Did you know there was such a thing as a homeschool style? Just like different people have different fashion styles, different families have different homeschool styles. Some families like a super structured routine with lots of memorization and repetition. Some families prefer to be more laid back and “unschool.” Do you know what style you want your homeschool to be?
When we lived in Alabama, I was surrounded by moms who homeschooled. Almost every stay-at-home mom I knew was also a homeschool mom, and that was mostly because public education in Alabama is very poor. The best two options for education were private school (the popular private schools were the same as college tuition!) or to homeschool, so we homeschooled for two and a half years while we lived there.
While homeschool wasn’t my favorite (I’m totally NOT a teacher!), I certainly had a ton of momma resources surrounding me and I learned a LOT about homeschooling and the many ways to go about it. Different families have different philosophies on what education should look like for their family, so don’t be stuck on the idea that your homeschool has to exactly mimic public education. There are a TON of philosophies on what education can look like!
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission if you purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for more info.
Charlotte Mason Education
Charlotte Mason Education focuses on the whole child, not just on the mind. Good habits, understanding ideas rather than facts, and literature-rich studies integrating art and music are all elements of a Charlotte Mason Education.
Start here for more info on Charlotte Mason Education: Home Education by Charlotte Mason
At Classical Education’s core is the idea that students will go through three stages of learning (called the trivium) based on brain development. At the youngest stage, elementary students work on learning and memorizing facts. In the middle stage, students learn logic with an emphasis on analysis and thought processes. In the third stage, usually high school, the focus is on rhetoric where students learn how to communicate and share ideas clearly and effectively. Classical Conversations is one example of a classical education system.
Start here for more information on a Classical Education: The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education
In the early 1900s, Maria Montessori put forth the educational philosophy that subjects should not be taught separately, but should be integrated in learning. Montessori education is child-led with a focus on exploration where the parent acts as a guide rather than a teacher. There is an emphasis on simplicity and learning through play.
Start here for more information on a Montessori Education: Montessori Today
A Project-Based Learning philosophy believes learning is acquired through doing, so lessons are learned by doing projects or experiments rather than working through textbooks or workbooks. The adult is the teacher and projects are used to teach multiple subjects (i.e. math, science, writing).
Start here for Project-Based Learning Education: Project Based Learning Made Simple
Thomas Jefferson Education
Thomas Jefferson Education is an educational philosophy that focuses on raising leaders. The early years focus on teaching morals, family values and responsibility. The middle years focus on learning and developing a love for education. The later years focus on studying leadership and classics, spending time with mentors, and intentional study.
Start here for a Thomas Jefferson Education: A Thomas Jefferson Education
A Traditional Education mimics that of public school. Grade level textbooks and workbooks are included as well as tests, grades and a routine schedule. A Traditional Education may not last as long as public school, but it will be structured similarly.
Start here for a Traditional Education: Where Teachers Thrive
Unit Studies Approach
A Unit Studies approach to homeschooling takes a topic and teaches reading, writing, math and science around that topic while typically including lessons for grades K-12. Larger families teaching many grades at once typically utilize unit studies, and notebooking (or lapbooking) often plays a large part since it can be adapted to all grades.
Start here for a Unit Studies Education: Unit Studies Made Easy
An Unschooling approach to homeschool is child-led topically and the adult acts more as facilitator rather than teacher. Unschooling may be less structured and include more extracurricular classes, and the courses studied are picked because the child has expressed interest in them rather than the courses and topics being chosen by the parent. The curriculum for one child may look very different than the curriculum for another child because the children are interested in different subjects and studies. Families that enjoy traveling and teaching through travel would appreciate an unschooling approach.
Start here for an Unschooling Education: Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling
Waldorf Education, or Steiner Education, was introduced by Rudolph Steiner in the 1910s in Germany. The foundation of the philosophy rests on the idea that students’ intellectual, artistic, and practical skills should be developed in an integrated and holistic manner with a focus on cognitive, emotional and behavioral development. No formal schooling is started until 7 years of age, and art and spirituality are the basis for how one interacts with education and the world. There is little formal education included in the Waldorf philosophy.
Start here for a Waldorf Education: Understanding Waldorf Education
What Did We Do For Homeschool?
When we homeschooled, we did a mix of Unit Studies and Traditional Education with some language and art included in our curriculum. We used written curriculums with worksheets and textbooks and videos. Since my oldest is a very motivated learner, she was able to do some self-directed learning while I was busy with the babies in the morning, but most of our school time happened in the afternoons during naptime when it was quiet and she could focus.
I think if we ever chose to homeschool again, though, we would probably do a mix of Charlotte Mason Education and Thomas Jefferson Education combined with a Traditional Education approach since our family excels in structure and routine. Although, I do appreciate the flexibility of the unschooling approach when teaching through travel!
What Curriculum Did We Use?
These are the curriculums we chose. Some we really enjoyed, and others we were pretty bored with after a few weeks, to be honest. These were all recommended to us by other moms who LOVED them, so you might love them as well. Different strokes for different folks and all that, ya know!
God’s Little Explorers – EXCELLENT preschool curriculum. Just spend the $20 and buy it with all the downloads premade for you. They are awesome. There are so many fun games and activities for learning in this curriculum. I used this with all my kiddos.
Handwriting Without Tears – EXCELLENT curriculum. We used it for teaching both print and cursive.
Math U See – A spiral approach to teaching math, this curriculum comes with DVDs with video instruction and workbooks for math practice and review as well as manipulatives for visually working out math problems. It was a great lower level math curriculum.
Mystery of History – This fun history curriculum can be ordered as audio CDs to listen to in the car, or as a textbook to be read. We used the textbook, and the curriculum was heavy on notebooking which my oldest liked since she’s pretty crafty. This one got boring after a few weeks, but it might just be cause history isn’t our strongest interest.
Weaver Unit Studies Curriculum – A one-room-schoolhouse type curriculum with a unit studies approach, this curriculum is intended to serve multiple years of teaching. After we got through the first year we were ready to learn about new topics, so we were bored with this one after the first year. But I think it’s an excellent curriculum for very large families trying to teach multiple ages, and if teaching is your gift then you’d love this.
What Is Your Homeschool Style?
If you’d like some more insight into your own homeschool style, Eclectic Homeschooling has an excellent homeschool philosophies quiz that will give you some more insight into your homeschool leanings. You should definitely check her out! And don’t forget to let me know the answers to your quiz – I’d love to hear your results!