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TMF Homeschooling FAQ

Q. What is homeschooling?
A. Homeschooling consists of teaching a child at home, as opposed to placing a child in a public “government” school or a private school.

Q. Why is it “homeschooling” and not “home-schooling” or “home schooling”?
A. Depending on who you ask, any of the above is appropriate. However, “homeschool” works best in a search engine.

Q. Why do you homeschool? Are all homeschoolers religious zealots?
A. No. This is a common misunderstanding. While many parents choose to home school because they want their child's curriculum to include a religious viewpoint, there are many other reasons. Some of the more common ones include:
o Belief that the local schools are not very good, and that the child will get a better education at home.
o Children have special needs better met in home education (e.g. gifted or learning disabled or ADD)
o Home education can be tailored to students' individual interests and aptitudes.
o More time for extracurricular interests like sports training or acting careers.
o Concerns about safety in local schools
o Family stationed abroad for some reason and local schools are too far away or don't meet their needs for other reasons.
o Wanted greater family closeness and more time to work on family relationships.
o The parents travel a lot, and by home schooling, they can bring their child with them.
o It just sounded like fun!

Q. How do you homeschool? Do you recreate the classroom, or just let your kids run wild while you watch TV?
A. Hey, watch how you phrase that question! There are as many different methods of homeschooling as there are reasons for doing it. Here are a few of the more popular methods:

Charlotte Manson Method

Charlotte Mason based her philosophy of teaching on the Latin word for education, "educare," which means "to feed and nourish."

This nourishment was achieved through a wide curriculum using a variety of books. Her method provides a liberal (generous) education. It is based on core subjects and incorporates the fine arts. Children deal directly with the best books, music and art. The children are trained in the practice of narration, or telling back what they've learned. The emphasis is always placed on what the children do know rather than what they do not know. This is training in essay-style examination.

Classical Education Method

To many, the term Classical Education conjures images of ivy-covered institutions with more interest in striking a child's knuckles and teaching dry subjects than in educating. As with any "image", truth is determined not by the "angle" or "spin" applied by Hollywood producers in movies like The Dead Poets Society, but by the real and tested results proven through centuries of educating children with the classical method.

It has taken modern educators only 50 years to disassemble an educational system that took thousands of years to refine and establish. The classical method was born in the ancient Greece and Rome and by the 16th century, it was used throughout the Western world. This system educated most of America's founding fathers as well as the world's philosophers, scientists and leaders between the 10th and 19th centuries. What other period can claim so many advances in science, philosophy, art, and literature?

Eclectic Homeschooling Method

An Eclectic Homeschooler is one who looks at the different approaches and methods of homeschooling, at the "opinions and principles of each," and takes from each approach and method for his family, forming his own unique philosophy.

Montessori Method

The "Montessori method" developed from the work of Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900's, from her efforts to scientifically study the child's true nature. She observed children free to engage in activities of their own choice in a well-ordered physical environment. In 1907, she discovered that young children under these circumstances return to a normal state of being in harmony with their entire environment. She observed that these "normalized" children show such qualities as spontaneous self-discipline, love of order and concentrated attention and interest to intellectual activity.
Montessori teaching today aims to duplicate the first environment of Dr. Montessori, by following such laws of nature as:
o "Observation"
o "Individual Liberty" and
o "Preparation of the Environment"
These three Montessori Principles guide the teacher to "control the environment, not the child"; to look at the child as an "unknown entity" and allow its true nature to freely emerge.

Traditional Homeschooling Method

Recreating the public school environment and methods at home.

Sources for curriculum

Instructions for traditional grading

Instructions for record keeping

Unit Studies Approach

What is the difference between lesson plans and unit plans? A lesson plan is one idea and how you will teach that idea. A unit plan is a subject with interdisciplinary planning. So in essence, a Unit Study are a bunch of lessons rolled into one biggie.

So what do we mean by interdisciplinary? We mean that the study includes all subjects, or more than one subject.


The term "unschooling" was coined by John Holt to mean not sending children to school. The term has been stretched and changed since then, and those of us who refuse the entire school model have taken the word "unschooling" for our own. Other terms associated with unschooling are natural learning, child-led learning, discovery learning, and child-directed learning. We don't divide our day into "school" parts and "non-school" parts, because there are no school parts. We live; we learn; we try new things; we go back to things we've loved a long time.

Waldorf Education Method

When children relate what they learn to their own experience, they are interested and alive, and what they learn becomes their own. Waldorf schools are designed to foster this kind of learning.

Waldorf education has its roots in the spiritual-scientific research of the Austrian scientist and thinker Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). According to Steiner's philosophy, man is a threefold being of spirit, soul, and body whose capacities unfold in three developmental stages on the path to adulthood: early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence.

Q. So which is your favorite method?
A. I think I'm eclectic. I'm still working on it.

Q. What about socialization? Don't you worry that your kids will be freaks?
A. Alright, that does it. Who let this guy in here asking questions like this? I'll answer this while I wait for security to arrive and escort you from the building.

Many homeschoolers feel that the socialization given through public schools is inadequate or harmful. Most homeschooled students have many opportunities to interact with other children, whether through sports, clubs, homeschooling groups, or just playing with their friends after school. In addition, most homeschooled children regularly interact with people of all ages, rather than just those within a year of their own age. This tends to make them maturer than public schoolchildren.

Q. Wait, don't haul me off yet! What about HLSDA? Where can I learn more about homeschooling? How do I get started? Where do… (The guards drag him out, cutting him off.)
A. The HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defense Association, has done great things in protecting homeschoolers from legal persecution. Their web page can be found at
Some homeschoolers like them, some don't. They charge $100 a year for dues, and have some restrictions on whom they will represent. Make sure you agree with their positions before you sign up. From their web site, you can learn the legal requirements to homeschool in your state.

You can learn more about homeschooling by typing “homeschool” in about any search engine. I like using as a starting point.
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