The Various Homeschool Methods

I always say that as many homeschoolers as there are out there in the world we all seem to homeschool in our own unique way.  That's kind of the point to homeschooling.

However, there are several well- defined methods to homeschooling and while many families pick and choose components that work best for them (see Eclectic) there are some who diligently follow one school of learning.

Over the years we've always leaned more toward one school of thought than others; of course which method we've leaned towards has changed as my boys grew and changed!

I have continued to read up and research them all.  It helps to know about all the different methods; particularly when it doesn't seem like what we're doing is working anymore or when we need to approach a particular subject another way. 

I thought today I'd summarize some of the key points and ideas behind each of the different homeschooling methods (though I'm sure I've forgotten a few; there are SO MANY!).

  1. Eclectic:  Most homeschoolers fall under the category of "eclectic homeschoolers" basically it means we've taken pieces and parts of other methods and molded them together in a way that works for each child's and families unique learning style.  We aren't easily labeled and since most homeschools are set up to meet the needs of several children most homeschoolers are eclectic. 
  2. Unschooling: Probably one of the most controversial forms of homeschooling, since people don't always agree with it's definition.  It's generally agreed that unschooling is allowing children to learn through life without any teacher led assignments or lessons.  Parents watch the children to see what they are interested in and may suggest books to read or projects to tackle but the kids are basically in control of their learning; picking up skills as they need and want them. (you can read more about it here)
  3. Delight Directed: A method of homeschooling where children's interests and passions are used to facilitate learning.  Parents still plan lessons and make sure all subjects are being covered but they plan the lessons using something their children are interested in taking care not to squash that interest and make it tedious.  (you can read more about it here)
  4. Charlotte Mason: Charlotte Mason was a teacher and a proponent of learning that focused on the whole child.  She believed in using living books and not textbooks.  When characters came alive in stories and children retold the stories they practiced language and secured the story in their minds.  She believed in spending lots of time outdoors studying nature. She taught writing and spelling through copywork using great books. She introduced artists and composers to her students and allowed them to make personal connections to their works. ( you can read more about it here
  5. Waldorf: Is a more liberal arts based philosophy of learning.  It is believed that children learn best through imaginative and artistic pursuits that evoke their feelings. Art, music, gardening, foreign language and other "frills" are often emphasized in Waldorf education.  Most subjects are approached through an artistic avenue and textbooks are not used in elementary and middle school grades.  Children often create their own books based on experiences and what they've learned.  (you can read more about it here)
  6. Reggio Emilia Inspired: Based on the beliefs of one Italian town, it is believed that children can build their own knowledge base.  There is a strong link to social interactions and learning through interactions with other children, family members, and the community at large.  Much emphasis is placed on the child's environment and the belief that adults act as facilitators listening to children and their language.  It is based on projects that the children develop and continue to develop over time.  There is often an emphasis on art and fantasy as the language of children.  (you can read more about it here). 
  7. Howard Gardner Homeschool:  Famous for his belief in 7 forms of intelligence, Howard Gardner homeschoolers focus on developing all 7 intelligences.  Those seven are Interpersonal (relating well with others), Intra-personal (the ability to deeply understand ones self), Musical (sensitivities to pitch, tone, rhythm and sound), Visual- Spatial (ability to judge and compare things visually), Linguistic (being good with words, language, reading, writing, etc.), Mathematical/ Logical ( have highly developed critical thinking skills, problem solving, number sense, etc.), and Kinesthetic (being able to control one's body and handle objects skillfully-- think professional sports athlete). Thinking beyond the regular definition of smart to include things like interpersonal and kinetic help parents identifying and encourage all of their children's strengths.   
  8. Unit Studies: A method of homeschooling that uses children's interests to teach a variety of subject areas.  For instance if you had a child that loved animals you would read books about animals (reading), write stories about animals (writing), learn where animals come from on the map and their various environments (geography), you might read about how animals have evolved over time or learn about extinct animals (history), get involved in art projects about animals (art), and so on.  (you can read more about it here
  9. School at Home: Much like it sounds homeschools that follow this approach try to replicate what traditional public schools in America are doing but at home.  They focus on the same yearly goals as their schools and try to approach subject matter in the same way using traditional textbooks, workbooks, and wrote memorization with a great emphasis on math and linguistics.  There are many boxed curricula available for school at home homeschoolers and parents know what to teach and when to teach it.  (you can read more about it here
  10. Classical Homeschool: Based on a belief that learning takes place in a systematic three stage nature; the early years are spent learning facts, wrote memorization, and building skills like reading and computing basic math functions.  The middle years are for analytical thinking, logic, and cause and effect relationships. They delve deeper into subjects and start using algebra, criticizing and analyzing texts.  The final stage (high school years) focus on teaching the child to express him or herself.  They can focus on what they are interested in and develop their own forceful beliefs, opinions, and ideals.  It is a very literature/ language intensive focusing on learning through words.  (You can read more about it here)
  11. Montessori: Montessori based homeschooling also follows the child's interest and needs. The goal is to develop each child to his or her fullest potential.  Children lead and learn through hands on experiences and parents act as guides; demonstrating skills as needed.  There is much time outside and independence is encouraged.  There is a heavy emphasis on creating the right environment and allowing children to use real tools for real jobs.  (You can read more about it here)
  12. DVD Based Homeschooling:  Uses quality movies to spark interests for learning.  There are many complete curricula programs available that much like internet based homeschooling teaches children with and for the parents if they are not confident they can (or do not have the time to) teach their child but would still prefer their child to have a relaxed at home learning environment.  
  13. Internet based Homeschool: Lessons that are carried out on-line either through an accredited program or through piecing a curriculum together using on-line programs and games.  With the internet, parents that are not confident they can be teachers can still allow their children a relaxed home atmosphere and still ensure that their children are learning.  (You can read more about it here)


  1. This is a great break down and description of the various ways to homeschool, and there are a few I had never heard of before!(Howard Gardner for one!)


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