Homeschool Alternatives: Options from Homeschool Advocates

If you are considering starting to homeschool your kids, the first question to ask is what homeschool approach you will take, since there are several to choose from. 

what are the homeschool alternatives? The common homeschool approaches that you can pick for your kids include Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Waldorf, and Traditional homeschooling. Your final decision should depend on your child’s interests and learning rate.

The HSLDA, which is a top homeschool advocacy group mentions that whatever homeschool path you choose to take, you should ensure that your educational setup is exciting for your child.

Types Of Homeschool

Some types of homeschooling include Traditional homeschooling, Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Waldorf homeschooling Classical homeschooling, Unschooling, Montessori homeschooling, and Eclectic homeschooling.

There are so many unique styles of homeschooling, and which approach you take should depend on the goal that you are looking to achieve.

For instance, some parents intend to take their kids back to the classroom after a brief time. In cases like these, the parents should opt for a homeschooling style that replicates the regular school experience so students can find it easy to blend back in once they go back to the classroom.

On the other hand, there are parents whose children have completely lost interest in classroom learning and do not intend to go back. In this scenario, a parent can completely flip the table and choose a unique learning style that does not restrict the educational experience of their children.

This variation in homeschool types means that there is no universal “best” homeschooling style. The homeschooling approach you take depends on which one meets your specific criteria and goals.

Regardless of whether you have been previously homeschooled or are a new homeschooler, learning about the diverse ways of homeschooling would ensure that your practices match your educational objectives.

Top Reasons Why Homeschoolers Like Homeschool

ReasonsPercentage of results
Better sleep scheduling14%
Lack of social pressure20%
Better work environment27%
Lack of bullies26%

What Is Traditional Homeschooling?

Traditional homeschooling is simply “doing school at home.” In Traditional homeschooling, the methods and practices used to educate kids are identical to those in regular schools, with the main difference being the location.

To have a picture of what Traditional homeschooling looks like, imagine a dedicated space in your home, with a chalkboard/whiteboard, desk, pen, and other study materials, and a fixed schedule for all subjects.

As mentioned above, Traditional homeschooling uses similar methods to those used in private and public schools. It uses a lecture teaching roster, with the days solidly scheduled. There are also regular quizzes and tests to gauge the progress of students, and it also tries to align the curriculum of the student to that used by a local school.

This method of learning is optimal for children who just recently left the regular school system. It helps maintain the method of learning that these children are used to and allows parents to easily create a structured learning curriculum.

Traditional homeschooling is an effective way to create a solid and structured learning environment for students since, in some way, it replicates the school system at home. Traditional homeschooling is an effective way to start for parents who are still getting used to their teaching style, and for students finding their learning rhythm.

Some of the benefits of Traditional homeschooling include:

  • It helps parents who are new to homeschooling

For parents who are not confident about their ability to teach, Traditional homeschooling can give you the confidence boost you need by providing established methods and clear-cut plans that are easy to follow.

There are many homeschooling curriculums that have laid-out plans that you can adopt, letting you have a daily routine that is already established. This is very comforting, especially when you are a parent still trying to figure out your teaching style.

  • It requires little planning

One of the main advantages of homeschooling is that it is much easier and does not require a whole lot of planning. Since most curriculums come with pre-designed lesson plans and recommended textbooks, all you must do is follow those plans.

  • It is flexible

If you choose a learning curriculum and find out that it does not work for your child, you can easily change it to one that is more suitable.

  • It smoothens the transition process

In some cases, your child might need to get homeschooled only temporarily and might be returning to the traditional school setting shortly. In such scenarios, choosing Traditional homeschooling is the best option for your child since it bears a close resemblance to regular school setups.

Parents that are new to homeschooling often choose the Traditional homeschooling method because of its ease, but some people often avoid Traditional homeschooling because of some of these reasons:

  • The burnout rate can be remarkably high

In Traditional homeschooling, keeping up with lunch and study plans with no room for deviation can lead to burnout in a short while since students can get bored of repeating the same thing every day.

  • It leaves little time for socializing

With Traditional homeschooling, you will be fitting a hectic schedule into a little time, so, children might miss the opportunity to socialize or interact with other students during the daytime.

What Is Eclectic Homeschooling?

Eclectic homeschooling is a homeschooling style that combines different methods of homeschooling. Eclectic homeschooling tends to combine what works best for a student in different homeschooling styles while leaving out what doesn’t.

Eclectic homeschooling is personalized for each student and revolves around their strengths, learning style, interests, and weaknesses. Most parents find out that what works best for a child in one subject might not work for the other, thus, Eclectic homeschooling is all about finding the right mix of resources and methods for a particular homeschooled student.

Getting started in Eclectic homeschooling would involve:

  • Observing your child and finding out their interests, learning style, what works best for them, and what doesn’t.
  • Setting out goals you want your child to achieve
  • Blend the resources you find to create a customized study plan.

A question that often arises is the difference between Unschooling and Eclectic homeschooling. While these two homeschooling styles share a great deal in common, they are not the same.

Unschooling is a child-led approach, where children themselves choose what they want to learn, and the pace at which they want to learn it. Parents merely act as a facilitator in the Unschooling approach. Eclectic schooling on the other hand provides parents with a great deal of involvement in determining the academic needs of their children.

Some of the advantages of Eclectic schooling include:

  • Flexibility

Children’s interests evolve at a staggering rate. Eclectic homeschooling lets parents adapt to those changes as they occur.

