Bullet Points on 16 Approaches to Homeschooling

Dear Reader,

Recently I published my “Find your approach to homeschooling quiz.” If you took the quiz, you hopefully now have a short list of homeschooling methods to consider. To help you in that endeavor, I would like to share with you now my own list of bullet points on each of the 16 approaches I considered in that quiz. These were my working notes as I developed the quiz. They are by no means a complete introduction to all the many ways to educate your children, but I share them with you in the hopes that they can help you get a quick feel for each of the philosophies. If you are looking for more information, check out my resources page here.


Bullet Points on 16 Approaches to Homeschooling


  • the parent/teacher teaches either one student or a group of students
  • the job of the teacher is primarily to teach, that is, to impart knowledge
  • teacher-directed learning
  • the material learned is fairly traditional – the 3Rs plus history and science; STEM subjects may be emphasized
  • the focus is primarily intellectual with more artsy pursuits taking at least a second seat
  • textbooks and worksheets are used
  • learning is measured through testing
  • learning is done for its own sake; whether one likes it is of secondary importance
  • the goal is to be educated so as to make one’s way in society, get a good job, get into college, be “successful”
  • the child is shaped by the teacher, through education, to be like adults/fit into society

Online/distance learning

  • very similar to school-at-home
  • the job of the teacher/curriculum is primarily to teach, that is, to impart knowledge
  • the student may interact with one teacher, one teacher and a group of students, or just with the materials
  • traditional subjects, likely with a heavy emphasis on the STEM subjects
  • the appeal is primarily to the mind
  • fairly traditional teaching tools, but obviously with an online/technology-driven twist
  • learning is likely measured through testing
  • learning is done for its own sake; whether one likes it is of secondary importance
  • the goal is to be educated so as to make one’s way in society, get a good job, get into college, be “successful”
  • the child is shaped through education to be like adults/fit into society

Classical/Great Books

  • the parent/teacher imparts knowledge
  • the teacher interacts with one student or a group of students
  • the material is fairly traditional with an emphasis on classic literature which often includes real classical classics (think Homer, Plutarch)
  • there is a core body of knowledge all people should know
  • the focus is primarily intellectual with more artsy pursuits taking a second seat though there may be some inclusion of art history and the like
  • learning is through great books but also through memorization of facts, especially in the early years
  • learning may be measured through testing
  • learning is done for its own sake; whether one likes it is of secondary importance
  • the goal is to be educated in order to make one’s way and even to excel in society. There is a sense of “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” so that those who get such an education will contribute to society/be good citizens as well.
  • the child is shaped by the teacher, through education, to be like adults
  • the child goes through stages of development: the earliest years are for taking in facts, the middle years for getting context, and the last years for rhetoric, that is, learning to argue one’s position
  • learning is teacher-directed. There is a goal or ideal of what an educated person is and the child is moved toward that ideal
  • there is a sense in which children are not complete; they need to learn to reason and develop abilities

Christian Classical

  • same as classical/great books, with an added Christian slant:
  • there is a sense of adults know best and discipline is likely not a bad word in such a household
  • there may be an added or greater emphasis on being virtuous

Charlotte Mason

  • the parent/teacher selects materials but it is up to the child to “ingest” them
  • learning is done by the child and cannot be forced
  • the role of the teacher is minimized
  • implicit assumption that some materials are better than others
  • heavy reliance upon “living books” with nature study in addition for science
  • handicrafts and physical education are included, but not as a part of the main study
  • a broad education is the goal with a balance of history, science literature, and arts
  • ideas are the food of the mind and are emphasized over facts
  • all truth is God’s truth – which means that we can find truth in non-Christian sources
  • the Holy Spirit is the real educator
  • there is little formal education before age 6 or 7
  • play is not part of education but free time (“masterly inactivity”) is valued
  • motivation should be internal; we because of an innate love of learning; we don’t need to make it “fun”
  • “Children are born persons” – the assumption is that all children can learn and are born equipped to learn
  • though there is a generally positive view of children as made in the image of God, there is also an acknowledgment that they need habit-training
  • the goal of education is to “set their feet in a wide place,” that is to give them connections with a lot of different things
  • re goals: we ask not how much they know, but how much they care

Thomas Jefferson Education

  • the teacher is mentor; the teacher is important; his job is to inspire (“inspire, not require”)
  • the teacher and student have a one-on-one relationship
  • the child cannot rise above the mentor
  • the child can pursue interests but the teacher’s role is still vital
  • greatness inspires greatness
  • classic, living books; not textbooks, no busywork
  • no one set curriculum though classics and living books are valued
  • there are stages in a child’s development; no formal education till age 8 or so
  • children have an inner genius but there is also the idea that younger children are not yet equipped for real learning
  • motivation is internal and love of learning is a goal
  • leadership education; training leaders is a goal
  • the goals are at least in part societal
  • a certain set of values (freedom, democracy) are assumed


  • teacher as guide
  • the teacher creates the environment for learning
  • originally developed for children with developmental issues
  • children explore at their pace within the created environment
  • children will develop appropriately in the right environment – implies that children need to develop and that the teacher is essential in creating the right environment
  • the environment is controlled and scaled down for children
  • there are stages in a child’s development
  • the last stage is to influence the world and be a leader
  • one goal for M. Montessori was world peace


