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Homeschooling? Unschooling? Charlotte Mason? Waldorf? Part time? Full time? The variations within homeschooling can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it seems at first.

Consider these common curricula and educational philosophies used by homeschoolers. This is not an exhaustive list, but it covers many top programs and should help you feel more comfortable deciding what kind of homeschooler you are.

Study Unit

In unit studies, one topic at a time is intensely focused. This can teach the ability to compartmentalize and synthesize information. Some examples are doing an in-depth study of the Presidents of the United States or spending the month before an ocean vacation studying the sea and weather patterns. Unit studies can also use a child’s interests to study a larger topic; For example, studying fashion trends over the centuries to see how major events in history affected everyday life.

charlotte mason

The Charlotte Mason method is based on the work of the British educator Charlotte Mason. She believed that “education is an environment, a discipline, and a life.” She believed that the atmosphere makes up one third of a child’s upbringing, that cultivating good habits makes up another third, and that children should be taught living, practical ideas rather than dry facts.


Waldorf education aims to educate the child as a whole, “head, heart and hands”. Waldorf tries to foster a genuine love of learning in each child and incorporates the arts and activities to create students who can create meaning in their lives without outside help.


The Montessori method focuses on student-directed learning that aims to support a child’s natural way of learning. Montessori involves the individual attention and observation of the teacher and emphasizes the five senses rather than just the visual and auditory senses used for reading, listening, and looking.

multiple intelligence

Education in multiple intelligences is based on Dr. Howard Gardner’s eight areas of intelligence and learning styles: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Each individual has strengths in one or more of these intelligences, and the multiple intelligences approach involves discovering those areas of strength and teaching through them (for example, a student strong in body-kinesthetic or touch-related awareness will have more likely to learn by doing, whereas a linguistically strong child will learn better by reading, writing, and playing with words).

classical education

Classical education uses three age groups or periods of learning, called “grammar periods” (which focuses on the basic components of education, memorization and the rules of basic mathematics, phonetics, etc.), the “logical stage ” (when the cause-effect relationships are explored and the child is challenged to ask “why,” engage in critical thinking, and synthesize ideas) and the “rhetoric stage” (when the student learns to use language to explain their ideas clearly and powerfully). , and begins to focus on areas of knowledge that attract their interest; this stage can sometimes involve internships, apprenticeships, university courses, and other forms of higher/specialized education).

Thomas Jefferson Education

Thomas Jefferson Education, also known as “Leadership Education,” also follows three terms: the “Fundamental Phases” (focusing on core values ​​and a love of learning), the “Educational Phases” (teaching study skills and discipline; in which middle-stage students engage in a mentor-led program, such as an internship or setting and achieving a personal goal), and “application phases” that exist after formal education and last for the remainder of student’s life (during which the student focuses on contributing to the community, and acts as a mentor or community leader). Thomas Jefferson’s education is largely centered on a love of learning, a commitment to values, and the Seven Keys to Great Teaching.

Accredited Curriculum/Distance Education/Internet

This type of homeschooling, sometimes referred to as “public school at home,” is highly structured and uses state-approved curricula that mirror the curricula used in public schools. The parent acts as the teacher and there is usually a satellite or mentor teacher to whom the student reports. Examples include,, and various university-affiliated high school programs such as Penn Foster High School and BYU Independent Study.

delayed schooling

This type of education follows the belief that children are not ready for formal education until they are 7-9 years old. This approach encourages play and natural curiosity in the early years and moves towards more formal learning as the child reaches age 7 (with flexibility depending on the child). This philosophy, though sometimes questioned, is becoming commonly accepted even in some mainstream schools, particularly in the UK, and is quite common among the out-of-school.

principle approach

The primary focus of the education, which is based on the writings of Rosalie J. Slater and Verna M. Hall, looks at all topics and information through a Christian worldview. The Bible is used as a main textbook and the student creates notebooks that incorporate both the school material and his thoughts and meditations. The principles approach uses “the 4 R’s”, inquiry (finding God’s word and identifying religious principles), reasoning (discovering cause and effect relationships), relating (applying information to the student), and recording (writing or recording applications of the student). and impressions).

faith based

Similar to the Principled Approach but more flexible and not specific to any belief system, faith-based homeschooling incorporates both secular and religious knowledge, and religious beliefs and family values ​​are freely worked into learning and the discussions. Although this mix is ​​a natural side effect of being homeschooled in a religious home, faith-based education more obviously connects academic knowledge with religion. Spiritual beliefs and experiences are considered as or more important to a child’s education as secular knowledge, and parents actively seek to incorporate religious beliefs into the student’s curriculum/educational experience.

learning centers

Although not often used full-time as a replacement for public or private school, many homeschoolers find it helpful to supplement their curriculum with courses and/or tutoring at learning centers like Kumon, Sylvan, and Huntington. These centers can be especially helpful as a student approaches college, since many of them offer ACT and SAT prep courses.

As always, homeschooling is a deeply individual individual matter that must be modified to suit your family. As long as your homeschooling method works for you, keep it, love it, change it as needed, and enjoy the adventure.

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