Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular, but with the variety of homeschool styles available, it can be difficult to decide which one is the best fit for your family. In this guide, you’ll learn about different styles of homeschooling. From traditional approaches to unschooling, you’ll find a method that fits your family’s needs.
In this article about different types of homeschooling, you’ll discover the following information.
- Summaries for most methods of homeschooling.
- Links to more comprehensive articles about different homeschooling approaches.
- Helpful videos about homeschool styles.
- Links to podcast episodes about different ways to homeschool your kids.
- Information about our live online meetups where you can ask questions.
Please note that when clicked, most pictures link to helpful information that the image represents.
Different Styles of Homeschooling
- Charlotte Mason Method
- Child-Led Learning
- Classical Education Model
- Concept-Based Approach
- Curriculum Based Method
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- Forest Schooling
- Montessori Method
- Outdoor Learning Models
- Project-Based Learning
- Radical Unschooling
- Teacher-Led Model
- Traditional Homeschooling: School-At-Home
- True Homeschooling
- Unit Studies Approach
While the list above is alphabetical, the information below is outlined in an order that is more helpful to parents learning about homeschooling.
Traditional Homeschooling: School-at-Home
Traditional homeschooling is a structured approach to education where textbooks, workbooks, and other traditional teaching materials are used. The curriculum often follows the same syllabus or course of study that is taught in the public school system and generally incorporates core subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies.
Most parents start homeschooling their children with a school-at-home approach because they are most comfortable with it. Traditional homeschooling usually requires more structure compared to other styles of homeschooling. This style tends to focus on learning content through books, worksheets, and online programs rather than exploring education in other ways.
When you are following a traditional school-at-home homeschooling model, you are 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 emulates the public education system. Teaching is led by the parent-teacher. A teacher-led education model tends to rely heavily on curricula 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.
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…
The School-at-Home Method Can Be Exhausting
Does the thought of following this regimented schedule exhaust you? While this is how many homeschooling parents begin their homeschool journey, not many finish this way.
For homeschooling parents, it can be difficult to follow a traditional school-at-home model.
Because as a homeschooling parent, you don’t have the same environment as a school. In addition, you are juggling your children’s education with other household responsibilities.
As a homeschooling parent, you don’t have a cafeteria preparing your child’s lunch, and there isn’t someone else giving you a break while your child is at recess or going to music. It’s also likely that you are homeschooling more than one child. As a result, a school-at-home model isn’t a practical methodology for homeschooling parents with children of multiple ages.
A School-at-Home Model Might Not Be Successful
You can educate your child from home in many ways, and following a school-at-home education model is generally unnecessary. Not only is it unnecessary, but it might be ineffective.
Why would the school-at-home education model be ineffective?
- This model is largely ineffective in school and will likely be unsuccessful in your home.
- A teacher-led education model unnecessarily strains the relationship between you and your child.
While your children are learning from home, it is unnecessary to recreate a school environment for your children to be educated. There are far more effective ways to ensure your children have a well-rounded education than following the school-at-home model. People have been learning long before the school system was created and will continue to learn long after this model has run its 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 pick and choose what works best for their kids and situation.
A Note About Publicly Funded K12 Programs
K12 Programs are online public school programs. Utilizing a K12 Program is not the same as homeschooling. K12 Online Programs are funded by the public education system. As a homeschooler, you will likely have to legally register your child as a homeschooled student.
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, your options are quite different than when you are truly homeschooling your child.
- Learn more about the differences between doing public school-at-home as students did during the Covid Pandemic or K12 Programs and true homeschooling here.
The Word Homeschooling Is a Legal Designation
Due to the variety of homeschooling approaches and flexibility in lifestyle, true homeschooling is quite different than doing public school at home. From educational approaches to lifestyle opportunities, true homeschoolers’ choices are not available to those doing private or public school at home.
Here are two key aspects to remember when using the word homeschooling.
- The word homeschooling is a legal designation. Parents who are truly homeschooling their children generally have to notify the public education system where they live that they are homeschooling children.
- If you have done public school at home during the pandemic, it’s important for you to understand that doing school at home through the public school system does not begin to resemble true homeschooling.
HomeSchool ThinkTank’s Philosophy for Homeschooling Your Kids
At HomeSchool ThinkTank, we believe that our philosophy is the secret sauce to homeschooling your kids successfully.
