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Homeschooling Methods

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a Victorian British woman who developed an education philosophy. The method is literature-based, learning from reading whole books, rather than textbooks or workbooks. There is also strong emphasis on narration: the process of the child forming questions and opinions about his studies through the process of oral discussion, essay writing, journaling, drawing, etc.

Classical Education

Based on Medieval educational practice, Classical Education is shaped around stages of intellectual development.

The first phase, Grammar (corresponding with the elementary years), emphasizes the learning of facts and memorization. The second stage, Logic (middle school), focuses on the development of skills for argument and debate. The third stage, Rhetoric (high school), strengthens articulation skills: the ability to write and speak cogently and to communicate ideas clearly.

Eclectic Homeschooling

Eclectic Homeschooling is the process of picking and choosing from all the other methods of homeschooling, and developing an approach that works for your family.

For example, perhaps you'd choose to use a curriculum for math, following it precisely, while using a Charlotte Mason-like approach to the social studies: reading books and discussing them and writing about them. For everything else, you'd just keep a good supply of materials on hand and let your children explore in their own way.

There isn't any single approach to Eclectic Homeschooling. By definition, it is going to be different for every family.

Based on my personal experience, the vast majority of homeschoolers wind up becoming Eclectic Homeschoolers over time, as they adjust for their children's changing needs and interests.


The Montessori method is based on the writings and ideas of Maria Montessori, an Italian teacher. Maria Montessori believed that learning is a natural process. With this method, the child is given the freedom to direct his own work, and the emphasis is on controlling the environment, not the child.


The School-At-Home method is exactly what it sounds like. The duplication of traditional 20th Century schooling at home, complete with workbooks, tests, and grades.

Unit Studies

Unit studies incorporate the various academic subjects into the study of a subject of interest. For example, say your child is extremely interested in horses. You begin a several month intensive study of horses. That study might include reading novels about horses, studying anatomy, visiting a large animal veterinarian, riding and caring for horses, drawing horses, making a horse quilt, and studying the history of horse breeding. The study of math, writing, history, science, etc. will be naturally included in the process.


Unschooling is a naturalistic, child-directed, non-coercive method of education. The parent supports the child on her journey, trusting that she will learn what she needs to know on her own.


Waldorf Education is based on the philosophy and religious beliefs of Rudolph Steiner. Waldorf Education emphasizes an artistic approach to many subjects, particularly in the early years, discourages use of electronic media, and supports a non-competitive environment.

Buying a Homeschool Curriculum
Tips for evaluating curricula and making the best choice for your family.

Designing a Homeschool Curriculum
A five step guide to designing your own curriculum.

Your Child's Learning Style
Identify your child's learning style.

Throughout history theories of education have reflected the dominant psychologies of learning and systems of ethics. - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.

©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley
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