Knowing what are the top 5 homeschool styles is key to narrowing the overwhelm in choosing curriculum. Learning a few features of each homeschool style and how to pair it with curriculum saves you money.
I will not only explain styles of homeschooling, but help you to identify which is best for your family.
In addition, what is most important for your children to learn and how they learn it will affect your choice of homeschool style.
And terms like homeschool approach and teaching style are used to talk about homeschooling style. This may or may not be clear.
What is the Definition of Homeschool Styles
So, what is a homeschool style?
Simply put, a homeschool style is an educational approach. An approach is a method to how you teach which is also called your teaching style. It includes your goals and your values. An approach is how you will implement what you want your children to learn. Using curriculum as a tool helps you meet your homeschool style. There are 5 top or major homeschool styles or approaches.
There are no right or wrong, better or worse, or smarter or dumber approaches. I’ve seen success stories and failures with each approach. Part of deciding a homeschool approach is to determine what are your family’s priorities and what is your teaching style.
10 Questions to Ask About Your Teaching Style
Look at these questions to help you identify your homeschool style.
- Do you want a consistent schedule or a framework of what to teach?
- Is testing a necessary part of your curriculum or do you want your child to demonstrate learning through hands-on and conversations with you?
- Will memorization and notetaking be essential parts of your teaching? And will learning be done according to the age of the child or his maturity?
- How important is studying nature, being outdoors, and studying art?
- Should subjects be learned in isolation or tied together as a unifying theme?
- Are you going to follow your child’s lead in everything they want to learn, give them day to day guidance, or use both features?
- Does your choices for reading including, textbooks, novels, biographies, classics, or all of them? And how much emphasis will be put on learning about the past?
- Which subjects are most important to you to cover?
- Where should learning take place?
- What emphasis will you place on family learning projects versus one-to-one time with each of your children?
From your general answers above, pair your answers or goals with homeschooling styles or homeschool approaches.
Although these are not all the homeschool styles, these are the popular ones you want to know about right away.
Here are the top five homeschool styles in no particular order of popularity.
- Unit Study
- Charlotte Mason
Next, look at some of the features of each homeschool approach and a few examples of curriculum which follow that approach.
As you mull over the differences, look for one or two which fit your idea of how to teach your children.
Features of Homeschool Teaching Styles
First, look at the Unit Study Approach. I didn’t start with a unit study approach, but this is the one I switched to after a few years into my journey.
Unit Study Approach
The Unit Study approach is a method where you teach all your children together on one topic covering as many of the basic subjects as possible. Hands-on application and projects are a huge part of learning with this homeschool style.
For example, take the topic the Amazon Rain Forest and since it’s a science heavy topic, tie in a history slant like I did about Theodore Roosevelt on my Amazon rain forest unit study.
Too, art by Henri Rousseau was my slant on art. There are endless ways to tie in bodies of knowledge and you learn how to tie them in naturally.
- Some subjects don’t fit naturally into some of the topics which interests your children.
- It can take a while to know how to lesson plan for multiple ages.
- There aren’t as many curriculum providers for this approach as there are for others.
Another popular approach is the Classical approach.
I loved it because of its emphasis on history and classical books. The Classical approach follows the trivium method. Learning is divided into stages according to the ages of the child.
Besides emphasis on history like Ancient Greece, books are chosen based on the great minds of the past.
- Because the emphasis is on heavy language arts, some educators feel the subjects are not balanced.
- Not all families want heavy emphasis on learning about the past.
- Learning Latin is emphasized.
Textbook/Workbook (School At Home) Approach
Next, the Workbook/Textbook approach is one most familiar to us because it’s the same one used in public schools.
And a term all-in-one homeschool curriculum means curriculum which has lesson plans laid out with scripted teacher’s manuals and tests. Look at my posts 21 Fun All-In-One Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum and Big Ol’ List of All-In-One Homeschool Curriculum (a.k.a Boxed).
- Laid out lesson plans may feel comfortable to new homeschoolers.
- If your child struggles in public school this may not be a good fit for you.
- If you need accountability in a state which keeps records, this may make it easier.
- Major companies like Abeka, Bob Jones, and Calvert follow this approach.
- Easy Peasy All in One is a free online laid out curriculum.
Charlotte Mason Approach
Further, Charlotte Mason approach is another one that is popular. With emphasis on nature and art, the approach to language arts is gentle. Gentle does not mean rigorous, but it’s more relaxed in the early years unlike the Classical approach.
Charlotte Mason was a popular British educator who influenced the homeschool world through her lifetime of teaching.
- Known for the use of living books which are opposite textbooks, her approach is popular because of the beautiful literature it uses.
- Some curriculum providers do not provide as much structure as others.
- Too, the gentle approach to language arts does not appeal to all.
- And emphasis on fine arts may not be your goal.
Moreover, the Unschooling approach is another popular approach although it has not always been that way. The Unschooling approach seemed to get a bad rap in the early days of homeschooling and still does because some feel it lacks structure.
However, unschooling proponents vary from little structure to none in their day. In the basic definition, it means to follow the leads of the child. Trusting the natural learning process, proponents tout that a child will learn all he or she needs to if we create a learning rich environment.
- Because this learning process is child-led there is concern that some kids won’t be introduced to subjects that may seem unappealing to the child.
- Additionally, since it’s child-led learning there is no laid out curriculum. Curriculum is chosen based on the child’s likes.
- An unschooler fills their home with learning games, books of all kinds, movies, art, crafts, kits, science supplies, and uses everyday life to teach their child. My list of 20 Awesome History Books is a great place to start along with 10 Favorite Science Movies and Documentaries for Homeschooled Kids.
How to Identify the BEST Homeschool Style for Your Family
Lastly, the most important part of learning about an educational approach or teaching style is maintaining the focus on YOUR goals. Through the years I’ve learned it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and not think about my family’s needs.
For example, when I started homeschooling I felt the Classical approach embodied how I wanted my children to learn.
Quickly, I learned that the Classical approach didn’t meet the needs of my children.
Above all, when you’re looking at these tips below remember you can change anytime as different needs come up in journey.
6 Ways to Identify the BEST Homeschool Style For You
- Do not think you have to limit yourself to ONE homeschool style. The most successful homeschoolers mix and match homeschool approaches. For that reason, you’ll notice curriculum which hails to two or even three approaches.
- Know that you do not have to stick with one or a combination of two teaching styles for your whole journey. In other words, do not buy curriculum too far ahead. You may change your mind, or the needs of your children will change.
- Ask curriculum provider questions about the approach they take in their curriculum if you don’t know it. Most curriculum provider welcome questions, but be aware that a lot are homeschooling families. They need time to return the call or answer your question.
- In addition, do not think you have to implement every facet of that teaching method.
- Then, one of the best tips is to also recognize your child’s learning personality. As parents, we tend to teach only to our homeschool style. And although we homeschool to fit our children’s unique needs we tend to forget.
Why Your Child’s Learning Personality is Important Too
Because teaching styles are only part of choosing curriculum easily, I’ve included a link to my online course Identifying Your Homeschooled Child’s Learning Personality.
YOU WILL LEARN:
- How to understand the way your child prefers to learn so that you can teach him in a way that he enjoys learning;
- How to pinpoint your child’s learning personality;
- A starting point in understanding (barring any special learning challenges or disabilities) and accepting your child’s preferred way of taking in information;
- Understanding when the learning personality emerges; and
- Teaching tips for each learning personality to stop the head-butting.
In summary, these other tips and posts I have will help you to learn more about homeschool styles.