Welcome to our introductory series on Homeschooling where we are taking a look at the different types of homeschooling methods.
In the second part of our 3-part articles, we summarise the various methods of homeschooling which are currently out there to help you understand the different types of curricula out there that may be of use to you when 'curriculum shopping'.
There are lots of ways to teach your children at home- and you don’t have to do it the way a school would. Homeschoolers have lots of flexibility in the way they teach their children, and there are lots of different methods and approaches.
Below is a list of many homeschooling types and their methods, please click on the corresponding buttons to skip to the section you wish to view or scroll down to view each type of homeschooling
#1 The Classical Homeschooling Method
The “Classical” homeschool approach has existed since the Middle Ages and the goal of this technique is to teach people how to learn for themselves.
The five tools of learning are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric, and younger children begin preparing for this when they start to learn the three R’s.
Classical homeschoolers focus more on reading and writing and have a unique way of creating “History Notebooks”. They accomplish this way of learning through written and spoken works rather than TV, videos, and pictures. The amount of reading is also one of the advantages of this method for people who love books.
This type of homeschool has three stages:
The Grammar Stage
The Logic Stage
The Rhetoric Stage
Children focus on the tools of learning. They learn how to write, and how to use grammar properly. They may do things repetitively to cement the ideas they’ve learned.
Children deepen their knowledge and add layers to the elementary teaching they were taught in the Grammar stage. This is a good time to educators to introduce debating, as debate makes children think about and synthesise the things they’ve learned. There are also many other benefits of debating
Children are ‘becoming independent, forming their own opinions and starting to separate from their families’. Now is a good time for educators to teach children about persuasive and love ways to confer their opinions- again this is done in many ways including teaching more advanced debating techniques.
Typical “Classical” Homeschools Schedule (for children under age 10)
|5:00 - 6:30am||Parents and children rise, showers, dressing, early morning chores.|
|7:00am||Breakfast, morning family meeting/ worship.|
|8:00am||Daily chores from pre-determined list.|
|8:30 - 9:30am||General lessons where children: |
Recite memory work Practice reading Practice oral narration
|9:30-10:15am||Mother reads aloud to all the children (child’s choice)|
|10:15-11:130am||Phonics Instruction: |
Copy work (the student will copy verbatim a written piece, like the Constitution, that is at their level) History notebook and time-line (For the time-line the children will keep a running time-line where they can note names of people and events that they are currently studying.
The history notebook is laid out by date and children add information from their copy work, photos from their field trip to the Civil War re-enactment, or their entry into the National History Day Competition.
|11:30am||Prepare lunch and straighten house.|
|12:00pm||Lunch and mid-day chores.|
|1:00pm||Naps and quiet time.|
|2:00-2:45pm||Mother reads aloud (Children may do arts & crafts at the same time). Children finish their oral narrations|
|2:45-4:30pm||Finish up academic work from the morning, play time, walks, field trips, library and volunteering.|
|4:40-5:00pm||Prepare supper, straighten house.|
|5:00pm||Dinner and evening chores.|
|6:30pm||Evening family worship (optional).|
|7:45 - 8:30pm||Family activities (like games).|
|8:30 - 9:00pm||Prepare for bed.|
If you want to know more about the Classical method, A Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home has been a very popular book amongst parents.
#2 The Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method
This approach was founded by the British educator Charlotte Mason, a homeschooler herself. Mason believed educators should teach basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills to everyone. Charlotte Mason homeschooling is also a delightful way of teaching children as it takes the good parts of Classical Education and makes them work in a less rigid and arduous way for students.
For example, short lessons, nature walks and field trips.
The core belief with Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling method is that children are not mete containers waiting to be filled with knowledge, but persons in their own right deserving of respect. She believes children should be given the time to play, create, and be involved in real-life situations from which they can learn. Students also show what they know, not by taking tests, but via narration and discussion with art, dancing, or writing.
Using the Charlotte Mason homeschool teaching style, homeschoolers strive to keep variety in their schedules. They generally do academics in the morning and try to “rest the child’s mind” by switching between easy and difficult talks and between active and passive tasks.
