Girlfriend’s Guide to Homeschooling Methods, Part I

When first venturing into the whole homeschool world, the huge choice of curriculum can be completely overwhelming.  I think there must be hundreds of curriculums and nearly as many opinions about what will work the best for educating children.

I was really glad that I had gotten to try a few different curriculums at several schools while teaching, so I had an idea for what might be good choices for us when we started homeschooling. In first grade we wanted colorful, interesting books; phonetically based reading programs;  and math with enough review to make concepts stick.

A good jump into our first year after I’d given us time to adjust, I felt like things were not working as smoothly as they should.  Zachary was learning, but he didn’t enjoy school very much and neither did I. Some of the materials that worked well in a classroom did not work so well for us now. Some of my ideals, though good, were impossible to reach with our circumstances.

Researching and listening to  veteran homeschool moms brought up more questions than answers for awhile.  I heard things like, “You can skip a few lessons when he knows the material,” and, “What subjects interest him? Have you thought of trying unit studies?” and, “Spend time reading good books/spend time in nature,” and “Just do what works for you; that’s the beauty of homeschooling.”

The problem was I didn’t know what worked for us.  Also, I didn’t know how we could spend hours reading because that would take time from our lessons and it would simply make our school day longer.


Then I learned something super helpful: There are several different methods of homeschooling. What I was doing–daily lessons in workbooks, reading from textbooks, and regular testing is called school at home It works great for classrooms. It works at home, too, but for some people (us) it can be tedious.

Since then I’ve explored the methods–school at home, classical education, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Unschooling, Cyber school, Montessori, Waldorf, and there are more, to find what method of schooling will work well for our family.  (Here is a brief overview of some of the most common methods of schooling.)

A curriculum may be designed for a particular method of schooling or may be compatible with more than one method.  Discovering my home school philosophy helped me better understand what to look for in educational resources.

I wanted to share a little of what I’ve learned with anyone who might be interested in looking at homeschooling a little less traditionally school-like. I am still so new to this, but I’ll just pretend we were sitting here in my living room talking. In an article I would respect ;) there would be references to sources, but this is just a chat. Okay?

Unfortunately because I can’t see you yawning or growing a little bored, I also might get a little long winded.  To keep this long, long, long chat from making you drink too much coffee, I’ve broken it up into several posts.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss three factors to consider when choosing a method. I’ll chat a little more about a few of the strengths in my favorite methods later.  Then if I manage to finish the series before getting distracted by school and the rest of life, I’ll tell you about some of the curriculum we’ve tried, what we’re using now, and which methods are working for us.

I’d also love to hear what questions you might have about homeschool methods and curriculum.


21 thoughts on “Girlfriend’s Guide to Homeschooling Methods, Part I”

  1. Christy, I am snuggled up in bed and was all prepared for a loooong post on homeschooling and it ended way too soon! :) Can’t wait for post #2! Just wishing you’d actually be here and we could talk for hours on this most fascinating subject. :) Missing you…

    1. Hehe, and now I just finished reading your second post! Thanks and sorry for the previous, hasty comment. Loving this!

  2. i am excited about this, Christy! I feel like I’ve learned so much from you already, and this discussion sounds so good. We’re doing the traditional school at home right now, but I can’t really see us doing this forever. I’m so looking forward to more of your posts about this!

  3. I am looking forward to reading more about your homeschooling experiences. We have gone the traditional route, but I realize Kierra would enjoy it more and learn even faster with some tweaking.

  4. I too look forward to hearing more… I am finding the discipline of school at home a challenge for this undisciplined Mom… My daughter loves most seat work and coloring etc… If I can find the routine to get it done. She is seriously trying to read…

  5. I can’t wait to hear more of the discussion. I still think maybe I have more questions than answers about homeschooling. I appreciated the thoughts in the comments that God knew what he was doing when He gave our children to us, and us to them as well…

  6. Looking forward to hearing more on this subject! We are not currently homeschooling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we would someday.

  7. Can’t wait to read more. We’re gonna be at school stage before we know it. So far we are leaning towards a classical style private school here in the city. I’d really rather not homeschool. A Church friend tells me I already am, whenever I talk about homeschooling being scary. 😜

    1. Oh, a classical style private school is one of my dream options. I hope it works well for you. I agree with your friend that you are educating your children already, but it does become more involving once you need to cover all subjects instead of simply teaching through teachable moments. Still, if you decide to homeschool it is very do-able.

  8. Even those of us who have been homeschooling for several years still feel like we are in the “ing” part. 😉 with 5 different personalities teaching them to love to learn is one of my goals, not so much book accomplishments. A bigger part of my journey has been to ask God for a heart for my children.
    In reading the comments- time for “scheduled” : push yourself, learning comes soon enough! Enjoy those elementary years where so much can be hands on, reading n more relaxing schooling.

  9. I’m enjoying a certain form of unschooling right now, simply because it’s been working the best. When I lost (literally and unintentionally) the math book, and started making up story problems during lunch, my 5 yr. old’s math sense grew exponentially. I’m wondering, though, how he will ever develop self-discipline if all school is this fun? Do you think traditional schooling develops greater self-discipline then the more spontaneous, unstructured types of schooling?
    It puzzles me. When I taught school, there was always still the structure of schedule and school rules and other influences outside myself, but now we can be relaxed about everything… So even though my son knows more math then most people his age, I wonder if he’s missing something by never have to push himself through a long lesson that he doesn’t feel like doing.

    1. Oh, I’d LOOOOOOOOOVE to talk with you more about this, Sarah. I have the very same question. I’m thinking that, yes, discipline will not be learned as much in this format, but creative thinking will be stronger. In learning about the methods, I’m thinking about how much our school style–just like our parenting styles,–shapes so much of who our children will become as adults. It’s a little scary, really. While equally exciting that God designed -us- to parent our children. It was very specific. He picked you and Dan to parent Kendrick and Kenwood.He knew our mixes of gifts and skills and He gives us wisdom for choosing how to train and educate them. That gives me a lot of rest.

        1. [love]
          With all that talk about personal knowing, wasn’t it a nice touch how I used the wrong name for one of your sons? I know it’s wrong, but I can’t think of the right name. Laughing…

          1. :-) It’s Kenwood and Benton. But we frequently call them call them the wrong names too, much to Kenwood’s amusement.

  10. I am all into these posts! My oldest is only two, but homeschooling is looking like our only option. I’ve taught school and really enjoyed it so I’m excited but it’s still a bit overwhelming.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. I hope you’ll find information that can help you sort through the best direction for your family. You’re wise to be looking at options already because it will give you time to read and understand what methods will work for your family. Best wishes!

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