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Copyright 2005 Julie Shepherd Knapp

The Homeschool Diner's
Click-O-Matic Guide to
Choosing a Homeschool Approach
by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Parent's Special Considerations
(12 questions)

Does this describe your situation?

1.  Do you have several students with different learning and subject preferences, as well as
different ages?

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Unit Studies, Eclectic Homeschooling;  Classical Education (some curricula have study guides
that address teaching to multiple children).  

Some approaches, like Unit Studies and Eclectic Homeschooling, are naturally well-suited to
differentiation, and allow children to choose from many types of projects or lessons.  Realize that you
will probably still need to supplement any approach you choose to accommodate drastic age
differences and learning preferences, especially with math.

2.  Is your child uneven in abilities - working at different grade levels in different subjects?  
Perhaps your child struggles with a particular subject, such as reading, writing or math?   
Perhaps your child excels at one or more subjects, but works at grade-level for other

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Eclectic Homeschooling;  Unit Studies;  Montessori Homeschooling.

Homeschooling is the perfect opportunity to let your student soar in his or her strong subjects while
you provide remedial support or supplemental work in his or her weak areas.  By using materials that
are ungraded (not labeled as being for a specific grade) students can work at their own pace and feel
pride in their personal accomplishments, no matter what level they are working at.  

Obviously, avoid approaches that would emphasize your child's weak areas - for example, don't
choose a literature-based method for a child who struggles with and hates reading.  Stick to methods
and materials that make learning a joy.  Check the
Homeschooling by Subject section for ideas.  
Visit the
Homeschooling With Special Needs section to find special resources for kids with learning
difficulties, such as dyslexia (reading and spelling), dyscalculia (math), and dysgraphia (writing).  
Check each subject area in
Homeschooling by Subject to find resources for kids who need to "catch
up" or review whole subjects.       

3.  Is it important to you (or your spouse) that your curriculum follows the scope and
sequence used in the public schools?  Perhaps you are homeschooling temporarily, and
plan to return your child to public school next year?

If so, take a look at these approaches:
School-at-Home;  Public Charter e-School.

4.  Do you need a paper trail of "proof" that your child is learning, such as worksheets,
tests, report cards, etc?  Some states require more "proof" than others.  Some spouses
require more "proof" than others.  

If so, take a look at these approaches:
School-at-Home;  Distance Learning (some programs will provide record-keeping and testing, and
act as a
"cover" or "umbrella" school - check with each to see what they provide);  Public Charter

5.  Do you prefer that most learning be child-directed, child-led, or child-inspired?

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Unschooling;  Unit Studies;  Eclectic Homeschooling.

6.  Do you believe that formal instruction should be delayed, at least until age 7 or 8?  Do
you believe that your child is not "ready" for structured learning?  Do you believe that early
childhood learning should be thru real-life experiences?  

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Unschooling;  Waldorf Homeschooling; Enkie Homeschooling;  Charlotte Mason; The Moore

7.  Are you looking for a more holistic approach to home education that addresses the mind,
body, and spirit?  Are you concerned with following the natural stages of child development
in your homeschool philosophy?  Or perhaps you would like a multi-cultural approach?  An
earth-centered approach?  Maybe an approach with an Asian influence or something  with
"New Age" appeal?

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Enkie Homeschooling,  Waldorf Homeschooling,
Holistic and Alternative Homeschooling.

8.  Do you have a home business or work outside the home?  Are you a single parent with
no help?  Do you need your student to work as independently as possible?

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Workbooks;  Computer-Based Instruction (for example, Switched-on Schoolhouse or 3-D Learn
Interactive Academy);  
School-at-Home;  Distance Learning;  Public Charter e-School.  

Be aware that many School-at-Home, distance learning, and Public e-School programs still require a
great deal of parental involvement - check with each program to find one that will allow your student to
work as independently as possible.  

8.  Does your child have a particular educational goal to plan for, such as a high school
diploma or equivalent , vocational school, a trade, college, pre-med, pre-law, etc. ?

All homeschooling approaches can provide a solid education for students who want to apply to
institutions of higher learning.  

Parents do, however, need to be aware of the specific admission requirements for each school and
type of career being considered, and be sure these areas are covered.  When a student enters middle
school, parents need to be forming a plan to help their students succeed with their goals.  See the

omeschooling for High School and Beyond! for more suggestions.   

For those not headed to college, homeschooling gives students an excellent opportunity to form
school-to-work relationships where the student can work as an intern or apprentice and get a head
start on learning a trade, craft, or business.  It also allows students the time to explore many possible
career options and gain hands-on experience that will be useful to them in the working world.

9.  Does your child have creative, athletic, or professional  commitments that dominate your
schedule?   Do you need an approach that compacts studies and/or reduces structured
learning to the bare minimum?

If so, take a look at  these approaches:
Unschooling;  Eclectic Homeschooling;  Distance Learning (for example, The Trent Schools).

10.  Do you want a particular religious focus to your curriculum?

The Homeschool Diner Guide to Homeschooling Approaches includes homeschool curricula designed
for several Christian denominations, for Buddhists, Muslims, and Pagans.  No specifically Jewish
curricula seem to be available.  

Faith-based curricula are listed according to homeschool approach, rather than by specific religion.  I
have only included materials which contain a large general education component, including typical
school subjects.  Materials which mainly serve to educate children in religious matters were not
included.  Remember, as a homeschooling parent, you can supplement any approach with religious
materials of your choosing -- you can create your own faith-based homeschool curriculum.  

If you are looking for a Christian-focused curriculum there are many, many choices -- several in most
of the homeschooling approaches.  So, whatever approach you'd like to try, you will probably find
some Christian options.  Many Christian families begin their exploration with either  
, or Unit Studies.

If you do not see something that suits your needs, do a Google search for your faith combined with the
words "homeschool" and see what comes up.  If there are homeschoolers who attend your place of
worship, they may also be a good source of information on what is available.
If you do locate (or develop!) faith-based homeschool curriculum that is not already included, please
bring it to my attention.

11.  Are your learning preferences and favorite subjects different from your child's?  

You really should try to match your homeschool approach to the needs and learning preferences of
your students.  

If you choose, for example, to use an online worktext-based program, but your child is a hands-on
learner, who prefers to learn by doing - be prepared for daily struggles, frustration, and probably

If you absolutely have your heart set on trying a particular approach, even though it may not be your
child's first choice, be proactive in making some changes, concessions, and compromises to
accommodate your child's likes and dislikes.  

You can always add bits and pieces of your favorite method to any  approach, so that you, as a
homeschool parent, get to have some fun, too.  If you have always wanted to follow, for example,
Charlotte Mason, with your children - try implementing just one idea of hers, such as a family read
aloud time.  If you would enjoy unit studies, but your child dislikes crafty projects - you can do the
crafts, while your child gathers data for a report.  That way you will both enjoy yourselves.

12.  Do you have a very limited homeschool budget?

If so, take a look at these approaches:
Unschooling;  Eclectic Homeschooling;  any other approach of your choosing that DOES NOT
involve buying new curriculum packages.

Just about any homeschool approach can be done on a budget.  
The rules for cheap homeschooling are:

1.  Use the library.  
2.  Find free online resources.
3.  Buy used.
4.  Make your own.
5. Team up with other homeschoolers.

Visit the
Homeschooling on a Budget section for more suggestions.

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Homeschool Diner's

Click-O-Matic Guide

to Choosing a
Homeschool Approach