What are the main styles of homeschooling?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

There are several main styles of homeschooling that families can choose from, depending on their educational philosophy and their child’s learning style. Each style offers a unique approach to homeschooling and caters to different needs and preferences. Here, I will discuss six different types of homeschooling: traditional homeschooling, unschooling, unit studies, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and the classical model.

1. Traditional Homeschooling: Traditional homeschooling is perhaps the most common style of homeschooling. It follows a structured curriculum that replicates a traditional school setting. Parents typically use textbooks and workbooks to teach subjects such as math, science, history, and language arts. They may also incorporate online resources and educational materials. This style provides a familiar and structured approach to education, with clear goals and benchmarks.

2. Unschooling: Unschooling, also known as child-led learning or natural learning, takes a more relaxed and child-centered approach. Instead of following a set curriculum, parents support their child’s natural interests and curiosity, allowing them to explore and pursue their own passions and learning experiences. Unschooling emphasizes real-life learning, hands-on experiences, and self-directed learning. It encourages children to take charge of their education and learn at their own pace.

3. Unit Studies: Unit studies involve integrating multiple subjects around a central theme or topic. Rather than teaching subjects in isolation, unit studies explore topics holistically, connecting various disciplines such as history, science, language arts, and art. For example, if studying ancient civilizations, children might read historical fiction, create artwork inspired by ancient art, conduct science experiments related to ancient technology, and write essays exploring the social and cultural aspects of those civilizations. Unit studies provide a more integrated and immersive approach to learning.

4. Montessori: The Montessori method, developed by Maria Montessori, emphasizes hands-on, child-centered learning. It focuses on creating a prepared environment that promotes independence, self-direction, and exploration. Montessori materials are often used to facilitate learning, and children are encouraged to work at their own pace and follow their interests. This style emphasizes practical life skills, sensorial experiences, and a multi-age classroom environment.

5. Charlotte Mason: The Charlotte Mason approach is inspired by the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason, an educator from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It emphasizes the use of “living books” (narrative-style books written by knowledgeable authors) rather than textbooks, and encourages children to develop good habits, engage with nature, and pursue a broad and liberal education. This style promotes short, focused lessons, narration (oral or written retelling of what was learned), and nature walks as part of the learning process.

6. Classical Model: The classical model of homeschooling is based on the ancient Greek and Roman educational methods. It follows a three-stage approach known as the trivium: grammar (the building blocks of knowledge), logic (the development of reasoning skills), and rhetoric (the ability to articulate and express ideas effectively). This model emphasizes the study of classical literature, Latin, and formal logic. It often incorporates the Great Books and Socratic discussions to foster critical thinking and a deep understanding of the humanities.

These are just a few of the main styles of homeschooling that families can choose from. Each style offers a unique approach to education, catering to different learning styles and preferences. It is important for families to explore and consider their options to find the homeschooling style that aligns best with their educational goals and values.