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Considering Homeschooling? Find the Right Fit.


This post is contributed by Oak Meadow, the sponsor of our Living Education series.

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Homeschooling is all about finding the right fit: finding what works for each child, for the homeschooling parent, and for the family’s lifestyle and values. Luckily, homeschooling has gained mainstream popularity in the last decade and the resources for homeschoolers have exploded into a veritable feast of choices.

Considering Homeschooling? Find the Right Fit.

Photo credit: Oak Meadow


There are curriculum choices for every learning style, family value, and educational goal. Not only that, but there are so many amazing, experienced homeschoolers sharing their ideas and wisdom via websites, Facebook groups, blogs, books, magazines, and journals that homeschooling in many ways is easier than ever before.

But how do you choose from all these fantastic options? How can you tell if a certain curriculum or homeschooling style will work for your family? How do you know if your child will respond well to a traditional approach, an eclectic style, or boxed curriculum? What’s the difference between interest-led learning, roamschooling, and unschooling? Starting out as a new homeschooler, it can all be more than a little bewildering and overwhelming.

Take a deep breath and relax. Here’s some help—a handy list of the basic styles of homeschooling, how each works, and who might like it best.

Boxed curriculum

Having all the lesson plans for each subject for a full year in one place can be the best way to help you feel comfortable about homeschooling and confident about your ability to do it well. Getting a full set of curriculum books doesn’t mean you can’t have any input or follow your child’s interests, though. It just means you have something to fall back on, and have a general plan to your days and weeks that reassures you that there won’t be any big gaps in your child’s education. It also makes it really easy for your child to see what needs to be done, and for you to organize your year-end reporting to the state.

There are many different types of boxed curriculum, from religion-based to literature- or history-based to creative and integrated (like Oak Meadow). Boxed curriculum can include assignments that range from hands-on projects to worksheets and tests so the kind of student this approach works well for depends on what type of curriculum you choose. Using a boxed curriculum is a good fit for parents who are new to homeschooling and want everything planned out for them, or for those who would rather spend time enriching the homeschooling experience than creating it from scratch.

Eclectic homeschooling

A lot of veteran homeschoolers find themselves doing a bit of this and a bit of that, choosing from a wide variety of sources to help each child learn best. This eclectic style can work especially well in larger families because you will naturally acquire a great deal of curriculum over the years. You might find that a particular math program works very well for your family, and you like the science labs from a certain website. You might use literature to teach history, and find a writing program that appeals to you. In this way, you piece together a complete curriculum from an eclectic array of resources based on your child’s learning preferences and educational needs. The eclectic approach works very well for parents who are comfortable with a little more flexibility and who have the time, energy and willingness to seek out resources and design a comprehensive program from diverse materials.

Traditional schooling at home

While relatively few homeschoolers try to replicate a traditional classroom approach at home, there are many who use textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, and tests with great success. Textbooks usually present a topic in a well-organized, comprehensive way and many have accompanying workbooks with related assignments and fill-in-the-blank worksheets. You might want to forgo textbooks and use worksheets to accompany learning from other sources (such as literature, research books, and the internet). Having worksheets allows kids to be self-paced because skills are presented in a very organized progression, and you can easily grade the worksheets and see where more help is needed.

Many kids, especially those who respond well to repetitive drills, find worksheets to be satisfying because they often focus on one skill at a time, and many parents like worksheets because they can have time to work one-to-one with a child while the others are busy on their own. Many families find that worksheets work particularly well for math since most students need a fair amount of repetition to build math skills. The traditional school approach works best for families who prefer a highly organized structure, and for students who can sit for a focused period of time and who learn best through written information and instructions.

Interest-led learning

Interest-led learning means allowing your child’s interests to guide the direction of the studies. The beauty of interest-led learning is that you can introduce core academic skills (such as grammar or fractions) in relation to topics that your child is naturally drawn to. Of course, this means more work for the parent but it’s not as hard as it sounds. As adults, we already understand how much something like math or good writing skills come in handy in daily life, so incorporating these elements into a project of your child’s making—say, a dinosaur stop-action film or a storyboard for a new video game—can be pretty seamless.

You can use resources like math books or grammar books; in fact, you’ll probably find yourself acquiring a large selection of supplements and research books. Interest-led learning is a great fit for students who love to dive into a topic wholeheartedly and for parents who are in a position to support their child’s learning in imaginative ways.


This word conjures up fantastic images of taking your learning out into the world, and that’s exactly what it is. Roamschooling is often a combination of interest-led learning and unschooling. At its core, it is simply learning by exploring the world. Your explorations don’t have to take you far, but often families travel across the country or around the world while roamschooling (sometimes this is called roadschooling or worldschooling). This style of homeschooling often works very well if the parents have jobs that require travel or if their work allows them to live anywhere.

