Some Educational Approaches: Descriptions

Unschooling (John Holt)

Children themselves plan their own learning activities in their natural environment. No set schedule.

Multiple resources are made available (therefore, many books).

The parent becomes a mentor in meeting the children’s desire to learn when they demonstrate the interest and aptitude to do so.

Literature Approach (Charlotte Mason)

Learning is acquired through « real books » (as opposed to school textbooks) and real-life experiences.

Basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics are taught, after which time the child is exposed to multiple resources covering all subject areas (nature hikes, museums and literary classics).

Narration and dictation of integral portions of the classics are part of this approach.

Discussions on what the children have read lead them to come to their own conclusions, thus enabling the development of critical thinking skills.

Unit Studies

Different subjects are integrated and revolve around a common topic and/or character trait.

For example: “Orderliness” could include outer space, the vegetal kingdom, seasons; under attentiveness”, children may study the ear, music, birds, etc.

Topics can easily be chosen according to children’s interests and passions.

Simply add a math curriculum and some language arts resources for grammar and sentence structure, then gear any writing projects to the topic chosen.

This approach is an advantage for multi-level teaching as well as addressing children’s natural curiosity and critical thinking skills.

Consult our list of educational resources for more information on KONOS, a unit study curriculum that many families have come to appreciate.

Delight-Directed Studies

The principle is basically the same as the unit study approach, but the children choose the topics themselves, in line with their passions and interests.

This is an interesting approach for a child who has been demotivated or who no longer has the love of learning.

Classical Education

Children under 16 years old are taught tools of learning known as The Trivium. These tools are language and thinking skiills that can be used to approach any subject. This approach is divided into three stages:

  • 6 to 10 years old: The Grammar Stageincludes reading, writing and spelling, as well as Latin, the development of observation, listening and memorization skills, classical literature and basic math concepts;
  • 10 to 12 or 14 years old:The Dialectic Stage emphasizes independent and abstract thought, argumentation, Latin, sometimes Greek and Hebrew, the reading of essays, arguments and criticisms instead of literature and interpretation of historical events;
  • 14 years old:

The Rhetoric Stage aims to produce a student who can use language, both written and oral, to express what he/she thinks, in an eloquent and persuasive manner.

“Is it not the great defect of our education today … that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils « subjects », we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think : they learn everything except the art of learning.” (Dorothy Sayers)

Resource: Tree of Life.

Programmed Instruction

Usually, this approach involves completing a certain number of workbooks according to a pre-determined timeline.

Children progress according to this schedule to eventually develop a certain autonomy.

This approach is not appropriate for children who need to move and/or touch in order to learn.

Example: ACE (Accelerated Christian Education – School of Tomorrow)

Continued: “Some Educational Approaches: Recommendations”