Are you trying to understand the different types of homeschool styles? Did you know that there are many methods and approaches to homeschooling?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help understanding the various methods, styles, & types of homeschooling, the information below will be helpful.
Let’s get started with a list of basic homeschooling types, methods, styles, approaches, and terminology. Be sure to keep scrolling for more information about each method of homeschooling. There are separate blog posts and podcast episodes about many of the styles of homeschooling.
Different Styles of Homeschooling
- True Homeschooling
- Note about K12 Programs
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- HSTT’s Philosophy
- Three Steps to Learning
- Traditional School-At-Home-Model
- Teacher-Led Model
- Curriculum Based Method
- Concept Based Approach
- Classical Education Model
- Unit Studies Approach
- Project-Based Learning
- Outdoor Learning Models
- Forest Schooling
- Child-Led Learning
- Radical Unschooling
- Podcast Episode: An Overview of Different Types of Homeschooling Styles
A Podcast Overview of the Many Different Styles of Homeschooling
In this episode of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast, you’ll learn about many different styles of homeschooling. From a classical education to unschooling, we cover the gamut. If you’re new to the world of homeschooling, this is a must-listen episode.
Hi! My name is Jackie and I’m the founder of HomeSchool ThinkTank. I want to take a moment to explain the difference and significance between true homeschooling and doing public school at home. When the COVID Pandemic first broke out and children around the world were sent home and told to do school at home, the media, parents, and educators alike started calling this homeschooling. While this may not be of significance to parents whose children attend public or private school, it is significant to families who had been homeschooling long before the pandemic and will continue to for years to come.
This is why I coined the phrase, true homeschooling. Throughout the HomeSchool ThinkTank website and podcast, I needed a way to differentiate between doing public school at home during the pandemic and true homeschooling.
There are two primary reasons that this terminology matters.
- Homeschooling is a legal designation and parents who are truly homeschooling their children generally have to notify the government where they live that are homeschooling children.
- If you have done public school at home during the pandemic, it’s important for you to understand that your experience does not begin to resemble true homeschooling.
True homeschooling is quite different than doing public school at home due to the large number of choices that true homeschoolers generally have. From educational approaches to lifestyle opportunities, these choices are simply not available to those who are doing private or public school at home.
You can learn more about the differences between true homeschooling and doing public school at home in this article and podcast episode.
A Note About Publicly Funded K12 Programs
- K12 programs are public school programs. Utilizing a K12 Program is not the same as true homeschooling. K12 programs are funded by the public school system. When your child is enrolled in a K12 program, they are a public school student and are not considered a homeschooled student. This difference is significant because when your child is enrolled in the public school system, you’re options are quite different than when you are a truly homeschooling your child. Learn more about the differences between doing school-at-home through the public school system and true homeschooling here.
Homeschool Styles: Eclectic Homeschooling
While we’re going to explain a variety of homeschooling types, you should know that you don’t have to marry any particular style of homeschooling. Over the years, you’re going to find that you need to change your approach to homeschooling your kids. When you take an eclectic homeschooling approach, you’re simply cherry picking from various curriculum and homeschooling styles. In essence, you’re doing what works best for your family.
Traditional School-at-Home Model of Homeschooling
When you are following a traditional school-at-home model of homeschooling, you are basically trying to replicate the public school system within your home. You may follow the public school calendar and the timelines that your local school district has set forth. Each school day would look very similar to the school system’s schedule.
Teacher-Led Education Model
A school-at-home model generally emulates the public education system. Teaching is led by the parent-teacher. It tends to be heavy on curriculum that the student is to follow. This is a very different approach than the child-led learning model that is described further down this page.
Learn About the School-at-Home Model in this HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast Episode
School-At-Home Model Example Schedule
Your daily schedule may look something like this.
- 6:30 a.m. Kids get up.
- 7:00 a.m. Breakfast.
- 7:30 a.m. Brush Teeth.
- 8:00 a.m. Start school.
- 8:15 a.m. Spelling.
- 8:45 a.m. Math.
- 9:30 a.m. Recess.
- 9:45 a.m. Language Arts.
