Families Considering Homeschooling Have a Variety of Options and Curriculum Choices
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Commentary

Families Considering Homeschooling Have a Variety of Options and Curriculum Choices

A list of popular homeschooling models and resources for parents, educators, and policymakers.  

States and school districts across the nation are continuing to roll out plans for teaching students this fall. Some schools say they will adjust to online education while others are insisting that in-person learning will be possible. With often contradictory and confusing statements coming from school administrators and state and federal leaders, many parents are skeptical about both the safety of their students and the quality of online schooling offered by traditional institutions.  As a result, many parents are considering homeschooling for the first time.

One of the most attractive elements of homeschooling is how it allows parents to create a schooling experience tailored specifically for the unique learning styles of their students. Numerous curriculum options, local community groups and national organizations are available to aid families considering homeschooling this fall and beyond.

I have compiled a list of popular homeschooling models and resources below. This commentary is not an endorsement of any homeschooling curriculum, method, or resource, and is simply intended to serve as a resource for parents, educators, and policymakers looking at existing models.

Classical Education 

An ancient method revived by Dorothy Sayers, a classical education seeks to equip students to think clearly and be lifelong learners using the trivium and quadrivium. The trivium is based on three stages of learning: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Taught after the trivium, the quadrivium includes arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

Charlotte Mason 

Charlotte Mason wrote, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” Mason emphasized routines and the living method by encouraging kids to explore, experience, and create. She describes the method as “placing a fest [of information] before a child.” Rather than written tests, Mason relies on narration and recitation.

Montessori 

Montessori schooling, traditionally used for infants to age 6, is considered an, “‘Aid to Life’ rather than a passing on of specific academic objectives.” Unlike unschooling, which is entirely student-directed, Montessori schooling is parent or teacher curated and student-directed.

Waldorf Schooling 

Influenced by the Moore Formula, Waldorf schooling educates by integrating artistic, practical, and conceptual elements with experiences, rather than using textbooks or a set curriculum. Schooling is divided into three, seven-year stages: creative play and hands-on learning, next academic instruction coupled with imagination, and finally critical thinking, community service, and empathy.

Unschooling

Unschooling is student-directed learning. Unschoolers often do not use a set curriculum or workbooks. Instead, the student directs their own education, while parents trust their students to guide their education.

Unit Studies 

A unit study explores a topic with various subject areas, exploring the integration between subjects and topics. For example, when studying plants, the students might discuss plant locations (geography), learn about plant reproduction (genetics/science), read about the history of plants (history/medicine) and do geometry with the heights of trees (math).

Eclectic Education 

An eclectic approach to education combines any number of approaches, allowing parents to tweak the system to fit a student’s learning style. A family with an eclectic learning style could perform science experiments at home, attend their local public school for sports, take a few online classes, and go to a homeschool co-op simultaneously.

Roadschooling 

Roadschooling is homeschooling while traveling, often using a van or RV. These families may use a variety of methods and curriculums, often researching a location and using flexible and experiential learning

Worldschooling 

Worldschooling is the “world as the classroom” approach. Families travel around the world and learn while doing so. Most families use an eclectic approach, both using curriculum and visiting the places they learn about.

Video Schooling 

Utilizing the internet and DVDs, video schooling remains a popular homeschooling option. It can be used as a supplement or as a boxed curriculum in the vein of Time4Learning, Bob Jones, and Abeka. The curriculums can pair with specific textbooks and workbooks.

Unique Online Options

The following online options do not include online public schools but are support options for anyone interested in learning about a subject on a creative platform.

Open University is an internationally recognized UK-based University which is also accredited in the US. They offer online and in-person pre-college enrollment, certificates, bachelor’s, master’s, and post-graduate degrees. It is popular among world/road schoolers for older students.

Minecraft Schooling is a supplementary program. Each week, kids build together for an hour with instructors on a unique server, using educational resources.

IDEA Homeschool is an online homeschool support community for Alaskans. They offer online and community support, mentorship, curriculum rentals, and more.

Khan Academy offers online learning for a myriad of subjects, at all levels.

Additional Resources

Group Directories

Secular Homeschooling 

While a number of homeschooling curriculum options incorporate religion, there are many secular options available. Secular homeschooling may use any number of educational options but often rely on eclectic and unschooling approaches.

Curriculum Compilations

National Organizations

Financial Support

Emilie Schulze is an education policy intern at Reason Foundation.