Homeschooling Methods

Ever wonder about the different ways people homeschool their kids?  These methods are classified here with examples of approaches that fall under these headings.

Eclectic or Multi-Based:  This style uses more than one homeschooling method.  Many parents/teachers begin with one style and may keep that style for some subjects and teach others with another method.  Many homeschooling families find themselves in this category eventually.  There may come a point at which one curriculum doesn’t work for every subject in your home.  You may borrow ideas or lessons from another company, retaining one curriculum as your base and adding to it as needed, or you may throw the curriculum out the window and gather from all sorts of places. 

Exploration and Investigation:  The focus of this style is getting children to dig into a topic to have a more complete understanding of it.  This style includes the use of research, manipulatives, and field studies to broaden knowledge of what is being learned. Here are some approaches, or methods, that could be categorized under this style: 

  • Montessori
  • Waldorf
  • Reggio Emilia

Faith-Based:  This style of home education teaches all the fundamentals of learning and includes religious principles either as the foundation of the program or as an additional subject.

  • Principle Approach

Literature-Based:  This style centers around using great, classic literature.  A key feature is that textbooks are not used unless for reference and the main text is written in narrative or story form.  Many methods in this style use literature to support the rest of the curriculum without overpowering it with endless reading.

  • Charlotte Mason Approach
  • Classical Approach

Manipulative-Based:  This is the hands-on style of learning.  Another way to quantify this style is to call it “Multiple Representations.”  Using manipulatives offers the student a more kinesthetic way to learn and can broaden knowledge of a topic of the subject or enhance the ability to problem solve.  You’ll notice that some of the same suggestions apply here as the Exploration/Investigation Style.  They can be classified here but many of the manipulative programs may not all be interchangeable.

  • Montessori

Media-Based:  This style of homeschooling can include curricula on video with a “video professor”, online classes, curriculum on computer software, or even listening to books on mp3 or cd.

  • Compass Classroom

Scope & Sequence or Academic Standards-Based:  This type of program will tell you (or schedule for you) what your child needs to know and when.  Not all scope & sequence programs follow the Traditional Style (see below).

  • Ed Hirsch: What Your _______ Grader Needs to Know

Self-Development-Based:  This style of learning embraces the idea that children learn best when they have a self-motivated interest in the topic.  Parents/teachers serve as resources, shepherding their children towards thinking logically for themselves, decision-making, and problem-solving.  The atmosphere of the home is creative, cultural, and full of activities.

  • Unschooling or Delight-Directed Approach

Traditional:  This style uses textbooks that include US educational standards, teacher’s guides that direct what should be taught, formal schedules for staying on track, record-keeping materials, tests, and all of these by grade level.  It is a structured style that can be used like school at home or adapted to be more relaxed.  Be advised that some of these programs may be public-school-at-home organizations, which are government-run programs that have the right to direct what you teach your children and can require you to follow standardized learning.

Travel Schooling:  One of the best ways to learn is to visit the locations we read about.  This method takes time and usually comes at considerable costs but can enrich your family with memories and real-world experiences.  It can be done on the local, national, or international levels.

Umbrella Organizations:  Umbrella Organizations are may include distance learning, learning centers, independent/tutoring programs, or online/virtual schools.  

  • Kumon Math and Reading
  • Sylvan Learning Center

Unit Studies:  A unit study uses a theme or topic and studies it deeply, weaving in as many subjects as possible.  All subjects are integrated together and studied around a common theme or project.  All ages learn together at their own level. Since subjects are integrated and are not taught separately, time spent homeschooling and planning is reduced.