one make a tally mark or check next to the philosophies that matched your answers.
  • Look back at your score sheet. Are there clear winners and losers? Now is the time to narrow down your choices. Pick a few that seem to be your best matches or that you find intriguing and read up on them.

Finding resources:

One way to start is to look back through all the answers to the quiz. If, for example, Reggio Emilia showed up as a good fit for you, skim back through and see how that approach would answer each question. You can also use the quiz to compare philosophies — if this one fits you for one question, but that one does for another, ask yourself which is most important to you. Many homeschoolers, consciously or unconsciously, combine approaches — is there a way your favorites can be combined?

For a quick overview of each philosophy, check out my bullet points post here. I also have a series covering the philosophies behind many of these approaches which you can find here (I’ll warn you though, I am biased as a reformed Christian and an aficionado of Charlotte Mason’s methods, but hopefully my posts can still give you a start even if you don’t agree with my underlying assumptions).

Want to know more, check out this resources post which lists websites and books on each philosophy.

IMG_1066

Questions? Problems?

This document is a work in progress and I expect to emend it over time. Have I missed an approach? Misrepresented one? Do you just not know what to make of your results? Leave a comment or contact me. I am happy to help or to explain why I think a philosophy fits in one category or another.

And now, without further ado . . .

 

Find your philosophy of education:

Questions for new (or not so new) homeschoolers

Part I: What We Learn

Is there a core body of knowledge everyone needs?

A. Absolutely, naming the Presidents in order, reciting the periodic table, and/or knowing the classics of western literature — those are goals I have for my kids.

B. They need a basic foundation (basic math, reading and writing skills), but beyond those education should be more individualized.

C. Not at all.

D. I don’t think there is one core body of knowledge, but some books/art/music/etc. are certainly more valuable than others.

What shall we study?

A. I’m looking for a fairly traditional curriculum, possibly something that lines up with the schools.

B. I’m in favor of a balanced, broad-based education with an emphasis on the liberal arts (history, literature).

C. We need to study the foundations of our civilization — the good books, speeches, etc. of our past.

D. STEM is where it’s at today.

E. The arts are our main emphasis.

F. I don’t have an agenda.

The role of the arts in education is  . . .

A. Optional or non-essential.

B. Secondary.

C. As a core subject

D. As the cornerstone of education.

Hands-on or Hands-off?

A. Handicrafts, physical education, kinetic activities are all great — after our real work is done.

B. Hands-on activities, manipulatives, and physical activities are secondary.

C. Yes, please. Hands-on and/or physical activities are vital for learning.

D. Children learn through free play.

E. Real work is a complement to schoolwork.

Part II: How We Learn

How do you measure learning?

A. Grades and/or standardized tests help me know what my child is learning or needs to learn.

B. I prefer a non-standardized measure at the end of every unit or every year (think broad essay questions at the end of a term, not multiple choice tests).

C. Big projects at the end of a unit or a year help consolidate learning.

D. Learning can’t be measured and doesn’t need to be.

How do you motivate them?

A. Bottom line — schoolwork has to be done, liking it is a bonus but is not necessary.

B. Motivation needs to be internal. The desire to learn should be cultivated.

C. The desire to learn comes naturally to children.

D. Kids learn better when they enjoy their schooling. I try to make schoolwork enjoyable or even fun.

E. I don’t motivate; I inspire.

Learning should be . . .

A. Teacher-directed: Parent/teacher knows best

B. Curriculum-directed : The material to learn is provided but the student works more independently

C. Child-led: Let them follow their interests

D. A blend: the teacher provides a framework within which the student has freedom to choose.

The role of the teacher . . .

A. Is to impart knowledge.

B. Is to select the best materials.

C. Is to be a mentor.

D. Is to be a guide or facilitator.

E. Is to be an example.

F. Is to help find resources.

G. Is to create the right environment for learning.

H. Is to present the materials in the best way.

I. Is minimal. You can’t force learning.

What parts of the personality/person are involved in education?

A. Primarily the mind

B. Hands with mind: the creative side must be appealed to as well as the mind

C. Whole body- mind, physical body, feelings and senses

Early childhood education?

A. Absolutely. Let’s get going here.

B. No. Delay formal learning.

What’s on your homeschool bookshelf?

A. I like textbooks and worksheets. They help me know what my kid is learning and that he is learning.

B. Living/great books all the way.

C. Books? I think there are some propping up the laptop.

D. Hands-on materials, manipulatives, etc.

Now close your eyes and peek into the door of your ideal classroom. Who’s in there?

A. A teacher standing up in front of a class of students

B. One teacher and one student

C. A group with multiple students interacting

D. A teacher sitting amid a small group of students (think a rabbi and his disciples)

E. A true community with multiple adults and children

F. The student alone

G. Classroom? What classroom?

Part III: Who We Are

Ages and Stages

A. Children go through different developmental stages as they grow into adulthood and their education should change with them.

