Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, homeschooling is the fastest growing educational option in the U.S. – outpacing the growth in public and private school enrollments. Homeschooling has grown 75% since 1999, and presently, there are more than 2.3 million children being homeschooled in the U.S. So, what type of getting started info should you know, before you start to homeschool?
Legal Considerations by State
First, take the time to find out what your state requires, in terms of homeschooling. These are important questions and you will need the answers to them:
- Do you have to register as a homeschooler?
- Does your curriculum have to be approved?
- Do you need to keep records of attendance and grades?
- Does your child have to participate in standardized testing?
- And more.
Each state has laws that govern homeschooling families, and these laws do differ by state. Finding out about your state’s requirements is the first step in your homeschooling journey. It’s also a good idea to check back on a yearly basis to make sure there haven’t been any changes in your state’s requirements.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a great resource for finding out what your state laws are: https://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp
Find a Support Group or a Co-op
A support group can also be of great help, especially for those new to homeschooling. Support groups can give informational and emotional support, offer info on homeschooling resources, and more. Depending on where you live, there might be a variety of homeschool support groups to choose from.
Homeschool co-ops are composed of homeschooling parents that have come together to teach their children. Co-ops might meet weekly or monthly for special classes and/or field trips. Co-ops offer an opportunity for your children to meet and interact with other homeschooling students.
You don’t need to join a support group or a co-op – many homeschoolers do not. As a new homeschooler though, you might benefit from, and enjoy the activities, advice, etc., that they offer.
Once you know the laws that you must follow, and you’ve met with other homeschoolers, you’re ready to start planning your homeschool year. Did you know that there are different types of homeschooling? There are!
10 Types of Homeschooling
First, there is no “right” way to homeschool. There are many different types/approaches to homeschooling. Here are ten popular types of homeschooling for your consideration:
1. Eclectic or Relaxed Homeschooling
This is the most widely used method of homeschooling. With this method, parents choose subjects they feel are important, as well as materials and experiences that fit their children’s learning styles. This might mean workbooks one day, field trips another, and an outside class every now and then.
Resource Suggestions for eclectic educators:
- Life of Fred – Beloved by homeschoolers everywhere, these books teach math (and other concepts) in a fun and silly way.
- Hooked on Phonics – This complete learn-to-read kit for grades PreK-2 sets children up for reading success with just 20 minutes of practice each day.
- Rock ‘N Learn – These entertaining DVDs teach with music, humor, and fun characters.
2. Classical Homeschooling
The Classical Homeschooling method structures learning by building off of the “trivium” – using the Grammar Stage, the Logic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage. In the Grammar Stage, children build a foundation around their excitement for learning and memorization. This works especially well for learning spelling rules, phonics rules, and math rules.
Around age 11, students begin the second stage which is known as the Logic Stage. During this stage, children shift from learning facts to thinking analytically.
Around high school age, students enter the Rhetoric Stage of their education. This stage builds upon the first two stages and encourages students to draw on the facts and logic they have previously learned to develop an individuated approach to the way they think.
Resource Suggestions for Classical homeschoolers:
- Singapore Math – Singapore Math provides a series of math workbooks for early elementary students. You can use the workbooks to reinforce concepts, enhance understanding, and master math skills.
- Alpha Omega Publications – Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum and educational resources. AOP’s Bible-based curriculum comes in print, computer-based and online formats.
- Wondrous Worksheets – Wondrous Worksheets provides access to more than 800 printable worksheets focusing on a variety of topics. These topics include math, grammar, handwriting, and more.
Unschooling (also known as interest-led or child-led homeschooling) is the most relaxed form of homeschooling. Unschooled children have the freedom to let their interests determine their lessons. Because children are able to use their interests to learn and research, they are motivated to do so, and learn about things they are passionate about.
Unschooling is a very individualized homeschooling method. As such, there is no “right” or “wrong” approach in the unschooling community. You might say that unschooling is more than just a type of homeschooling – unschooling is a lifestyle. And yes, kids do learn in unschooling!
Resource Suggestions for unschoolers:
- LearnToMod – The game leverages children’s love of Minecraft to teach gamers how to code.
- Magic School Bus Science Club – This is a 12-month subscription to Ms. Frizzle-approved science experiments. Every month, a science kit is delivered to your home for hands-on, science fun.
- Butterfly Garden – This hands-on learning opportunity teaches kids about the life cycle.
4. Charlotte Mason
The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling is named after its founder Charlotte Mason. She believed that education is more than just book work and studies, it is a lifestyle.
The bulk of the academics in the Charlotte Mason style come from living books. A living book is a book that brings a subject to life, usually written in narrative perspective by a person who has a passion for the subject. Along with living books, Charlotte Mason used copy work and dictation to teach reading and writing.
Resource Suggestions for using the Charlotte Mason method:
- Life of Fred Books – These books focus on the fun and page-turning tales of Fred Gauss. During his adventures, Fred encounters everyday math situations that call for solving mathematical problems. The best things about these books? Children actually want to read them.
- Complete Curriculum – Complete Curriculum publishes distinctive K-12 digital texts and provides an engaging web-based instructional interface. Students experience exciting supplemental activities, real-world application exercises, and activities that develop 21st century skill sets.
- Elementary Zoology Curriculum – This curriculum combines the study of both land animals and sea creatures, complete with trips to the zoo and aquarium.
