Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife Dorothy Moore are sometimes called the grandparents of the modern home schooling movement. For over 50 years they have been educational professionals, and for the last 30 years have been sharing their research and their “formula” for successful home schooling, a program that is low-cost, low stress, and yet brings high-achievement.
The Moores advocate a balanced approach to education, which includes study, work, and service. They also suggest using the student’s interests as a focal point for learning, using a unit study approach. They stress that work and service projects are just as important as time spent studying, and these two areas are often neglected.
The most “radical” part of the Moore Formula is their firm belief that parents should wait until a child is 8-10 to start formal education. This recommendation is based upon their many years of research on readiness and child development, and is documented in their book “Better Late Than Early”. This means no formal lessons until that age whether the child can read or not, but instead training the child in good habits and obedience, lots of reading aloud together, and including the child in work in the home, service in the home, church and community. Dr. Moore and his wife have found that those who wait until their children have reached what they call the “Integrated Maturity Level”, when emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical maturity have reached the same level of growth, have the greatest success, and the least danger of school “burn out” later on.
This does not mean the child is left on his own to do what he wants, however. A daily schedule of activities, with set time “anchors” for waking and bedtime, meals, and family devotions, is used to provide structure to the child’s day. The child participates in helping care for the family, serving alongside his parents and siblings as they work as a family in the home doing chores and perhaps running a family business, and in community doing service-oriented projects. The parents answer the child’s many questions with warm responsiveness and model positive socialization skills and upright moral character.
During this time of informal learning, and continuing on into formal studies, the unit study approach is used as a primary learning tool, basing these units of study on the child’s interests. (If the child is interested in cars, for example, that topic is used as the focal point for studying literature, history, and science.) Units of study are built around his interests, incorporating content subjects and skill subjects as much as possible. In addition to the unit studies, some time each day is spent on mastering basic skills.
Later, in the junior high and high school years, gradually more structured learning is used, but still with a balanced emphasis on study, work, and service.
When the Moores wrote their books, they laid out the basic principles of their Formula. Still, many parents contacted them asking for a more detailed overview, so that they would know how to implement these aspects practically within their homes. The Moores published “The Moore Formula Manual” about three years ago, which spells out, in practical terms, how to use their methods to teach our children in a low-cost, low-stress way, avoiding many of the pitfalls such as home school burnout.
More information about the Moore Formula can be found at the Moore Foundation web site at www.moorefoundation.com. Susan McGlohn homeschools her three children in Virginia.