Homeschooling Approaches and Tips

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Homeschooling has become more popular, with almost two million students who homeschool. Homeschooled kids typically outperform public school students on standardized tests. Colleges and universities are welcoming more homeschool students. And are beginning to actively recruit them as they have earned a reputation for being self-directed, critical thinkers and volunteer more in their communities. 

Benefits of Homeschooling

  • Parents' moral and religious beliefs can be passed on to children.
  • Children are exposed to fewer germs and stay healthier without medical intervention.
  • There is less stress within the family. School life is centered around the home and family rather than the schedules of public institutions.
  • Homeschooling provides a safe learning environment. There are no bullies, negative peer pressure, sexual harassment, or drugs.
  • The parent can control what the student learns, and when.
  • It nurtures natural talents.
  • Learning becomes part of the flow of the day, rather than a separate activity.
  • Homeschooled children are more confident and tend to be comfortable in who they are.
  • Homeschooled children tend to be more mature at an earlier age than conventionally educated children.
  • Children learn more life skills.
  • Homeschooled children tend to come up with creative solutions because they have the opportunity to think outside the box.
  • Build intimate and meaningful relationships with your kids.
  • Tailor your teaching to fit your student's learning style.
  • Give your children in-depth, personal attention in any subject with which they struggle or do well.
  • Protect your kids from children or teachers that can be negative to your children.
  • Teach more effectively by interacting with your kids one-on-one.
  • Nurture your children's natural (musical, artistic, mathematic) talents, so they thrive and grow.
  • Share with your children the simple joys of life.
  • Help your kids mature through the difficult times in their lives.
  • Take vacations during the school year and make them educational.

Disadvantages of Homeschooling

  • Spend 24 hours a day with your children for several days at a time.
  • Be prepared for the naysayers who ask, "When will you enroll them  in a real school?" 
  • Doubting your ability to teach your children and have them excel.

Before You Decide to Homeschool

  • Talk to different parents who homeschool and seek advice when you encounter problems you're not sure how to tackle.
  • Research a few curriculum programs before you find one that works for you and your family.
  • Learn your state laws and your requirements. Go to for more on requirements and much more information from what curriculum to choose and tips.
  • Join a local homeschool group that can help forge a sense of community as you embark on the homeschooling journey.

Socialization of Homeschoolers

Many homeschoolers have had success, but some critics continue to challenge them on the lack of socialization or isolation from the world. They think homeschoolers believe that they are not learning to live in the "real world." 

The reality is that homeschoolers are well equipt for the “real world” of the workplace and the home. They regularly interact with adults and follow their examples rather than the examples of their peers. They learn in all aspects of life at home, the grocery store, etc. They have real world interactions daily and are not missing out on public schools unhealthy peer pressure, crime, and immorality. Homeschooling does not mean you need to keep your child in a bubble. 

Contrary to what people may think, homeschool students are not chained to the kitchen table doing non-stop work. It's quite the opposite; they have more time to be out in the real world, with people of various ages. There are many ways to overcome the potential "isolation" through involvement in extracurricular activities. You can choose activities such as sports, church events, and homeschool co-op groups. 

Having the ability to interact and socialize with others starts in your home. Regardless if your child is in private, public or homeschool.

Homeschool Styles

With all of the choices in homeschool curriculum today, it is easy to see how deciding what methods to use can be overwhelming. One thing to remember is that homeschooling does not have to look like public schools. You have the freedom to tailor it to your family life. 


This approach is about recreating a public school classroom at your home. Parents will typically buy a boxed set curriculum, and the child does their work at home. You read the assigned chapter in the textbook and answer the questions about the content. The books contain fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions. There are many other styles. 


The Socratic Method is also known as Classical approach. The origins of classical homeschool can be traced to ancient Greece and Rome. The motto for homeschooling to teach students to learn for themselves. There are three stages in classical school, called the Trivium. The Grammar Stage (ages 6-10) focuses on absorbing information and memorizing the rules of phonics, spelling, grammar, foreign language, history, science, math, etc. The Dialectic Stage focuses on debate, forming conclusions, and determining the why’s behind the information. The Rhetoric Stage continues the rigorous studies and seeks to develop a clear, forceful, and persuasive use of language.


Eclectic homeschooling does not focus on one particular discipline. It's more like a collage of multiple styles of learning and curriculums. Referred to as a relaxed approach to homeschooling. This method is highly individualized to each student. Approaches can also change from semester to semester depending on what works best for the student. 

