Homeschooling Methods

There is a wide variety of homeschooling methods and materials. Many homeschoolers base their work on a particular educational philosophy such as:

* Classical education (including Trivium, Quadrivium)
* Waldorf Education
* Charlotte Mason education
* Theory of multiple intelligence's
* Montessori method

Others use a broad combination of ideas or allow the child to develop his or her own motivation, through what is known as Unschooling. Because homeschool laws vary widely according to state statutes, official curriculum requirements vary.


Unit Studies
Unit studies teach most subjects in the context of a central theme. For example, a unit study of Native Americans would combine age-appropriate lessons in social studies (how different tribes lived), art (making Native American clothing), history (the history of Native Americans in the U.S.), Reading (usually by a reading list), science (plants used by Native Americans). The following month, the unit-study subject could change to "Construction," or some other broad topic of study. Supporters say unit studies make excellent use of student time by combining several fields into one study time, and permit students to follow personal interests. Unit studies also permit children of different ages to study together. For example, in a Native American unit, a 10th-grade student might make a deer-skin coat for an art project, while a 1st-grade student might make construction-paper tipis. Homeschoolers often purchase unit-study guides that suggest materials, projects and shopping lists, and supplement them with specialized curricula for math, and sometimes reading and writing.


Special Materials
Special materials focus on skill-building. Individual subject materials usually consist of workbooks, sometimes with textbooks and a teachers' guide. Many specialized subjects are only available in this form. Special materials are frequently used for math and primary reading. Critics say that some parents over-focus on skills while excluding social studies, Science, Art, History and other fields that help children learn their place in the world.


All-in-one Curricula
All-in-one curricula are comprehensive packages covering many subjects, usually an entire year's worth. Some call them "school in a box." They contain all needed books and materials, including pencils and writing paper. Most such curricula were developed for isolated families who lack access to public schools, libraries and shops, or are overseas. These materials typically recreate the school environment in the home, and are typically based on the same subject-area expectations as public schools, allowing an easy re-transition into school if desired. They are among the most expensive options for homeschoolers, but are easy to use and require minimal preparation. The teacher's guides are usually extensive, with step-by-step instructions. These programs may include nationally-normed tests, and remote examinations to yield an accredited private-school diploma.


Community Resources
Homeschoolers take advantage of educational programs at museums, community centers, athletic clubs, after-school programs, churches, science preserves, parks, and other community resources. High-school level students often take classes at community colleges, which typically have open admission policies.


Eclectic Curricula
The majority of today's homeschoolers use an eclectic mix of materials. For instance, they might use a pre-designed program for language arts or math, and fill in history with reading and field trips, art with classes at a community center, science through a homeschool science club, PE with membership in local sports teams, and so on.


Unschooling is an area within homeschooling in which students are not directly instructed but encouraged to learn through exploring their interests. Also known as interest-led or child-led learning, unschooling attempts to provide opportunities with games and real life problems where a child will learn without coercion. An unschooled child may choose to use texts or classroom instruction, but it is never considered central to education. Advocates for unschooling claim that children learn best by learning from doing. A child may learn reading and math skills from playing card games, better spelling and other writing skills because he's inspired to write a science fiction story for publication, or local history by following a zoning or historical-status dispute.