View Full Version : Different method for each child?

Little Brownelf
12-27-2012, 04:01 AM
When we started homeschooling, I was one drawn to Waldorf. It answered to my inner cruncy ideals. I chose Oak Meadow because it seemed closest to what I could work with. Just academic enough, but not like the traditional schooling I received.

Well, the monkeys had other plans. They liked workbooks, not main lesson books. They responded to structure and repetition, not free form, flowy items. While we do enjoy fairy tales, the idea of gnome math was lost and why did every thing have to include drawing?, thought my art phobic second child.

By 2nd grade for my oldest, we switched to more workbooks and textbooks. That's about the time I stumbled onto Susan Bauer's Well Tained Mind. Both Monkeys respond much better to this more structured learning, however, I wonder if ds isn't just your trditional school kid at heart. He's fine with quick and short lessons. Not really a fan of any topic, but basically dealing with school because he has to. Dd also likes the more traditional approach, but responds well to literature based curricula. I have no problems schooling with her choosing items that she might enjoy.

Now I'm wondering if I've got two differing philosophies t work. I want to meet them where they are and not try to fit them into some mold. Yet, I'm wondering how feasible that is from the teacher pov. I also have a toddler, who does influence how our days go. I can't do it all, but I want to do th best for them that I can.

12-27-2012, 10:37 AM
For me, my kids are so far apart in age that we werent able to do much jointly anyways, so discovering that they had different learning styles wasnt as huge a deal, as I had to deal with them separately already. But even Farrar, with twins, differentiates some to meet each kid's needs, right?

and really, this is why most of us drift towards eclectic ... most kids have some preferences, some strengths and weaknesses, and for me the best part of homeschooling is being able to meet each kid where s/he is.

12-27-2012, 11:51 AM
We deal with this to some extent as well. We just do what we can to work with their different needs and keep going. One prefers a lecture/reading/worksheet approach; the other would be much happier if it was all art supplies, fairy tales, and lapbooks. Eclectic describes us pretty well, too.

12-27-2012, 02:47 PM
Yeah, we use different math, different spelling, and often have different writing assignments. We always do history, logic, and science together though and sometimes we do math together, especially for projects and living math books.

For me, I don't think I could use two programs or styles that really competed with each other - at least, not without there being a much more dramatic need difference. By that I mean I find that Classical and Waldorf are actually a bit at odds with each other in terms of really basic goals and attitudes. I was just saying on that other board actually that I find it really weird when people are trying to choose between two different styles that are radically different. It always makes me feel like they have no education philosophical center. I'm not saying that's you at all, Little Brownelf. And you're saying you moved away from Waldorf because it didn't suit the kids anyway. But for me, I feel like I need a reason beyond just "this is working" in order to use something. Like, if learning storytelling was really a big educational goal for me, even if the Waldorf didn't work, I would find another way to meet that goal. Or if I felt that workbooks were too simplistic no matter what, I wouldn't use them even if they worked. Or, I would use them, but always to build skills that the kids then practice elsewhere.

I feel like I'm being really nebulous. What I'm trying to say is that I think often kids demand different methods, but that the basic educational reasoning should still come back to fit into a greater philosophy of why for the parent teacher. Like, you use the method and the curricula and don't let it use you. Or don't let the kids' whims to work a certain way run you ragged or let them out of the actual "work" of learning. So two kids using different approaches are still being equipped with the skills that you have deemed are the most important.

I'm still not saying this right. I think I got chlorine in my brain when I went swimming earlier. :p

Stella M
12-27-2012, 03:42 PM
Dd15 - Steiner morphing into CM, with a year out for radical unschooling :-)

Dd13 - unschooled, with a year out for public school :-) And distance ed next year.

Ds8 - CM, mixed with some unschooling principles, which sounds as if it couldn't work but does.

My preference is for a CM style of education. It isn't always possible to impose one's preferred style on all family members, however. I do enjoy my eldest's education the most...

Stella M
12-27-2012, 03:52 PM
I think CM is so orderly and uncomplicated, that following CM with the eldest made space for her sister to unschool. And the experience of schooling two siblings differently helps me incorporate natural learning into ds' outwardly CM education.

I guess I see great value in both approaches, even though they are so different, so was able to school siblings according to their inclinations without feeling I was losing my centre.

CM is hands down easier though....

12-27-2012, 08:14 PM
Ok, Farrar, now I think you are forgetting that you, as, I assume at some point, an education major with a passion about the subject, actually studied educational philosophies and had enough time as a teacher to learn what you really cared about as far as educational philosophy. Most of us never, ever considered being a teacher, never really knew there were 'philosophies' of education until we started researching homeschooling, and are so new to the concept that we have no IDEA what matters to us other than our kids learn something! I can see your point, but no, i dont think most homeschooling moms really have an "education philosophical center," at least not for the first year or five.

of course, i never really adopted any philosophy afaik.

