What is the Best Homeschooling Approach?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Photo courtesy of  9gag.com

The first step to homeschooling is knowing what the best homeschooling approach is for you.

We have been on a homeschooling journey for almost five years now beginning with our son, who was nine then, and now with our four-year old daughter who, on her own, decided to hop in our alternative learning vehicle when she turned three. More and more parents are beginning to see the benefits of homeschooling and are trying to discover important aspects about it.

People have asked us these questions:
  •    Why do you homeschool? 
  •      How do you homeschool?
  •      What kind of grading system do you use?
  •      How do you know what level your child is in?
  •      When do you level up?

For now, I would like to address the second question. You don’t have to have an orthodox approach to understanding the different kinds of homeschooling methods, but you somehow have to understand just enough to know which one would work best for your family.

Here are a few things to consider:

The last two are very important because that is where you will begin your homeschooling journey. If you find yourself totally overwhelmed and you feel like jumping off the cliff on the first few weeks, please hang in there. All homeschooling moms have been through it and I’m happy to tell you that (according to what I’ve read) we’re all alive, happy, still overwhelmed at times, but definitely glad we made the decision to homeschool.

Our family has tried several approaches. Everything worked out well for us, but at the start of our school year this 2015, we felt that the “Eclectic” approach is the best one to use for Cole, who will be turning 14 in barely four months.

This is the reason why we call it a journey. I have mentioned in my previous articles that there is no one perfect method in homeschooling, or education, for that matter. In your first few months, you might find it helpful to look into different approaches and try ones that you deem is suitable for your needs as a family. Homeschooling is about harnessing your creativity and doing that away from the rigid (and sometimes inapposite) view of society.

There are so many approaches, but I chose ones that I am familiar with and are popular among homeschooling families.

Five Popular Approaches to Homeschooling 

Unit Studies

One great thing about homeschooling is that it allows your kids to learn based on their interests. Unit Studies support that by tying their interests with subject areas such as science, history, math, art, social studies, spelling and reading. This approach acknowledges the fact that learning is more successful if it’s based on a learner’s interest.

If a learner is interested in, for example, Greek Mythology, he or she will have enthusiasm to read books and articles on Greek Mythology, write journals and papers based on it, do projects, create artwork and learn Math (three-dimensional, circles and triangles, etc.) from Euclid’s teachings. According to History for Kids, there are still modern-day mathematicians who began studying geometry from Euclid’s books.

Eclectic/Relaxed Approach

This approach is very popular among homeschooling families. After all, the main reason why parents homeschool their kids is to make the most out of their learning. Workbooks for reading, math and science are often used, and for other subject areas, an unschooling approach is taken. Since the homeschoolers are not enrolled to a program, the parents have the liberty to choose books that they deem are helpful to their children’s education and activities that are relevant to their chosen subject areas. Homeschooling dot com says, “The advantage of the Eclectic method is that the parent feels that the "important" subjects are being covered thoroughly.”

The word “eclectic” or “relaxed” may concern some people a bit, but rest assured that learners are expected to meet educational goals.


This approach is purely interest-based, child-led and natural learning. There are no school books, no curriculum to follow, no routines, no pressure. Learners follow their interests and if there ever is a to-accomplish list, it is one made by them. They learn math, english, science by observing and discovering things in their surroundings.

Founder of the unschooling movement, John Holt said:

Unschooling, for lack of a better term (until people start to accept living as part and parcel of learning), is the natural way to learn. However, this does not mean unschoolers do not take traditional classes or use curricular materials when the student, or parents and children together, decide that this is how they want to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not "natural" processes, but unschoolers nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. Therefore it isn't unusual to find unschoolers who are barely eight years old studying astronomy or who are ten years old and just learning to read. (Teach Your Own: the John Holt Book of Unschooling)

Charlotte Mason

The name homeschooling is often associated with Charlotte Mason, a British educator who believed that children are not empty sacks to be filled with information, but that they are able to deal with ideas and knowledge. The CM approach focus on exposure to great and noble ideas through books, music, poetry art and music. It also includes nature study, copywork or handwriting practice, habit training, the use of living books as opposed to text books, memorization and proficiency in a foreign language.

To a certain point, CM is similar with the classical approach and very different from child-led unschooling since this approach is teacher-centered. Charlotte Mason created “A List of Attainments” for six-year-old and 12-year-old children.


Long before the conceptualization of formal schooling, homeschooling was the method by which people were educated. The world’s greatest thinkers and artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Douglas MacArthur, Abraham Lincoln and a kilometric-long list of names that follow were homeschooled. Other famous people we know from history were either self-taught or got their education from home.

The classical method works on Trivium, or the five tools in learning that include reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. According to the Homeschool Diner’s Guide to Classical Homeschooling, “The Grammar Stage (K - 6th) focuses on memorization and general "gathering" of knowledge in each subject, The Logic Stage (7th - 8th) focuses on a child's developing abilities to understand the abstract, see cause and effect, use formal logic, analysis and criticism. The Rhetoric Stage (9th - 12th) is when students concentrate on using their knowledge and reason to express their thoughts in clear, eloquent writing and speech.”

As parents, we tend to aim for a perfect education, a perfect household, a perfect everything. You have to remember that at the end of the day, what really matters is a happy, healthy family. Children who are treated well at home, who are given all the love and support will naturally be interested in taking in knowledge.

And this is just one of our homeschooling days

Other homeschooling methods include Holistic and Alternative Homeschooling, The Waldorf Method, Montessori, Multiple Intelligences, Delayed Instruction, Thomas Jefferson Education, Distance Learning for Gifted Enrichment and Online Academies. Learn about them here.

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