These Educational Styles Provide A Unique Journey For Each Family

Are you new to homeschooling, or are you an experienced veteran?  Whichever of these describes you, chances are you have begun to develop a certain style that works for you and your family.

If you are new to the homeschool journey, however, you may be struggling to find the right fit for your family.  Maybe you researched different learning styles and curriculums, but something is just not clicking with your kids.

Homeschooling is a very personal journey, and each family must find techniques that work for them, tailored to their child’s unique learning style.  Some families who are new to homeschooling want to replicate a traditional school day at home, and others find their children learn best without structured subjects, textbooks, or tests.

Parents may have their own teaching style or idea of what did or did not work for them as kids, and within your family, your children may all learn differently.  Finding what works can be an overwhelming proposition, but with a little research and trial-and-error, you’ll discover what’s best for your family in no time!

There are several established styles of homeschooling, and many families combine aspects of different styles to find what works for their family.

“Eclectic” – Many veteran homeschoolers have found over the years the best approach for them is what is referred to as “eclectic” homeschooling.  This method seems to be the most common among homeschool families because it brings a good balance between structured work and free-form learning.

With eclectic homeschooling, families often use textbooks and traditional study and testing methods for academic subjects like math, spelling, and science, but allow a more creative and hands-on approach to art, music, and history.

The greatest advantage of this method is that it provides both parent and child a bit of structure with academics but allows the child to develop their own talents and interests in other areas.  They can freely practice their favorite type of art or music, explore languages, and plan field trips to historic locations for a more tangible learning experience.

School at home – A popular method, especially among families new to homeschooling, is the attempt to recreate “school at home.”  Families who choose to follow a traditional school at home approach often order a complete curriculum from a retailer which includes textbooks, lesson plans, and tests.  While this may provide comfort to an inexperienced homeschool teacher, it can quickly lead to burnout as parents struggle to keep their kids interested in often dry content, and in trying to follow every recommended lesson to a “t.”

The school at home approach often leads parents to set up a classroom mimicking that of public school, and a strict routine so they can complete everything set forth in the prescribed curriculum.  While this may work for some families, it is often quickly abandoned by others who find they are not enjoying the quality time, bonding, and love of learning that leads them to homeschool in the first place. reported on some other popular homeschool styles:

  • The “Classical” approach has existed since the Middle Ages and has produced some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves [with] the five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn the three R’s. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study and research take place.

  • Charlotte Mason method has at its core the belief that children are not mere containers waiting to be filled with knowledge, but persons in their own right deserving of respect. According to Charlotte Mason, children should be given time to play, create, and be involved in real-life situations from which they can learn. Students of the Charlotte Mason method take nature walks, visit art museums, and learn geography, history and literature from “living books.”

  • Waldorf method is also used in some homeschools. Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole child – body, mind and spirit. In the early grades there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves. Children in a Waldorf homeschool do not use standard textbooks; instead the children create their own books. The Waldorf method also discourages the use of televisions and computers because they believe that computers are bad for the child’s health and creativity.

  • Montessori materials are also popular in some homeschools. The Montessori method emphasizes “errorless learning” where the children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential. The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and quality and avoids things that are confusing or cluttered. The Montessori method also discourages televisions and computers, especially for younger children.

Many families have learned that they like certain aspects of one or more of these styles, and therefore create their own unique combination of styles that works best for their schedules and their children’s interests.

Perhaps the style least discussed – and most frowned upon by state and local officials who often monitor the progress of homeschoolers – is so-called “unschooling.”  While unschooling sounds like a free-for-all to outsiders, it can be a great fit for a family who has lots of time and energy to learn and explore the world around them.

Much like the way infants explore the world around them and pick up skills and language by observation and practice, unschooling is a way for parents and children to develop their talents and interests in an unstructured way.  This is also the way that adults learn once their formal education has ended – we read and research what interests us, travel and explore the world, and gather new information from our environment. reports that unschooling “is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do – by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading and history.

Whether you choose the structure and routine of a pre-packaged curriculum, the free exploration of the world by unschooling, or a combination of styles in between, you and your child have a wonderful journey ahead.

As homeschooling has become more popular and accepted, there are countless resources available to help you find your way.  And remember, the best indicator of how your children are doing is their love of learning for learning’s sake – and the irreplaceable bond your family is developing through the experience.

Do you use one of these popular homeschool styles, or have you developed your own unique plan by combining styles?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.




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