Typical Charlotte Mason Schedule
|9:00 - 9:20am||Math|
|9:20 - 9:40am|| |
|9:40 - 10:00am||History|
|10:00 - 11:00am|| |
Read aloud literature
|12:20 - 12:40pm||Science|
|12:40 - 1:00pm||Grammar|
|1:00 - 1:20pm|| |
Latin, music, poetry, P.E or art appreciation
Map Work and read aloud work by children
Spent outdoors enjoying nature.
If you would like to know more about Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling, you can read her 5 part series called Home Education (The Home Education Series) (Volume 1,2,3,4 & 5).
#3 Relaxed / Eclectic Home Education
This is the method that is used most often by homeschoolers and takes ideas from different homeschooling methods to form its own style of education.
Eclectic homeschoolers use workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, but also take an unschooling approach for other subjects. It can also include attending school part-time and doing distance learning.
Typical Eclectic Home Education Schedule
Read one chapter a day from a book the child has chosen. The parent will also often read challenging books to the children at night, like Jane Eyre, Phantom of the Opera, The Three Musketeers, and other classical children’s book.
Eclectic families usually centre their writing around journals, essays, letters to friends and the occasional report. Some families also participate in a “young writers” club, available through their support group.
Each child will have the math material that best suit their learning style. One child may use math software, one child may use math manipulative like rods, shapes, and counters, another child may use a math textbook. The parent then evaluates the child’s retention by periodically making up a sheet of problems that review all the math concepts the student has learned.
The emphasis is on hands-on experiments which the family does at home or through community science (like those put on by MadScience.com).
|History / Geography|| |
The family will use workbooks, software, educational games, and historical fiction.
Some families also make up time-lines and history notebooks like those used in the Classical and Charlotte Mason approaches.
|Special Interests|| |
Afternoons are generally spent doing special projects, pursuing hobbies, and participating in community classes and teams like football, gymnastics, Boy Scouts and many more.
As seen from above there is no set timetable for learning, however the child is expected to meet certain educational goals. Mornings are often used for more formal, “have to” work, and afternoons are used for hobbies and other special projects.
The advantage of the Eclectic method is that the parent feels that the “important” subjects are being covered thoroughly. Families also have the choice to choose textbooks, field trips and classes that fit their needs and interests.
Another type of relaxed/eclectic homeschooling is the Natural Learning method. The Natural Learning approach encourages children to follow their curiosity and learn from their environment.
Consequently, many people use this approach in conjunction with the relaxed/eclectic homeschooling method.
#4 Montessori Homeschooling Method
“The Montessori Method of education is an approach to learning which emphasises active learning, independence, cooperation, and learning in harmony with each child’d unique pace of development.”
There are several principles for the Montessori method that fulfil the foundation to a typical Montessori education:
- Respect for the child
- The sensitive periods
- The absorbent mind
- Mixed-age groupings
- The prepared environment
- The curriculum areas
- Montessori materials
- The role of the teacher
This approach allows children to learn at their own pace and in this way it develops their full potential. Wooden tools are preferred over plastic tools and learning materials are kept very organised and ready to use. The Montessori method also discourages televisions and computers, especially for younger children.
According to Montessori homeschool philosophy, children should be allowed as much unscheduled time as possible in order for them to learn to manage their own time. Children are also encouraged to select their own learning materials and to learn at their own pace, believing that children will be drawn to what they need.
Typical Montessori Homeschooling Schedule
|A "Practical life" area|| |
Which promotes activities such as pouring, spooning, and food preparation, and includes child-sized buckets, brooms, and mops for cleaning up.
|A "Sensorial" area|| |
Which includes such items such as wooden blocks (that teach size comparison), different scents for smelling, and coloured tablets for learning about colours.
|A Math area|| |
Which includes hands-on materials like number rods, sand-paper numbers, and coloured beads for counting.
|A Language area|| |
Which includes sand-paper numbers, a moveable alphabet, books and phonics materials.
|A "Cultural" area|| |
For history and geography, which includes globes, map puzzles, times-lines, books and pictures and different cultures, and Montessori “Peace Curriculum” (a course on conflict resolution for children).
|A Music area|| |
Which includes bells. And a variety of rhythm and other instruments.
|A Art area|| |
Which includes drawing materials, prints from a variety of different artists (including the Masters), and craft and sewing supplies.
