How to Blend Homeschool Styles to find the Best Fit

blend homeschool styles | classical and charlotte masonOne of the aspects of homeschooling that I am most thankful for is the ability to customize a learning approach that fits my kids’ individual needs. It’s a beautiful thing to recognize that classical or Charlotte Mason or delight-directed or Montessori fits with your vision and goals for your family and your children. However, I know first-hand that it is also really easy to trap yourself within these labels. What once inspired and informed your choices suddenly becomes what’s strangling the life out of your homeschool. What do you do when one size doesn’t fit the whole family? Or what if you feel like a conglomeration of ideas is a better fit than a single approach? The answer is simple: blend homeschool styles into the custom-fit for your family!

Our Decision to Blend Homeschool Styles

Shortly after beginning to homeschool our kids, I read about the classical style of education. My husband and I loved it. The logic, the rhetoric, the apologetics, the Socratic discussion, the learning stages—so much of this style appealed to us, and I dove in head first.

Of course, that was before I discovered that I’d been blessed with a house full of ADHD. A couple of years in and the rigid structure and rigorous demands of a strictly classical education had just about killed us. Toss in a series of family health issues, and our life was chaos. As I sat in the waiting room of a medical office waiting for my husband’s second back surgery to be completed, I devoured Karen Andreola’s book Charlotte Mason Companion. Charlotte Mason was the breath of fresh grace I desperately needed.

While I wasn’t ready to abandon the premise of classical education we’d loved and identified with, I immediately saw how Charlotte Mason’s principles both complemented and embellished the starkness of the classical model. Charlotte Mason gave grace and beauty where I was in much need of it. Over the next year, I worked to blend the two styles together in a way that kept what we loved about classical but gave grace in the areas of ADHD distractibility where I needed it most. The result: a perfect fit for our family, a blend of knowledge and grace.

So how do you achieve this for your family? How do you take what you like, toss what you don’t, and blend what’s left together?

How to Blend Homeschool Styles

Identify what you love best about the styles you are considering. Every curriculum, every homeschool style has it’s strengths and weaknesses. As you read and consider the differences, make a list of what appeals to you the most.

For instance, I love the classical model of a 4 year rotation of history; I love the learning stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric; I love the emphasis on classical languages and Socratic discussions of ideas. But the rigor of long lessons, drill, and grueling memory work was squelching the active, creative spirits of my ADHD kiddos, not to mention creating real obstacles for my dyslexic child.

From Charlotte Mason, I loved the short lessons, the variety, the incorporation of handicraft and creativity and beauty, the emphasis on the whole person, and the rich feast of ideas to engage their busy intellects.

Exchange principles you don’t like with ones you do. I replaced classical suggestions of 45 minute subjects with the Charlotte Mason principle of short lessons. I was stunned by how much my busy kids learned in only 15 minutes, and the rich variety kept them engaged without gimmicks or bribes. While the encyclopedias and information-rich texts of the classical style appealed to my son, the living books of Charlotte Mason were much more effective with my dyslexic daughter who could follow a plot to remember information better than she could remember random facts.

Embrace trial and error. Ideas that sound perfect in theory may totally fail in application. And that’s okay. Make adjustments. I loved the idea of Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching spelling, writing, and narration. But in practice, the method was a total fail with both my older kids. Though I loved the open-ended CM concept of narration, my children did much better with the guided, structured classical narrations. Blending the two has been a constant work in progress, but the result has been a style of learning that captures the very best of my kids’ ADHD strengths rather than frustrating their weaknesses.

A couple of years later, and I’m still towing that line between these two styles, daily making decisions about which principles fit our family’s vision and personality best. It’s empowering to blend homeschool styles to what works best for us. It’s liberating to have something else to try when we fail. It’s inspiring to know I’m not trapped in a method that feels like the wrong fit. 

15 Reasons Why I Love Homeschooling ADHD

15 reasons why I love homeschooling ADHD

Homeschooling ADHD is no walk in the park. There are challenges, road blocks, and bad days. I have a house full of ADHD, and there are days when I think I may lose my mind. But that’s only a part of our story, only one side of ADHD. Unfortunately, it’s often the side of ADHD that gets the most attention—the struggle. But there is also delight, creativity, and lots and lots of laughter. They are curious, loud, distracted, innovative, messy, and intense. I love homeschooling ADHD!

Whether you are considering homeschooling your ADHD child, in the midst of the struggle, or just curious what it might be like, here are my top 15 reasons why I love homeschooling ADHD.

