Different types of homeschooling work for different families! Not all homeschooling experiences are the same, and not all homeschooling styles are the same either. Parents should embrace this idea early on in their homeschooling journey because it will make your family’s homeschooling journey much more smooth if you’re not trying to do homeschool exactly like a different family does it.
Learn More About The Different Types of Homeschooling
For those considering homeschooling, it might feel a little overwhelming to learn that there a LOT of ways to educate your child at home. Don’t feel like you have to choose one style and lock your family into it forever!
Those who are currently homeschooling often benefit from looking at all of the styles and seeing if there’s something they can change or add about their homeschool to make somethings work better for their family. My experience has been that it’s good to try out a variety of ideas from different types of homeschooling and keep what works for us!
Without further ado, here’s an overview of the main styles of homeschooling. As you read through it. Consider the strengths and unique qualities of your own family and how each style might work in your home.
Classical education is one of the oldest formal methods of education, dating back to the Middle Ages. Classical education is divided into three stages, The Trivium: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Each stage focuses on the developmental strengths of students at different ages:
Elementary-aged students are considered to be in the “Grammar Stage.” It’s a general observation that kids at these ages are sponges – ready to soak up everything! Classical education seeks to capitalize on that by stuffing kids full of as many facts as possible (in all the core subjects), thus, this stage is heavy on memorization.
Middle school-aged students fall into the “Logic Stage.” This is where students begin to take all of those facts they’ve been absorbing during the Grammar Stage and turn them into applicable knowledge. There’s a heavy emphasis on studying logic and developing reasoning skills in this stage, which helps students translate their facts into understanding.
High school-aged students are in the “Rhetoric Stage.” Up until this stage, classical education students have been memorizing information, learning to reason and process that information. The rhetoric stage is all about honing communication skills so students can express their knowledge and ideas in an articulate, effective way.
Classical education seems popular in private schools and even in homeschool/classroom hybrid schools as well, so it may prove especially helpful for students transitioning out of a private school to homeschooling.
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
In our homeschool journey, I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t have at least some interest in Charlotte Mason homeschooling. Ironically, Charlotte Mason was a 19th century British teacher and education reformer, not a home educator!
That said, it’s easy to see why parents are drawn to her methods. The two signature hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason education are the use of high-quality, engaging literature (fun fact- Ms. Mason referred to low-quality literature as “twaddle”) and a lot of time spent outdoors!
Charlotte Mason believed in giving children plenty of time to play or think or read – FREE TIME! Many of us in the excessively busy modern world have forgotten what free time feels like, but in a Charlotte Mason education, free time is paramount!
In addition to reading great books, engaging in free time, and spending loads of time outdoors, Charlotte Mason encouraged and emphasized an appreciation for art and music. It’s not uncommon for families using this style of home education to regularly listen to great composers and study famous painters!
Within homeschooling circles, you’ll find that there are Charlotte Mason purists, and there are those who use a bit of Charlotte Mason’s methods but not exclusively her methods in their homeschools. Purists generally spend a great deal of time studying Charlotte Mason herself and work hard to follow her methods to a T.
Have you ever heard of SonLight or My Father’s World? They are curriculum giants! Families who do curriculum-based homeschooling usually purchase a comprehensive curriculum set for each of their students according to their age or grade level.
This method tends to be costly, but the big sell is that the curriculum is scripted so parents can open and go – no researching what to read, what to teach, what science experiments to do.. it’s already been decided for you. That’s a pro for some parents who aren’t feeling confident in what they need to teach their kids, but it’s a con for families looking for more flexibility!
Traditional homeschooling is the homeschooling experience most like the classroom model. It’s very much a “school-at-home” experience where one parent usually functions as the primary teacher and school days have a formal schedule. As the teacher, a parent who uses traditional homeschooling approach can expect to lecture and provide pre-planned activities.
As you can imagine, this approach is probably the most time-consuming homeschool option for parents and kids too. It generally involves hours of school per day and hours of planning/prep work for the parent teacher. Traditional homeschooling leaves little room for flexibility in the schedule on designated school days.
Personally this type of homeschooling isn’t my favorite, but I can see how it could benefit kids who crave structure or even help with a transition from the classroom to learning at home.
On the other hand, many parents who transition their kids out of public/private schools into homeschooling are looking to create an experience completely opposite the classroom!
Unschooling isn’t about not learning, rather it’s about pursuing what students are interested in. It has a very heavy emphasis on helping kids become lifelong learners by choice, not because they’re forced to learn a subject.
Some parents balk at the idea of unschooling because “won’t they have holes in their education?!” But realistically, when anyone thinks about their own education, no one has a perfectly complete education. I have a college degree in history and still learn things about history all the time!
Unschooling doesn’t have a strict set of standards, so some parents are totally hands-off while others pick and choose which subjects their kids “have to” learn and let the rest of their education be dictated by the child’s interests.
Waldorf homeschooling is based on the education principles taught in Waldorf schools. These principles were formed by the founder of this type of education, Rudolf Steiner.
A bit controversial because of his mystic beliefs, Steiner did have some noble goals. Namely, he sought to create an educational system that was focused on encouraging kids to be creative, hands-on, and very comfortable being outdoors.
Waldorf education, whether at a school or at home, seeks to nourish the whole child – “body, mind, and spirit.” A Waldorf-inspired homeschool will involve a lot of art, handicrafts, nature play, storytelling, simple songs and finger plays.
The Montessori Method of education was founded by Maria Montessori, a late 19th-early 20th century Italian physician, educator, and all-around impressive thinker with a heart for children – specifically ones in poverty.
The first Montessori school was opened by Maria herself in Rome for the underprivileged 3-7 year olds who had to fend for themselves while their parents were working grueling hours to feed them. It was called the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, and ultimately was so successful that it garnered international attention.
Montessori recognized that children can possess a surprising amount of self-discipline and self-motivation if given an environment in which to exercise it. The Montessori Method is built around creating an educational environment -in the home or the school- where children’s natural desire to learn is kindled and they have the freedom to explore that environment and learn in a way that is natural to them.
Some families choose to make traveling a foundational part of the education they’re cultivating for their children. The world’s a great textbook, right?
Families who spend most of their time on road trips are considered to be roadschooling, while families who spend a significant amount of time globe-trotting (some are even full-time world travelers!) are worldschooling. Since they technically don’t spend much time at any particular home base, the terms are quite fitting.
This is a niche that won’t work for everyone, but it is certainly a growing trend in the homeschooling community!
While eclectic homeschooling sounds a bit far out, I’ve learned that many homeschoolers are indeed using an eclectic approach! Eclectic homeschooling is all about picking and choosing a little bit of everything from all of the homeschooling styles and using only what works best for your family.
Love the idea of spending tons of time outside (Charlotte Mason & Waldorf style), but also looking to encourage elementary students to memorize most of their math facts and phonics sounds (Classical style)? You can have your cake and eat it too as an eclectic homeschooler! Some methodological purists might turn up their noses at you, but you just need to focus on doing what works best for your family.
There are great things to be gleaned from every single style of homeschooling. It’s okay to dabble in a few different types of homeschooling – resist the temptation to try to make your family fit into one exclusive style. Keep in mind that kids (yes, even siblings) have different learning styles, families have different schedules & priorities, and no two families are exactly alike!
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