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What are the different methods for homeschooling?

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I stand by my overarching philosophy that there is no wrong way to homeschool. It’s important to explore the METHODS FOR HOMESCHOOLING to get a sense of where your family fits and what options are going to best serve the children in your home.

No two children are alike, and what works for one, may or may not work for another. As a parent, you know your child best, and as the years go by, you will get a deeper sense of what works and what doesn’t. You will adapt and make changes as needed. You are not locked into one method of homeschooling over another or one curriculum over another! That’s the beauty of homeschooling. So as we explore the 6 major methods of Homeschooling keep in mind: There is no wrong way to homeschool.

If you are looking for guidance getting started homeschooling, My friend over at Hope in the Chaos has a great article: HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING

School at Home

This type of homeschooling is also called traditional homeschooling and most closely resembles what looks like a typical school setting. Homeschooling using the School at Home model is most often used by charter schools and online public schools that offer a “homeschooling” program. Families can also set themselves up with a school-at-home model. This method of homeschooling often uses complete curriculum packages and may arrange their schedule to align with the school year: August to June. 

School at home tips

  • School at home is a fantastic way for families who are not looking to reinvent the wheel and like having a standards-based curriculum. A School at Home program parallels public schools, making transitioning into classrooms easier when and if the need arises.
  • School at home is an excellent choice for short-term homeschooling needs.
  • This method can be expensive because of the need to purchase a full curriculum including Teacher’s manuals. (Charter Schools offset this cost, which is why many families chose this route.) They geared activities in this type of curriculum for classrooms, not homes so it’s not always “ready” to teach and may need adapting, or skipped altogether.
  • Using a school-at-home method with a purchased curriculum helps guarantee state regulations are being met.

Popular choices that fit School at Home:

Abeka books

Sonlight Curriculum

Time 4 Learning

Classical Homeschooling Method

The type of homeschooling called “Classical Homeschooling” claims to be one of the most popular methods for homeschooling. Classical education implements the educational practices going as far back as ancient Greece and Rome.

The subjects are interwoven into a reading plan using what the classical education method calls: GREAT BOOKS (classics and masterpieces). There is an order to the learning so children are experiencing ideas chronologically, vs. jumping from concept to concept as they would in topic-driven or interest-led homeschooling methods.

Facts about the Classical Modle

  • An overarching concept of classical education is that students learn facts and data in grammar school, logic and critical thinking in middle school, and rhetoric and self-expression in high school.
  • Classical homeschools hold discussions using the Socratic method. Open-ended questions and debates encourage critical thinking and a deeper understanding of self and the world.
  • Reading is a high priority in this type of homeschooling. This can be both a benefit or something that takes away from other areas of a learner’s life such as sports or extracurricular activities.
  • Children undergoing a classical education are often trained in classical Latin and Greek and any of the modern languages; Spanish, German, French, and more.
  • The classical method has an order and more “typical” school-styled desk work than other methods.

Popular choices that fit Classical Homeschooling:

Great Books List

Classical Curriculum List

Montessori Method

Maria Montessori was an early 20th century Italian physician and educator. Her educational methods are popular in both schools and homeschools. This student-based approach uses free movement, large blocks of unstructured time, multi-grade classes, combined with interest-based and individualized learning plans.

Teachers/ Parents indirectly instruct children using tactile physical interaction, and they give the child a variety of activities to choose from.

The Montessori Method

  • Montessori educators have developed manipulatives for learning and these are often the “curriculum” – how learners interact with the manipulatives being key.
  • Many believe the Montessori methods for homeschooling are only for the young child, however, it is suitable for children who like working at their own pace regardless of age.
  • The Montessori method is well known for it’s compatibility with children with special needs and with gifted students who move through material faster than they would be ‘allowed’ to in traditional classroom settings.
  • Creativity and decision making is fostered through many artistic endeavors and generous one-on-one instruction time with each child.
  • You can not identify as a “Montessori” school without having the proper certification, even as a homeschooler. Families simply use the principles to guide learning most of the time and avoid the official label.
  • This method is reported to lack structure, and for some this method can be too open-ended, lacking rules and order.

Popular choices that fit Montessori Homeschooling:

Tackle Box Montessori

American Montessori Society

Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason was a 19th century homeschooling pioneer, and the type of homeschooling she developed is now called: The Charlotte Mason Method. This Christian-based method couples short lessons or periods of study with nature walks, nature journals, history portfolios, and lots of practice in observation, memorization, and narration.

A fundamental part of “CM” homeschooling is “living books”. These stories contain heroes and heroines, teach subtle life lessons, and have important socio-ethical implications for the reader to explore.

tips for using the Charlotte Mason Method

  • CM homeschooling is student-directed. Children show learning through journals and portfolios instead of quizzes or tests.
  • Kids show learning through narration, a method in which children tell you what they can recall from what has just been read (either to them or by them). The recall is done in the child’s own words and not a word-for-word repetition of the reading. Narrations begin orally and transition into other methods. My son’s favorite method of narration was to build a model for example.
  • Educational focus on observation and detail is fostered through as much time in nature as possible through nature studies.
  • The CM method is often viewed as lacking in advanced Math and Scientific theory due to modern advances, and CM studies being based on classic books. It is easy to adapt and simply apply the principals of CM to modern material.

