What's your Style

Soon into anyone’s venture into homeschooling, they are sure to come across books and methods labeled according to different homeschooling “styles”.  Some style names are somewhat self-explanatory and others take more research to understand. But many of us will find ourselves puzzling over which style is “best” (hint: it’s up to you!), or even which style we are already using in our homeschooling life.

What do they mean?

Here is a brief list of typical elements attributed to each major homeschooling style:

Classical

  • Classical homeschooling is structured around the Trivium, which is meant to tailor learning to a child’s cognitive development in three main growing stages.  
  • Grammar stage (6-10), emphasizes memorization of facts throughout all education subjects, as this is a strength for children of that age.
  • Dialectic Stage (10-12), focuses on the meaning behind the facts, and developing analytical thinking about the “whys” behind the facts they have learned.
  • Rhetoric Stage (13-18), explores abstract thinking, use of persuasive language and articulation of subjects, learning how to think and reason for themselves.
  • Classical education covers the typical school subjects, but emphasizes language, logic, rhetoric, and often includes study of Latin and Greek.

Examples of Classical curriculum providers: Veritas Press, Classical Conversations, Memoria Press

Charlotte Mason
  • Based on the work of Charlotte Mason, a 19th century British educator, who believed that a child’s whole person should be educated, not just their mind.  She advocated that education is “an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”.
  • Emphasizes good habits, character, and “living” thoughts and ideas, rather than just the learning of facts.
  • Uses “living books” throughout education, which are narrative or story-based and written by an author who has experience or love for the subject.
  • Frequently utilizes nature study, narration, art and composer studies, and learning through literature.

Examples of Charlotte Mason curriculum providers: My Father’s World, Sonlight, Simply Charlotte Mason, Masterbooks

Traditional

  • Uses separate textbooks and/or workbooks for each subject, much like a traditional classroom
  • Schedules and planners are important, as well as well-structured lesson plans
  • Tests and quizzes are used for evaluation
  • Education is often done in a special “school area” of the house and set aside as separate time for learning.

Examples of Traditional curriculum providers: Abeka, Bob Jones, Christian Light

Unit Studies

  • Uses one theme, and arranges every subject around the chosen theme - exploring literature, history, science, Bible, spelling/vocabulary, and even sometimes math within that framework.
  • Lessons are often hands-on, using crafts, cooking, and other multi-sensory elements

Examples of Unit Study curriculum providers:  Konos, Weaver, Tapestry of Grace, Five in a Row.

Unschooling

  • Focuses on “learning by living”, rather than through traditional methods.
  • Often directed toward a child’s interests or strengths
  • Everyday routines offer experiences for education

While Unschooling often will involve some schoolbooks, most study tends to come from library books, internet resources, etc.

Still not sure where you fit?

If none of these styles perfectly describe you, don’t worry!  Most of us fall into a more “eclectic” style of schooling, combining what we enjoy or value from several methodologies.  But if you’re curious, Rebecca Spooner at Homeschool On has created a great quiz you can take that might help clarify which homeschooling style you gravitate toward the most.  

Homeschool Style Quiz