12-27-2012, 09:06 PM
I think I'm seeing it through the lens of something that's been on my mind, which is that it seems like a lot of homeschooling parents don't have a sort of reasoning behind what they're doing beyond a desire to get away from the system for various reasons. Or they have a family reason, but not an educational reason. I don't know that it actually hurts the kids, especially in a homeschool where you're responding to what works for your own child who you love dearly. I just find it odd. There's a "whatever works" mentality in public education right now that really deeply bothers me - and then it's a whatever works for the masses who officials don't give a darn about. I mean, where does it end? At what point do you say, this may work in training children to get better scores or whatever, but it's not philosophically what we should be doing? I think having a grounded philosophy helps guide things.

But maybe having a grounded reasoning for individual children is enough. Or maybe you don't even need that. Like I said, I see it as a problem when it's the faceless masses of children and the decisionmakers are bureaucrats, but maybe just doing what works for your kid is fine - there's a huge difference in that. I think I would just struggle to hold it in my head.

Stella M
12-27-2012, 10:31 PM
There is a certain tension when you are using dual or multiple approaches...but I think that tension can help restrain one from becoming too dogmatic.

I also think there needs to be a common underpinning to the methods one chooses - for example, CM and unschooling seem worlds apart but to me they share three things - a gentleness, spaciousness and opportunity for meaningful learning.

So I experience no dissonance schooling siblings differently when drawing on these approaches.

When we added in school - or school at home as it will be in ' 13 - that creates a lot more dissonance for me, as I personally see school as hard, closed and full of barriers to meaningful learning.

12-27-2012, 10:48 PM
i dont think i had much of a philosophy for any of my life. I was always baffled by people who had a plan . . . i cant MAKE myself do something i hate for some supposed future goal, not long term at least. thats why i dropped out of college so many times. i ended up not being able to handle college, at least not emotionally. I think i feel that my kids and I all verge on being non-functional, so 'what works' is a really big deal. My kids would not be willing to follow me in to any random plan - Raven would refuse to do any art projects when younger and still acts like writing is torture. Orion is really incapable of taking responsibility for himself. Literature is not a way they learn. Ok, Orion might have done ok w that, but not with gobs of writing. I do sometimes feel jealous of people who can tell their kids 'come do this' and, basically, their kids do it. i have one who screams and cries even when I ask him to do things HE knows he likes, and another who panics if things are hard - and I mean panicking to the point of not being able to do any work the rest of the day. i'm not convinced philosophy matters as much as you think it does in general, but it certainly does not matter to me.

Stella M
12-27-2012, 10:59 PM
Even when you have a philosophy, it's important to be able to recognise when it doesn't work for a particular child. After all, it's meant to be in service of the child's education...flexibility is a good trait...I think it's OK to school pragmatically...

12-28-2012, 12:09 AM
No, that's all very true. And with kids who don't fit into any kind of mold, I certainly see that... Maybe it just matters to me. I like what you said, Stella, about the tension between different things not letting you be too dogmatic.

Little Brownelf
12-28-2012, 03:09 AM
Hmm. Interesting post to ponder. I understand, Farrar, what you mean about not letting the curriculum drive you. But at the same time, I'm with dbmamaz on a homeschool parent not necessarily diving in with a set educational philosophy. My basic need to homeschool was to not put my children into a large, bureaucratic school district with poorly performing schools (mostly) full of inept teachers. I want more flexibility and better curricula choices. So when researching what's out there and fumbling through the first few years, philosophy is what I was learning, not something in the forefront of my choices.

Now I'm at a point where I know them better and have an idea of who they are. Starting from kinder has been a learning curve. Part of my idea of homeschooling was to tailor the schooling to the needs of the child. I guess I'm just at that point where I have two that are almost 2 years apart, have some gaps and are different learners. So now I'm figuring out where to go with each and how that will look on a typical day. Dd responds well to the story based kinds of curricula while ds is a short and quick kind of guy. How do I manage these two with a 13 month old running around? It's mostly the working around a toddler that throws a wrench in the works.

So I guess I really have multiple issues all going at once...

12-28-2012, 07:02 AM
While I can't articulate it nearly as well as Farrar did, for me, the choices I make are guided by the question "What do I think my children need to know to be successful adults." (FWIW, my definition of success includes stuff able to make choices about the type of life they want as grownups, support themselves financially, develop and sustain relationships with other people, know their strengths and weaknesses. So I'm not saying to my kids "you are going to be a doctor or lawyer or indian chief" but "you are a fierce and passionate learner with a real need for autonomy and a gift for creating order out of chaos. You need to learn a bit more respect for others who aren't coming from that place." etc.) I don't know if that counts as a philosophy but it allows me to make what I hope are appropriate choices.