Maria Montessori believed children learn best when the environment they learn in supports their natural desire to learn and acquire skills. A hands-on approach is also especially great for younger homeschoolers, who aren’t quite ready for heavy formal study.
#5 Multiple Intelligences Homeschooling
The Multiple Intelligences Homeschooling Method is an idea developed by Howard Gardner and Harvard University’s “Project Zero”. This theory says that everybody differs in intelligence in different ways according to the different intelligences they possess.
- Interpersonal MI (“people smart”)
- Intrapersonal MI (“self smart”)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic MI (“body smart”)
- Naturalistic MI (“nature smart”)
- Musical MI (“music smart”)
- Visual-Spatial MI (“picture smart”)
- Logical-Mathematical MI (number/reasoning smart”)
- Verbal-Linguistic MI (“word smart”)
Learning can be changed according to our intelligences area, but that doesn’t mean we should exclude trying to learn using other intelligences.
For example, a lot of schools use a linguistic and logical-mathematical approach when teaching, but not every child learns that way. Some children (the bodily-kinesthetic learners) learn best by touching and not by listening or reading and other learners who are active and hands-on, may prefer to listen to audio version of classical children’s books while drawing or building things.
Successful homeschoolers naturally emphasise their children’s strengths and automatically tailor their teaching to match the child’s learning style. They also adjust their learning environment and schedule so that it brings out the best in their children.
This said, Multiple Intelligences homeschooling is not really a homeschooling method that we should base all our learning on. It should be noted that it may be used in conjunction with another home education approach.
Typical Multiple Intelligences Homeschooling Schedule
One child may begin reading at age five, another child may not be ready until age seven. One child may learn best by being read to or by listening to audio tapes, another child may carry a book around all day.
One child may like to write with a pen or a pencil, one child may prefer typing their work on a computer, and another child may feel frustrated by the writing process and prefer to give oral reports of what they’ve learnt.
Some child learn well from workbooks, other children prefer using hands-on manipulative like beads or fraction rods. Still others, do math quickly and easily in their head and feel frustrated when forced to answer problems on paper.
Almost all children learn science best by having plenty of hands-on experiences.
|History / Geography|| |
Children learn best by “doing”, so families plan activities where they child can experience for themselves the clothing, food, and music of a particular era or culture.
|Music / Sports / Arts|| |
Families expose children to a variety of experiences, watch to see which activities spark their children’s passion, and then support their children in that activity.
#6 The Steiner or Waldorf Homeschooling Method
Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole child- body, mind, and spirit. It has some great elements to it, such as advocacy for hands-on, creative play and it’s use of a monthly learning theme called the Main Lesson.
Some elements of the Waldorf/Steiner approach:
- It’s avoidance of technology early in children’s lives
- The deliberate mentoring relationship teachers form with their students
- Using natural materials for play
- Doing tasks as a team
- How teachers encourage students to learn hands-on skills they’ll use in life
Typical Steiner / Waldorf Homeschooling Schedule
|Circle||The day starts with a 15 minute circle. (Circle time takes place in a special spot in the house. The family lights a candle and says the morning verse. They then since a Movement Verse, which usually involves finger play, a Closing Verse or song, and then blow out the candle).|
|Main Lesson||The family spends 45 minutes of focused time on reading and writing. (The family obtains these lessons from a Waldorf curriculum supplier|
|Free Time||During this time, the parent attends to their normal responsibilities, like household management or perhaps even running a home business, and the child watched and eventually imitates the parent’s actions. In addition, parents provide opportunities for creative play (like puppets, or any, or building projects).|
|Lunch||Children help with preparation and clean-up.|
|Afternoon Lesson||Science is done twice a week and math is done three times a week. Science lessons involve frequent outings. Reading lessons are also done during this time, reading from a Waldorf Reader for approximately 15 minutes a day. This afternoon session lasts around one hour.|
|Free Play||Crafts, imitation activities, and creative play occupy the child until dinner time.|
|Dinner||Children help with preparation and clean-up.|
|Bedtime Ritual||This usually takes one hour. The parent either reads aloud or tells their own bedtime story.|
Rhythm and consistency are very important to Waldorf homeschoolers, so the daily schedule is designed to flow easily and give the homeschooling parent plant of time for their many responsibilities.
