Introduction to Homeschool Philosophies

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Introduction to Homeschool Philosophies

Introduction to Homeschool Philosophies

When you tell people you are thinking about homeschooling, a picture comes to their mind. It usually has something to do with denim jumpers a ton of kids and overly religious curricula strewn all over the kitchen table.  However, that type of homeschooling isn’t as likely as any other. Homeschooling is a unique experience, there are unique reasons why we choose to homeschool and that results in unique styles of homeschooling. Did you know that there are many popular homeschool philosophies or styles that you can try out? Well, there are many but today we are just going to introduce you to a few homeschool philosophies. Remember you don’t have to take it too seriously, as we mentioned in our recent post What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

Homeschool Philosophies

Homeschoolers often classify themselves under different homeschool philosophies, and if you are new to homeschooling you might be confused by some of the terms you will hear (school at home/textbook-oriented, unschooling, virtual or online school, Moore Formula, Montessori, Classical Homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic or relaxed homeschooling, unit study based, Waldorf, and so on). I know I was confused and overwhelmed when I began hearing about all of these, heck I still get a little overwhelmed with it all.

When it comes to choosing a homeschool philosophy many homeschoolers opt for the eclectic title, meaning they take a little bit of everything that works for their family and mash it into their homeschool. Families who are season homeschoolers, homeschooling for years will often work their way through the philosophies.


The School At Home Philosophy

The School At Home Philosophy is just that. It means the homeschooler follows a strict schedule filled with a curriculum which most likely is a boxed set of textbooks for each subject. They usually stick to a very strict schedule and make homeschooling more like school at home. They may transition over to online or virtual schooling but we will go into that later. Many still use textbooks and work their homeschool just like traditional school. Nothing wrong with this philosophy if it works for you, if you have a child that thrives on schedules and routine, I am thinking of my nephew with autism. This may be a perfect philosophy to follow for you. If trying to cram everything into each day is too much for your child block scheduling is a variation where you devote each day to a different subject.


Virtual or Online Schooling

Since I had mentioned this in our previous homeschool philosophy let me talk about it now, virtual or online schooling is a public or private school online in the comfort of your home or on the road. If you have a wifi connection you can do school at home! I am including it because so many people ask me about it and because it is a growing solution to many members of our homeschooling community. They want the freedom of having their kids at home, but want or need the oversight and accreditation provided by a state-run school. Instruction takes place in the home, either through computer lessons or via textbooks, typically a combination of both. Lessons may be completed online and somewhat self-paced or taught by a teacher through Skype or a similar method. It can be found in a gray space, while it is homeschooling because you are doing school at home you are still linked to a private or public school. You don’t have to fill out forms and report to the state because they will be doing that for you.


Unschooling can be a bit hard to define, it is usually looked at as the lazy way to homeschool, however, it really isn’t. Unschooling can take a lot of work and energy. A popular way to define unschooling is to say that it is completely child-led learning. The parent facilitates school based on the child’s interest and with their input throughout the whole thing. Children are in charge of their homeschool. Unschoolers believe that we are naturally curious, and children don’t need to be forced to learn they will pick it up naturally. When that natural curiosity peaks you jump on it and dive deeply into it if that is what they want. Some unschoolers don’t believe in classes, but many unschoolers enroll their children in classes that match their student’s interests. Sometimes, the student is the one who finds the classes they are interested in on their own. Enrollment of any classes is with the child’s consent because the basic idea of unschooling is that the child is in charge of their own education. Not alone but in control.

Moore Formula

The Moore Formula was created by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Their Moore Foundation has been providing support and guidance for parents for many years. The Moores are best known for their theory that formal school is better started later than early, with very little or no formal schooling taking place before age 8.

Unit Studies

A unit study sometimes naturally occurs, it is the taking of a topic or theme like Hawaii and then learning about it in all your subjects. Therefore, you can learn about the history involving Hawaii, the geography of Hawaii, read a louds or reading based on Hawaii, create a volcano for a science unit and so on.  The theme can be a historical event, a holiday, a location, a person, or pretty much anything. The students learn about the theme using different resources and hands-on activities. Unit studies are popular among interest-led where students look at many subjects within the context of a specific topic.


Traditional Montessori education relies on multi-age groups, as well as a Montessori-trained teacher, among other components, but a family can implement Montessori principles into their homeschool. Montessori uses uninterrupted blocks of time, real-world activities, and choice of a pre-selected set of work centers. Montessori is a holistic learning method that incorporates a full-sensory experience and emphasizes letting children use real tools rather than toys. Such as letting him help in the kitchen using real kitchen tools rather than giving him a play kitchen set.


Classical education is based on a three-part process: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. In the Grammar stage, you lay the groundwork; learning how to learn. The Logic stage begins around fifth grade and focuses on reasoning and analytical thinking. High school students move into the Rhetoric stage, which applies the rules of logic to the foundation of skills learned at the younger ages. Classical education is language-based, rather than hands-on or video-based like many of the other homeschooling styles.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason preferred “living books” over textbooks, and believed that children were whole people who should be treated as if they are capable of understanding the world around them. This method focuses on establishing positive habits, short age-appropriate lessons, narration to teach the child to think clearly, dictation to teach spelling and grammar, art and music, and nature study.


Relaxed or eclectic homeschoolers tend to worry less about schedules and whether or not their children are hitting milestones on a timeline. They may use a textbook or computer-based curriculum but they are more likely to adopt things as they see fit for their family. They may do nature study because their children love it and call it science, and then do unit studies for another area of their homeschool. They don’t stress about following anything too religiously.


Like Classical education, Waldorf is divided into three stages, based on developmental appropriateness. Music plays a significant part in Waldorf education, and technology is not used until the high school years.

What homeschool philosophy do you belong to?

I know that entering the homeschooling world is overwhelming all on its own. We tend to start researching and finding out information on the best way to teach because we have these feeling of inadequacy. This then leads us to follow certain philosophies in our homeschool. If you are new to homeschooling, take it one day at a time. You don’t need to find the perfect philosophy for your family and study all the literature on it, join all the groups and become an expert. You will research different things in different seasons as you need help, then you may adopt a certain philosophy or aspects of a few. Either way, you got this.





Let us know your which homeschool philosophies speak to you? Do you belong to any of these? Can you give us more insight? Did I miss the mark on my introductions to any of these homeschool philosophies? Let me know in the comments below.

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Introduction to Homeschool Philosophies






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