“Which homeschool method should I use?” This might be the biggest question on every new homeschooler’s mind — right after asking “Are we really crazy?”
But it is also something we seasoned homeschoolers think about. Are we doing this right? Would something else work better? Are Susie’s kids learning more because she uses xyz method and I don’t?
The best way to start answering the big question is to have a basic understanding of what each method entails. Once you know a little bit about the various methods, you can start narrowing down your choices and zero in on where you want to begin. If you love what you are already doing, you should stop worrying about the other methods. But if your homeschool isn’t working or if you or your children are miserable — it might be time to shake things up.
Here is an overview of some of the most popular methods of homeschooling.
Classical Education: This type of homeschool focuses on Latin, logic, the chronological study of history, and classic literature. A fantastic book about the Classical method is Trivium Mastery. I also enjoyed the classic The Well-Trained Mind. Materials and curriculum for a classical education can be found at Memoria Press, Veritas Press, and PeaceHill Press.
Unit Studies. A true unit study will encompass all subjects within the topic and will typically include lots of hands-on learning. If you are studying apples, even your math will include counting apple seeds, dividing apples into fractions, or picking bushels of… You get the picture. Many unit study curriculums exclude certain subjects like math and phonics and focus instead on teaching history, science, art, literature, writing, and other electives through the theme. Perhaps the most well-known unit study curriculum is KONOS and the iconic culmination of the Medieval Feast at the end of one unit. Another great unit study curriculum is Amanda Bennett’s series.
School-At-Home. Many new homeschoolers start out this way with desks in rows, a blackboard, an opening ceremony, and curriculum straight out of the classroom. The school-at-home method is very orderly and provides a certain sense of security. It is easy to see what you have accomplished at the end of each year. Popular school-at-home curriculums include Abeka, Bob Jones University Press, and Alpha Omega.
Notebooking. Using the notebooking method, students learn to organize material physically and mentally as they design pages to represent what they’ve learned. Notebooking can be more elaborate and involve minibooks and lap book design or it can be more simple using pre-designed pages. Older students can create very complicated and lovely notebooks. The notebooking method encourages writing and logic. A wonderful website to help you get started is notebookingpages.com. (Plus they have lots of wonderful freebies when you sign up for a free membership!)
Literature-Rich. Books, books everywhere. Literature-based homeschool focuses all subjects through the study of “living books.” History and science and even grammar can be taught with great books. The most popular Literature-Rich curriculum is Sonlight. Other popular curriculum in this style would include My Father’s World, Winter’s Promise, and Hewitt.
Charlotte Mason. While Charlotte Mason’s method encourages living books, it also includes a strong focus on nature study and great art. By far the best book I have found for this method is A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. This book is a must-read. If you would like a Charlotte Mason curriculum, amblesideonline.com can help you build one for free and simplycharlottemason.com has many resources.