Younger children focus on:
- Music and singing
- Imaginative play
- Natural materials
- Learning by example
- Artistic work like drawing, painting, and modelling
- Practical tasks like cleaning, cooking, and gardening
Older children focus on:
- Language arts
- Mineralogy (scientific studies- chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals and mineralised artefacts)
- Self awareness
Secondary aged children focus on:
- All of the above, but learn to debate, question, observe, analyse and form conclusions from his/her own experience.
- More artistic subjects (such as music, art and craft) are still heavily encourages
- It aims to foster ethical ideas to develop higher levels of thinking
This type of homeschooling method also discourages the use of technology (TVs, computers, phones, iPads) as they believe that computers are bad for the child’s health and creativity.
#7 The Unschooling or Deschooling Method
The term ‘unschooling’ was created by John Holt in 1977, a school teacher who became so frustrated with the rigidity of the school system. As a result, Hold said unschooling should allow children as much freedom as the parents can bare so they can learn unfettered by unnecessary rules, procedures, and busywork.
It is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschooling teaches education through daily experiences. If a child expresses an interest in learning something, parents can unobtrusively facilitate that learning through life.
For example, they could go shopping and learn about:
- Geography- as they learn to use the bus timetable and figure out a map
- Mathematics- as they learn to add the cost of products with the amount of money they have
- Business- what’s a good deal in life and what’s not
- English/Literacy- learning letters and numbers from recognising them on food/item packaging
With the unschooling method of education, learning happens as a part of life- it is not a separate area of life where ‘now we’re learning’ or ‘now we’re playing’.
Typical Unschooling / Deschooling Schedule
Children wake up when they are rested and decide for themselves what they would like to do that day. Some unschooling parents give their children a list of chores to do and suggestions for different activities for the day. Many unschooled children establish goals for themselves and work with their parents to set up a schedule that will help them achieve that goal.
Each day will be different. One day the child may be hungry to learn new spellings words, so they will do spelling first thing in the morning. Another day, the child may be excited to set up a special science experiment and may run to the kitchen first thing to begin their project. Unschooling parents have a tendency to leave educational materials out for their children to “discover”- they may leave the microscope out on the kitchen table, a new book on the coffee table, or a new cookbook in the kitchen. They direct their children’s learning by stimulating the child’s interests in a particular project or subject.
Many unschoolers spend their afternoons out in the community; volunteering at the library, working a part-time job (for older children), or taking private lessons. Unschoolers have a tendency to pursue their interests passionately and in-depth for a time and then move on to their next interest. They also more likely to stay up late, engrossed in a good book.
Unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest.
unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, that may not do as well on grade level assessments and may have a difficult emir if they ever want to re-enter the school system.
Another type of Unschooling is the Radical Unschooling Style. This is when children are encouraged to follow their interests completely and whole-heartedly. Parents give their children complete freedom to learn what they like. The children make all the decisions, including: no rules, no chores, no bedtime, no meal times and no exams. Parents also do not tell their children what to eat, when to go to bed or how much TV or video games they can watch/play.
Some believe radical unschooling is unparenting. In the words of Lorraine Devon Wilke, it seems to ‘abdicate their role of parents’.
Radical Unschooling is about as ‘free’ as ‘education’ gets, if you can call it education!