  • in the early years, the teacher is an example because children learn through imitation
  • lots of arts and specialized movement (“activity always precedes headwork”)
  • no books in early education but songs and finger-plays
  • in later years good books are included and subjects are studied in chunks, ie a few weeks on history, then a few on science and so on
  • no textbooks
  • children create their own coursebooks as a way of cementing learning
  • children are whole people
  • people are spiritual beings
  • each one has a specific life purpose
  • children are fundamentally different from adults
  • though there are stages, the idea is that children evolve as they grow
  • in high school, being well-balanced is a goal but so is pursuing individual interests
  • goal: “to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives”


  • teachers are cornerstones and examples
  • in the schools, in early years, two teachers and a class of kids; but can be a parent and child
  • security and variety; very nurturing and gentle approach
  • the rhythm of learning is important
  • physical and hands-on/arts activities are integral
  • arts-based; all academics are introduced through the arts
  • stages of development but with a sense of evolving, as a caterpillar into a butterfly
  • the central task: “the integration of body, heart, and mind within each child and parent”
  • societal goals, concern for the global community
  • whole person education: body, heart, mind
  • connectedness and confidence are goals
  • goal: meaningful connections with the larger world

Unit Studies

  • all subjects ate studied around a common theme which could be based on one book or be a theme like knights or apples or really anything
  • the burden is on the teacher to tie all subjects together
  • education should be fun, interesting, enjoyable
  • there seems to be some assumption that the child cannot but that the teacher can
  • themes could be child selected but there is still a large role for the teacher

Ruth Beechick

  • parent/teacher as tutor
  • one-on-one teaching
  • “teach the child, not the book”
  • individualized education; not one core curriculum
  • real books, not textbooks for history but also one should not be too “bookish”
  • teachers provide a rich learning environment
  • no busywork
  • if it is boring, the fault is in the curriculum, not the child; implies curriculum should be made enjoyable/fun
  • basic skills must be mastered so further learning can occur
  • pre-K and K don’t need schooling
  • information should be processed in some way leads to hands-on projects, real life activities
  • can use unit studies
  • thinking skills are taught and learned – this implies that there is some development in the child

(Radical) Unschooling

  • the role of the teacher is minimal
  • though learning is initiated by the child, the parent may help in finding resources
  • learning is done by the child
  • there is no one set of material that everyone needs to know
  • very individualized
  • child-led learning
  • the child will learn what they need when they need it
  • there is an inherent belief in the child’s goodness and ability to select what is right for him
  • often combined with the disciplinary view that the adult should not impose their will on the child
  • goals can vary greatly but are likely to include allowing the child to be an individual, find himself, find his passion

Moore Method Homeschooling

  • parents are the best teachers
  • manual work as much as studying plus household work or community service
  • fewer workbooks and textbooks, but drills are used
  • no formal education before at least age 8
  • learning also happens through real life activities
  • the best motivation is internal
  • goals: high achievement, responsibility, sociability

Robinson Curriculum

  • self-education, but with a set curriculum
  • almost no teacher interaction, but the curriculum and study environment are very important
  • uses high quality books; learning is through books, almost exclusively
  • core subjects are taught: math, LA, science, history
  • “they teach themselves to think”
  • goals are academic and learning to think, self-educate

Accelerated Learning

  • geared to the whole person, understood in a very scientific sense
  • activity based learning
  • students collaborate
  • real world contexts are important
  • positive environment is essential
  • goals: “success”, “excel”

Reggio Emilia

  • focuses on early years (preschool and primary) only
  • the teacher facilitates based on the child’s interests
  • children’s interests are important; self-guided learning
  • children have “a hundred languages”; are knowledge bearers
  • heavily reliance on the arts
  • environment is important
  • long term projects are vehicles for learning
  • relationships are important as is the community
  • goal: to develop one’s potential

(Biblical) Principle Approach

  • there are principles which underlie everything and these are the goal of education, not facts
  • the principles are assumed to be biblical principles
  • “There is no better textbook than the Bible.”
  • emphasis on “America’s Christian history”
  • the process of education is found in the 4R’s: research, reason, relate and record.
  • A teacher with students like a rabbi with disciples
  • the teacher’s role is important; the teacher is the living book
  • no worksheets
  • individuality is appreciated but it is also believed that there are right answers
  • a fairly high, positive view of human nature and reason
  • idea of personal calling
  • a societal goal as well: “What did you do to secure freedom and proliferate it while it was in your power to do so?”


4 responses to this post.

  1. […] Bullet Points on 16 Approaches to Homeschooling […]


  2. […] there, you can check out my Bullet Points on 16 Approaches to Homeschooling and Resources on 17 Approaches to […]


  3. […] homeschooling approach. I tried to look particularly at the philosophy behind each approach (and I considered 16 of them). If I apply this quiz to deschooling, I find that its answers pretty much line up with those of […]


  4. […] as from the Robinson curriculum; I never reviewed this approach but have some bullet points on it here). It also keeps lessons short and allows for free time in the day. After doing readings, children […]


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