Popular choices that fit Charlotte Mason Homeschooling:

Ambelside Online

Simply Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason Companion

Charlotte Mason Narration

If you would like to try the technique of using narration in your home or classroom The Happy Hive Homeschooling team has put together a list of TRIED AND TRUE activities that work in BOTH! There is also an overview of the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy included.

This list of Tried and True narration ideas is a SUBSCRIBER exclusive Free-Bee.


Often misunderstood, unschooling is a student centered type of homeschooling that relies on activity based learn-as-you-go methods. It’s not just: let the kids do whatever they want all day for school.

Unschoolers are taught to read, write, and do mathematical calculations, however, it is done without the conventional testing and evaluation methods used in more traditional school / homeschool models. Parents facilitate and guide education rather than drive learning in any pre-determined direction.

Unschooling does not mean uneducated

  • Unschooling allows students to explore their passions so what they study aligns with their interests from ballet to Lego and everything in between.
  • Learning focuses on experiences and interaction vs textbook learning and worksheets. Unschoolers often check out as many books as they can on a topic from the library to completely study the topic of interest vs read a summary provided in a text version.
  • Unschooling can lack structure for some children/families
  • Student-centered learning can lead to knowledge gaps – but that does not mean unschoolers are uneducated.

Curriculum for Unschooling is based on student interest and often from homemade items and books from the library.

Popular references for parents are: – Free Resources

A Thomas Jefferson Education

Eclectic Homeschooling

This type of homeschooling can also be called the “this and that” method of homeschooling and is actually VERY POPULAR. I’m sure you have noticed by now Homeschoolers love to help each other and share ideas! The main objective is learning, not how you learn or what “method” you use… a good resource or idea is just that a GOOD RESOURCE and IDEA! Eclectic Homeschoolers are very child focused, but not quite unschoolers. Eclectic Homeschoolers treat curriculum as a closet full of outfits and not a school uniform! It is truly a mix of all methods and perfectly adapted to each child. You may “school at home” for Math and unschool science…and even that may change depending on the day.

The ins and outs of Eclectic Homeschooling

  • This is the most flexible type of homeschooling. Resources from all models fit into this model. It’s easy to use, because you know your kids best.
  • A word of caution if you are thinking- I’ll just choose Eclectic! Be sure you don’t just ‘fall into’ this method because you don’t want the work of another method, Don’t mistake Eclectic for “no plan”. Eclectic homeschooling comes with all the GOOD of each of the methods for homeschooling you use each day, but also the unintended consequences of them as well. Remember if it’s not working – make a change.
  • Eclectic homeschoolers often make their own lessons and supplement learning with fun activities (like the Holiday of the day!) or other materials found in Teacher marketplaces online.

Along with all the resources from the previously mentioned methods, other popular choices that fit Eclectic Homeschooling are:

Happy Hive Homeschooling

The Great Courses

My Homeschool Journey

The Gandara Bug Academy (Now called the Happy Hive Homeschool) was an Eclectic Homeschool filled with, honestly the best (and probably the worst!) of each of these methods…

I’m a teacher – fully credentialed in the State of California. School at Home is in my blood. I took what I loved about teaching and used it with my children. We had bulletin boards and a cool interactive calendar from the “school supply store” just to name a few of the things. When I found a textbook that I liked, we used it.

I wanted my kids to read the “Great Books” and have order in their day. History happened…um in order. It made perfect sense to study it the way it happened naturally and let the events build upon one another. You don’t get World War II without World War I, right? And at a basic level everyone should read the great books. It was a great time to fill in the gaps in my own education. (This is a big part of the Thomas Jefferson Educational Philosophy that is mentioned in Unschooling- you not them.) Even individual topics that incorporated timelines took on a bit of a Classical Education feel.

My Montessori methods were minimal, I will admit. I am a strong believer in hands-on learning and allowing children time to explore versus having limits, yet when it was nap time, it was nap time and that was healthy for my three bugs too. So we found a balance between choosing how long we explored topics and when the time was indeed up.

Charlotte Mason by far had the greatest impact on me as an educator, transforming my home, and later my classroom into a student-centered safe place where learners were no longer “tested” but instead given the opportunity to “show what you know” through my own version of the CM narration. Using living books, my own “Homeschool Holiday” curriculum, and Unit Studies turned the Gandara Bug Academy into the Happy Hive – a place where other children wanted to buzz around, to learn, and grow. I hope you want to buzz around as well!

The Unschooling facet comes into play in the form of what we called: Free Choice Learning, or a Passion Project. I mentor learners under my guidance to follow their passions and explore at least one area they are MOST interested in and dive deep into learning everything they can about the topic. How they show that learning is up to them and varies based on the learner.

What’s Next?

After you research & explore the different Homeschooling methods, you can decide how to address the subjects you are required to or want to teach based on your state’s regulations, and homeschooling style!

This will form your Curriculum!

Be sure to check out our thoughts on HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT CURRICULUM!

In the meantime download our FREE homeschool style guide that outlines the methods of homeschooling and the curriculum I used in my homeschool and recommended to clients.

Download this comprehensive guide to getting started with Homeschooling. You get a play-by-play, subject-by-subject list of books I used over the 15 years I homeschooled my 3 children, provided families with educational consulting, and ran a successful private school satellite program in California. It also has a Summary of the 6 different methods for homeschooling and links to resources for each!

Thanks for stopping by Happy Hive Homeschooling to look at the different methods for homeschooling

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