#8 Traditional (School at Home) Homeschooling Method
The Traditional Homeschooling method is the one people automatically think about when someone is homeschooling. It is one of the reasons many people start homeschooling, as they are able to replicate the educational method used in schools. This is also one of the most expensive types of homeschooling methods with the highest burnout rate because of its potentially strict manner.
This said, some parents find it easier to use a relaxed traditional homeschooling method in the formative years. They find it easy to purchase boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades and record keeping, and start with a method that is familiar to their school upbringing.
Families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. This can be a comfort when first starting out and inexperienced. They can also send assignments into the exam board for grading and evaluation.
Requires much more work on the part of the parent/teacher and the lessons are not as much for children. It is also comes at a higher cost.
Typical Traditional Homeschooling Schedule
|8:00 - 9:00am|| |
Children change clothes, tidy house and have breakfast.
|9:00 - 10:00am|| |
Reading (using spelling books, writing assignments, and free reading)
|10:00 - 10:30am|| |
Math (using a text book and work book)
|10:30 - 11:00am|| |
History on Monday/Wednesday (using a text book), Science on Tuesday (using a text book that includes occasional experiments), and Geography on Thursday (using a work book)
Electives (usually a foreign language audio program, and art course, or another elective that was included in the curriculum)
#9 Flexi-schooling Method
Flexi-Schooling is where a child attends school for part of the week, and learns at home for the rest of it. This is an ideal compromise for some families and has become increasingly popular.
Reasons why parents may choose the Flexi-schooling path:
- Children who have been excluded from school
- Children who have an illness
- Having a phobia of school
- Returning to school gradually after a period of absence
- So parents can home educate their children whilst making use of school resources
Even though Flexi-schooling is legal in the UK, it isn’t an automatic right like full-time home education. It is entirely at the discretion of the school’s head teacher and you will need their permission before you can go ahead. You’ll need to prove to the head teacher that Flexi-schooling is in the best interests of your child, and you can do this by writing a proposal explaining the benefits for your child and how the arrangement will work between the school and you. A discussion will then be held to talk through your proposal, which will also be passed to other members of staff, school governors and possibly the local authority before a final decision is made.
How Flexi-schooling works:
- Your child will be marked absent in the register for the days they do not attend.
- Your child will be required to follow the national curriculum whilst at school, but doesn’t have to be followed whist at home.
- Sometimes the school might out conditions on the Flexi-schooling arrangement, for example, your child must attend school for a minimum of three days a week.
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One example of how a 4-day Flexi-time school is run, offering a maximum of 18 hours of learning for children aged 10-14. They base their school on Creative, Soul and Democratic learning through yoga, meditation and democratic choice, creativity and self-direction.
Example of a Flexi-schooling Schedule
|9:00 - 9:30am|| |
Yoga & Meditation
Yoga & Meditation
Yoga & Meditation
|9:30 - 11:00am|| |
English & Creative Writing
|11:00 - 11:15am|| |
|11:15 - 12:45pm|| |
|12:45 - 1:00pm|| |
Reflection and Tidy up
Reflection and Tidy up
Reflection and Tidy up
|9:00 - 9:45am||Yoga & Meditation|
|9:45 - 11:15am||Topic: Science|
|11:15 - 11:30am||Break|
|11:30 -12:15pm||Democratic Meeting|
|12:15 - 1:15pm||Lunch|
|1:15 - 2:00pm||Creative Writing/ Topic: Art|
|2:00 - 3:00pm||Topic: Humanities / Topic: Art|
#10 Worldschooling / Roadschooling Method
Parents who decide to choose this method of homeschooling recognise that a child can receive no greater education than by experiencing and interacting with the world around them. This often involves travelling together and using the journeys to enhance their child/ren’s education.
Worldschoolers share some of the same sentiments when choosing this method:
- A desire to travel
- A wish to introduce children to the wider world around them
- A holistic approach to learning
- A preference for experiential learning to solidify knowledge
- A need for flexibility in exploring children’s talents that traditional schooling cannot provide
- A desire to understand and become sensitive to other world-views
- The ability to integrate travel with the subjects and themes they are learning about
- A desire to help children make connections between educational material and the world around them.
