Considering Homeschool: Methods

Exploring homeschool methods can be an interesting, yet intimidating part of considering homeschool.   You may have already done some reading about these schools of thought and instantly identified with a method.

Maybe this all seems like gibberish to you.  Either way, we’re going to take a brief look at some well-loved homeschool methods.

Considering Homeschool Methods

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1. The Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason’s method focuses on quality literature for all ages and hands-on learning by leading children to be naturally curious about the world around them.  If I were playing a word association game, here’s what I’d say about the CM Method:

  • nature walks
  • notebooking journals
  • dictation
  • full bookshelves
  • less curriculum, more exploring

There are lots of great websites and resources out there about this method, but my favorite for an intro to Charlotte Mason is A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison.  It’s a very digestible summary and should help you decide pretty easily if this is a good direction for your homeschool.

2. The Classical Method

Of all methods, I feel like this can be the most intimidating for a homeschool newbie. There are three stages within the classical method: grammar (younger children), logic (middle school age), and rhetoric (high school) and the primary goal is to train children to reason.

For further reading, I suggest a glance at the Classical Conversations Community and the ever-famous The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.  If you do pick up a copy of The Well-Trained Mind, please don’t have a panic attack based on the sheer size of it.

Keep in mind that covers early learning through high school and has tons of suggestions on curriculum and schedules too.  It’s not just educational theory and hundreds of pages on why your child needs to know Latin.

3.  Unschooling

If Charlotte Mason and classical education make you want to run and hide for whatever reason, unschooling might be just the method for you.  I have known families who unschool beautifully.  High fives and fist bumps all around.  I’ve also known families who pretty much do nothing at all and call it unschooling.  Please don’t do that.

If I had to nutshell it, unschooling is child-led education.  It can look incredibly different from family to family (like any other homeschool method), but the gist of it is that parents capitalize on their child’s natural interests and day-to-day life experiences and build the framework for education around those interests and experiences.

4.  The Traditional Method

This setup would likely be the most similar to your experiences as a student if you weren’t homeschooled.  This basically entails textbooks and curriculum driven assignments, worksheets, tests, etc.

Although I don’t like to insinuate that homeschool is nothing more than “doing school at home,” this method is naturally structured to resemble “school.”

5.  Eclectic Homeschooling

If you’re like us, you’ll try a little bit from all of these methods through the years and you’ll find that some elements from each method work and some are a horrible match for your homeschool.  That’s where eclectic homeschooling comes in.

There are aspects of all of these methods present each week in our homeschool and our method of choice often varies by subject.  I suspect that there are more eclectic homeschoolers out there than homeschool families tied town to one method only.

Considering Homeschool - Choosing Your Method

There they are.  Do some reading, drink it all in, and see what lines up with your needs.  Don’t worry about getting it right instantly.  It’s often a trial and error process.

Although I was always interested in other methods, I started with a very traditional mindset and eventually shifted to a classical and Charlotte Mason mix.  That’s one of the beautiful things about homeschool.  You can search as long as it takes to find what best suits your needs.  And if you don’t find it, you can come up with a customized mix that suits your home perfectly.


Need some help understand which method is best for you? Don’t miss the Methods and Philosophies post in my Homeschool 101 series:

Homeschool 101: Methods Matter

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