15 Reasons Why I Love Homeschooling ADHD

  1. Time for breaks. We can arrange our routine around their best times for learning and allow for plenty of movement breaks. (Check out our favorite movement breaks here.)
  2. Customized Learning Plan. Each of my children is very different. Creating a custom learning plan that fits their personality, learning style, interests, and strengths is a highlight of homeschooling.
  3. Whole Family Learning. I love that we can learn together and that my kids can share and help each other in the process.
  4. Ability to Pursue Passions and Interests. My kids have plenty of time to pursue the things that interest them. Our homeschool lessons are short, their busy minds learn quickly, and we move along, allowing for a lot of variety.
  5. Opportunity to Move. In addition to movement breaks, learning at home allows my kids to move and fidget and bounce while they are learning.
  6. Freedom to be Unique. My kids can be just as unique and awesome as they were created to be. They can enjoy what they love, and no one tells them otherwise.
  7. No Bullying. Obviously, I can’t protect my kids from all the bullying that may take place in different social settings, but at home in our learning environment, I can create a safe place for them to pursue their interests, overcome their struggles, and love learning without bullying or shaming.
  8. No Labels or Stereotypes. We talk about ADHD and dyslexia. My kids are aware of the terms and what those particular struggles mean. It helps them to understand what is happening in them and to them in those hard moments. But it’s a well-rounded discussion. They are also aware of the awesome strengths of creativity and innovation that come with this particular way their minds work.
  9. Controlled Distractions. Sometimes, ironically, my kids need more stimulation to focus; they actually need stuff going on around them to help them concentrate. In other subject areas or assignments, they need absolute silence. I can help them navigate this and learn solutions that help them. I’m not coddling or manipulating the environment, but I am helping them to identify what they need to succeed and how to think through a solution.
  10. Creative Learning Approaches. This is my favorite. I love seeing their ideas for how to learn. I determine the “what,” but the “how” is often an area I allow them to have in-put. The result, lots of creative ideas for hands-on learning!
  11. Emphasis on Strengths. The best way to learn is through a strength. My son loves to learn through drawing, building, and technology. My daughter loves to learn through art. My littlest loves to learn through drama and pretend. By tackling their areas of weakness through an area of strength, my kids are able to work through the areas where they struggle or have some anxieties via an area where they are confident and capable.
  12. Room to Improve. My kids’ ADHD and dyslexia forces me to be a better teacher and parent. They force me to do things and find solutions I wouldn’t have attempted on my own. Homeschooling ADHD stretches me and provides a space for me to grow and improve. My kids teach me! And I’m a better person because of them.
  13. Freedom to Be Different. We get to embrace the family that we are. “Your kids are all so very different,” someone recently told me. “I love it. It means you let them be who they are; they are comfortable being different.” Yes, yes, they are. Lol!
  14. Flexible Routine/Scheduling. Mornings with ADHD are tough. It’s our worst learning time. Their energy and creativity are at their peak, their moods are most intense, and morning learning has always been a struggle. So most of the week, we explore and participate in extra-curriculars in the morning and homeschool in the afternoon. We take off the days my pastor-husband has off and homeschool when he works. We create a learning routine that fits our family.
  15. A Place to Thrive. There is no greater joy than knowing my kids love learning and excel at it, in spite of what others may consider a disability or a disorder. That’s not to say that we don’t have our struggles and our bad days. This year, in particular, I’ve had to go back to the drawing board and redo nearly every subject because of struggles I didn’t foresee. But I have the freedom and the blessing to go back to that drawing board any time.

Homeschooling ADHD isn’t easy. Roses have thorns, and rainbows need rain. There’s an undeniable struggle that comes in this journey. But there are roses and rainbows. The daily might be a struggle, but the big picture is that they are thriving and learning and bringing to life all of that creative energy and enthusiasm that makes them uniquely them. And this, my friend, is the real reason I love homeschooling ADHD.

100 Hands-on Ways to Homeschool

hands-on homeschool | 100 hands-on ways to homeschool

Homeschooling ADHD and dyslexia is just another way of saying that my kids are highly active, easily distracted learners. And while worksheets often seem like a time-saver, by the end of the struggle it has rarely saved us any time. Which means, I need to be constantly thinking of hands-on ways to tackle learning. Or, I put their ADHD creativity to good use and allow them to come up with the solutions for me. The result — over 100 hands-on ways to homeschool!

Just because a child is a “hands-on” learner, doesn’t necessarily mean he likes all the same hands-on options. One of my kids loves drawing and drama, another child loves songs and puppet shows, while the other loves crafts and cutting and 3-d Models. So I’ve organized these ideas by interest, that way you can quickly scroll down to the type of “hands-on” that your child enjoys. 

100 Hands-on Ways to Homeschool