Varied home schooling styles and methods

by Mary Ann on January 29, 2011

kids park pictures

Children learn when they play

Here are the definitions for a few styles of homeschooling.

Unschooling – The term “unschooling” was coined in the 1970s and used by educator John Holt, widely regarded as the “father” of unschooling. It is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum.

kids playing beach pictures


Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the child reaching their full educational potential.

Popular critics of unschooling tend to view it as an extreme educational philosophy, with concerns that unschooled children will lack the social skills, structure, and motivation of their peers, especially in the job market, while proponents of unschooling say exactly the opposite is true: self-directed education in a natural environment makes a child more equipped to handle the “real world.”

kid in snow pictures

Resting and learning

Free range – This term applies to a method of parenting which stays calm and lets the child out of their sight without being afraid. When speaking of this type of parenting the term Free Range Kids is used.

It is also an educational method which allows plenty of free time to play, think, hum, stare at the clouds and so forth.

It is based on the assumption that children need long hours of unscheduled time;  leisure. All of the random things children encounter in their wanderings add to their knowledge of the world. With enough time and enough wandering children will gain a lot of knowledge. During the down time they process all the productive information they have picked up during the more purposeful activities they have engaged in: school, homework, lessons.

playing with clay pictures

Eclectic Homeschooling

Eclectic Homeschooling – A traditional definition of “eclectic” from the Webster’s Unabridged English Dictionary says, “Made up of or combining elements from a variety of sources.” Based on the definition of eclectic, an eclectic homeschooler is one who looks at the different approaches and methods of homeschooling and takes from each, forming their own unique philosophy.

As in many aspects of life, nothing is all “good,” even a great concept such as eclectic homeschooling. There are some drawbacks to this mode of teaching. The most common is that many children thrive on routine, and routine is not an ingredient in eclectic homeschooling.

Montessori Homeschooling – This is merely when parents embrace Marie Montessori’s teachings and use Montessori materials at home.

Today we have looked at four homeschooling styles, and yesterday at a few educational methods: Waldorf,Montessori & Charlotte Mason. Tomorrow we will learn about  five more styles of education which are in the realm of Classical education, Five classical education methods.

Want to do something fun in your home school? Check out teaching kids about levers.

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