Homeschooling works best when you focus on connection, community, and education.
This philosophy can be integrated with any style of homeschooling that you choose.
Three Basic Steps to Learning
In essence, there are three steps to learning.
- Acquire information.
- Practice, play with, or otherwise use your acquired information.
- Share the information.
As you review the various homeschooling methods, consider how you can help your child acquire new information, how they can play with or utilize that information, and finally, how they can share their knowledge.
These three steps are at the core of effective education.
HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast Episode:
Explore the Homeschool Styles to Find the Right Fit for Your Family
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 of homeschool methods. If you’re new to the world of homeschooling, this is a must-listen episode.
We suggest following the podcast on the following platforms.
Eclectic Method of Homeschooling
While we will explain various homeschooling types, you don’t have to marry any particular style of homeschooling. Throughout your years of homeschooling, you’ll likely adjust your approach to homeschooling your kids.
When you’re an eclectic homeschooler, you’re simply cherry-picking from various curricula and homeschooling styles. In essence, you’re doing what works best for your family.
Curriculum-Based Method of Homeschooling
Since most people attend school and are familiar with a curriculum-based, teacher-driven method, they first consider purchasing a curriculum when homeschooling their kids.
Using curriculum can be an excellent way to help your children learn about nearly anything. However, it’s important to remember that curriculum is available to support your child’s educational journey, and there are also many other ways for your child to learn.
As a homeschooling parent, it’s important to be adaptable. When your child is struggling or isn’t challenged enough, be flexible so that you can help your child make progress on their educational journey.
Learn more about homeschool curriculum.
- An explanation of what curriculum is.
- The differences between a linear and circular pattern of learning.
- How to use homeschool curriculum.
- Videos and podcast episodes about curriculum.
- Homeschool curriculum for your child.
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, you aim to help your child get the “big idea” or understand an overall idea rather than 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 Egypt, you could follow a history curriculum. However, you could also watch documentaries, read books, visit a museum exhibit, and play games about Egyptian history. Again, the goal isn’t to complete the curriculum but to understand the history of Egypt.
Listen to the podcast episode to understand more about using a concept-based learning approach.
Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future
In this video, Joe Ruhl demonstrates various ways 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. Mr. Ruhl has added the first C of choice to the list.
Essential 21st-Century Skills for Kids to Learn
- Critical Thinking
While this talk is aimed at classroom teachers, as a homeschooling parent and educator, you can also incorporate these components into your child’s homeschool day.
TEDx Talk with Joe Ruhl
Introduction to Deschooling
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 homeschool.
As part of attending a traditional school, children learn to wait to be told what to do and what to learn. Most homeschooling parents want their children to be more self-driven and curious.
The purpose of deschooling is for a child to learn to follow their own curiosity and learn because they want to.
- Learn more about deschooling here.
- This article explains the impact that compulsory schooling has on children.
Homeschool Styles: A Classical Education Introduction
Classical education began in ancient Rome & Greece with philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, & St. Augustine. While the classical method of education has ancient roots, it still has value as an educational philosophy today.
A classical homeschooling method is based on a combination of learning about the Seven Liberal Arts & reading the Great Books. In addition, the classical approach is broken into three learning stages called the trivium. The three stages of the trivium include the grammar stage, logic stage, and rhetoric stage.
- Learn More About Classical Education Here. This article, podcast episode, and video go into greater depth about a classical education method of homeschooling.
Homeschool Styles: Unit Studies Approach to Homeschooling
When using a unit studies approach to homeschooling, you’ll choose a topic or theme to study and integrate various subject areas. This can be an effective way to help children learn at their own pace. Older kids can do more advanced work, while younger children advance as developmentally appropriate.
Your family can study a topic together, or each child can choose their own topic to study.
Three Steps to Make a Unit Study
- Choose a topic to study.
- Brainstorm questions about the chosen topic with your kids.
- Find materials to learn from.
In this video, Torrie Oglesby defines a unit study as “an exploration of any topic that you and your kids want to explore.”
Integrate These Ways to Learn Into Your Unit Studies
- Nature centers.
- National parks and monuments.
How Long Should a Unit Study Be?
- Mini-unit studies are generally less than four weeks long.
- A more comprehensive unit study is generally four to seven weeks long.
