Homeschooling Approaches, Philosophies, and Styles

Recently, on a homeschool list that I belong to, people were discussing a homeschool approach that I had never heard of. The thread motivated me to post about various homeschool philosophies/approaches/styles. I’m going to create a page for new homeschoolers and add this list to it. I will add to the page as I can.

  • Charlotte Mason was a late-19th/early 20th century British educator. Simply Charlotte Mason has a good definition of the Charlotte Mason method. “A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.” Ambleside Online provides a free Charlotte Mason curriculum.
  • Classical – The Well-Trained Mind author, Susan Wise Bauerm gives us a good definition of classical education. “Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.”
  • Core Knowledge – this educational approach was begun by E.D. Hirsch. According to the Core Knowledge site, “Core Knowledge provides a clear outline of content to be learned grade by grade so that knowledge, language, and skills build cumulatively from year to year. This sequential building of knowledge not only helps ensure that children enter each new grade ready to learn, it also helps prevent the repetitions and gaps that so often characterize current education.”
  • Eclectic – eclectic refers to homeschoolers who take a bit of this and a bit of that in regards to educational approaches. They may use a Montessori approach while their child is a preschooler, an unschooling approach for elementary school, and a classical approach for junior high and high school. Or they might use Charlotte Mason for their nature study, great books for language arts, classical for social studies, unschooling for math, unit studies for science, Waldorf for art, etc. And they mix things up year-to-year or do things differently with each child.
  • Enki Education “is a Global Cultures Curriculum in which ALL academic learning is introduced through the arts. Our Classroom & Homeschool curriculum weave together many diverse elements in order to support our fundamental premise: the central task of education, whether in the classroom or homeschool, is the integration of body, heart, and mind within each child. The result is the cultivation of educational excellence, confidence & competence. This individual wellbeing is inseparable from the wellbeing of the communities of our lives – families, neighbors, the global community. For this reason, we have developed a Classroom and Homeschool curriculum in which the children can see their own strengths & struggles reflected in all peoples, and can experience human greatness in all, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.”
  • Great Books – this education approach is sometimes lumped together with classical education, but though I consider Great Books to be a component of a classical education, a Great Books education does not necessarily revolve around the three developmental stages, include the study of Latin and/or Greek, etc. Great Books refers simply to an education based on “a group of books that tradition, and various institutions and authorities, have regarded as constituting or best expressing the foundations of Western culture.” (Wikipedia)
  • Lapbooking/Notebooking – Lapbooks and notebooks are tools used to do studies, very often unit studies. Lapbooks use file folders to store minibooks, foldables, printable games, art, writing, photos, etc.  Notebooking often involves using specially designed notebooking pages instead of, or in addition to, minibooks, foldables, etc. to record information.
  • Montessori – this educational philosophy was created by educator, Maria Montessori. According the Montessori International Index, “The basis of Montessori practice in the classroom is mixed age group (3 ages – 6 ages in one class), individual choice of research and work, and uninterrupted concentration. Group lessons are seldom found in a Montessori classroom, but learning abounds.”
  • Moore Method was developed by Dorothy and Raymond Moore, and according to the Moore Foundation site, includes :
    1. Study from a few minutes to several hours a day, depending on the child’s maturity.
    2. Manual work at least as much as study.
    3. Home and/or community service an hour or so a day. Focus on kids’ interests and needs; be an example in consistency, curiosity, and patience.
    4. Live with them! Worry less about tests; we’ll help you there. With the Moore Formula, if you are loving and can read, write, count, and speak clearly, you are a master teacher.
  • Objectivism is a philosophy that was defined by Ayn Rand. According to Wikipedia: “In her philosophy of Objectivism, Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion…” Honestly, I don’t really understand how objectivism translates in regards to homeschooling, other than it seems that public schooling goes against the very grain of objectivism. So I am going to point you towards some objectivist sites and blogs that may be able to help answer any questions you might have:
  • School-at-Home – This method of homeschooling would  entail running your homeschool just like a public school, but at home. I’m not sure if anyone really does this method of homeschooling, the phrase tends to be used more as an insult from one homeschooler in reference to another homeschooler, as in “She tends to be more of a ‘school-at-home’ homeschooler, she even makes her kids say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before they start school.” New homeschoolers tend to veer towards the “school at home” approach more than experienced homeschoolers.
  • Sue Patrick’s Work Box System is a way of organizing and presenting any curriculum.
  • A Thomas Jefferson Education – This educational approach has seven key principles:
      1. Classics, Not Textbooks
      2. Mentors, Not Professors
      3. Inspire, Not Require
      4. Structure Time, Not Content
      5. Simplicity, Not Complexity
      6. Quality, Not Conformity
      7. You, Not Them
  • Unit Studies use the study of one subject matter to cover multiple disciplines. For example, a study of cars could cover the history of cars, the math and science that goes into the operation of a car, literature about cars, the art that is involved in designing a car, etc.
  • Unschooling can also be referred to as child-led, natural, self-directed, etc. learning. Unschoolers allow the learner to dictate what will be learned, when it will be learned, and how it will be learned. The term was coined by educator, John Holt, who went on to found Growing Without Schooling. 
  • Waldorf education is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. According to Waldorf Answers, “Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is based on an anthroposophical view and understanding of the human being, that is, as a being of body, soul and spirit. The education mirrors the basic stages of a child’s development from childhood to adulthood, which in general reflects the development of humanity through history from our origin, far back in past times up to the present.”

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff