No matter which method of homeschooling your family uses, a hands-on element can enhance everyone’s educational experience.

No matter which method of homeschooling your family uses, a hands-on element can enhance everyone's educational experience. Click To Tweet

When I began homeschooling 25 years ago in Germany, my curriculum options were extremely limited. I drove 3 hours on the autobahn one night to a small gymnasium where expatriate homeschoolers had set out card tables and boxes of used books. As far as I know, this was the only book fair to serve the entire country. I pawed through the tattered selections, grabbed a very thorough-looking pre-K program to teach my four-year-old (already many of you can see my mistake, eh?), and climbed back in my van for the 3-hour trek home.

Our daughter hated that curriculum. I hated it, too, but I’d spent the school budget for that year on it. If we ditched it, I was going to have to come up with something else.Thus it was out of naivety and desperation that I began to devise my own homeschooling style, but you know what? I learned that I really didn’t need written instructions to talk to my four-year-old, have fun with her, and show her the world. I used that traditional textbook program as a guide–an index of skills to be introduced–but other than a few workbook pages we did for fun, our daughter never saw it after the first month of preschool. Over the years, we used an eclectic mix of the five main homeschool approaches–traditional textbooks, literary based, classical, unit studies, and even student-directed unschooling. If you’re not familiar with these approaches, this video will give you a good overview.

The point is that ALL of these approaches have strengths, but they also have weaknesses. What’s ideal for one family doesn’t work well at all for another, and within a single family what works well for one child is not necessarily ideal for their siblings.

Hands-on experiences became the glue that held our educational journey together. My goal-oriented daughter enjoyed seeing how the skills she was learning could be put to practical use. My adventurous son enjoyed learning while he was active. Our brand of eclectic, hands-on learning offered

  • the security of a textbook approach,
  • the richness of great literature,
  • classical Socratic discussions,
  • the cross-disciplinary connections of unit studies, and
  • enough excitement to hold a child’s interest without seeming like “school”.

End result? Both of our children became enthusiastic lifelong learners. They approach challenges with confidence because they know how to teach themselves new skills and be productive in the process of mastering them.

What is your ultimate goal for your children’s education? How might hands-on homeschooling help in that process? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!