• Sharon Starkey

Homeschooling on the Spectrum (Part 2): Schooling Styles

Updated: Aug 27

There are several different ways that you can homeschool your child. My suggestion is you research which type of learning will fit your child’s needs. Don’t forget to factor in your own needs. When I did homeschool with my son, I worked full-time as well. It can be done! Homeschool actually worked better for my autistic son, then public school. He learned so much more with less wasted time which meant we had more time for his special interests and fun!


Let’s look at the first type. Since COVID hit, many public schools have gone to online learning options. This means that each school and each district hold classes differently but it is all done through the public-school system. It often involves Zoom meetings daily with the teachers as well as assignments given to students to complete at home independently. I recommend you contact your school directly to find out what is being offered and how they are incorporating accommodations for IEP and 504 plans.


The next type is also using an online curriculum. Most of these curriculums are tied into a Colorado School district and are considered to be charter schools. Colorado Virtual Academy. Astravo Online Academy, Guided Online Academic Learning, Hope Online Learning Academy CO-OP and TCA College Pathways are examples of these programs. I had experience working with COVA for a few years. We chose the program because it was more flexible and offered local clubs and field trips for socialization. With these type programs, there is no need to buy curriculum or spend time doing lesson plans. Everything is done through the program. COVA provided all the books and supplies needed for all the lessons at no additional expense. Please look at these programs and ask questions about accommodations if you are going to need them. Some of these programs are not able to accommodate due to the nature of the school and the accommodations your child requires.


Now we come to traditional homeschool. This is where you would be responsible for choosing all your own curriculum. You will do all your own lesson plans and make your own schedules. This is also the most expensive and the type of homeschooling method with the highest burnout rate. Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades and record keeping. Some families use the school-at-home approach, but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials. The only requirement is your child attends 4 hours a day (average) for 172 days of the year. There are so many curriculums to choose from doing this style. Mardel has a large assortment of homeschool materials as does School Crossing. There are also tons of websites that offer curriculum.


There is also an eclectic approach. Eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects. Mornings are often used for more formal, “have to” work, and afternoons are used for hobbies and other special projects. There are no specific times set up for each subject, but instead, the child is expected to meet certain educational goals. The advantage of the Eclectic method is that the parent feels that the “important” subjects are being covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips and classes that fit their needs and interests.


Lastly, there is the unschooling approach. Unschooling style is also known as natural, interested, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do-by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children, learn their math, science, reading, and history. Now you can see why homeschooling your child has become popular in Colorado. There are so many styles so you are able to experiment and see what style works best for your child and your family. Every child learns differently!


Part 3 of this article will give you some ideas of enrichment programs and other resources available to you if you choose to homeschool.

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