This hands-on approach appeals to many families as their child/ren are able to use the landmarks and attractions they encounter as a means for educational enhancement and exploration. They could spend one day focusing on the history behind the Egyptians pyramids and tombs while visiting Giza, Cairo and the next day learning how about Hieroglyphics. These are just some of the benefits of world/roadschooling.
Choosing the Curriculum
How can you afford to Worldschool?
Not every programme/ timetable is ideal for learning on the go. Here are some considerations other world schoolers have taken into account when deciding on the curricula they include:
Obviously it is going to cost a bit more than someone who decides a different homeschooling method due to the travelling costs.
#11 Project-based Homeschooling
Lori McWilliam Pickert came up with this idea of homeschooling to allow children to learn about what interests them, by helping them do it in a meaningful, rigorous way.
Project-based homeschooling combines your child’s genuine interests with long-term, deep, complex learning. Rather than teaching or providing a curriculum, you mentor your child to help him or her learn how to direct and manage his or her own learning. This type of homeschooling works equally well as one element of a more traditional curriculum. Even for children who aren’t homeschooled, it’s a way to help them become self-motivated learners, thinkers, makers and doers.
Project-based homeschooling is also like putting together a puzzle. It doesn’t matter which piece you start with, but as you lay them all on the table, you’ll start to see how they fit together to make the whole picture.
This hands-on approach appeals to many families as their child/ren are able to use the landmarks and attractions they encounter as a means for educational enhancement and exploration. They could spend one day focusing on the history behind the Egyptians pyramids and tombs while visiting Giza, Cairo and the next day learning how about Hieroglyphics.
These are just some of the benefits of world/roadschooling.
What Project-based Homeschooling may look like:
Remember this is a slow process, build it up, create the environment and earn how to mentor over time. Let your child take control slowly as they grow.
#12 Religious Homeschooling
As there are so many religions around the world it can alter and differentiate based on that particular family.
There is no right or wrong way to homeschool your child through a religious-based method, it is what you want it to be and how you want to incorporate it into your homeschooling.
Some of the methods that do and can incorporate it into its method:
#13 Computer-based / Digital Homeschooling
Computer based homeschool is really just another version to the textbook method. Instead of using paper books, the child’s curriculum is either through an online company or a home-based program that is purchased on a CD-ROM/ app.
It is a popular option for those who want a solid, traditional education with limited planning, instruction and record keeping on the part of the parent. Students can take a single subject or an entire course of study. Through this way, children can interact with other students and receive feedback from live teachers, or a software program that is graded by the computer.
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#14 Unit Studies
Those who choose to homeschool through the unit studies methods can be hands-on, literature-based, and even gear towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit studies typically learn all of the academic subjects through the study of one topic which can be taught to different ages with multiple levels. This is popular with homeschoolers who want to keep all of their children on similar topics at the same time.
The child learns by actually experiencing or discovering through different methods and activities, rather than just reading a chapter from a textbook. A unit study takes a topic and “lives” with it for a period of time, for example: the theme of water (H2O)- most people think this is study in science, but it is also art (beautiful waterfall), history (the Red Sea), economics (water bill), R.E (baptism), geography (the location of bodies of water), etc. In this way, children are able to cover a vast amount of subjects through one topic.
Unit studies also work well for children with different learning styles as most unit studies give several options to learn about a topic. It has been seen to work especially well for homeschoolers on the autism spectrum who have intense interests in specific subjects. Many homeschool families who have adopted this method well believe it not only allows students to study subjects more in-depth, but also because the variety of activities keeps them engaged.
Example of one type of unit study: Animals
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Click here to find out more about Unit Studies
Although there may be many more different types of Homeschooling and Curricula currently in practice in the UK and beyond, we put this list together to inform you of the most popular types that we are aware of and those which have many resources and support available to you should you decide to proceed with any one of these.
We must also stress that even though deciding to homeschool your child is a big decision, it’s not an irreversible one.
There is lots of help out there from other homeschoolers to help you make this decision.