5. Road Schooling
Road Schooling is exactly what it sounds like. It is working on homeschool lessons while your family travels. Road schoolers may travel around the United States or from country to country. They use the destination and the road as part of their curriculum. Students explore museums, local history, art shows, and parks while soaking up lessons related to a specific locale.
Road schooling is not just a homeschool option, it is a lifestyle option.
Resource Suggestions for road schoolers:
- Complete Curriculum – Complete Curriculum publishes distinctive K-12 digital texts and provides an engaging web-based instructional interface. Students experience supplemental activities, real-world application exercises, and activities that develop 21st century skill sets.
- Lapbooks – Knowledge Box Central offers dozens of lapbooks focusing on many themes, including Little House on the Prairie, Wars Around the World, and the Math & Money Lapbook Bundle.
- Travel Size USA Map Set – Bring geography lessons on the road with Mona MELisa’s, reusable, fabric sticker sets.
6. Tech Schooling
This is a somewhat new concept in homeschooling. Tech schooling changes the curriculum focus from books and text to computers and electronics, and STEM is prioritized.
Resource Suggestions for tech schoolers:
- Math Mammoth – This homeschool math curriculum is designed to break lessons down to be as simple as possible for young learners. Math Mammoth organizes their curriculum by grade level or by subject. Tech schoolers can download the files to a device and complete the assignments using an annotation app.
- Typesy – A program that combines exercises and video — it’s just like being in a room with the world’s best typing instructor.
- FarFaria – Also known as “Netflix for Children’s Books.” Kids can choose from thousands of stories on a mobile device.
- DigiPuppets Toys & Apps – Adorable “connected toys” that help kids engage, role-play and re-enact, bringing playtime off the screen.
- Bluebee Pals – A plush talking educational learning tool that sings educational songs, reads stories and entertains. It can sync with any bluetooth device for extended learning.
7. Online Homeschooling
Online homeschooling is beneficial for students who have developed typing skills and are proficient on the computer. Homeschooled kids can access online materials from any computer with internet connection, and they can work on homeschool lessons at home, at a family member’s house, at the library, or on the road. Online homeschool programs incorporate multimedia so that all types of learners benefit from the program.
Resource Suggestions for online homeschoolers:
- Monarch – Hand-pick the perfect combination of courses to match your student’s learning level while enjoying Monarch online curriculum’s automatic grading, media-rich lessons, and other powerful features. You can try Monarch FREE for a full month – just use promo code: MON30EDU.
- American School – American School offers accredited middle and high school courses in online and paper-based formats at an affordable cost. You can choose form full-year and full diploma programs or take individual courses to enrich existing homeschool programs. AP courses, honor courses and world language courses are also available. Visit americanschool.org/educents to learn more.
8. Online Public Schooling
Online public schooling is different than other homeschooling options, as it is connected to the public school system and is aligned to state standards. A family receives all books and materials free of charge. If you’re interested in homeschooling but overwhelmed by the idea, this might be a place to start (although some homeschoolers don’t consider this homeschooling at all).
Resource Suggestions for online public schooling educators:
- Times Tales – Learn the upper times tables in a snap with these silly stories.
- Permacharts – Supplement online lessons with study aids that allow a student to reference facts, charts, and concepts on any subject.
- Rock ‘N Learn – These entertaining DVDs teach with music, humor, and fun characters.
9. The Waldorf Method
This method incorporates the importance of educating the entire child which includes body, mind, and spirit. This is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner. During the early grades, Waldorf stresses art, crafts, music, movement, and nature. Students do not use standard textbooks in the Waldorf homeschool environment, and electronic devices such as televisions and computers are limited.
Resource Suggestions for Waldorf Method educators:
- Lapbooks – Supplement textbooks and workbooks for lapbooks which allow for interactive and creative learning.
- Science Art Fusion Bundle – This bundle of science experiments and art projects blends art & STEM lessons together.
10. Unit Studies
This concept centers around turning your child’s favorite subjects into curriculum. As an example, if your son loves car racing, you could study car history, car mechanics, develop math problems that are car related, etc. Plus, you could assign relevant books, art projects, and visit a car museum.
Resource Suggestions for unit studies:
- Online Unit Studies – Your kids can dive into a variety of subjects that interest them, with these Online Unit Studies created by a homeschooling mom.
- Manga Novel “Textbooks” – Teach important STEM concepts with these manga (comic) book style “textbooks”.
Bookmark these Resources for New Homeschoolers:
Homeschool Legal Defense Association – This website is an advocate for homeschooling, and a resource for homeschooling policies.
Educents.com – Educents offers parents and homeschoolers thousands of innovative, affordable products that help kids learn. To date, over 500,000 parents and homeschoolers have relied on Educents to find the best solutions to help children learn.
The Educents Blog – The best place to discover new ways to make learning fun. Hundreds of bloggers use The Educents Blog to share their homeschool product reviews, innovative teaching ideas, personal narratives, and more.
Alpha Omega Publications – AOP is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families. AOP’s Bible-based curriculum comes in print, computer-based, and online formats.
Complete Curriculum – Complete Curriculum publishes distinctive K-12 digital texts and provides an engaging web-based instructional interface.
Singapore Math – A series of math workbooks for early elementary students. You can use the workbooks to reinforce concepts, enhance understanding, and master math skills.
Life of Fred Books – Your kids will enjoy the fun page-turning tales of Fred Gauss. During his adventures, he encounters everyday math situations that call for solving mathematical problems. A plus? Children actually want to read these books.