B. There are different stages — but it is more than growth. Children are fundamentally different from adults and evolve into what they will be.

C. Children are “born persons”; they are whole people and how we educate does not need to change as they age.

Encountering the Real World:

A. Part of the reason we homeschool is to protect our kids. No, they are not locked in their rooms, but it’s our job to protect their innocence as long as we can.

B. The best environment takes real things and puts them in kid-sizes and contexts.

C. Children need to experience the real world and interact with real things, with some consideration for what’s age-appropriate.

Choosing the Good and Rejecting the Evil

(The Bible uses this phrase to describe the age at which a child has discernment. We can think of when and if a child knows right from wrong on a moral level but also of when he is able to tell good from bad in other ways — Does he know what is edible or does he put everything in his mouth? Can he choose what is right or best for him or should the choice be trusted to those who care for him?)

A. It’s a parent’s job to train up their children in the way they should go. It’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

B. The child has a natural taste for the good but is not inherently good.

C. The parent/teacher’s role is to help mold or shape the personality.

D. I don’t impose my will on my kids. They will gravitate towards what they need.

E. My children are evolving into who they should be.

F. Given the right environment, children will develop rightly.

The Nature of Children and What They Will Become:

A. Children are little adults in the making, something like apprentices. I have a picture in mind of what they should be and/or what they should know, and we move towards that goal.

B. “Children are born persons.” They grow in wisdom and knowledge but they are inherently whole people.

C. There is something fundamentally different about children. Childhood is a magical, special time of life.

Part IV: Why We Learn

Let’s talk goals. Finish this sentence: “I want my kids to . . . ” (Pick as many as you like; bonus points if you rank them):

A. Meet academic goals/be equipped for employment or higher education/have success.

B. Contribute to society.

C. Be leaders/make their mark on the world.

D. Be virtuous.

E. Have a love of learning.

F. Care.

G. Have lots of different interests or relationships.

H. Be responsible.

I. Find themselves.

J. Find their interests/passion.

K. Have meaningful lives.

L. Find (and fulfill) their calling.

M. Develop their potential.

N. Learn to think/learn how to learn.

O. Have wholeness.

P. To know God

 Evaluating Your Answers

Okay, now, are you all set? Have you done your best to answer all the questions? Good. Now the next step is to print out your score sheet and read through the comments below. (See the “how to take this quiz” section above.)

A few notes: Not every approach will come up for every question; sometimes an approach just doesn’t address a topic or I don’t have a good enough idea of what they would say for it. I have tried to go with the best, most representative answer for each one, but sometimes an approach will fall into more than one category.

Part I: What We Learn

Is there a core body of knowledge everyone needs?

A. Absolutely, naming the Presidents in order, reciting the periodic table, and/or knowing the classics of western literature — those are goals I have for my kids. Classical, school-at-home, Robinson curriculum, online/distance learning

B. They need a basic foundation (basic math, reading and writing skills) but beyond those education should be more individualized. Ruth Beechick’s approach, Moore

C. Not at all. Unschooling, Reggio Emilia, possibly AL

D. I don’t think there is one core body of knowledge, but some books/art/music/etc. are certainly more valuable than others. Charlotte Mason (CM), the Biblical Principle Approach (BPA), Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd)

What shall we study?

A. I’m looking for a fairly traditional curriculum, possibly something that lines up with the schools. School-at-home, Robinson, online/distance, possibly Moore

B. I’m in favor of a balanced, broad-based education with an emphasis on the liberal arts (history, literature). CM, Classical, TJEd, Robinson, Waldorf (for high school level)

C. We need to study the foundations of our civilization — the good books, speeches, etc. of our past. TJEd, BPA, possibly Classical

D. STEM is where it’s at today. Possibly online/distance

E. The arts are our main emphasis. Enki

F. I don’t have an agenda. Unschool, possibly Reggio Emilia and AL

The role of the arts in education is  . . .

A. Optional or non-essential. School-at-home, online/distance, Robinson

B. Secondary. Possibly Classical

C. As a core subject. CM, Waldorf, Accelerated Learning (AL), possibly Montessori, Reggio Emilia

D. As the cornerstone of education. Enki

Hands-on or Hands-off?

A. Handicrafts, physical education, kinetic activities are all great — after our real work is done. School-at-home, online/distance, possibly CM or Classical (see below), Robinson

B. Hands-on activities, manipulatives, and physical activities are secondary. Possibly CM or Classical. CM advocates handicrafts and physical exercise, but does not use hands-on projects as a part of learning. Classical does not require a hands-on approach, but my experience is that many use hands-on activities (filling in maps, creating lapbooks, etc.) as tools to learning.