Having an eclectic approach does not mean that your homeschool is unorganized or lazy. It's about meeting the needs of each student. This method works well with large families. 


Unschooling goes with the interests of the child. There is no set curriculum. If a child is interested in butterflies, you research and learn about them until the student is satisfied. If the student develops an interest in race cars, you give them more information on race cars and so on. The various tenets of this approach are that the parent is not the teacher, does not use curriculum, learning is paired with interest, children are naturally inclined to learn, and learning is a side-effect of play. 


Unit Studies approach a theme topic from several angles, encouraging activity and love of learning as well as discipline and responsibility. It's about immersing in the subject and know it thoroughly. 

Unit studies are popular with larger families. Having a single unit study allows for the family to stay on track but also to vary the depth of study for each student. It's easier to teach one subject on different levels than to teach multiple subjects. This approach allows for older students to teach to younger siblings, thus allowing the older student to learn while teaching their sibling. 

This approach also allows for the students to research and dig deeper into the material. Researching the subject also reinforces learning. 


The Charlotte Mason method is founded on Christian beliefs. This style of homeschooling uses rich literature and “living books” rather than textbooks. Charlotte was a British educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s who emphasized respecting each child as a person and giving him a broad education. 


The classroom is well organized, and not cluttered. It avoids using television or computers in lessons. This method is best for younger students. 

This approach is inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner. It focuses on educating all aspects of a child's life. It's about educating the mind, body, and spirit. 

Using this approach, parent teachers use story books, visuals, and crafts supplies to teach. It focuses less on academics and more on teaching by example. For the student to explore and use their imagination. 

Many resources offer the entire school curriculum via the web. The homeschooler relies almost entirely on the courses they take online. Some programs even offer virtual teachers for the students to connect with and even teleconference in. This homeschool approach is more focused on the education of the homeschooler. There are also many curriculums are offered on DVD's and workbooks. 

This approach based on Howard Gardner's approach of multiple intelligences. He introduced his theory in his book, "Frames of the Mind."  His theory took into consideration kinesthetic, spatial, verbal, musical, and logical (mathematical).

He categorized that there are different intelligences:

  1. word-smarts
  2. number-smarts
  3. picture-smarts
  4. body-smarts
  5. music-smarts
  6. people-smarts
  7. self-smarts
  8. nature-smarts

This approach is about adapting to your student's strength, so their learning will be customized to make it work for them. 



Homeschooling can generate chaos unlike anything else if you do not have some planning and record keeping system. There are a variety of homeschool planners and organizers available. A quick online search, you will find an array of options. You can also find books to help you keep your student's grades recorded. 


You do not have to have a dedicated room in your home to homeschool, but it's best to have your materials organized. Bring organized will help your lessons go more smoothly. For our family, we use the formal dining room; I use our buffet cabinet to store all our books and supplies. Get clear storage bins for markers, crayons, and other small items. It also helps to label them, so your children will know what goes where.  In this instance,  be like a public school in having designated areas for all your supplies. It will save you time when you start your school day and don't have to look all around your home for items needed for your lesson. 


Remember - your family is unique - and you need a plan that suits you. A schedule is only great if it works for you - not against you.

First, know your homeschool goals and have decided your subjects and the methods you will use. Then you need to begin organizing your day and weeks. Consider your family. Are you going to be able to structure their time? Schedules can work for some, and it can stress out others. Things change, and homeschooling isn't an exact science. If things aren't working according to the schedule - modify it and make it work for your family.

Notebooking has been around for quite some time. Many notable people in history have kept notebooks and journals. 

What is notebooking?
Notebooking is a term for a timeless discipline of keeping a journal. These notebooks capture a personal journey that one can look back at and get a sense of what was going on in that period. The same applies to your student as they can look back on the school year and reflect on all that they have learned. In the homeschool environment, these notebooks have an emphasis on education. These books will surely become a treasure for you and your student to keep for year's to come. 

Instead of having heaps of handouts, quizzes, at the end of the year you can have a notebook for each subject. This approach allows the student more time exploring, discovering, and capturing knowledge each day. They fill out their notebooks throughout the year on the various topics you choose. We've decided on history, science, and reading comprehension. You can also opt to do a geography, language arts, and even math notebook. The possibilities are endless. 

It's important to note that this is not just fill in the blank activity, but rather an opportunity for your child to put in their notebook what they found most interesting, showcasing what they learned and what they want to remember. 

