Methods of Homeschooling

The beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility to follow God’s design for each individual child. Your grandchildren may use a particular curriculum at the beginning of the school year and switch to something completely different a month later. They’re not locked in to things that don’t work for them; the family is free to explore resources and methods that work best for each child. They might hit the books one day and take the next day to help you, their grandparents, plant that organic garden you’ve always wanted in your yard. Both activities are highly educational, and the latter has the additional benefit of teaching your grandchildren to serve others.

With that in mind, be prepared to totally redefine your definition of “school” and consider the message in this famous quote, attributed variously to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons), Grant Allen and Henry Rutgers: 

“Never let your schooling interfere with your education.” 


There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families homeschooling. Here’s a short synopsis of some of the major methods used today:

Traditional textbooks: This is the method used in traditional schools, public and private. Students have textbooks for each subject area, with scope and sequences guiding them in working systematically through the textbooks.

United studies: A variety of academic subjects are learned simultaneously under a pre-selected theme through unit studies. This form of education is a picture of real life, with each learning experience falling under multiple academic areas that become intertwined. For example, a unit study on horses can encompass horse-related studies from biology to art to creative writing to business to nutrition to veterinary science and more.

Eclectic: Eclectic homeschoolers use a wide variety of educational resources, from textbooks to hands-on learning activities, to gear the education to the needs of the child and make it fun and interesting, with real-life applications being experienced. Electic homeschoolers can be structured or unstructured in their methods, but the key is flexibility and variety and hands-on learning.

Charlotte Mason: A style adapted from this British educator that focuses on “living books” (books written by people with a passion for the subject as opposed to dry textbooks). This approach also values short lessons; emphasis on good habits; a focus on the study of nature, art and poetry; and activities and studies that encourage children to explore the world around them.

Classical: Adopting the philosophy of education used in ancient Greece, classical homeschoolers focus on the “Trivium” — grammar, logic and rhetoric (learning how to learn; connecting facts; forming opinions based on the facts learned. It uses the Socratic method — asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking. Classical education has a strong focus on classical books. This method is more highly structured than many.

Computer: Increasingly more curriculum providers are offering courses that can be taken on computer. Students can work through the course material at their own speed as well as watch videos of an instructor giving a lesson. In addition, there is a wealth of online educational opportunities and resources downloadable from the internet.

Unschooling: This method is based on the belief that children learn best when they are self-motivated and interested in the content. Thus, the child chooses what he or she wants to study, and at what pace. The parent provides the necessary resources and encouragement. Learning traditional subjects through everyday life experiences and exploration is a hallmark of unschooling.