Homeschool Philosophies

Homeschoolers follow a number of different philosophies. Most homeschoolers may begin in one type of philosophy, but many become eclectic by the end. The freedom of homeschooling allows us to individualize our curriculum choices and philosophies to each of our children.

Here is an overview of some of the most common educational philosophies:

Classical Education —This model of education is based on the trivium which consists of three stages of learning (grammar, logic/dialectic, and rhetoric stages). The grammar stage focuses on the learning of facts and memorization through the early parts of schooling. Then in the middle school (grades 5-8) students move to the logic phase which focuses on how different fields of knowledge relate, cause and effect and how facts fit into a larger framework. The final stage is the rhetoric stage where students learn to write and speak with originality while taking the foundation of the grammar stage and logic stage to express conclusions in clear, forceful and elegant language. This stage is also where students begin to specialize in branches that interest them (art, college classes, apprenticeships, foreign travel, and more). For more detailed info on implementing classical education into your homeschool journey visit this website.

Charlotte Mason Education —This model of education focuses on educating the whole child and not just the mind. Living books, spending time outside, literature-rich studies, art and music studies, and narration are elements you would find. Details on the Charlotte Mason Education Philosophy can be found here.

Thomas Jefferson Education—also called Leadership Education — focuses on responsibilities, value of work, read alouds, projects, interest led learning, the study of classics, and use of mentors through 3 phases of learning.

Unschooling — An educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. 

Unit Studies Unit studies, sometimes called thematic units or integrated studies, usually use a hands-on approach for learning. The child learns by actually experiencing or discovering through different methods and activities, rather than just reading a chapter from a textbook. This method often takes on a weekly, monthly or quarterly approach where a topic/idea is chosen and then learned across all the disciplines (language arts, history, science, math, fine arts, etc). More can be found here.

Waldorf Education—A Waldorf education philosophy integrates the arts into all academic disciplines to inspire life-long learning in all students and enable them to develop their unique capacities. This philosophy believes in experiences more than tests to develop integrative thinking, flexibility and creativity with moral and ethical leadership. More here.

Montessori Education—this method has the parent acts as guide as the child does uninterrupted child-led study. Multi-level groupings replace traditional learning grades and guided learning in an aesthetically pleasing environment define the Montessori way of learning. amshq.org

Eclecticcombining several approaches to homeschooling to create your own style. This is the method most often used by homeschoolers as they combine approaches to fit the needs of their families and children.


Other Methods

Public School at Home—using an on-line school through your public school system. You child would still be enrolled in the public school system and have to meet public school requirements. Examples include K12 and Connections Academy,

Traditional School (All in One Curriculum)—there are companies that write an entire year’s worth of study and lesson plans You purchase all the books, workbooks, supplemental material in one bundle. These usually follow one of the traditional philosophies of education. Examples of these include Sonlight, Abeka, My Father’s World, Alpha and Omega, etc.

Virtual Private Academya private school curriculum taught through online classes. Includes places like Liberty, Laurel Springs, and Homeschool Academy.


Other terms common today:

Wildschooling or Forest Schools—Focusing on nature and focused on a nature-based, active, and joyful childhood.

Gameschooling — use tabletop gaming (board games and card games) in an intentional way, as part of your personal homeschool culture.

Roadschooling or Worldschooling—homeschooling with an emphasis on traveling and seeing the world.

Relaxed Homeschooling— Typically doesn’t go as far as unschooling in that the student leads the learning, but instead the parent picks and guides, but is not focused on finishing a curriculum or method, but following where the child wants and needs to go.