- 10:30 a.m. Music
- 11:00 Lunch
- You get the picture…
Does the thought of following this regimented schedule exhaust you? While this is how many homeschooling parents begin their homeschool journey, not many finish it this way. The problem with trying to follow a school-at-home model as a homeschool family is that you don’t have the same environment as a school and it’s quite unnecessary to follow this model in your home.
p.s. Your home is not a school. While your children are learning from home, it is not necessary to recreate a school environment for your children to be educated. People have been learning long before the school system was created and they’ll continue to learn long after this model has run it’s course.
Since following the school-at-home model has been quite ineffective for many homeschool families, there are a variety of other styles that parents use to help educate their children. In reality, most families are eclectic homeschoolers. They simply pick and choose what works best for their kids and situation.
Discover more about how you can develop a homeschool schedule that works for your family here.
HomeSchool ThinkTank’s Homeschooling Philosophy
At HomeSchool ThinkTank we believe that to homeschool effectively for many years, that you’ll want to consider adopting our philosophy that we abbreviate as CCE. We believe that you homeschooling works best when you focus on connection first, community second, and education third.
You can learn more about our philosophy of homeschooling here. Consider how you can incorporate this philosophy with any style of homeschooling.
Three Basic Steps To Learning
In addition to considering our philosophy of homeschooling, we’d also like to suggest that you consider our philosophy for learning. In essence there are three steps to learning.
- Acquire information.
- Practice, play with, or otherwise use the information that you have acquired.
- Share the information.
As you review the various homeschooling methods, consider how you can help your child acquire new information, then how they can play with or utilize that information, and finally how they can share their knowledge.
In our opinion, these three steps are at the core of effective education. You might want to check out this article about learning and education.
Curriculum Based Method of Homeschooling
Most people start homeschooling by using a curriculum based, teacher (parent) driven, method. Curriculum can be a great way to help your children learn. However, it’s important to note that curriculum should be used as a guideline to help your children progress with their education. It’s okay to take longer or even less time on concepts as needed. It’s generally not necessary to follow the lessons precisely.
Feel free to use curriculum as a spring board for other learning opportunities. You can plug along in one curriculum style that’s working or scrap it for another learning style that is more appealing to your child. You can even deviate from a particular curriculum and come back to it later.
Curriculum should be used as an aide to help your child learn rather than as the only way that your child is learning. If you remember to always focus on connecting with your child first and to make learning fun, then curriculum can be a fantastic way to help your child progress with their education.
Keep Up With HomeSchool ThinkTank Happenings!
What Is Curriculum?
What is curriculum? Curriculum is basically a series of lessons that are generally laid out in a linear pattern so that a person can learn specific information. Oftentimes, curriculum is singularly focused such as on math, history, or reading.
What is a linear pattern? It’s basically a straight line. In education, a linear pattern is a straight forward path to learn specific information. So we might learn history from ancient times to modern times. We learn math as we learn to count, add, and multiply. As you teach your child to read, they progress from easy books and to difficult books.
When creating curriculum, a company or a person lays out lessons that have the potential to help another person learn specific information.
It is important to recognize that there is not a curriculum that was created specifically for your child. However, there are some excellent curriculum options available that work well for many children. It’s important to be willing to adapt as needed so that your child continues to move forward and make progress on their journey to lifelong learning.
Curriculum can work well when the person learning the material is interested or motivated to learn the material. In addition, the curriculum needs to be a little challenging to keep the child interested, but not so advanced that the child becomes frustrated and gives up.
Circular vs Linear Learning
The human brain doesn’t always work in a linear pattern. Often times, people learn better in a more circular way.
Here’s an example.
Your child might read one of Rick Riordan’s books from the 39 Clues series and suddenly become interested in Russian history. This could spur an interest in the Romanov family that could then trickle into your child drawing portrait’s of Anastasia Romanov. In addition to drawing portrait’s of the Romanov family, your child reads and talks about the Romanov family excessively and eventually her interest in the Romanov’s leads into more reading about historical events in that era.
Year’s later, your child’s past interest in the Romanov’s leads to a discussion around ethics when she mentions that this disturbing and sad history was poorly and lightly portrayed in a children’s movie.
