There are so many options to choose from regarding learning styles, it can sometimes be overwhelming. This is particularly true for new homeschoolers who are searching for the right way to teach their family and to choose curriculum based on their particular style. Before deciding on a homeschool learning style, familiarize yourself with the basics of each homeschool learning method. While there are many, a few are more popular among homeschoolers than others.
Charlotte Mason – Charlotte Mason was an educator who believed the whole child should be educated, not just the intellectual side. She encouraged reading, playing outdoors and expression. Arts are very important to expand one’s mind. This is one of the most popular homeschooling methods.
Classical – A classical approach to education takes a three step approach starting with memorization of facts, logical thinking then individual expression. Classical studies are systematic in approach and cyclical, repeating various topics with regularity through each stage of learning. It is highly language centric and focuses a lot on reading, writing and discussing.
Eclectic – An eclectic style is another popular homeschool method. It is where homeschoolers pick and choose various parts of many different educational styles and incorporate them into their homeschool lessons. An eclectic style is a little bit of everything.
Montessori – The Montessori style was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori who thought children would learn best given freedom in a well structured learning environment. The style is based on the belief children will naturally want to learn and if you structure their environment and allow them ready access to materials, they will absorb more.
Parent and Child Directed – The parent and child decide on the best subjects to study and how. There is often an emphasis on art and nature. While the child is not entirely in charge of the curriculum, their interests are strongly considered.
Traditional – A traditional education greatly resembles what you will see in a public school classroom on a smaller scale. It uses similar textbook learning, lecturing, testing processes and grading. While some homeschoolers mimic what they see in a public school situation and chose to homeschool for social or religious reasons, this is not a very popular homeschool teaching method.
Unit Studies – Unit studies incorporate different subject areas to learn about a specific topic. Instead of reading about a particular topic and then doing a workbook lesson or having a discussion, unit studies incorporate many more aspects. You may read about the topic, answer some questions, make a piece of art, act out a play, use a map, sing a song and creating a model. The concept is that the more ways you can incorporate the topic into various subjects, the better the topic will be retained.
Unschool – Unschooling is an entirely child directed homeschool style. The child decides what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. Most unschoolers choose not to use traditional forms of education such as reading or lectures and they often do not keep grades. Unschoolers prefer hands-on activities, art, imagination and music. The theory is the child’s natural curiosity and thirst for learning will allow them to learn a lot.
Waldorf – Rudolph Steiner developed this educational method for schools that many homeschoolers have adopted. The emphasis is learning through understanding the natural development of the child through adulthood. Waldorf educators typically do no formal school lessons before the age of seven but encourage art, play, and imagination. Through early teens with academic work following artistic. Older children work more intensely on academics with a focus on independent thinking.
While not an exhaustive list, these educational styles are among the more popular you will see being used or discussed in homeschool circles. If any of the homeschool styles appeal to you, research them further for more in depth information, check your homeschool groups to see if anyone has personal experience with them and try it yourself. Remember, though, you do not have to commit to any one style and do not be afraid to change your style if it is not working for you.