  • Customizable

Rather than making a child conform to a rigid approach to education, Eclectic homeschooling lets you design study plans to meet the learning style of your child.

  • Inexpensive

Choosing and designing your study plan costs a lot less than paying for a packaged curriculum.

Some of the hurdles that you might experience when practicing Eclectic homeschooling are:

  • More preparation times

Designing your own study plan and curriculum takes a lot more time than following a pre-packaged curriculum, and thus, the preparation time for Eclectic homeschooling is extensive.

  • More responsibility falls on the parent

Choosing what you want to teach and how to teach it takes a lot of research. Since you are responsible for creating the unique study approach for your child, more responsibility falls on you.

  • It demands your constant attention

Since every child differs, and the demands of each child can change rapidly, there is a lot of demand placed on the parent to ensure that they are constantly alert and attentive to the needs of their child.

What Is Montessori Homeschooling?

Montessori homeschooling is a homeschooling approach that emphasizes building creativity and life skills in each child. Montessori homeschooling is focused on making children reach their full potential both academically and in “real life”.

Montessori homeschooling has some core values, one of which is teaching students how to conduct themselves in whatever situation they find themselves in. Children are also inspired to find value in knowledge and trained to be curious and creative.

A common acronym used in Montessori homeschooling is OCCI, meaning Order, Concentration, Coordination, and Independence. These four keywords represent the basic aims of Montessori homeschooling.

Each student undergoing Montessori homeschooling is regarded as distinct and is encouraged to collaborate with other students. Montessori homeschooling views schooling as a foundation for not just academic knowledge, but also as a training ground for life itself. 

Some unique characteristics of the Montessori homeschooling approach are:

  • Parents act more as facilitators than instructors.
  • It focuses on positive behavior and conflict resolution.
  • It gives students the freedom to choose among various learning styles.

Some of the advantages of Montessori homeschooling include:

  • It is child-led

Schooling children based on their skills and interests ensures that education is best fitted to the ability of the student.

  • It encourages independence

Since students make some decisions for themselves, Montessori homeschooling improves independence.

  • Children are comfortable

Montessori education is focused on letting children learn at their own pace, without being too fast or too slow.

Some of the disadvantages of Montessori homeschooling are:

  • It is not adaptable to regular schooling

Due to the unique values and practices that form the foundation of Montessori homeschooling, it might be difficult for students to switch to a regular school environment after being Montessori homeschooled.

  • It can be expensive

To be able to properly pull off the Montessori approach to homeschooling, there are a lot of materials and study resources that you might need to provide for your children, and thus can be financially demanding.

  • Improvisation is not allowed

The study materials for Montessori homeschooling are meant to be used in a particular way, and any other form of usage is not encouraged.

  • It is more suitable for younger children

The Montessori homeschooling approach works best for young children and thus might not be the best approach for your teenage children.

What Is Waldorf Homeschooling?

Waldorf homeschooling is a type of homeschooling that takes a comprehensive approach to a child’s education, encouraging the improvement of body, mind, and spirit.

Waldorf homeschooling is a homeschooling approach that seeks to educate the child. The core mantra of Waldorf homeschooling is “head, heart, and hands”. This approach places importance on academic head-knowledge as well as practical and emotional intentions.

Here are details on the “head, heart, and hands” mantra as embodied by the Waldorf homeschooling method.

  • “Head” signifies the emphasis on the ability of students to think independently
  • “Heart” signifies the capacity of students to build emotional connections to their work and the world.
  • “Hands” refers to the willingness of students to work hard and achieve their goals and make contributions to the world.

Some of the unique characteristics of the Waldorf homeschooling approach are:

  • It assigns formal grades to students. Students are assessed by the progress made.
  • It focuses on age-appropriate learning, making sure the curriculum is fitted to the age of the student.
  • It de-emphasizes academics but focuses more on total education – where every aspect of the natural world is integrated into education.
  • No textbooks are used in the early years of study.

Some of the reasons why you might want to adopt the Waldorf homeschooling approach are:

  • Children get to learn more about themselves.
  • It encourages creativity in students.
  • Students get inner motivation and learn of their own will.
  • It promotes a safe environment for students to learn.
  • Waldorf schooling approach provides a relaxed learning environment for students.

Some of the cons of the Waldorf homeschooling approach are:

  • Lack of motivation and formal assessment can lead to laziness.
  • Children may get a flawed and biased perception of life rather than an educated perception.

What Is the Unschooling Method?

Unschooling is a homeschooling approach where students learn without prescribed lessons, textbooks, or other school-like methods used by other homeschooling techniques. Unschooling focuses on a student’s interests rather than a general curriculum.

Unschooling is also called delight-directed learning, child-led learning, autodidactic, natural learning, and life learning.

Often, people get confused by the similarity between the Montessori and Unschooling approaches to homeschooling. However, there are some key differences between them.

Unschooling is a completely student-led approach, complete authority is given to the student, and, if a student does not like a subject, they might decide to completely drop it. Montessori is also student-led, but there are parents and facilitators who guide the students.

The main advantage of the Unschooling homeschooling method is that unschooled children have research abilities and can dedicate time to becoming experts in their areas of interest.

A disadvantage of the Unschooling method is that it does not follow the typical school schedule, thus, it may be difficult for students to enter the regular school system.

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