Homeschool Teaching Methods


When I started homeschooling in 1981, I did not know about teaching methods. There was very little curriculum available for homeschoolers; and, since I had no one to tell me what a teaching method was, I had to come up with my own method - probably much like families did in early American history. I now know that the method I used is called "eclectic." I used real books (fiction, nonfiction, biographies, historical fiction), art supplies, science equipment, travel, nature study, and an occasional textbook/workbook as I found ones that were suitable.

Today, there is so much curriculum to choose from, it's hard to know what to buy. Curriculum Fairs are brimming with vendors selling the newest products created especially for the homeschooled student. How do you choose? To help you in your quest, you might want to know a little about the teaching methods used by homeschoolers. Here are the major ones and a brief description. For more information, check out the resources listed with the method.

1. Charlotte Mason

2. Classical

3. Unit Studies

  • learning that is focused on a particular topic or time period
  • each child completes age-appropriate activities that relate to the topic
  • teach all ages of children at once
  • integrate social studies, science, fine arts, language arts, religion, and occasionally math.
  • based on a theme, historical event, science topic such as rainbows, a character trait such as honesty, a piece of literature, the life of a person, or a piece of artwork.
  • Usually one on one teaching is done in the morning and afternoons are set aside for hands-on projects and field trips.
  • The goal is to instill a love of learning.

    Unit Study Resources:

  • Konos.
  • Five in a Row, Volume 1 and others by Jane Claire Lambert
  • Oceans Thematic Unit and others by Teacher Created Materials
  • Oklahoma Homeschool free units.
  • Do a search on Christian Book for Unit Studies for more ideas.

4. Unschooling (also called natural learning)

  • Focus on a child’s natural desire to learn as they experience life.
  • Quote from website: “What it isn’t: Unschooling isn't a recipe, and therefore it can't be explained in recipe terms. Unschooling isn't a method, it is a way of looking at children and at life. It is based on trust that parents and children will find the paths that work best for them - without depending on educational institutions, publishing companies, or experts to tell them what to do. Unschooling does not mean that parents can never teach anything to their children, or that children should learn about life entirely on their own without the help and guidance of their parents. Unschooling does not mean that parents give up active participation in the education and development of their children and simply hope that something good will happen. Finally, since many unschooling families have definite plans for college, unschooling does not even mean that children will never take a course in any kind of a school. Quote: Our son has never had an academic lesson, has never been told to read or to learn mathematics, science, or history. Nobody has told him about phonics. He has never taken a test or has been asked to study or memorize anything. When people ask, "What do you do?" My answer is that we follow our interests - and our interests inevitably lead to science, literature, history, mathematics, music - all the things that have interested people before anybody thought of them as "subjects".
  • The goal is to teach them to think for themselves, train them in practical life skills and allow them to be self-educating.
  • Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple Computer, once said: "Do what you love, and learn to do it very, very well, and some day someone will pay you very, very well to do it for them!" I think this goes very well with the unschooler's philosophy.

Unschooling Resources

5. Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum

  • Focus on the 3 Rs, adding other subjects only if needed.
  • Lots of reading
  • Saxon math
  • college-level science
  • a full school day
  • No TV, no sugar,
  • no calculators until after calculus is mastered.
  • The goal is to move them to be self-educating as soon as possible.

    Robinson Resources.

6. Montessori

  • learn from real life
  • Instructor’s main job is to observe and mentor, no planned lessons or homework
  • allows child to follow his own interests in choosing what to learn (math is taught in a somewhat more structured manner)
  • maintain an enriched, uncluttered learning environment, large family library, art & music supplies, science equipment, no junk food, no TV or computer
  • self-correcting teaching tools
  • goal is to instill a love of learning and teach life skills.

    Montessori Resources.

7. Principle Approach

  • Focus on the worldview of America’s founding fathers.
  • Teach using classical, pro-liberty literature
  • primary documents
  • vocabulary from Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary
  • Use the Notebook method (Research, Reason, Relate, Record)
  • colonial-style math and reading
  • lectures
  • lots of writing
  • memorization
  • full school day
  • Goal is to Implant Christian character, virtuous leadership and a Biblical worldview

    Principal Approach Website

8. Traditional

9. Eclectic

  • As you continue homeschooling, you may move from one method to another until you find one you are comfortable with.
  • Most homeschoolers use a variety of teaching methods, depending on their needs and resources. This is called the Eclectic method.
  • Don't forget to purchase The Checklist if you are the eclectic style and like to do it yourself!

10. Part-time Teacher

  • Perhaps you want to do some of the above and have someone else teach the harder subjects. Check out local homeschool co-ops, tutoring centers, and private tutors.

Back to Step by Step Guide to Choosing Curriculum



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