In general, it’s more interesting to learn in a circular pattern where subject areas intertwine. This way of learning is generally self-driven, much more natural, and leads to deeper learning.
Concept Based Learning Approach
A concept based learning approach is an excellent way to guide your child’s education or to supplement their curriculum. When you use a concept based approach, your goal is to help your child get the “big idea” or understand and overall idea rather than to complete the curriculum.
For example, if you are helping your child learn to add, you could follow a math curriculum. You could also help your child learn how to add by playing games with them. The goal isn’t to finish the curriculum, but to help your child learn to add.
The same could be said for studying world history. If you’re studying a chapter on Egypt, you could simply follow the textbook. However, you could also watch documentaries, read books, go to a museum exhibit, and play games that revolve around Egyptian history. Again, the goal isn’t to complete curriculum, the goal is to understand the history of Egypt.
The podcast episode below will help you understand more about using a concept based learning approach.
Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future: TedX Talk featuring Joe Ruhl
At about the 8 minute mark in this video, Joe Ruhl demonstrates the many different ways that students approach learning in his classroom. This is an excellent representation of the many different ways kids can learn.
According to Joe Ruhl, the National Education Association has identified the last four C’s on the list below as essential 21st century skills that kids should learn. While Mr. Ruhl agrees, he has added the first C of choice to the list.
- Critical Thinking
While this talk is aimed at classroom teachers, as homeschooling parent and educator, you can also incorporate these components into your child’s homeschool day.
When children have been attending a traditional public or private school, you might hear veteran homeschooling parents say that you need to deschool before you homeschooling. As part of attending a traditional school, children learn to wait to be told what to do and what to learn.
Most homeschooling parents strive to help their children develop a true love of learning. A significant portion of wanting to learn is being curious. Ultimately, the purpose of deschooling is to allow the child time and space to become curious again.
To learn more about deschooling, you’ll want to read this article or listen to our podcast episode about deschooling.
Homeschool Styles: A Classical Education Introduction
Classical education began in ancient Rome & Greece with philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, & St. Augustine. While this method of education has ancient roots, it still has value as an educational philosophy today.
It is based on a combination of learning about the Seven Liberal Arts & reading the Great Books.
The Classical Education process is broken into three stages that are called the trivium
- Grammar Stage: 1st-4th grades.
- Logic Stage: 5th-8th grades.
- Rhetoric Stage: 9th-12th grades.
“Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind.
The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study.
In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments.
In the high school years, they learn to express themselves.
This classical pattern is called the trivium.“Susan Wise Bauer, What Is A Well Trained Mind? June 3, 2009. Well Trained Mind. Accessed November 14, 2021.
Learn more about classical education in this article and podcast episode: Classical Education Method of Homeschooling Explained
Homeschool Styles: Unit Studies Approach To Homeschooling
When using a unit studies approach to homeschooling, you would choose a topic or theme to study. This can be an effective way to help children learn at their own pace. Older kids can can do more advanced work while younger children advance at a developmentally appropriate level.
While a family can study a topic together, individual children can also choose their own topic to study.
When using this approach, as a parent, you’ll want to help your child incorporate as many subjects into the unit study as possible.
This can be a very effective way to help children learn in a circular way that interests them.
3 Simple Steps to Make a Unit Study
The video below can help you get started with building your own unit studies.
In this video, Torrie Oglesby defines a unit study as “an exploration of any topic that you and your kids want to explore.”
Torrie breaks unit studies down into three simple steps.
- Choose a topic to study.
- Brainstorm questions about the chosen topic with your kids.
- Find materials to learn from.
Ways to Learn
- Nature centers.
- National parks and monuments.
Check out DK Books to springboard your next unit study.
How Long Should a Unit Study Be?
- A mini unit study is generally less than four weeks long.
- A more comprehensive unit study is generally four to seven weeks long.
- Really, there are no hard and fast rules. A unit study can last as long as your children have interest in the subject.
Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast Episode
Homeschool Styles: Project Based Learning
Project based learning is just what it sounds like. You’re child is doing a project to learn. In essence your child needs to be interested in and choose the project. The key difference between a unit study and project based learning is that there is a public product that will be shared from a project-based learning experience.
