Have you been thinking about homeschooling or are you unhappy with the way your homeschool has been going and need a change? You have come to the right place! There are many ways of approaching home school learning. Today, we will be discussing 7 different homeschooling methods and offering a free homeschool styles QUIZ to help you decide which way to go.
Different Homeschooling Methods
What homeschool methods do you use in your homeschool and how are they working out for you? Most of us, when we begin homeschooling, either spend countless hours researching different homeschooling methods or jump in with anything we can get our hands on, without knowing much about it.
Some of us get lucky and find our favorite homeschool style right away, some of us go through a variety of trial and error months (or years) and some of us settle with using several methods all at once because we like them all and can’t imagine picking one over the other.
I fall under the latter case. We are definitely an eclectic homeschool, incorporating Classical, Montessori, some Traditional and Unit Studies, all at once and they all interlace very well for us. So let’s talk about seven homeschooling styles and their basics. Then, you can take the free quiz at the end and see if what you though was your preference is actually what you lean towards. Take the quiz now.
Classical Homeschool Styles
The original Classical style dates back thousands of years, when the Greeks were at the height of their civilization. The Classical Styles are 3 or 4 paths (Trivium or Quatrivium, depending on which one you embrace). For us, the Trivium (with the Grammar, the Dialectic and the Rhetoric Stages) is the core of our learning.
The Classical Homeschooling Style involves learning many facts and memorizing them. We are adding pegs to their knowledge wall during the Grammar Stage. Once they reach the Dialectic Stage, we add gadgets and tools to those pegs, adding more in-depth information to those pegs. The Rhetoric Stage (around high school) is where they apply and teach others what they have learned.
Many “great books” are read and embraced. Although some textbooks can be used (like for learning Latin and Greek), the focus is on actual texts from old and History over relying solely on textbooks. Classical education is rigorous (and many times, inflexible) and most children in this method score quite high on tests and tend to know a lot more in a variety of topics, compared to their school-attending peers.
The Classical Method is well-proven, it focuses on learning how to learn and learning how to think for oneself and how to do research to find answers to one’s own questions. They have meaningful conversations with elders with the elders being gentle hands-off guides, letting students come to their own conclusions and supporting points.
Here are some resources you might find helpful:
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at HomeThe Lost Tools of Learning: Symposium on EducationThe Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical EducationClassical Education: The Movement Sweeping America
Unit Studies Styles of Homeschooling
Within the unit studies umbrella, there are different styles of homeschooling. Some are super hands-on with made-from scratch materials and others are store-bought, but still hand made for lessons. Some parents use textbooks as guides for the unit studies while others only use library books about the topics they are studying.
Some unit studies families follow the public school topics for their state to make their own lessons, while others just follow their children’s interests to make in-depth unit studies. For this one, the sky is pretty much the limit. It can be as inexpensive or as costly as you want it to be. It is a lot of fun and many times, it can be quite messy.
We love doing unit studies for certain topics, simply because we find them to be a lot of fun. We study Geography this way by receiving a monthly pack on a country of the world. Same with Science experiments. You can make each unit as long or as short as you want. The one downside I find is that many times we get so involved in, say, making a piñata from scratch when studying Mexico and it takes us so long when we could’ve been learning more about the country.
Here are some fun ways in which we use unit studies:
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method
Among the different types of homeschooling methods, the Charlotte Mason is one that I hear being used quite a bit. The Charlotte Mason method is one of the most affordable homeschooling methods because it uses nearly no materials at all. Children and parents spend a lot of time outside in nature, they check out countless “living books” to read out in nature and they go on nature walks all the time.
The Charlotte Mason focuses on early childhood and elementary age children. It spends short periods of formal education and the rest is acquired simply by “living” and “doing” things in this world. These short periods are about 20 minutes long or so for children in the elementary age years, for as long as 45 minutes per day. It is a child-directed approach with lots and lots of Literature as part of the core of learning.
Children learn a lot through journaling and using notebooking. It is mainly Christian-based, so there is a lot of Bible reading and memorizing. It is an old-fashioned and very laissez-faire kind of style, in my opinion, with letting children roam free in nature, including learning through exploration and studying this wonderful world.
Personally, I have not studied this method much or have used it in our homeschool, but I do know a lot of friends who employ it in their homeschool and enjoy it very much. So I want to be transparent when I say that I might not have covered as much as you would like.
Here are some recommended resources that can be helpful to you:
A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To ManualHabits: The Mother’s Secret to Success (Charlotte Mason Topics) (VolumeHome Education (The Home Education Series) (Volume 1)A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art
Montessori Method of Teaching
Ah! What can I say about the Montessori Method other than how much we have love using it in our home?! Out of all of the types of homeschool learning, this is one that we have employed for about 7 years already. The Montessori Method’s premise is order and control of error, along with independence and self-confidence in the child.