What to include in your notebooking?

There are two primary components of the notebook, written and visual. For the written portion you would add narrations, facts of the particular subject, and reflections for the student to fill out on his own. For the visual part, you would include maps and drawings.
Here are some examples of notebooks. 

History Notebook

History Notebook

Here are template notebook pages you can print at home:
You can find a lot of free notebook templates here

How to notebook?

Start simple with your notebooking adventure. Have each of your students' choose their favorite subject and have them create a notebook for that subject. I have a daughter that's entering 3rd grade and twins who are entering kindergarten. They all have their science notebooks and are studying the same material. For my older daughter's notebook, she will go much deeper into the material in her notebook and with the twins, I will keep it simple to drawings and simple sentences stating science facts. To get your student started,  you may need to ask questions to get the student to think about what they want to write their books. In the beginning, you may find your student does not expand their descriptions but as they keep notebooking that skill will flourish, and they will become more descriptive writers. 

As your child digs deeper in the subject, continue to add new material to the notebook. The book will expand as the year goes on. The notebook can include an array of items like quotes, photographs, ticket stubs from an event, maps, information on their field trips, timelines, drawings, sketches, a collection of things like leaves, pressed flowers, or seeds. Allow for your child's imagination to run free.

What are the benefits of notebooking?

Notebooking is a perfect way to inspire creativity, document learning, organize content, and learn effectively. It brings organization to our homeschool days. Throughout the process of notebooking, you may find your child become a storyteller, teacher or an expert in the subjects he or she is studying. 

As they have more experience with notebooking, you will see the richness of what your student in learning will be displayed in their notebooks. The layers of what they have learned will be evident in the scale of their notebooks. You will also see that each of your children's notebook will take on their personality adding to the beauty of notebooking. It's a tremendous blessing to sit with your child and see the joy and wonder expressed in their notebooks.  

Your child will develop a mixture of skills, listening, narration, organization, artistic and so much more. The notebooks have a way of teaching back to the student on what has been studied. Some influential men engaged in notebooking, from Thomas Jefferson to Lewis & Clark. Through notebooking, your child will learn to communicate effectively on what they have learned. 

Notebooking Recap:

  • Record learning
  • Create a portfolio
  • Practice summarizing
  • Practice composition
  • Reinforce what is learned
  • Help children see connections
  • A way to practice handwriting, grammar, and spelling across your curriculum.

What supplies do I need to create a homeschool notebook?

  • Binder
  • Paper
  • 3 ring hole puncher or a composition book/spiral sketchbook
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Construction paper
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • And any craft supplies you may have in your home.

There are a lot of printable options online, and many offer free notebooking templates. This process does not need to be arduous or expensive. There is an abundance of free templates online. If you are a creative, you can create your pages. The templates have a variety of designs with preprinted lines, frames, border and artwork that allow notebooking to be stress-free. The pre-printed lines work great for narrations and copy work. The empty frames are perfect for drawings or maps. You can find an array of free templates on 

How to Organize Notebooking Pages

Look at your weekly homeschool lesson plans and choose an area that would lend itself well to notebooking. Then look at your weekly teaching plan.  Pick a day that introduces and completes a single idea.  It might be a famous individual or a single historical event.  Or in the case of science, it may be a lesson about a chemical process or an animal.  Hone in on that one day's science or history lesson.  Now you have your starting point.

Complete Your Lesson Plan as Normal

Teach as you normally would. Do not change your homeschool plans for the sake of notebook. Notebooking is meant to add richness to your lessons and reinforce the homeschool lesson. It's not intended to complicate your homeschool day. At the start of each lesson let your child know that you will have them recount what they have learned and to add that to their notebooks.  

Next, Have Your Child Orally Narrate 

Once the homeschool lesson is complete ask the child to tell you verbally what you all just covered. Ask questions to your student. Your goal is to get the most information from your student to ensure they get as much detail in their book. Also, ask them if there are images that come to mind that they would like to include in their books. 

While your child narrates depending on skill level write key words, word bank, outline or perhaps you might have to dictate the narration for your child. For your older children make sure to get them to be as expressive as it can. Your goal is for the one or two pages of that homeschool lesson to be generous with information. 

Then have the student add their notebook page have to their homeschool notebook. As the homeschool year progresses, you will keep adding pages. The book will take the life of your child's personality. Get ready for an exciting homeschool year experience.