When I started homeschooling in 1981, I did not know
about teaching methods. There was very
little curriculum available for homeschoolers; and,
since I had no one to tell me what a teaching method
was, I had to come up with my own method - probably
much like families did in early American history. I
now know that the method I used is called
"eclectic." I used real books (fiction, nonfiction,
biographies, historical fiction), art supplies,
science equipment, travel, nature study, and an
occasional textbook/workbook as I found ones that
Today, there is so much curriculum to choose from,
it's hard to know what to buy. Curriculum Fairs are
brimming with vendors selling the newest products
created especially for the homeschooled student. How
do you choose? To help you in your quest, you might
want to know a little about the teaching methods
used by homeschoolers. Here are the major ones and a
brief description. For more information, check out
the resources listed with the method.
1. Charlotte Mason
Focuses on the “trivium,” (grammar, logic,
formal instruction in logic, Greek, Latin, and
the Great Works of Western Literature.
Socratic method of teaching includes Public
speaking, drill work, memorization, and a full
Goal is to train future leaders and to teach
them to think for themselves.
Classical Homeschooling - includes a
complete scope and sequence
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical
Education at Home, Revised and Updated Edition
by Susan Wise Bauer
The Story of the World: History for the
Classical Child; Volume 1: Ancient Times
& workbook by Susan Wise Bauer (curriculum based
on Classical method)
Early American and World History by Rea C.
Berg (curriculum based on Classical)
Greenleaf Guides - curriculum based on
Tapestry of Grace - curriculum based on
Covenant Home - Structured, distance
learning based on Classical
3. Unit Studies
learning that is focused on a particular topic
or time period
each child completes age-appropriate activities
that relate to the topic
teach all ages of children at once
integrate social studies, science, fine arts,
language arts, religion, and occasionally math.
based on a theme, historical event, science
topic such as rainbows, a character trait such
as honesty, a piece of literature, the life of a
person, or a piece of artwork.
Usually one on one teaching is done in the
morning and afternoons are set aside for
hands-on projects and field trips.
The goal is to instill a love of learning.
Unit Study Resources:
Five in a Row, Volume 1 and others by Jane
American Government Unit Study on CD-ROM and
other resources by Amanda Bennett
Oceans Thematic Unit
and others by Teacher Created Materials
Oklahoma Homeschool free units.
Four Wheelers list of unit studies.
Unit Studies Made Easy by Valerie Bendt
4. Unschooling (also called natural
Focus on a child’s natural desire to learn as
they experience life.
Quote from website: “What it isn’t: Unschooling
isn't a recipe, and therefore it can't be
explained in recipe terms. Unschooling isn't a
method, it is a way of looking at children and
at life. It is based on trust that parents and
children will find the paths that work best for
them - without depending on educational
institutions, publishing companies, or experts
to tell them what to do. Unschooling does not
mean that parents can never teach anything to
their children, or that children should learn
about life entirely on their own without the
help and guidance of their parents. Unschooling
does not mean that parents give up active
participation in the education and development
of their children and simply hope that something
good will happen. Finally, since many
unschooling families have definite plans for
college, unschooling does not even mean that
children will never take a course in any kind of
a school. Quote: Our son has never had an
academic lesson, has never been told to read or
to learn mathematics, science, or history.
Nobody has told him about phonics. He has never
taken a test or has been asked to study or
memorize anything. When people ask, "What do you
do?" My answer is that we follow our interests -
and our interests inevitably lead to science,
literature, history, mathematics, music - all
the things that have interested people before
anybody thought of them as "subjects".
The goal is to teach them to think for
themselves, train them in practical life skills
and allow them to be self-educating.
Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple Computer,
once said: "Do what you love, and learn to do it
very, very well, and some day someone will pay
you very, very well to do it for them!" I think
this goes very well with the unschooler's
I am Learning All the Time - a
children's book about unschooling. Recommended
for all! See my review at
How Do I Teach. . . ?.
5. Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum
Focus on the 3 Rs, adding other subjects only if
Lots of reading
a full school day
No TV, no sugar,
no calculators until after calculus is mastered.
The goal is to move them to be self-educating as
soon as possible.
learn from real life
Instructor’s main job is to observe and mentor,
no planned lessons or homework
allows child to follow his own interests in
choosing what to learn (math is taught in a
somewhat more structured manner)
maintain an enriched, uncluttered learning
environment, large family library, art & music
supplies, science equipment, no junk food, no TV
self-correcting teaching tools
goal is to instill a love of learning and teach
7. Principle Approach
As you continue homeschooling, you may move from
one method to another until you find one you are
Most homeschoolers use a variety of teaching
methods, depending on their needs and resources.
This is called the Eclectic method.
Don't forget to purchase
The Checklist if you are the eclectic style
and like to do it yourself!