Common Approaches

  • Traditional or Textbook Approach: This closely parallels the school setting. Students could be using actual textbooks or one of the many variations that have been created for independent, individual learning such as work texts that contain both the text and work pages together. Computerized versions of this approach are also popular. They cover each subject in depth and in a logical order of topics.
  • Unit Study Approach: Families with multi-age children often consider unit studies to do multi-level teaching. These units are theme-centered, in-depth, hands-on, and integrate most subjects. Topics of study could center around history, character development, science, or other areas of general interest. Math and structural language usually need additional systematic teaching.
  • Interest-Initiated or Unschooling Approach: The student’s interests direct areas of study/learning and parents support and facilitate the student’s learning with “real-life” experiences. Other than basic teaching in the 3-R’s, much learning comes through reading good literature and nonfiction. Everyday activities supplement study and give it perspective.

Home education viewpoints that can guide your home schooling choices:

  • Classical Approach: Highly structured educational style; based on method called “The Trivium,” developed by Dorothy Sayers; a three-part process of training a child’s mind; emphasizes ancient disciplines and classic literature.
  • Moore Formula Approach: Embraces readiness principle for all tasks; researched by Raymond and Dorothy Moore; uses the student’s interests and a balance of study, work, and community service.
  • Charlotte Mason Approach: Uses intellectually nourishing “living books” and narration (a child’s telling in his own words – written or orally); makes time for nature observation, art and music appreciation, and hospitality; developed by British educator Charlotte Mason in the early 1900’s.

Which method should I choose?

There is no one right method or curriculum. There is a vast array of home education materials and approaches to glean from. Your choice of approach and materials will evolve as you set your goals and learn about your children’s learning styles as well as your own. Most families would agree that how they teach usually evolves with time. What is most important is not what materials you choose to use, but that what you do is successful and achievable for you and your children. Motivation, the number and ages of your children, and ability levels will all come into play in making your decision. You may find that a mixture of many approaches will occur as you continue on your journey.