Yeah, sometimes those choices are really different for each child. It's exhausting to teach B1 and BOO because they are 180 degrees opposite. But I do look for things we can do together (cooking, discussing movies, building stuff) because they have a lot to teach each other.

It is tough when there's a toddler in a mix. That's why humans invented alcohol (for the adults not the kids).

12-28-2012, 07:04 AM
I guess I see great value in both approaches, even though they are so different, so was able to school siblings according to their inclinations without feeling I was losing my centre.

Stella you are so good at summing things up - I really like what you said.

12-28-2012, 09:28 AM
We are homeschooling for a specific reason, not a specific philosophical bent. My son is quirky, has some learning/social issues and, I'm positive, would not do well in a classroom setting.

My youngest on the other hand, would probably do fine. She is much more "typical".

They are both still pretty young but I've found what works for my son - straight-to-the-point, no frills, little explanation, workbooks. Which is different from what works for my daughter - repetitive activities, slower pace, little writing (could be age), whole body activities.

What I do for each is different but our overall feel is probably closest to school-at-home. I just call us eclectic.

12-28-2012, 10:06 AM
Instead of "educational philosophy," I think of it as putting some serious thought into what we, as parents, feel is important in our children's educations. Every parent should do that, and what comes out will be unique for each family. The list could include specific academic goals, non-traditional subjects like outdoor survival skills or mastery of a musical instrument or cooking, and more nebulous things like becoming a self-directed learner or community activism. Once you know what you want your kids to come out with in the end, then you can pick the methods and materials and work out a plan to get there. That second step is when you take into consideration the temperaments and needs of your kids.

I have complete respect for all kinds of homeschooling, from Classical to unschooling, as long as the parents did both of these steps. I don't like it when parents do one without the other--e.g. being inflexible about the method they want to use even if it conflicts with their kids' learning style; or flitting from curriculum to curriculum because they haven't thought out what is important to them.

Little Brownelf, I think it would be a useful exercise to sit down and think about what you feel is important in your kids' educations. It could be things that attracted you to Oak Meadow in the first place: art, gentle introduction to academic subjects, handcrafts, etc.

I see what Farrar is saying about not letting the methods override the goals. A kid may be happy to mindlessly fill out workbooks all day (not saying your kids do, Little Brownelf) because she finds it satisfying. I think I was this kind of student--elementary school was enjoyable to me because it was mostly busy work of this kind and it wasn't "hard" at all. Starting in about 8th grade or so, the work became more challenging (algebra!) and required more effort, and I was utterly unprepared for that. So I would agree that you need make sure that the methods and curricula that you choose are actually moving your kids toward the goals/skills/etc. that you decided on.

I struggle with teaching two very different kids too sometimes. The methods that I can use with my son are much more narrow, so I really cater to him for the subjects that my kids learn together. However, I don't wan't to shortchange my daughter by denying her activities or assignments that her brother can't handle. For example, my son hates those crafty/coloring type of activities that are often used to supplement history. Build a paper ziggurat? Zero interest. But I have to remind myself that I can still do it with my daughter. The same with writing assignments. My daughter enjoys creative writing much more than my son, so I can encourage her to write stories in addition to the ones she does for school. Like Stella, I feel like CM can be a good fit for different kinds of learners. My short-attention span, squirmy son will sit still for carefully selected "living books" and he appreciates the short lessons for things like copywork and math.

Phew, I went on and on. Hope it helped a little!

Stella M
12-28-2012, 02:40 PM
No, that was good - about not letting the methods override the goals - I didn't get that before.

My goals always put relationship first, whether with my own kids or my tutoring kids - kids learn best when we have a positive relationship.

Methods are used subservient to that goal. So although I might deeply connect with the values and good of a CM education, if imposing that method is detrimental to my relationship with a particular child, we will have to try something else.

That is why dd13 is her own strange mix of unschooled and school-schooled :-) And how we have managed to maintain a decent relationship over the last few years.

Little Brownelf
01-04-2013, 05:17 AM
Firstly, sorry for the delayed response. We moved just after Christmas and as we were not as packed as we should've been, it was a chaotic experience. However, we're about Defcon 3/ heading into settling in mode. :)

This post basically said what I wished I could have articulated, including the the ending. ;) It is just plain hard, like anything worth the effort. I was Ina rhythm and then our now toddler came lag and obviously things had to change. I just always felt a benefit of homeschooling was that we could tailor/meet the monkeys were they where. I just don't. Want anyone shorted if I can help it

Claire O Meara
01-04-2013, 01:29 PM
It is impossible to box a child into any particular learning methodology or approach. Every child learns differently! Observation is the key, offer a good mix of learning activities and approaches and see which ones your child respond best too.

The funny thing is! As adults we keep the same learning traits that we had as children. Not all adults learn the same, nor do we respond to different learning mediums in the same way. It's just that as adults we know what works for us and what doesn't.