C. Yes, please. Hands-on and/or physical activities are vital for learning. Montessori, Waldorf, Enki, Reggio Emilia, AL, possibly Unit Studies and Beechick

D. Children learn through free play. Unschool; CM also sees the value of free play (called “masterly inactivity”) in addition to more formal schooling.

E. Real work is a complement to schoolwork. Moore

Part II: How We Learn

How do you measure learning?

A. Grades and/or standardized tests help me know what my child is learning or needs to learn. School-at-home, Classical, Robinson Curriculum, often online/distance, possibly Moore

B. I prefer a non-standardized measure at the end of every unit or every year (think broad essay questions at the end of a term, not multiple choice tests). CM

C. Big projects at the end of a unit or a year help consolidate learning. Waldorf, Beechick, Reggio Emilia, Enki, BPA, possibly TJEd

D. Learning can’t be measured and doesn’t need to be. Unschooling

How do you motivate them?

A. Bottom line — schoolwork has to be done, liking it is a bonus but is not necessary. School-at-home, online/distance, Classical

B. Motivation needs to be internal. The desire to learn should be cultivated. TJEd, Moore Method, Robinson

C. The desire to learn occurs naturally in children. CM, Unschool

D.  Kids learn better when they enjoy their schooling. I try to make schoolwork enjoyable or even fun. Unit Studies, Beechick

E. I don’t motivate; I inspire. Montessori, to a lesser extent TJEd

Learning should be . . .

A. Teacher-directed: Parent/teacher knows best School-at-home, Classical, possibly Unit studies

B. Curriculum-directed : The material to learn is provided but the student works more independently Online/distance, Robinson  

C. Child-led: Let them follow their interests Unschooling, Reggio Emilia; many allow some degree of following one’s interests including Beechick, Waldorf (in high  school), BPA, AL, Moore; Unit Studies can be done in a child-led way

D. A blend: the teacher provides a framework within which the student has freedom to choose. CM, TJEd, Montessori, Waldorf, Moore (though these approaches may view the framework in very different ways)

The role of the teacher . . .

A. Is to impart knowledge. School-at-home, Classical, possibly Online/distance depending  the program

B. Is to select the best materials. CM, Robinson

C. Is to be a mentor. TJEd, BPA, possibly Unit Studies

D. Is to be a guide or facilitator. Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf (in the later years)

E. Is to be an example. Enki, Waldorf (in the early years), Moore

F. Is to help find resources. Reggio Emilia, Unschooling, possibly Unit Studies

G. Is to create the right environment for learning. Montessori, Beechick, AL, Robinson

H. Is to present the materials in the best way. Unit Studies

I. Is minimal. You can’t force learning.  Unschooling, Robinson, CM, possibly AL

What parts of the personality/person are involved in education?

A. Primarily the mind School-at-home, online/distance, Classical, CM (though handicrafts and PE are secondary), Moore (but with a practical work component as well), BPA, TJEd, Robinson

B. Hands with mind: the creative side must be appealed to as well as the mind Montessori, Unit Studies, Beechick, possibly Reggio Emilia

C. Whole body- mind, physical body, feelings and senses Waldorf, Enki, AL, possibly Reggio Emilia

Early childhood education?

A. Absolutely. Let’s get going here. School-at-home, Classical, and Robinson have provisions for early learning (before age 7 or 8).  Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, and Enki all have learning at early ages but do not use what I would call “formal learning.”

B. No. Delay formal learning. CM delays formal learning till age 6 or 7. TJEd and Moore Method delay till age 8 (or later). Ruth Beechick omits pre-K and K. And, of course, unschooling never has (forced) formal learning.

What’s on your homeschool bookshelf?

A. I like textbooks and worksheets. They help me know what my kid is learning and that he is learning. School-at-home; Moore method and Classical may both use worksheets and textbooks, but in a limited way

B. Living/great books all the way. Classical (but may use textbooks and worksheets), CM, Beechick (but don’t be too “bookish”), BPA, TJEd, Robinson, Waldorf (in later years)

C. Books? I think there are some propping up the laptop. Online/distance

D. Hands-on materials, manipulatives, etc. Montessori, Waldorf (in early years), Enki, AL, Reggio Emilia, often Unit Studies

Now close your eyes and peek into the door of your ideal classroom. Who’s in there?

A. A teacher standing up in front of a class of students. Okay, this is hard to  achieve at home, but if it is your ideal, you may have a school-at-home mindset. Classical could work here too and they often have coops that provide a classroom setting. CM was also designed for a school setting as was Enki.

B. One teacher and one student. TJEd, Moore, and Beechick emphasize the one-on-one. In a homeschool setting, CM, classical and Enki can work this way. Many approaches will end up one-on-one or with a small group of students, depending on how many children you have.

