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.
Below, you’ll find videos, podcast episodes, and summaries for methods of homeschooling. Under some of the summaries, you’ll see links to articles that expand upon that particular homeschooling style.
Different Styles of Homeschooling
- Child-Led Learning
- Classical Education Model
- Concept-Based Approach
- Curriculum Based Method
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- Forest Schooling
- 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 in alphabetical order, the information below is outlined in an order that is more helpful to parents who are learning about homeschooling.
Traditional Homeschooling: School-at-Home
Traditional homeschooling is a structured approach to education where textbooks and workbooks, as well as 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 can incorporate core subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies.
Most parents start homeschooling their children with a school-at-home approach because it is what they are most comfortable with. Traditional homeschooling usually requires more structure compared to other styles of homeschooling. This style tends to focus on learning content through books and worksheets rather than exploring education in other ways.
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 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…
A School-at-Home Model Might Not Be Successful
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.
For homeschoolers, it can be difficult to follow a traditional education school-at-home model. Why? Because as a homeschooling parent, you don’t have the same environment as a school. It’s generally unnecessary to follow a school-at-home model in your home.
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 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 simply 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.
True Homeschooling vs Public School at Home
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 homeschooled before the pandemic and to those who homeschool after the pandemic.
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 or private school at home during the pandemic and true homeschooling.
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, the choices that true homeschoolers have are simply not available to those who are doing private or public school at home.
Here are two key aspects to keep in mind 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 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 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.
These three steps are at the core of effective education.
HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast Episode:
Explore the Different Styles of Homeschooling 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.
Eclectic Homeschooling Approach
While we’re going to 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
Most people start homeschooling by using a curriculum-based, teacher (parent) driven method. Using curriculum can be a great way to help your children learn about nearly anything. 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 less time on concepts as needed. Sometimes you may want to skip some parts of the curriculum. At other times, you’ll want to find other ways to help your child learn a concept. In essence, remember that curriculum is available to support your child’s educational journey, but there are also many other ways for your child to learn.
What Is Curriculum?
A 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, a 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 straightforward path to learning specific information. For example, we might learn history from ancient times to modern times. We learn math in a logical order. As you teach your children to read, they progress from easy books to difficult books.
When creating a 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 no curriculum that was created specifically for your child. As a result, there probably isn’t a curriculum that is perfect for your child. However, there are some excellent curriculum options available that work well for many children.
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.
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Circular vs Linear Learning
The human brain doesn’t always work in a linear pattern. Oftentimes, people learn better in a more circular way.
Here’s an example of circular learning.
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 other subject areas. Your child might start drawing portraits of Anastasia Romanov. In addition to drawing portrait’s of the Romanov family, your child reads and talks about the Romanov family excessively. Eventually, her interest in the Romanovs leads to 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 Egypt, you could simply follow a history curriculum. 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.
Listen to the podcast episode to understand more about using a concept based learning approach.
Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future
TEDx Talk with Joe Ruhl
In this video, Joe Ruhl demonstrates a variety of 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. 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.
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.
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.
A classical education model 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 of learning 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.
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 a variety of 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 have an interest in the subject.
Homeschool Styles: Project Based Learning
Project based learning is just what it sounds like. Your 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?
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.
Discover Educational Games to Play With Your Family
Learn about fun and educational games that you can play with your kids in the links below.
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 homeschooling families intentionally integrate outdoor learning models year-round.
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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 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.
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Helpful Information About Homeschooling
- Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast!
- Learn about our life coaching services for homeschooling parents.
- Find helpful resources on our blog.
- Sign up for a workshop!
- Discover how we serve homeschooling families!