There are almost as many kinds of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. That’s part of the beauty of it. Every family is different, every child’s talents and needs are different, and every parent’s approach is different. Put all of those factors together and homeschooling will have a vast array of possibilities. But there are a few general categories, or “flavors”, if you will, to help you start thinking through what kind of homeschool family you might be.
As you can see from the graphic above, there are a lot of homeschooling styles that run along a continuum. On one far end of the spectrum are the people who want it to be “just like school”, only at home. They are likely to have a designated school area in their home, maybe even school desks and chairs, be heavily driven by worksheets and textbooks, and want to have a very specific set of directions to follow. On the far opposite end of the spectrum are the “unschoolers”. They are likely to feel that learning best takes place through natural life experiences and should be self-initiated by the child. The parents will provide resources and encouragement, but the children will be free to explore and learn on their own, in their own time, and at their own pace. Then there are a whole host of alternatives that run the wide area in between these two extremes.
As a former classroom teacher, I assumed that I would be toward the more structured side of the spectrum – comfortable with workbooks and lots of direct instruction. My husband, too, as a product of a very strict educational system, expected to prefer that method. When we went to our first HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) convention in 2016, we attended a session for beginner homeschoolers that outlined the broad categories of homeschool philosophies. The presenter gave a quiz that helped us identify our ideals and desires for homeschooling. We discovered that we actually weren’t looking for that much structure, that we valued the flexibility that homeschooling would afford us to pursue our children’s individual strengths and interests. We want to raise our children to love the Lord, respect other people, and care for creation. We want them to read, write, and do math skillfully. We want them to be curious and have the tools to find the information to learn about whatever interests them. We want them to be exposed to art, music, and the beauty of nature. As a method or philosophy, I think we are most aligned with Charlotte Mason, although I wouldn’t consider myself a “Charlotte Mason homeschooler” just yet, since we’re still so new to it all.
What style do you think you might be?