- There aren’t any rules. A unit study can last as long as your children are interested in the subject.
What Is Project Based Learning?
Project based learning is when a person 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?
- Get more information, ideas, and examples of project-based learning 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. Listen to the podcast episode below for more information.
- Listen to this podcast episode about child-led learning on the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast.
Charlotte Mason Method
Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived from 1842 to 1923. She co-founded the Parents’ National Education Union, which helped provide resources and support for teachers and homeschoolers in the United Kingdom. Through this union, Charlotte Mason shared her ideas for the education of children.
Charlotte Mason believed that children naturally desire to learn and approached education with that in mind. She is known for the following.
- Respecting children as whole persons.
- Using a child-centered approach.
- Helping children develop a love of learning.
- Focusing on the liberal arts such as music, art, foreign language, poetry, and literature.
- Emphasizing the understanding of concepts more than teaching facts.
- Encouraging nature study and teaching children to keep a nature journal.
- Coining the term Living Books. Living Books refers to reading well-written, engaging literature that sparks a child’s imagination.
You might like these books about Charlotte Mason and the Charlotte Mason method.
- Home Education (from The Home Education Series) by Charlotte Mason.
- The Story of Charlotte Mason, 1842-1923, by Essex Cholmondeley
- In Memoriam: A Tribute to Charlotte Mason by Parents’ National Education Union
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who lived from 1870 to 1952. For a woman of her time, Maria Montesorri had an unusual medical career that led her to research educational methods.
During her medical career, Maria studied pediatrics and psychology and worked with children with cognitive delays, disabilities, or illnesses. In an effort to help the children she worked with in a medical setting, Maria Montesorri began researching and experimenting with methods of education that would help children with disabilities or challenges thrive.
As Montessori shared her ideas and methods, others became interested in her work. Eventually, Maria Montessori was appointed co-director of a school that trained teachers to work with children with learning difficulties. During this time, Montessori developed materials and methods for the children she worked with. Later, Montessori adapted her methodology to work for mainstream children too.
Today, Maria Montessori’s methods are used by homeschoolers and schools around the world. Her methods are based on what Montessori called “scientific pedagogy.”
The Montessori style of education was primarily developed for young children and helps a child develop at their own pace. The Montesorri approach allows children to develop their natural abilities and initiative through play. Hallmarks of the Montessori method include the following.
- Exploration through play.
- Use of manipulatives.
- Awareness and use of senses.
- Child-sized furniture and accommodations.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans
Maria Montessori stressed that humans have fundamental needs that fall into two categories: material needs and spiritual needs.
- Self-adornment (Vanitos)
You might like these books about Maria Montessori and her methods.
- The Montessori Method (Illustrated) by Maria Montessori (Author), Henry Holmes (Introduction), Anne George (Translator.)
- The Advanced Montessori Method – The Montessori Elementary Material by Maria Montessori.
- The Montessori Home: Create a Space for Your Child to Thrive by Ashley Yeh.
Homeschool Styles: Gameschooling
Gameschooling is about playing games as a way to help educate your children. From board games to yard games, your family will have lots of fun while your kids learn everything from math skills to social skills.
Discover Educational Games to Play With Your Family
Learn about fun and educational games you can play with your kids in the links below.
What Is Strewing?
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.
Outdoor Learning Models: Wild Schooling and Forest Schooling
Some families integrate daily outdoor time into their homeschooling lifestyle, while others integrate entire days of outdoor time into each week.
You can even find a homeschool group that’s based on learning in the great outdoors!
Unschooling: Another Homeschooling Style
Families who unschool often use a variety of different 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 an unschooling approach 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 with intention tend to focus on creating an excellent learning environment for their kids.
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.
Homeschool Styles: Roadschooling and Worldschooling
What is roadschooling? Roadschooling is 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 travelling overseas to explore new areas.
The concepts of world schooling and road schooling are the same. You’re homeschooling while traveling and integrating 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.
It’s important to note that you can integrate other homeschool styles into roadschooling or worldschooling. For example, you could use the Charlotte Mason method, unschool your kids, or use a Classical education approach while traveling with your family.
Helpful Information About Homeschooling
- Discover how we serve homeschooling families!
- Sign up for a workshop!
- Find information about other homeschool styles on our blog.
- Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast!
- Learn about our coaching services for homeschooling parents.
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