As you can imagine, the sky’s the limit with roamschooling and everyone does it differently. Many parents are most comfortable when they have a basic idea of the core academic skills they want their children to acquire along the way, and with a basic idea in mind, it’s relatively easy to supplement as needed to make sure all the bases are covered. Learning through travel adventures and/or community explorations offers educational opportunities that take kids far beyond the basics. Roamschooling is a great option for students who are naturally social, active and outgoing, and for parents who are comfortable with not knowing where the day will lead.


Unschooling, which seems to be gaining popularity, is the perfect antidote to school burnout. There is something very healing about letting children revert back to learning because they want to rather than because they have to. The unschooling approach allows children to learn by living and doing, and doesn’t require them to pass specific benchmarks or acquire certain skills. Of course, kids who are following their own interests and learning as they please often pick up most of the academic basics along the way. They might realize they need to know something about fractions and geometry if they are going to build a really sturdy treehouse, so they take the time to learn.

Many unschoolers become excellent readers with extensive vocabularies. Some parents make sure there are books about math, grammar, history, etc. available but don’t assign required reading. Others assign a minimum of schoolwork to make sure the bases are covered, and let their children unschool the rest of the time. Unschooling works particularly well for self-motivated students who love to learn by doing, and for parents who trust that the learning process will unfold naturally if a child is given the time and space to explore life.

There are many more categories of homeschooling that could be added to this list but this gives you a good idea of the possibilities. Most families who homeschool for more than one year end up using a combination of these approaches as time goes by. Since children change as they grow, and family circumstances and opportunities change, it makes sense that our homeschooling will change over time, too.

As parents, we often get a good sense of what will or won’t work with our children, but sometimes we have to experiment with different homeschooling methods before we find the right fit. What works one year with one child might not work the next year with the next child (or even with the same child!). Don’t be afraid to try something new.

As your children get older, they can have a say in their education, too. Trust them. Trust yourself. Learning will happen—it’s as much a part of being human as breathing.


Living Education Contributor

Enjoy these posts from the pages of Living Education, the seasonal journal from Oak Meadow. Visit the online archives of Living Education to celebrate, explore, and get inspired with more in-depth articles, stories, and crafts brought to you by Oak Meadow faculty and families.

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  1. mike

    We are planning to move from Washington state to New Hampshire within the next 2 months. I looked into k12 for homeschooling, but they do not offer public schooling there. And I can not afford the private tuition prices. Is there another option?

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Mike – There are an incredible number of options for homeschooling and they are not limited to online virtual schools. Many of the benefits of homeschooling are lost when using virtual public schools in which the child is actually a public school student rather than a homeschool student. I encourage you to look into the various homeschooling styles (start on our Homeschooling 101 page) and read through our curriculum reviews rather than rushing into a new program. Find something that meshes with your family, and while you are looking, enjoy deschooling with your kids. Best wishes on your homeschool journey!

  2. Jennifer

    Hi, I’m about to withdraw my 7YO from school, is there an online homeschool program?

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Jennifer – Oak Meadow (the sponsor and contributor of this post) has several options for elementary grades. Although their hands-on method isn’t well-suited to an online program, they do have a distance learning option or you can purchase the curriculum to use on your own. You can read more about Oak Meadow on their website and see what parents have to say about the curriculum in our curriculum reviews.

  3. Massiel

    Hi i live in ct and i want to start to homeschool my boys but cant seam to find many moms or know where to look so i can ask questions. Does anyone know of any facebook groups for ct moms i can join or whom i can ask many questions to? Thank you

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Massiel – Have you looked on our Local Homeschool Resources page for CT? If there is nothing listed for your town, you can try contacting a state organization to see if they know of any. Also try using Facebook’s search engine for “Homeschooling Connecticut” or use your town’s name.

  4. Fanella Raghj

    My family is planning to travel the country for 1 year. I need some information on homeschooling on the roa/roamschooling. Is there a convention about homeschooling in the New York city area coming up soon. Thanks!

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Fanella – What a wonderful opportunity! I don’t know of any conventions for roadschooling, but there are a few groups on Facebook that might be helpful. You might also find unschooling and deschooling information to be helpful so that you can take full advantage of your travels and not feel guilty for not “doing enough.”

      Good luck in your travels and enjoy your adventures!

    • Tracy Sherman

      I’m trying to find parents who homeschool around my area Colu,bias City, Indiana. I can’t stay home with my son, but public school isn’t working. He’s having anxiety and kids are mean. Is there any parents that will teach other kids besides their own.

      • Mary Ann Kelley

        Hi Tracy – We can’t advise on homeschooling according to specific state statutes, but your best bet is to get in touch with local homeschoolers to see what is available and what the legalities are. You’ll find a list of Indiana homeschool groups here. Best wishes with your son.

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