Many become homesteaders to experience the freedom that comes from living according to their values, without paying much attention to what society thinks.  On the homestead, you are not only experiencing the freedom that comes with teaching your child, but you’re also teaching your child by example the value of living and learning authentically.  Unfortunately, many parents feel intimidated at the prospect of teaching their children.  Luckily, there are many different homeschooling styles to choose from according to your child’s specific needs and abilities, making it easy and fun to learn at home.

Although there are as many ways to homeschool as there are people, there are recognized styles that are good to be familiar with.  Those styles include Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, University Model, Eclectic, Unit Studies, and Unschooling.  As a parent, you can choose the style that works best for you, tailoring your child’s education to their specific interests and needs, and incorporating lessons naturally learned on a homestead into your curriculum.

There are ten principles for effective teaching that are widely accepted as best methods. Most of these principles acknowledge that true learning happens when it prepares the student for life, connects real-world experiences to abstract educational concepts, and respects the learning style, prior experience, and values of the student.  Much of that is difficult for teachers in a traditional classroom to accomplish, but homeschooling allows you to do all of it.

When you first start out on your homeschooling journey you may be surprised at how little time the formal schooling takes, and this may cause you to wonder if your child is getting everything they need.  We are accustomed to children being in school for six or more hours a day.  But classes can have as many as thirty children and teaching a full classroom takes much longer than it will take you to teach yours.  Also, children who learn faster will often be given busy work while waiting for their classmates to catch up.  While the actual instruction time in a homeschool is short, learning occurs all day on a homestead.

Classical Education is the type of schooling Aristotle, C. S. Lewis, and Thomas Jefferson studied under.  It divides learning into three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  This style emphasizes truth, morality, and beauty over rote memorization, with proficiency in complex thought, analysis, and the ability to instruct or persuade others as major goals.  The main goal, however, is to instill a passion for lifelong learning.

The Charlotte Mason style was developed by Charlotte Mason, a British educator, who believed all children should be respected and learn from real-life situations.  She recommends that elementary-age children spend 5-15 minutes per subject each day, and older grades should spend 45 minutes on each subject daily.  This style of homeschooling is terrific for auditory learners, as narration and discussion are used to show proficiency rather than tests.

Montessori is a kinesthetic and sensory-based style that emphasizes functioning in the real world and ties movement to creativity and brain development.  Children lead in this style of education, choosing their schedules, books, and materials to gain a sense of mastery over their lives.  Montessori education believes mastery is the ultimate reward and discourages extrinsic rewards for behavior.  This homeschooling style is best for families who can plan ahead and have ample time for child-led activities.

The University Model is a hybrid homeschool, where children attend school-like classes two or three days a week.  Many homeschool co-ops have classes led by parents or local experts in given subjects, and if you have the resources this is a great way to add some structure and expose children to other styles of teaching. This model will eliminate the socialization concerns homeschool parents have to deal with.


Eclectic homeschooling uses various resources and combines styles to create a highly specific homeschool curriculum that is directly tied to your child’s individual needs.  This style is great for homeschools on a budget, as you do not need to purchase expensive curriculum or materials.  It also allows a great deal of freedom. By choosing from the entire smorgasbord of homeschooling styles, you can add and eliminate activities based on what’s best for your family.

Unit Studies is a style that works great for families with children of different ages. You simply take a subject that the child is interested in and incorporate it across multiple subjects. For example, if you are studying Colonial America, you can compare maps of the United States (geography), prepare a meal from a colonial-era cookbook (reading and math), make toys children played with (art), plant a colonial garden (botany/horticulture).  The activities you can do are limited only by your imagination.

Unschooling is a style that discourages structure for the sake of structure and allows learning to occur naturally.  Proponents of unschooling believe children want to learn and do not need to be coerced into it.  They allow their children to follow their own interests and provide the resources necessary for a full exploration.  Unschooling is a good choice for child-centric families who are comfortable without a strict routine.

Whatever style of homeschooling you choose, it is important to take advantage of the resources available to you.  The local community center will have sports teams and the library always has activities for children of all ages.  Older children can volunteer or apprentice.  Homesteading children are more than welcome in the FFA program, and every town has a Scout program.  As homeschooling becomes more mainstream, homeschool co-ops are popping up in every town.  These are great places for you and your children to make friends with common values and interests.

Parents should participate in programs as well.  Homeschooling is simple, but not easy.  Do not neglect the things that bring you joy.  Your household will run smoother and your children will learn better if you take time to recharge your batteries.

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