January 22, 2014

What Kind of Homeschooler Am I? And How Many Kinds Are There?

Type of Homeschooler

The answer to the first question is easy for me. I am an "eclectic" homeschooler. This means that I pull from a lot of different homeschooling types to get at what works best for my family.

On to the second question, not as easy an answer.... There are as many types of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. BUT there are a few categories that a lot of them would put themselves in (there are many more than I name).

Montessori - classified as child-led, hands-on, independent learning style  created by Maria Montessori  (this is just MY watered down definition) For more info click HERE

Boxed Curriculum - the parent purchases a complete line of curriculum from one company and uses that exclusively. Some of the company names - Bob Jones, Sonlight, Abeka, just to name a few

Public/Private School at Home - the children learn through an on-line school connected with either a public school system or a private school

Charlotte Mason - in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, first hand experiences, and good habits. (copied from the Charlotte Mason site) This one is a little hard to define on my own but here goes... No text books are used (YAY), living books only. There's a lot of copy work, reading and nature studies. This is known as a gentle approach to homeschooling (much like Montessori). There's even a website devoted to bringing you as much as it can for FREE! They have complete lesson plans, too - Ambleside Online.

Unit Studies - multiple subjects are taught within the parameters of a single topic. Now, this is NOT how I do unit studies. LOL I guess I should start calling them something else....

Unschooling -  No set lessons or subjects. The child is free to choose how much they want to learn, when they want to learn  and about what. Oh, the MOST appealing type for me but I just can't bring myself to give up control. LOL

Now, those are just small definitions, just to give you an idea. And those really aren't all the types that there are, just the most popular.

That being said, there can be reallllllly big debates in the homeschooling world over what constitutes unschooling or if someone that uses boxed curriculum or an online school is "really" homeschooling. Let me put in my 2 cents. WHO CARES??? I mean, really??? What does it matter to YOU?? The whole reason that we homeschool is to do it OUR OWN WAY, whatever way that may be. So what if someone says they unschool but they make their kids do math everyday??? So what if someone uses boxed curriculum? No skin off my nose. They are still doing what they feel is the best for their families and I  have no right to judge.

Ok, climbing down off my soap box. ;)

Now, WHY do I consider myself eclectic?

Well, I hate text books, so no boxed curriculum or online schools for me.

I can't give up control to be a complete unschooler. (Although I do give the kids a lot of control over topics and subjects. I just make sure they do their math, language and reading every day.)

I tried Charlotte Mason for a little while but it wasn't a good fit for us. We like twaddle too much. (See numbers 4, 6 and 7.) My definition of twaddle - light reading for F-U-N!!! As long as my kids are reading SOMETHING I am happy. Now, that being said, I do encourage them to read classics, non-fiction and historical fiction. They can usually be found reading 2 different types of books at a time, one "twaddle" and one of the other. ;)

We MUCH prefer "living books" over text books. I just happen to believe that you can also learn from "twaddle". ;)

I pull a lot from the IDEAS of unschooling, Charlotte Mason and Montessori.  I believe in a more gentle, don't rush, hands-on approach. Kids need to be KIDS!! No pressure! Don't beat the fun out of learning. 

Psst! Can I tell you a secret??? I don't grade. Nope. Not at all. I don't believe in it. Either they have an understanding of the subject matter or they don't. And if they don't, we will keep trying different approaches until they do. I also don't believe in tests. I don't think they are a good measure of how much a child knows or how much they have learned. I understand its uses in a traditional school setting but still question its usefulness even there. I think a much better measure is to have the child SHOW you or explain to you what they have learned. Around here you would be hard pressed to STOP them from showing or explaining! LOL

What we DO-

Lots of hands-on learning. My kids love crafts and projects. They really learn a lot more when they are active and involved. I try to do a lot of hands-on with math and science, especially.

Lots of reading. I have always loved reading to my kids and they love listening.

Lots of watching. YouTube, Netflix, DVRed stuff. There's no end to the great stuff you can find for kids to watch AND learn.

Lots of games. On-line, board and mommy made. Kids LOVE games!! Learning should be FUN!

Lots of getting out and about (when it isn't freezing). Museums, parks, zoos and just traveling! We go to Lowe's and Home Depot for their kid workshops almost every month. There are just so many things to see and do and a lot of it is FREE!!! Can't beat that!!!

I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE creating my own "curriculum". I love the research involved. I love taking a topic and finding different ways to approach it. I love that I can tailor anything to fit each child's needs.

For more info on the types of homeschooling click HERE.

So, there you go. My 2 cents on homeschooling styles.

Oh, I wanted to leave you with 2 free and complete curriculum sites that go from K to 12.

Ambleside Online - Charlotte Mason

Easy Peasy All-in-one Homeschool (no "style" definition) - I use a lot of links from this one. ;)


  1. I don't know a lot about homeschooling but I do know when a kid is learning or not. My son once had a student teacher who taught a lesson the majority of the class didn't get. I had him stay after school but she just repeated her lesson. He was frustrated. I contacted her and asked if she could come at it from another direction. She said "this is how I teach". I said "if they're not learning, you're NOT teaching", then I sat down, figured it out, explained it (using props) and he completely got it. He then went to school and showed all his friends.

    Same son had another teacher one year who we loved. She believed exactly what you said. She taught a lesson then had the kids explain it to someone else. If they could teach it, they knew it. It was so good for those kids' egos.

    It's about what motivates and gets through to the kids. Good for you for finding that for your family.

  2. Thank you!!!
    You are exactly right!!! I have a "friend" that is a teacher. 90% of her class failed.... When I asked if she tried a different approach I got the same reaction.
    Kids aren't made from cookie cutters. They are all very different, unique. What works for one doesn't work for all. Is it a PITA to find out what does work for each? You bet ya, but it's soooooo worth it when they finally start getting what you are trying to teach.

  3. I admire you homeschool moms.. I know you put lots of work into this.. Is it really difficult to teach 2 or more kids at the same time [and in different grades?]. I would be lost..ha
    You do a great job ,with all the crafts and learning games.. Congrats on your great job..
    May God bless you and help you through each lesson.

  4. Thank you so much, Judy!!! <3

    It's not too hard. The older kids are very independent learners. I usually give them their planners and let them go. Then we discuss what they have learned/are learning.
    With the younger 2, each has his or her own math and language arts lessons but we do history, geography, art, music, science and animal studies together. It is so much easier to combine those subjects!
    Thank you, again!!!!!!

  5. Thanks for the overview on types of homeschooling, Stacy! I offer a monthly "Homeschool Fun" program at the library, and this Monday we will be playing various math and word games. I have some, and the parents are bringing some of their own to share. I'm always trying to find out more about homeschooling to better serve our homeschooling families. I appreciate your insights and the activities you share.

  6. Thanks, Joanne!!!!
    You are one awesome librarian!!! I wish there were more like you!!!
    Thank you for all you do for homeschoolers!! <3!!

  7. I am getting back into homeschool with my oldest. She just started High School and I am NERVOUS. I immediately thought of you when I started thinking about putting together lesson plans... Don't mind me, I am going to stalk you for a few weeks (or years) to get ideas.

  8. Lol go right ahead!!! I was just thinking about doing a series on high school! ;)


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