After deschooling, a new homeschooler’s first step is to get a basic grasp of homeschool approaches. Having a basic grasp of the top 5 approaches new homeschoolers can conquer overwhelm and tame the curriculum beast.
First understand these two basic clarifications to dispel misunderstandings about our lifestyle.
- Deschooling is a process, not a homeschool approach. It’s the process ALL new homeschoolers or homeschoolers should do initially or from time to time if they struggle. See my link below.
- Unschooling IS a homeschool approach. While we’re ALL homeschooling were NOT all unschooling. Big difference.
A colossal mistake is to focus first on curriculum instead of a homeschool approach. Taking time to read this article all the way through will put you ahead miles.
Before jumping into homeschool approaches, you need to understand the curative power of how to tap into your teaching style and your child’s learning style. They may not be the same and from the start you may unintentionally cause problems.
What is a Homeschool Approach
Simply put, a homeschool approach or homeschool style is an educational philosophy which is implemented or followed through by using curriculum as a tool. There are no right or wrong, better or worse, or smarter or dumber approaches. I’ve seen success stories and failures with each approach. An approach is a method, goals, and values that are important to you. Part of deciding a homeschool approach is to determine what are your families priorities. That is why there is no right or wrong, just what is best for your family. An approach is how you will implement what you want your children to learn.
For example, on a history topic, a Charlotte Mason homeschooler will look for a living book on the topic while a Classical homeschooler may look for a book from the great minds of the past. That is just one simple example.
Whether you intentionally or unintentionally chose it, EVERYONE has a homeschool approach when they begin.
It’s better to pick it for your family’s needs than to jump in and choose curriculum that is fitted for a homeschool approach that is opposite of your child’s learning style.
Secret Revealed: Homeschool Approaches Essentials
There are a few things for you to know so that you make an informed choice.
Understanding these 6 fundamental points will help you to increase the odds of success.
- Did you know that just about ALL curriculum falls into one or more of the homeschool approaches? By narrowing down to an approach that fits your family’s values and your children’s needs you have tamed the curriculum hunt. Reduce overwhelm by choosing the method FIRST.
- It’s NOT necessary to know EVERY approach just like it’s not necessary to understand EVERY ingredient in a homemade dish. The most used ingredients are key to understanding the big picture. Homeschool styles or approaches are similar. You don’t need to know EVERY single one, but only the most popular one. Some styles are not as popular. Not that they are unimportant, but the top 5 homeschool approaches are what a majority of homeschoolers use. As you’re more experienced, you can delve into the others.
- There is NO need to choose only one. If you see that one or two follow your goals, then pick and choose the teaching points and combine them. It’s called eclectic. Eclectic is not really an approach, but a type of homeschooler.
- With that being said, DO choose one that fits MOSTLY with your goals because it cuts down on frustration. By having one that is your dominant one, you can find curriculum that fits it first and then delve into curriculum that fits other approaches that comes in second. It REALLY reduces teaching fatigue to have one major approach that you can rely on.
- You can change on a dime if one is not working. There is no harm done. Maybe you’ve not accomplished what you’ve set out to do because you chose a homeschool approach that doesn’t really embrace how your child learns. He probably has still retained some of the information. Just switch approaches, chalk it up to being inexperienced, and move on.
- One more HUGE point to remember and that is NOT every homeschool approach has a plethora of planned out curriculum to choose from. There are more choices now than used to be, but remember you’re following an APPROACH and using curriculum as tools. Bottom line: An exceptional teacher will be able to use what she has to tweak to fit her students. Yes, it may take a bit more work, but it can be done. Be sure to see my post at the bottom where I used a textbook to do our unit study.
Here are some of the most popular homeschool styles and I’ve listed a few curriculum suggestions as examples of each.
Popular 5 Homeschool Styles
1. Traditional Textbook Homeschool Approach
- textboook driven
- test driven
- follows a sequential scope and sequence
- record keeping/grading services
- often been called “conveyor-belt” education
Textbooks and workbooks are used. This is what a lot of us used in public school and the approach most of us are familiar with. This is the way most new homeschoolers start out. Ask yourself why you would want to repeat the same approach that is not working in public school.
