Homeschooling - Where to Begin

With all the options out there for homeschoolers these days, chances are if you've decided to homeschool but haven't started you are most likely feeling very overwhelmed. Hopefully this will help you get started.

First, there is no right or wrong way to homeschool. There are methods that work well for some children and families, but don't work for others. Every family educates their children with different methods and educational materials. The Traditional Approach and the Interest-Based Approach are the two extremes. Within this huge range of educational philosophies are many methods for homeschooling such as lapbooking, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, Montessori and Waldorf.

The following section briefly explains some of the more popular homeschooling methods. Beneath each there are links to books, websites and curriculum which align with each method. I am not recommending any particular curriculum or homeschooling style, but rather providing a source to find additional information for methods which look appealing.

Traditional Approach

In this textbook/workbook approach to education, kids have well defined lessons, assignments, quizzes, tests and grades. This method looks very much like the public school. Many companies offer complete curriculum which can be implemented at home.
  • A Beka - Textbook based, Christian Curriculum, PreK-12
  • BJU Press - Full Biblical Worldview Curriculum with on-call consultants books, on-line, DVD or Computer Disks
  • Global Village School - Online Secular Curriculum, K-8
  • Evolution Homeschool - K-6
  • Calvert Curriculum -  combo textbook/on-line secular curriculum, K-8 (High School in Development Phase)
  • Horizons - Workbook based, Christian Curriculum, Pre-K-12

Independent Learning

The older students are the more easily they can follow an independent learning curriculum. Although they can align with any method, many follow the traditional approach.
  • Robinson Curriculum - Textbook/Workbook based Christian curriculum designed for independent study, grades 1-12
  • Ron Paul Curriculum - Curriculum built on foundations of liberty, mostly self-directed, free for K-5, 6-12 involves fees for video based courses

Computer Based Learning (Traditional Approach)

With the popularity of computer-based learning and the internet providing information at the fingertips, many independent learning curriculum are implemented via computers.
Subject Specific Products


In this method of education children are encouraged to follow their interests. Parents provide a rich educational environment by continually introducing new materials and ideas. Parents may give their children books, introduce them to knitting, or buy them an electronics kit. Usually the child sets the educational path while the parents are role models, cheerleaders, and become specialists at finding resources. Sometimes referred to as Unschooling, there is no set curriculum and learning is an extension of life. Throughout the educational years, parents expose children to a variety of activities and encourage them to continue with activities the kids find interesting.

  • Joyfully Rejoicing - A Website explaining this approach with many examples
  • Khan Academy -  A free educational resource with videos and text on an overwhelming number of topics. - Those using other educational methods also find this site very useful.

Subject Specific Resources


Unit Studies

In this method all subjects are covered with one topic. Often times topics are based on periods of history, but single books, science based topics such as animals, or the human body also can be selected as focus topics. If the topic was candy the child may read books about candy, write about candy, count M&M's, try making their own chocolate bars, or do a survey of friends to find out their favorite types of candy.


Lapbooking is a unique type of unit study which involves reading, writing, cutting and pasting to create a type of scrapbook on the topic.



    Classical education is based on written and spoken language. The three stages of learning correspond with maturity of the child and build upon each other. An emphasis is placed on memorization and absorbing facts, especially through song, at the young ages. The middle grades are characterized by logic. Children ask why and learn to seek answers to their questions. The final stage of classical education involves learning to express information through eloquent language. 


    Subject Specific Materials


    This method of education puts the child in charge of his/her time by placing him/her in a prepared environment. An emphasis is placed on life skills such as learning to pour from a pitcher, and polishing silver. The Montessori classroom contains age appropriate activities, constructed from natural materials, such as geography puzzles, sewing cards, books, counting manipulatives, and seashells.


    Subject Specific Materials


    This method centers around a daily rhythm and educates the childs head, heart and hands. A Waldorf education may involve circle time and movement activities, fairy tales, beautiful works of art, learning mathematics through art, and learning to knit. A Waldorf student might make a drawing of a cat with a curved tail in the shape of the letter C to learn about that letter. They may create geometric works of art as well as three dimensional and wire frame drawings to learn about geometry.




    Charlotte Mason

    The Charlotte Mason method involves reading "Living Books". Living books teach through story rather than through fact as in historical fiction. Lessons are under 30 minutes in length and incorporate nature study, copywork, narration, music appreciation, and art appreciation. Children explore the outdoors and create their own nature notebooks based on observations. Music is studied by listening to works of great classical composers and folk tunes. Passages are selected for literary content and copied into notebooks to learn spelling, grammar, punctuation as well as techniques of great writing.


    Subject Specific Products


    Rather than selecting a single educational style, many homeschoolers prefer to select specific materials thereby tailoring the educational materials to the child. Materials from various methods are combined to create a curriculum which works for the family. This is known as the Eclectic method of homeschooling. In addition, many companies produce homeschooling materials to support one subject such as, math or science only. This method enables parents to piece together materials as interest and need demands.

    Still Undecided?

    Cathy Duffy's book Cathy Duffy's book 100 Top Picks for Homeschooling Curriculum does a much better job of explaining curriculum options. In it there is an easy self administered quiz. The results of the quiz will tell you which method or methods of homeschooling you tend to lean towards. When I took the quiz my results came out overwhelmingly Charlotte Mason. I had never heard of Charlotte Mason at that point in my life so I went onto researching her and her method. Guess what? I really like Charlotte Mason. Cathy Duffy also has a website with curriculum reviews.

    The right-hand side of this blog and on the pages contain links and many creative educational ideas, and for even more information check-out this book list.

    More Homeschooling Books

    * I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
    ** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.


    1. I love that book too. I got it when I was first thinking about homeschooling.

    2. Great intro! We homeschooled our son and loved it :) He is in college now and doing well. Found your post on Clever Chicks and would love to have you join The HomeAcre Hop on Thursdays at:

    3. We have settled into a nice 'eclectic' approach to homeschooling - heavier on unit studies, a little traditional text with a touch charlotte mason and a dab of montessori and a bit of unschooling thrown into the mix.
      Enjoyed your summary of styles - thank you!

    4. Great overview of the different homeschooling methods! Thanks for linking it up to Trivium Tuesdays!

    5. Great one! No one knows how your child learns better than you. We as a parent plan our homeschooling accodingly. Thanks for sharing!


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