Popular Homeschool Methods: Which One is Best for Your Family?

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Hang out anywhere with a bunch of homeschool moms, and chances are you're going to discover that their homeschool methods are diverse. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that you have the flexibility to customize your child’s education by their specific needs. Typically, the customizations you tend to use are defined as the “types” of homeschooling.

There are many different methods of homeschooling, each with their own pros and cons. But, if you’re new to homeschooling, this can often be confusing when you start hearing about each of the types of homeschooling. And you may start to wonder which style is best for your family.

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Here are a few of the most popular homeschool methods, along with their advantages and disadvantages. 

Eclectic Homeschooling

Outschool

Eclectic homeschooling is probably one of the most popular types of homeschooling that most families use. This style is a more relaxed method where parents use a personalized approach to teaching based on the learning styles and interests of the child. This is the method I use to describe our style of homeschooling.

Eclectic homeschoolers also use a variety of different learning approaches. If there is an approach that is not working for your child, many eclectic homeschoolers will ditch it and try something else. 

Pros to Eclectic Homeschooling

  • Parents choose the textbooks and classes that fit their child’s needs and interests.
  • You can experiment and try new things when it comes to teaching and drop what’s not working.
  • Your curriculum doesn’t have to be based on grade level so you can tailor each child’s subject and choose curriculum that is suitable for a range of grades. This lends itself to “family schooling”.

Cons to Eclectic Homeschooling

  • It can be more time consuming because you are designing your own curriculum instead of using a pre-packaged curriculum.
  • It can be easy to put a curriculum together that may be too much for your child. Cramming a bunch of learning in a small amount of time can be overwhelming for your whole family.
  • It can be expensive mixing and matching the curriculum you want to use.

Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason was an educator in Britain that designed her own method of learning which has become known as the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. This philosophy is based upon teaching children by using good habits, living books, and experiences. 

The use of “living books” is the most well-known aspect of the Charlotte Mason method. Books are considered living books if they are written by people that are passionate about what they’ve written. These books are often written in conversational styles that make learning come alive by pulling you into the topic.

Pros of the Charlotte Mason Method:

  • There is a lot of emphasis on the arts and allows children to be creative.
  • Lessons are meant to be short and in the morning so children have time to focus on play afterward.
  • There really aren’t any tests. You use narration, dictation, and discussion. 

Cons to the Charlotte Mason Method:

  • With a focus on living books, a variety of books are needed to teach.
  • It can get expensive purchasing living books as the years go on because good books can be quite expensive.

When I started homeschooling, my biggest question was "Which method should I use?" This posts explains the advantages and disadvantages of some popular homeschool methods.

Classical Homeschooling

Classical homeschooling uses five tools; reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. There are three stages with the classical approach that are based around the trivium model. 

The first stage (also referred to as the grammar stage) is for the younger children. They spend time learning learn the basics:  reading, writing, and math. This is usually started at a young age through elementary and focuses mainly on memorizing the facts. 

The second stage (the logic stage) focuses on analytical reasoning. This stage allows students to focus more on asking questions, comparing, and contrasting. In this stage, children also learn how to argue logically and focus on critical thinking by evaluating, analyzing and investigating.

In the last stage (the rhetoric stage) everything from the first two stages is brought together to go on to the more advanced topics of essay writing, speeches, debates, economics, independent thinking, and communication. 

Classical homeschooling usually includes studying the Greek and Latin languages and reading classical books. 

Pros of Classical Homeschooling

  • More emphasis is placed on critical thinking, logic, and drawing conclusions. 
  • It provides core knowledge for math, language arts, history, and science. 
  • Children are introduced to the classics at a young age.
  • It may be perfect for children who enjoy learning languages and is often said to produce logical thinkers.

Cons of Classical Homeschooling

  • It involves a lot of memorization, narration, and dictation.
  • It can be boring if your child doesn’t enjoy the subjects the curriculum focuses on. 
  • The curriculum can be heavy. It’s a highly disciplined approach so children may get overwhelmed and discouraged.
  • Because the focus is on language, it can be weak in science learning. 

Unschooling

Unschooling can be described as a natural interest-led learning approach. Those who unschool let the child lead the learning while the parent is just the facilitator. This method operates on the foundation that children are naturally curious and don’t have to be forced to learn by formal lessons. Instead, learning is done by interest and curiosity. 

With unschooling, everyday life experiences are what teaches children and there are no time restraints on any subject or learning aspect.

Pros of Unschooling

  • Children get more natural real-world learning experiences which gives them more hands-on learning.
  • There’s no set schedule and lots of flexibility to learn whenever and wherever.
  • Kids have more time to become experts in the areas that interest them.

Cons of Unschooling

  • There is a lack of structure because there are no strict schedules that are being followed.
  • If the child were to reenter the public school system, the lack of structure and the type of school schedule they’ve had with homeschooling could make it harder for the child to transition.
  • There is often no testing involved with unschooling which means there could be lower grade-level assessments. 

Many of new homeschooling parents get unschooling and deschooling mixed up. While they both sound similar, deschooling actually refers to the time given to the children to adjust after leaving a traditional school setting. Some families often deschool before they start homeschooling. 

There are other types of homeschooling methods and each method has its pros and cons. If you are considering homeschooling your child, research each method to see what will work best for your child and family.

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of LearningA Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of LearningA Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of LearningThe Relaxed Art of Eclectic HomeschoolingThe Relaxed Art of Eclectic HomeschoolingThe Relaxed Art of Eclectic HomeschoolingThe Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Fourth Edition)The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Fourth Edition)The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Fourth Edition)Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional ClassroomUnschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional ClassroomUnschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom

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Which homeschool method seems most appealing to you? Why? Leave a comment below.

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When I started homeschooling, my biggest question was "Which method should I use?" This posts explains the advantages and disadvantages of some popular homeschool methods. When I started homeschooling, my biggest question was "Which method should I use?" This posts explains the advantages and disadvantages of some popular homeschool methods.

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