Homeschooling is a great way to teach your children and provide them with a tailored education. But how do you choose which homeschool method to use? There are so many different philosophies, from Montessori to Waldorf – it can be hard to know where to start!
I understand your dilemma and have compiled the ultimate list of 10 different homeschooling methods to help you discover which style resonates most with you.
So let’s get started!
Pro Tip: Your homeschool methodology will change over time as you slowly discover what works for your family, as your children age, and as your ideas about what education looks like morphs. Most seasoned homeschoolers become pretty eclectic, choosing to use best practices depending on the season in life and the subject matter of study.
Table of Contents
The school-at-home methodology is not dissimilar to your local public or private classroom. This type of education can be organized around complete curriculum packages, often arranged by the year, and even use a traditional syllabus.
School-at-home might be done independently, with only a parent facilitating it all, or using paid options such as K12, which offers similar services to most schools.
The Classical homeschool approach is one of the oldest and most successful educational techniques that has existed, and probably why it’s the most popular homeschooling approach. In this methodology, people learn how to teach themselves through the Trivium process, which is divided up into three stages of learning: Grammar (concrete learning), Logic (critical thinking), and Rhetoric (abstract learning).
During the early primary years, children are taught about language and comprehension. The foundation of learning in these years is memorization and repetition.
Students learn how to use logic and critical thinking skills to form arguments in their middle school years.
And finally, once they reach high school, teens learn to express their thoughts and opinions through writing and debate.
Thomas Jefferson Education
Much like Classical Education, Thomas Jefferson Education is a system where the student progresses through three different phases.
During the Foundational Phase, Kids from birth to 8 years old learn about family values, relationships, and responsibilities. From 8-12, they focus on interest-led learning and projects.
In the Educational Phase, 12 to 18-year-olds study the classics and work with mentors to learn new skills. Once they become adults, 18-24-year-olds deepen their knowledge base with a mentor-guided program.
Finally, the Application Phase of life starts when the frontal lobes are fully formed in adulthood, and life-long learners continue to teach themselves and mentor future leaders.
The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling was developed by Charlotte M. Mason, an educator from England in the late 19th century. It’s not a curriculum per se, but rather a homeschool lifestyle based on habits, character formation, and understanding ideas rather than facts. Her focus was on the learner rather than on the content to be learned.
Lessons are relatively short, children spend plenty of time outdoors playing and observing, and literature or “living books” are at the heart of this homeschooling method.
The Waldorf Homeschooling method is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner. It is a popular homeschooling technique that stresses educating all aspects of the child– body, mind, and spirit.
The emphasis in early grades includes arts/crafts, music/movement, and nature. Older students learn how to develop self-awareness while using logic and creating educational booklets.
The Waldorf homeschooling method also discourages televisions and computers because they believe these devices harm a child’s health, creativity, and social interactions.
The Montessori method has been around since the early 20th century and has gained popularity in the homeschooling community. This method is based on Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori’s ideas about learning. Its emphasis is on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play.
Children are encouraged to make creative choices in their education while the parent prepares the environment to offer age-appropriate activities to help guide them through it all.
This type of learning differs from traditional methods because subjects are explored through interrelated means rather than separately with no connection.
The Unit Study method of homeschooling incorporates a variety of subject areas into one thematic unit. It is often literature-based and allows homeschooling parents to teach multiple children simultaneously, which is both a money and a time saver.
Lessons are often engaging and fun, incorporating the use of hands-on activities and other multi-modal learning styles.
An added benefit of the Unit Study method is that subjects are not limited to learning at home. Students and parents can visit museums, historical sites, libraries, and other places to enhance their studies.
Not to be confused with Unit Studies, Project-Based Learning is a child-directed and managed homeschooling method rooted in the Emilio Reggio Educational Philosophy.
The idea is that children take complete responsibility for their learning by planning their projects, choosing what subjects they will study, the resources they will use, and how long they will work on it.
This type of education incorporates many skills across several topics, and learning becomes more complex and more profound than traditional methods. The parents’ role in Project-Based Learning is to guide and assist their children with their research, act as a sounding board, and give feedback on improving the final product.
Very similar to Project-Based Learning is Unschooling, a homeschooling philosophy that promotes child-led learning. The belief behind this methodology stems from the theory of natural curiosity, which suggests children are born with an innate desire to learn and understand their surroundings.
Unschoolers believe in removing constraints on exploration so children can live life as it happens. Unschoolers learn through natural life experiences of play, household responsibilities, personal interests, and curiosity.
Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by children themselves because it makes learning more meaningful when they are involved in a particular topic that is important to them.
Eclectic homeschooling is a highly individualized educational method that allows parents to mix and match resources and methodologies to suit the needs of their children.
With eclectic homeschooling, there isn’t just “one way” or curriculum that will best do. Families often find what works well one semester may not work for the next time around or that their children need different approaches to learning new material regardless of subject matter.
Most homeschoolers adopt best educational practices using a mixed approach after a few years in the trenches.
I hope this list of 10 popular homeschooling methods has helped you find what works best for your family. No matter which approach resonates with you most, the important thing is that you provide your children with an educational environment where they feel loved and supported.
Which homeschooling methodology piques your interest?
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.