There are many “flavors” of homeschooling. We call them methods. The method you choose will be based on what you want your atmosphere and experience to look like in your homeschool. We hope that these summaries will help you find the flavor that fits you and your children best!
- Traditional Textbook – For those of us who attended public school, we are very familiar with this method. This one is (1) Traditional and (2) uses a Textbook. Usually, the curriculum company offers a Student Textbook and a Teacher Manual or copy of the Textbook, which often includes a script as well as the answers to the questions in the student’s textbook/workbook. Many parents choose this method for subjects like grammar and math because they trust that their student will not have as many gaps in these subjects by sticking with the same curriculum company throughout their homeschool years. Some options for the Traditional Textbook method: Rod & Staff, Saxon, Math-U-See.
- Classical – The Classical method is based on the three stages of learning, called the Trivium. The three stages are: Stage 1 – Grammar Stage – roughly grades 1-4. In this stage, children learn facts, are filled with knowledge, and memorize lists (such as the names of all the US Presidents). Stage 2 – Logic Stage – approximately grades 5-8. In this stage, reasoning and logic are applied to their knowledge from stage 1. They learn where these facts fit into the big picture (such as when those presidents were in office and what they did while in office). Stage 3 – Rhetoric Stage – grades 9-12. This stage applies wisdom and judgment to the knowledge. Basically, they begin to form their own opinions and make their own judgments about the things they are learning. Some examples of classical curricula are Memoria Press and Peace Hill Press (Story of the World). There is also Classical Conversations, a classical “community”, for doing some classical group learning and presentations. We recommend The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer, as a resource for learning more about a classical education!
- Charlotte Mason – Charlotte Mason was an educator in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Her philosophy of education is based on the idea that a child is a whole person. She taught that educating the whole person was done by “spreading a feast” of subjects in front of the child. It is a rigorous education that is teacher directed. A Charlotte Mason education pursues a wide variety of subjects, including art, music, composer and picture studies, nature study, foreign languages, handicrafts, poetry, and classic literature…and more! Subjects are studied using “living books” instead of textbooks. The difference is shown in reading a textbook with the life cycle of an apple tree versus reading a book that tells the story of Little Johnny visiting his Grandma, which includes the life cycle of the apple tree in the midst of the tales of his travels through the woods from his house to hers. Some examples are A Gentle Feast, Amblesideonline.com, CharlotteMasonhelp.com, and a wonderful resource is the podcast from A Delectable Education, who also offers personalized help putting a CM education together for your children!
- Unschooling – Many believe that unschooling means NOT educating your children, but this is a misconception. Unschooling is a flexible method of homeschooling based on your child’s interests. Unschooling is considered “child-led” and can be busy for the teacher/parent. It is usually done without specific curriculum. If your child wants to learn about caterpillars this week, you’ll be responsible for finding materials to read, research, write, do science, history, math, and more…all about caterpillars. Next week—if his/her interest changes to trains—you’ll seek out materials to do all the needed subject work on the new subject of interest. Just remember that unschooling is not NOT teaching your children.
- Unit Study – This one is similar to unschooling, in that all subjects are woven together by the topic, or unit, you are studying. It is different in that it is NOT usually child-led. The teacher or the curriculum plans what is to be studied. Some examples of unit studies are Tapestry of Grace, My Father’s World, and Beautiful Feet Books.
- Eclectic – The eclectic homeschooler may be one who uses a variety of the methods we’ve already mentioned, OR one who uses materials they find here and there and pieces it together themselves. They may use items such as a handwriting book from Dollar Tree, a math workbook found at Walmart, a kids’ chemistry set from Barnes & Noble, and a toy cash register for learning math while playing store. Many longtime homeschoolers would call themselves eclectic because they have found that something different works for them for each subject!
- Computer-based or Distance Education – There are many online options available these days for signing up for a class OR a full curriculum right from the comfort of your desk! Some options you may want to look into are Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool, Outschool, Abeka Distance Learning, etc.