This year I have been mostly experimenting with using the Robinson method for teaching. I must say I am impressed. Really, I think, the problem with education today (by in large) is that society expects far too little of children.
My nine year old this year is working through Saxon Math 5/6 and getting nearly 100% on every lesson. Robinson has the kids track their own progress in Saxon(how many they get correct) and repeat if they don't get at least 95% correct. My daughter loves this and it motivates her like nobody's business. My seven year old, who has always been a little slower in terms of development, is also very motivated. She wants to do Saxon Math 4/5. There is something really motivating about doing work they can be proud of. She is working on her multiplication tables still, but she has gotten down addition and subtraction facts cold.
And they are reading and doing writing. At this age, their writing can be copywork or it can be anything they want to write. I correct it after they do their writing and they have to go through and correct their spelling, grammar, etc. before the next day. This...my older daughter is not so thrilled with. But, they learn from the process amazingly. I make spelling lists from real world words they miss. And I explain phonics rules and grammar rules as we go along.
They do other work too. First off, they are in art and violin. Violin is fantastic for math. Art is fantastic for observation. When they are interested in other subjects (science, a foreign language...I let them study it on their own). Now, it's been pretty difficult having a new baby and before that being pregnant. That's part of my reason for going with this curriculum...it takes less prep on my part. I just didn't want to do (or pay for) a set curriculum.
I am also very interested in the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. It holds a lot in common with the Robinson curriculum. It is clear that Robinson borrowed some from Charlotte Mason. Yet, I have found that certain things Charlotte taught, aren't absolutely necessary for well rounded, well educated children. Charlotte was a big proponent in her writing of switching subject when the child lost interest. Robinson is the opposite...'have them sit there till they get the discipline to do hard work'. Charlotte taught that actual lessons (not all of a child's learning) should be kept short (should be finished in the morning). Robinson teaches that lessons (reading, writing, and arithmatic) should last 5-6 hours 6 days a week, year round (minus vacations).
What I have found is that either method works, as long as the expectations for the child are high and the goal for the child's education are presented clearly. Homeschooling is so superior to group education, as long as an effort of excellence is put forth. I find myself free from the ideology of either method...or any other method. I can bring in nature study to teach science. If desired, I can bring in worksheets to teach a foreign language, phonics, latin, whatever. I can bring in a writing curriculum, if desired, to fine tune their writing. Yet, I don't have to...their education will still be superior to what they would get elsewhere if I don't. What I will do is rely on my children teaching themselves and using whatever tool I find to learn the subject naturally.