Homeschooling Styles

Below is a brief description of several homeschooling styles or methods. This list is meant to be a starting place for information. If you are interested in one or more of these styles you can further research them by reading recommended books and visiting web sites listed for each method. If you want information on other methods not listed here you can easily search the internet for other homeschooling styles.

Charlotte Mason (Living Books Method)

Charlotte Mason's approach to learning is sometimes called The Living Books approach because she advocated only using the best sources of knowledge to teach. These books when put directly in the hands of children made the subject come alive because they get information through real stories not bits of information in textbooks. She considered books written down to a simple level for children to be twaddle and would not allow these to be used in her schools. This method of schooling uses short lessons to keep things interesting. Narration, copy work, nature notebooks, fine arts, languages, and lots of good literature with real life applications take the place of textbooks.

Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual by Catherine Levison
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Classical (The Trivium)

In the Classical approach children are taught the tools of learning commonly known as the Trivium. The Trivium has three parts each part corresponding to a childhood development stage. The first part is the grammar stage in the early elementary years. The second stage is the dialectic stage in the middle school years. The third stage is the rhetoric stage where they begin to put everything together. Many families prefer this liberal arts education for their children including lessons in Greek & Latin, as well a formal instruction in logic.

The Well Trained Mind: A guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson

Unit Study

The unit study method takes the big picture approach to learning. A student studies a chosen subject (such as birds) sometimes for several weeks and incorporates many areas of learning such as math, science, language arts, music, social studies etc into this big theme. Unit studies can be worked around any subject you choose and often involve lots of hands on activities and projects.

How to Create Your Own Unit Study by Valerie Bendt
The Unit Study Idea Book by Valerie Bendt

Unschooling (Natural Learning)

Unschooling refers to a less structured learning approach that allows children to pursue their own
interests with parental support and help with resources. This approach is often referred to as child-led learning. Many unschoolers use no set curriculum and structure their day very loosely. They use field trips and other types of real living experiences to teach their children.

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Classroom by Mary Griffith
Learning All the Time by John Holt
Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go To School by Grace Llewellyn

Literature Based
Literature based curriculum is just what it sounds like: curriculum based on literature. You can design your own or purchase a prepackaged program (similar to unit studies). Many of these programs use history as a framework for books read and lessons studied. Often you can purchase instructor's guides to help you with comprehension questions and extended research for the topics being studied. (Beautiful Feet Books)


This method was developed by Rudolf Steiner and emphasizes art and crafts, music, and movement. Students learn to read and write by making their own books. The aim of Waldorf schooling is to educate the whole child: head, heart and hands. Waldorf curriculum is designed to be responsive to the various stages of a child's development. Rich in stories and imagination this method meets the emotional needs as well as the academic needs of the child.

Waldorf Education: A Family Guide by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers
The Art of Education by Lawrence Williams
The Curriculum of the Rudolf Steiner School by Roy Wilkenson

Traditional (Textbook/Workbook)

In the traditional teaching approach, graded textbooks and workbooks are used to cover core subject
areas. The student learns lessons, is given assignments, and is tested all in the workbooks. This method
requires minimal teacher preparation and students can work independently. There are many curriculums
offered to meet the needs of parents interested in this approach to homeschooling. (Alpha Omega Press)