Seven Project Design Elements of Project Based Learning
The Buck Institute defines the following seven project design elements of project based learning.
- Challenging problem or question.
- Sustained inquiry.
- Student voice and choice.
- Critique and revision.
- Public product.
Questions to Help Your Child Get Started with Project Based Learning
- What do you care about?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Who do you want to help?
- How do you want to get started?
- Who will you share your project with?
Listen to the Podcast Episode About Project Based Learning
Get more information, ideas, and examples of project based learning in this episode of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast.
Homeschool Styles: Gameschooling
This is just what it sounds like. You’ll be playing lots of games with your kids and other families. From board games to yard games, your family will have lots of fun.
You can use games as a primary way of educating your kids or to supplement other ways of learning.
Podcast Episode About Gameschooling
You can listen to this podcast episode about gameschooling on the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast. In this episode we talk about the many benefits of playing games with your kids.
You can also listen to Episode #134 about gameschooling on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Do you prefer to listen elsewhere? Visit our podcast page for more than 20 other platforms where you can listen to our podcast.
Discover Games to Play With Your Family
Learn about more fun and educational games that you can play with your kids in the links below.
More Educational & Fun Math Games are Coming Soon!
Do you want us to let you know when we add more games to our ever-growing list?
In a nutshell, strewing is setting items out with the intention of your children discovering them. Ultimately, you’re hoping that they pick up the book, play the game, examine the rock collection, or play with toys that may have been forgotten.
Podcast, Video, Article About Strewing
Check out this blog post about strewing. Discover more ideas in the podcast episode and video too.
Outdoor Learning Models: Wild Schooling and Forest Schooling
Some homeschooling families learn outdoors on a regular basis year-round. You can learn more in this episode of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast.
Keep Up With HomeSchool ThinkTank Happenings!
Self-Directed Child Led Learning
Child-led learning is what it sounds like. The child leads their own learning. Sometimes you might hear this called play-based learning, self-directed learning, or delight direct learning. Watch the video below for more information.
Unschooling: Another Homeschooling Style
Families who unschool often use a variety of educational methods to guide their children’s education. Unschoolers don’t generally rely on curriculum for education, but the child can use curriculum if it suits him or her.
The key component of unschooling is that it is more of a child-led, or play-based, learning model. However, don’t confuse unschooling with a lack of education.
Parents who unschool their children frequently use strewing techniques, go on field trips to museums, play games, and are frequent library patrons. While education is important, following the traditional school model isn’t important to these families.
Be sure to check out this article, video, and podcast episode about unschooling. You’ll discover an abundance of helpful information about unschooling.
Homeschool Styles: Roadschooling vs Worldschooling
What is roadschooling? It’s basically homeschooling while traveling. You might stay in short term rentals or even homeschool out of a motorhome. When you roadschool you’ll take advantage of local educational opportunities, science museums, botanical gardens, and other beautiful places like the National Parks.
So what’s the difference between roadschooling and worldschooling? Basically, when you roadschool, you’re limiting yourself to where roads can take you.
When you’re worldschooling, you’re open to travelling overseas to explore new areas.
The concepts are the same though, you’re learning through experiences and personal observations. Rather than just reading or watching a documentary about an area, you’re going there and experiencing another culture or place first-hand.
Learn More About Worldschooling & Roadschooling
Discover more about worldschooling & roadschooling with the following articles and podcast episodes.
Are You Thinking About Homeschooling?
Read or listen to THINK HOMESCHOOL: Live & Learn Your Way! This book was written to help parents understand the pros and cons of homeschooling.
It’s time to decide if homeschooling is the right decision for your family.
Book A Call
Do you need help deciding which style of homeschooling is right for your family? If you need help on your homeschooling journey, you can schedule an online zoom call.
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Helpful Information About Homeschooling
- Learn more about the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast!
- The differences between school-at-home and true homeschooling.
- Visit our Start Homeschooling area.
- Learn more about our homeschooling community.
- Keep up with HomeSchool ThinkTank Happenings.