C. A group with multiple students interacting AL

D. A teacher sitting amid a small group of students (think a rabbi and his disciples) BPA; I think Waldorf, Montessori, and Enki would also fit here.

E. A true community with multiple adults and children. Homeschoolers often pride themselves on being out among all different ages and kinds of people, but Reggio Emilia specifically emphasizes learning within the community.

F. The student alone. Online/distance and Robinson adapt well to this, whether your student wants to or has to work alone (due to other familial constraints). Moore has a slightly larger role for the parent but also a fair amount of working on one’s own.

G. Classroom? What classroom? Unschool

Part III: Who We Are

Ages and Stages

A. Children go through different developmental stages as they grow into adulthood and their education should change with them. Classical, TJEd, Montessori

B. There are different stages — but it is more than growth. Children are fundamentally different from adults and evolve into what they will be. Waldorf, Enki; I’m not sure if Reggio Emilia sees children as evolving into adults, but they also view them as unique, different creatures who “speak a hundred languages.”

C. Children are “born persons”; they are whole people and how we educate does not need to change as they age. Unschooling, CM

Encountering the Real World:

A. Part of the reason we homeschool is to protect our kids. No, they are not locked in their rooms, but it’s our job to protect their innocence as long as we can. Enki; Moore advocates being in the real world on some levels but is also very strongly family-centric

B. The best environment takes real things and puts them in kid-sizes and contexts. Montessori, possibly Waldorf for the early years

C. Children need to experience the real world and interact with real things, with some consideration for what’s age-appropriate. CM, AL, Moore (but see note on A above); Unschooling, as usual, can vary a lot from family to family but my feeling is that in principle it fits best here

Choosing the Good and Rejecting the Evil 

A. It’s a parent’s job to train up their children in the way they should go. It’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure they get what they need. School-at-home, Classical; possibly Unit Studies, Moore, BPA and Robinson

B. The child has a natural taste for the good but is not inherently good. CM

C. The parent/teacher’s role is to help mold or shape the personality. TJEd (though the role of the teacher is more to inspire or model than mold), Beechick; possibly Unit Studies, Moore and BPA

D. I don’t impose my will on my kids. They will gravitate towards what they need. Unschooling; my sense is that Reggio Emilia also fits best here — it has a very high view of the child as a “knowledge bearer”

E. My children evolving into who they should be. Enki, Waldorf, possibly Reggio Emilia

F. Given the right environment, children will develop rightly. Montessori, possibly AL

The Nature of Children and What They Will Become:

A. Children are little adults in the making, something like apprentices. I have a picture in mind of what they should be and/or what they should know, and we move towards that goal. School-at-home, Classical, Montessori, Moore, TJEd, probably Robinson and BPA

B. “Children are born persons.” They grow in wisdom and knowledge but they are inherently whole people. Unschool, CM, AL, possibly BPA and Robinson

C. There is something fundamentally different about children. Childhood is a magical, special time of life. Enki, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia

Part IV: Why We Learn

Let’s talk goals. Finish this sentence: “I want my kids to . . . ” (Pick as many as you like; bonus points if you rank them):

A. Meet academic goals/be equipped for employment or higher education/have success. School-at-home, online/distance, Moore, Robinson, AL, BPA, Classical

B. Contribute to society. Montessori, Enki, Classical, TJEd

C. Be leaders/make their mark on the world. TJEd, Montessori, BPA

D. Be virtuous. Christian Classical, TJEd, BPA

E. Have a love of learning. TJEd; to some extent CM and Moore

F. Care. CM, Enki

G. Have lots of different interests or relationships. CM, Enki; possibly also Waldorf

H. Be responsible. Moore

I. Find themselves. Unschool

J. Find their interests/passion. Beechick, Waldorf, Unschool

K. Have meaningful lives. Waldorf

L. Find (and fulfill) their calling. Waldorf, BPA

M. Develop their potential. AL, Reggio Emilia, Montessori

N. Learn to think/learn how to learn. Beechick, Robinson

O. Have wholeness. Enki

P. To know God. CM (I am sure other Christian homeschoolers might say the same but I am encouraged to include this as a specific goal CM had by this recent article)

 

 

 

 

 

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4 responses to this post.

  1. […] I published my “Find your approach to homeschooling quiz.” If you took the quiz, you hopefully now have a short list of homeschooling methods to consider. To […]

    Reply

  2. […] you have taken my quiz to find your homeschooling style, you are now wondering what to do with that information. Where do you begin? Well, simply put, you […]

    Reply

  3. […] My newest endeavor is a quiz to help you find your own educational philosophy. You can find that here. […]

    Reply

  4. […] recently published a quiz to help you determine your best homeschooling approach. I tried to look particularly at the philosophy behind each approach (and I considered 16 of them). […]

    Reply

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