Homeschooling Methods

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason curricula (sometimes called Living Books) emphasize natural interests and experiences in children. Education largely occurs through experiences, observation, and exploration of the natural world. Reading is learned through the context of classic literature rather than textbooks. Child narration, understanding, and self-education are key activities. This approach highlights the need for children to not only be able to do higher level math and reading but to also be able to apply what they learn with moral and intellectual power in real-life situations. 

Classical Education

Classical curricula rely heavily on the natural cognitive growth of children and help children learn how to think critically. It is largely language-focused and includes three stages that mirror the elementary, middle, and high school grades. The Grammar Stage (K-5) emphasizes observing, listening, and memorizing. During this stage, children learn reading, writing, spelling, beginning Latin, and early math skills. The Logic Stage (6-8) emphasizes organizing, analyzing, and debating. During this stage, children continue to learn Latin and learn to logically discuss and debate topics as well as how to draw conclusions based on facts. Students often read essays and persuasive writing rather than literature as they evaluate and reflect on writing as well as historical events. The Rhetoric Stage (9-12) emphasizes developing and expressing conclusions. During this stage, students' skills at speaking eloquently and persuasively are refined. 

Delayed Academics

A Delayed Academics approach follows the developmental readiness of the child to determine when and how instruction will take place. The 3 R's are not taught until the parent educator is confident that the child is emotionally, physically, and mentally mature. Typically, this is when the child's senses, perceptions, emotions, social skills, physical skills, and cognitive abilities are able to function cooperatively with one another. There is an emphasis on academics as well as work and service to others. 

Learning Lifestyle

The Learning Lifestyle approach is very individualized and different for every family. It is based on the premise that children learn within the context of their normal day and through simply living life together as a family with an emphasis on the individual family's educational pursuits. Often time, homeschooling families using this approach find the lines between home and school time to be blurred. 

Principle Approach

The Principle Approach emphasizes Biblical principles whereby everything that is learned is put in the context of Biblical evidence and the Christian worldview. A significant amount of attention is paid to America's traditional Christian heritage and the Biblical principles displayed by our Founding Fathers. A Notebook Approach is often used to help children learn to research, reason, relate, and record their own findings. 

Traditional Curriculum

Traditional curricula rely on a systematic process similar to the one that public and private schools have traditionally used. It follows a scope and sequence and each subject is taught individually using textbooks and workbooks. Curricula using this method typically provide a parent-teacher manual that provides either daily lesson plans or a schedule of activities. Thus, this method requires much less preparation time for the parent educator. 

Unit Studies

Unit studies rely on a thematic or integrated process whereby all core subject areas are taught within the context of a specific topic or theme. Unit studies utilize hands-on projects and experiential learning centered around the unit topic. This method requires more planning on the part of the parent educator but is a great option for children who are passionate about learning more about a specific topic. Supporters of this approach say that it enhances knowledge retention and provides access to a broader understanding of a specific topic. An example of a unit study could be the Civil War. Language arts and history topics would including reading about the Civil War, reading first-hand accounts of the war, and writing summaries and performing interpretations of what has been learned. Science instruction may include learning more about the technology and medical care of the time. Math could be taught within the context of word problems or real-life data from the era (e.g., evaluating how many troops were in a battle, how many were injured, how many died, how many were taken prisoner, etc.). There are a lot of published unit studies available, but they do still require preparation on the part of the parent educator. It is also possible to create your own unit study based on your child's individual interests.


Unschooling is an unstructured approach where curricula are determined by the child's interests and abilities. Children learn naturally following their natural curiosity about topics of interest. Parent educators using this approach strive to provide a rich learning environment to encourage exploration of topics of interest as well as to introduce new topics. Formal teaching is reserved for times when the parent educator thinks it is needed. Most often, parent educators encourage, support, and coach their children. 

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