different homeschool styles

A Guide to Different Homeschool Styles

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What are the different homeschool styles and methods?

I get asked this question all the time so I thought I would share the most common methods and styles of homeschooling.

It can be so overwhelming to find your style or method of school that fits your family.

I know I have jumped around quite a few times trying to see what worked best for us.

Each family is different and I don’t think there is one homeschool style that is supreme to the others.

The best style for you is one that gets done consistently that your kids can engage in.

A Guide to Different Homeschool Styles and Methods

Homeschool Style: Unit Studies

This style is by far my favorite because it feels like an organic way to learn.

Unit studies incorporate multiple subjects into one theme or topic.

For example, the topic Civil War could include:

  • Writing a report on a general in the war (writing)
  • Focusing on grammar usage/paragraph formation (grammar)
  • Reading historical books about that time period. (reading)
  • Making recipes that were popular during that period. (life skills)
  • Investigating scientists and observing experiments and inventions from the Civil War period. (science)

With a unit study, the whole family can be involved in the learning and studying of a topic. Older children’s work will be more advanced than younger children.

Older kids may write a report or do detailed map work while younger kids could copy sentences or color a map.

It’s so nice to have the entire family on the same subject matter instead of each child doing a different time period in history or a completely different subject of science.

Field trips and activities can all focus on the topic so you don’t have a million subjects to juggle.

We have done unit studies for years and it typically involves kids making their own notebook instead of workbook style learning.

They will be reading and writing about new topics in depth instead of filling out workbook pages.

My Father’s World is our favorite curriculum for unit studies. It keeps grades 3-8 together on the same topic while keeping the work age appropriate and simple for mom.

Pros:

This style keeps the whole family on the same subject matter which is easy for mom and great for family discussions.

The curriculum contains real books from great authors and has a foundation of literature.

It can be more cost effective to keep all the kids on one topic.

Family projects and read-alouds create strong memories for the kids. (My kids still talk about projects we did together years ago).

Cons:

For new families it can seem scary to take away tests and fill in the blank questions.

Grades of your kids are less important and can begin to blur together.

Requires more parent involvement.

Homeschool Style: Classical

Classical homeschooling is based off of “living books” instead of text books and is normally broken down into three stages.

Grammar Stage is about learning and memorizing facts while still being exposed to good literature. It’s roughly elementary ages.

Logic Stage is about applying knowledge learned and using reasoning skills.

Rhetoric Stage is roughly for high schoolers and focuses on independent thinking and reasoning.

This way of schooling tries to align with the natural stages of how a child learns and grows.

For more information on Classical Homeschooling, the Well Trained Mind is a great resource.

Pros:

This method is considered more advanced or harder as far as learning is required.

Classical homeschool children are wonderful readers who can stand on their own in any debate. They are advanced thinkers.

Cons:

It can be harder to teach for parents who have a public school education.

The real books involved are often advanced reading levels which again can be hard for parents.

Homeschool style: School at Home (Traditional)

Traditional homeschool style is probably one of the most popular for new homeschool families because it feels like “school at home”.

Each subject has a workbook or a textbook usually with questions and eventually a test.

There is a focus on grade level subjects like you would find in traditional school.

Popular companies for this curriculum would be Abeka, BJU or Christian Liberty Press.

Pros:

This method feels like public school at home which can bring reassurance to new homeschool families.

It’s easy to just buy grade level curriculum packages and there is little research involved on the parents part.

Most kids will be familiar with standardized tests and fill in the blanks.

Normally this method doesn’t require as much involvement from the parent and the child can work independently.

Cons:

Work is often dry and redundant from textbooks and can cause the children to lose interest in learning.

A textbook written by one company doesn’t give the child a wide world view but instead the view of one author.

Often focused on memorizing facts instead of gaining knowledge and wisdom.

Homeschool Style: Eclectic

The eclectic style works best for most families because it’s a combination of multiple styles and really fits their individual needs.

Families may use the classical method for english/literature and a traditional method for the remaining subjects.

You can really pick and choose the methods that work best for your family and combine them together.

This style also allows you to dive deeper into areas you are interested in such as history while keeping the other subjects workbook style.

After all your homeschool method really needs to fit who you are as a person and what ways your kids love to learn.

Pros:

Let’s families pick and choose what different homeschool styles work for them.

Homeschool Style: Unschooling

Unschooling is probably the hardest for outsiders to understand because it is very unique to each family.

The focus is put on the child’s interest without a focus on grades and tests.

It is also called child lead learning and involves lots of life experience as the lessons.

For example, while grocery shopping you could review math by making change at the register and teaching your child percentages by going over the sales tax.

The lessons are taught by diving into life experiences, researching interests and using real books instead of textbooks.

Pros:

Allows the children to learn what they have an interest in instead of trying to teach them a topic they don’t care about.

Can be a wonderful way to help your child love to learn again.

Unschooled children have many life lessons and experiences other kids may not have.

Cons:

Lack of a way to measure their education.

Children may not know how to “test” if needed.

There is very little independent work for younger children.

Homeschool Style: Charlotte Mason

The foundation of Charlotte Mason schooling is rested on living books instead of textbooks.

Children learn to create their own notebooks, explore nature, and cultivate good habits.

It’s common for the Charlotte Mason method to be incorporated in unit studies.

Copy work is the trusted method for beginning grammar. The idea is that children will learn good grammar by copying and hearing proper grammar.

There are no multiple choice questions or fill in the blanks so this method requires a bit more thinking skills than traditional style.

Pros:

Children grow up with a love for real books and reading.

Higher levels of thinking skills are required than those using a traditional schooling method.

Focuses on the natural way a child would learn with younger years being less intense.

Cons:

Parents may worry about lack of tests and grading.

Books can be advanced for kids coming out of public school.

Can require more attention from the parents.

Homeschool Style: Online Video

Videos are becoming very popular as a way to homeschool. Most traditional homeschool companies offer their curriculum in video format.

Public school at home is also a choice many homeschoolers are taking although legally it is not considered homeschooling.

Online video curriculum from places like Powerhomeschool is a smart choice for high schoolers to learn harder subjects like high-level math and sciences.

Pros:

Online schooling can be done anywhere and doesn’t require stacks of books.

Can be cost effective for families who have multiple kids.

Video is a powerful source for learning and great for those with a need for visuals or audio type learners.

Most online schooling also records attendance, grades and creates transcripts.

Lessons can be done independently with little teaching from the parent.

Cons:

Often online programs don’t require too many thinking skills but more fill in the blanks.

Living books are not usually not incorporated in the curriculum.

Parents may need to supplement writing or reading especially for young children who need paper and pencil skills.

Conclusion

With so many different homeschool styles to choose from it can seem confusing for parents.

New families often start out with a traditional method and venture out to a unit study after they feel more comfortable teaching their children.

I don’t think there is a bad choice, but a matter of how you teach and what will work best for your family.

Personally I love unit studies but have used a variety of things including workbooks and online schooling to fit our needs.

Sometimes different homeschool styles are needed for different seasons of life and that’s ok.

It can be reasonable to switch over to online schooling for a while if you have to work part-time or have an illness that affects your home.

You should never feel shame for wanting to change your different homeschool styles and methods.

What works in one season or stage of life may not work in another season.

Let me know what different homeschool styles you love the best in the comments below.

different homeschool styles

Thanks for sharing!

4 thoughts on “A Guide to Different Homeschool Styles”

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