Many online public school at home providers have popped up in the last 10 years. Even online schools which may not necessarily use printed material may still under this approach because it’s based on textbooks.
A graded textbook guides teaching, and subjects are covered in increments over the course of a school year. Textbooks may be supplemented with worktexts or books.
A few curriculum providers (both secular and Christian)
- Bob Jones
2. Unit Studies Homeschool Approach
- where all subjects are covered by being focused on one topic
- child-led or parent directed
- emphasis is on mastery-based learning instead of ages
- natural real-life approach to learning
- students can see the whole picture
- creating self-learning
Unit Studies take a specific theme or topic and delves into it deeply over a period of time. The emphasis is on integrating language arts, social studies, science, history, fine arts, and math together while focused on one unit of study or theme.
The unit study philosophy emphasizes that all knowledge is connected and remembered longer when taught in an integrated fashion.
A few curriculum providers
3. Charlotte Mason Homeschool Approach
- oral narration
- written narration
- nature study
- use of living books
- form habits
Charlotte Mason was a turn of the century British educator whose approach was to teach children skills such as reading, writing, and math, and then expose them to the best sources of knowledge for all other subjects.
This means taking nature walks, visiting museums to view art up close, or reading what she called “living books.” Textbooks are viewed as dry and dull and to be avoided in favor of richer sources of knowledge.
A few curriculum providers
- My Father’s World
- Trail Guide to Learning
- Ambleside online
4. Classical Homeschool Approach
- intensive language arts focused
- emphasis on Latin, Greek and Hebrew
- progression through learning based on child’s development
- reading great books as a way to connect to great minds
In Ancient Greece, emphasis was place on learning the tools of learning. These tools could then be applied to the study of any subject. This classical” approach would have students study grammar, the dialectic or logic phase, and finally rhetoric. These tools were known as the “trivium.”
Following the study of these subjects were arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music – called the “quadrivium.” The approach is to teach learning in “stages” according to the child’s development. The book by Dorothy Sayers’ The Lost Tools of Learning is a reference for this approach; Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well Trained Mind was the first book of its kind to lay out curriculum suggestions for this approach.
A few curriculum providers
- Institute for Excellence in Writing
- Veritas Press
- Memoria Press
5. Unschooling Homeschool Approach (a.k.a delight-directed)
- learning is directed almost entirely by the child which is where unschoolers differ from other homeschoolers
- instead of teaching being at the center, the child is at the center of learning
- children should not be forced to learn something against their will
- more access to the real-world
- creating self-learners
- to provide an environment with rich resources
John Holt was a twentieth-century American educator who believed that children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn were destroyed by traditional schooling. He is generally associated with the unschooling approach, which focuses on nonstructural learning that allows children to pursue their own interests and believes that children should be included in a meaning full way in the life of adults.
The approach has the child at the center of learning and subjects revolve around his interests. The child is exposed to a rich environment of resources, including an adult who models a lifestyle of curiosity and learning. Formal academics are pursued when the need arises or when the child indicates willingness.
A few curriculum providers
- Because learning is child-led, homeschoolers will have many resources in their homes from living books to games. Also, every day learning experiences are used to teach every day. Many curriculum resources are unschooling friendly.
Look at some of these posts The Big List of Unit Study Hands-on (and Hands-off) Curriculum and Big Ol’ List of All-In-One Homeschool Curriculum (a.k.a Boxed) which will help you with curriculum.
I will be adding questions to help you hone or identify your homeschool method AND how to match curriculum to homeschool approach.
Will these tips give you a starting point?
You’ll want to read these other tips.
- Deschooling: Step One for the New Homeschooler (the Definitions, the Dangers, and the Delight)
- Mixing It Up: How to Combine Homeschool Approaches (Without Losing Your Mind)
- How to Use a Boxed Curriculum without Giving Up Your Homeschool Approach
- 5 Signs That You Need to Switch Your Homeschool Approach
- 3 Things To Try When Your Hands-Off Homeschooling Approach is a Failure
- Why Buying Curriculum Won’t Make You a Homeschooler (But What Will)
Hugs and love ya,