Popular Homeschool Methods


Popular Homeschool Methods
by Sonya Haskins
Copyright © 2007 (Excerpted from List #223)

Method Philosophy / Methodology

Charlotte Mason Method 

Charlotte Mason, a Christian educator in Britain in the late 1800s, was a hands-on educator who believed in giving children the tools that would guide them throughout life. She did this by encouraging "living books," whole books, and firsthand sources for children rather than reading secondhand material from textbooks. The Charlotte Mason Method encourages the reading of entire books, particularly the classics and other great books, either by or to the children. Also encouraged is narration—allowing a child to relate back what he or she has read or heard from a book. There is no homework and there is lots of free time for children to run, climb, play, and enjoy leisure hours in the various activities of childhood.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists with the Charlotte Mason Method: Since whole books and life experiences are encouraged, use the charts and lists in this book for reference, such as the recommended reading lists. If you are reading Greek myths and your child wants to know more about the gods, post in your home the lists of Greek and Roman gods while you are enjoying the myths connected to each of them. Though Charlotte Mason didn't advocate memorization, she did encourage copy work. Any of the lists in the book can be used for copy work. Also, some people combine education methods. You may want to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists as reference material for the parent teacher only or use the lists to supplement the Charlotte Mason Method with some required memorization—such as Bible verses—or a quick-reference guide for the student.

Classical Education 

Focus is placed on guiding the child through the three stages of the Trivium: grammar, dialectic or logic, and rhetoric. The content in each stage of learning is suited to the child's mental abilities at particular ages. During the grammar period (early childhood), for example, the child memorizes large amounts of material, including multiplication facts, dates, classification, etc., even though he may not understand the significance of this material. During the dialectic period (ages 12–14), the child actually begins to understand what he or she has learned and then uses reason to ask questions about the topics. From ages 14 to 16, the child begins to develop the ability to form persuasive arguments.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists in a Classical Education: The teacher who desires to provide a classical education to his or her pupils can benefit greatly from this book. Throughout the elementary and middle school journey, lists can be used to provide the foundation of a classical education. Copy or print out lists for your student for the current topic(s) of concentration and have the student memorize portions of each list based on age level and ability. As the student progresses through the stages, use the lists as a starting point for further research.

DVD/Video School 

There is a growing trend of students, particularly high-schoolers, who use DVD or video courses as their primary source of learning. This is particularly helpful to parents who want to teach their children at home but they can't devote the necessary time each day or the subject matter is over their heads. It is important to know that these parents are still available for their child's questions, but the DVD or video courses provide a good foundation of knowledge for that child.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists if your child does DVD/Video School: Allow the child to have access to the book, especially if he is an independent learner. He may enjoy looking up much of the resource information for himself.

Eclectic Method 

Most homeschoolers fall into the category of using a variety of curriculum, books, and methods. This in itself is a method: the "eclectic method" of homeschooling. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of everything. This might include workbooks for math, copy work or memorization for studying the Bible, living books for read-alouds, and plenty of freedom to make changes. Eclectic homeschoolers frequently participate in outside classes, field trips, and clubs to round out their child's education. This method allows parents to choose the best of everything. The only real disadvantage is that some parents become overwhelmed with all the choices and the lack of structure. This can be corrected with some effort.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists with the Eclectic Method: Use the lists to answer questions or as a starting point to decide what to study next. Homeschoolers who prefer the eclectic method also frequently choose a certain amount of memorization, for which the lists are extremely helpful.

Internet/Computer Courses 

Many homeschoolers use Internet- or computer-based courses for their education. These can be particularly helpful if you have a child who learns best in a multisensory manner—eyes to see the screen, ears to listen to audio input, and hands to operate the mouse and keyboard. Internet and computer courses aren't necessarily ideal for all your child's educational work, since sitting in front of a computer screen for hours at a time can be hard on the eyes, but these courses can be beneficial sometimes.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists if your child does mostly Internet or Computer Courses: You can answer your child's questions with this book, use the checklists, and also allow your child to browse through the topics to find subjects he is interested in studying. There are also notes throughout the book of great Web sites that you will find useful.

Montessori Method 

Maria Montessori wanted children to be children. She allowed them to explore, play, and pretend, and discouraged traditional "schooling" techniques of testing and competition. This Montessori Method works especially well for preschool or elementary-level children. The method encourages independence and freedom with responsibility. This means that parents are to provide children with a learning environment and guide them through their educational journey. For more details, you might consider borrowing or buying a copy of the guidebook for the Montessori method: The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein (available through the Montessori Foundation Web site at www.montessori-foundation-books.org).

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists with the Montessori Method: Given the right tools, children can learn a good amount of material. While you may not want to "require" memorization of the lists with the Montessori method, this certainly doesn't mean you can't provide children with copies of lists to study at their own leisure, particularly if they are interested in a specific topic (space flights, animals at risk of extinction, etc.).


Some families choose to recreate the traditional school environment at home. This might include desks, textbooks, grades, a strict schedule, and record keeping. You can purchase a complete prepackaged curriculum, make up your own lesson plans, or use several different types of curriculum. Either way, the school-at-home method may cause more stress for some families who do not realize that one advantage of homeschooling is the flexibility to do it your own way. For some families, though, the extra scheduling may be just what they need to achieve their homeschool goals.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists if you recreate traditional school at home: Supplement any curriculum with the lists in this book or use the lists to help you design your own curriculum. Either way, print out each list that pertains to the subject you are studying and provide handouts to your students. Later, test them on the material.

Unit Studies 

With unit studies, all the subjects are taught with a given theme for a period of time. Unit study topics might include animals; a virtue, such as patience; a show, such as Little House on the Prairie; or even a book, such as Little Women. For a unit study on ancient Rome, for example, the student would study biographies of people such as Julius Caesar (biographical studies), the history of ancient Rome (history), Roman numerals (mathematics), the politics of ancient Romans (government), and Latin (language). There are numerous ways to incorporate various subjects into each unit study.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists for Unit Studies: Ideas for unit studies are found throughout this book. Also find lists in each chapter to go with your unit study topics. This will save you a lot of time and energy and will enable you to plan your own unit studies at home.


This method of homeschooling is child-directed. The child follows his or her own academic and extracurricular interests.

How Unschoolers can use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists: Just give the child this book, and he will find plenty to interest him!

Waldorf Education 

Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, scientist, and artist, gave a series of lectures at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919. The factory's owner asked Steiner to establish and lead a school for the factory employees' children. The Free Waldorf School opened in September of that same year. While the Waldorf schools have classroom settings like traditional schools, they are different in that they emphasize the arts, music, creativity, storytelling, and freethinking. For homeschool parents, a Waldorf education is still obtainable. Pre-academics with music, art, and creative play are encouraged in the early years and academic study begins after grade one. Students are encouraged to seek answers for themselves. Waldorf curriculum is available online and there are also Waldorf education support groups.

How to use The Homeschooler's Book of Lists with a Waldorf Education: Use the lists to help you find good-quality stories to read aloud to your child. Pick a list to read out loud and allow students to make associations or write journal entries about the subject matter. The Foreign Language chapter (chapter 9) is very useful for introducing languages to young children, which is a fundamental aspect of the Waldorf methodology. Of course, parents can use the book to look up answers to their students' questions.

Excerpted from:
The Homeschooler's Book of Lists by Sonya Haskins
Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764204432
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

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Popular Homeschool Methods


Popular Homeschool Methods