The Montessori Method is not at all a teacher-focused style. The teacher is a hands-off guide, who only does the presentations and then sits back to observe the child master the material in a focused and orderly manner. The materials used are set on low shelves and most of the materials are made out of beautiful natural wood.
Everything has a place, nothing is cluttered and all works have a specific way of being used, as well as a control of error (for a child to check their own work without needing an adult). The Montessori Method can be very homeschool-friendly because it groups children into age ranges.
For example, their environments include children ages 3-6. All children still learn, but the older help teach the younger ones. It is wonderful to see this taking place in out homeschool. Another plus is that it is a great method for special needs children and it is a very hands-on and kinesthetic style.
The downside to it is that there are many materials needed and used. These materials can be pricey and they take up a lot of room, so a dedicated area for homeschooling is pretty much a must-have. The teacher does require a lot of reading and research and sometimes, even specific training in the method.
To learn more about the Montessori curriculum and method, take a look at these resources:
Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Learning Style
There are several Traditional types of homeschooling methods, but we will just cover the general points that most have in common. Basically, it is the complete opposite of the unschooling method (coming up next) because it is anything but unplanned.
Parents often fall into this paper-and-pencil method for the ease of use. Many curricula even come with scripts that the teacher reads word for word to make sure they cover what they are supposed to. It is a fool-proof way to teach your children what they need to learn every year.
This method is measurable. They comes with assessments, quizzes and tests. It is easy to see progress, which is what many homeschooling parents need to build their confidence and shatter their fear of “not doing enough.” Granted, we all fear this. The traditional method is the closest one to resemble regular school.
This can help children transition from school to homeschool, but it can be hard for those who had a bad experience at school and now home reminds them of school. This method can be, at times, expensive and for the content, repetitive. Children can get bored with it because they sit for hours to read and write.
Many contend that a lot of the traditional curricula are filled with “busy work.” This is mindless work that requires little thinking and just keep kids busy for the sake of keeping them doing something. Many children who need a sensory or hands-on outlet might find this lacking as well. It would be smart to research curricula thoroughly to make sure you get what you need.
Here are some resources you might enjoy:
Unschooling homeschooling styles
One of the more popular homeschool teaching methods in the past few years is unschooling. What is unschooling? Well, it depends on the eye of the beholder and the implementer. This is, in my opinion, the most flexible and least planned style of homeschooling.
It is child-centered, child-led and extremely flexible. Children follow their passions and they have no schedule for doing things. Some love the fact that there is no rhyme or reason, while others frown on this method because they feel that having no schedule, no plan and no way of assessing learning is not the best way to raise children.
But for some, it actually works! If your children are ok with a lack of structure and you are ok to let your children wake up whenever they want and do or not do educational activities, then maybe this method is for you. There are unschooling families everywhere, so I don’t think it will be hard for you to find them and pick their brains.
We personally haven’t employed it full-time, except for when I started homeschooling and I needed to de-school my brain. I was just too hung up on what school was “supposed to” look like. Unschooling helped me more than I can say, but it was only for a short time.
Here are some resources you might find helpful:
What is Unschooling?: Living and Learning without SchoolHome Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling,The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole WorldBig Book of Unschooling
Eclectic ~ When You Like Different Homeschooling Methods
So you’ve looked and looked and you can’t decide which ones are the best homeschooling methods for your children, so you pick and choose several. In our case, our core is Classical, but we use Montessori for Sensorial and Math, we use Traditional for Spelling and Latin, we use Unit Studies for History, Geography and some Science.
I find that this helps us be well-rounded learners and knowing as well as implementing several methods keep us on top of things. Nothing takes us by surprise. If you are reading this post and you find that you really like more than one method and would like to research them more, don’t feel bad! It is actually pretty normal.
Some homeschools are eclectic in the sense that we do it (explained above), but others are eclectic in the sense that one child might need more sensory input, so he uses Montessori while his sibling is more intrinsically motivated and prefers paper-and-pencil (Traditional) while the third sibling loves the arts and crafts in the unit studies and chooses that method over all others.
Whatever your reason may be to choose to be an eclectic homeschool, I am sure you can’t go wrong. In time, you might gravitate toward one method over another or let go of some altogether to embrace one. I say that trying all is better than being stuck or unhappy with the one.
Free Homeschool Styles QUIZ
It is not time for the fun homeschool learning style quiz! Take the quiz here! It is only 7 questions, but it will give you a good idea on which methods you like the most and why. Come check it out! Click on the button below to go there. You will receive an email with your test results so you can refer to it in the future and retake it if you feel that time has gone by and your preferences or needs might have changed.