Homeschool Philosophy Reviews

These homeschool philosophy reviews will introduce you to the various philosophies that drive the homeschool movement. They are arranged in no order of preference, but rather on a scale from informal to structured school of thought. Many of the philosophies provide you a wonderful platform for life giving studies.

A homeschool philosophy is not a curriculum that you buy, it is more the under lying foundation of the way you will homeschool your children. The philosophy that you adopt, or the various ones that you blend, will be part of your ultimate vision for your family and children.

Most families have a blended philosophy taking the relevant or the best ideas from a spectrum. These homeschool philosophy reviews will help you choose your own.

To understand these philosophies better, you will need to read the books by the authors of the philosophy that most attracts you or fits your child’s learning style. Suggestions for books are found after each review as well as favorite quotes taken from the writing.

Specific curriculum reviews can be found at the various curriculum review pages. But don’t go there yet, get your foundation first. You can either scroll down this page or use my clickable links below to navigate through the various homeschool philosophy reviews.

Better Late Than Early
Delight Directed
Unit Study Philosophies
Literature Based Philosophies
Charlotte Mason Approach
Textbook Based Studies
Computer Based Studies
Accelerated Education

Unschooling Philosophy

Some homeschooling families let go of all the external controls in the child’s learning, and dare to trust the child to direct his own learning. Unschooling is an American term which has come to describe this kind of learning. In unschooling, the learner determines his own program of learning in accordance with his needs and interests. Parents facilitate the child’s learning and provide a learning-rich environment. One of the key characteristics of Unschooling is the amount of autonomy given to the learner. The learner feels in control of his learning because he gets to make all the choices about that learning. The assumption that children are in fact persons, as complete and perfect in themselves as adults, has a major impact on one’s educational approach. Thus Unschoolers have a commitment to themselves not to teach unless the children themselves request teaching about something in particular. Rather, they try to work out what the children are learning and then facilitate that learning. The learning is owned by the learner, and the learner takes responsibility for it. Various types of Unschooling exist, from Unschooling where there is no use of formal curricula at all, to Unschooling in combination with formal curricula. Some Unschoolers use a pre-packaged/textbook maths curriculum for example. Some use Unit studies to give some structure to the day.

The child from a young age takes ownership of their own education. Learning is taken from life and the child’s own experiences.

There is no measurable way for a parent to gauge where there child is academically if one chooses to completely unschool and use no curriculum The philosophy has a stigma of laziness and chaos attached to it. But this is not necessarily the case, as a parent who chooses to follow this philosophy diligently (and balance it with Godly instruction) they can reap great rewards in their children's lives.

John Holt, Mary Griffith

“What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out.” John Holt, Teach Your Own

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"Better Late than Early" or Delayed Academics

Here Dr Raymond and Dorothy Moore are the leaders in the field. Their many years of combined experience in the education field, lead them to believe that children are not generally ready for any formal academics before the ages on 8 – 12. They have some very thought provoking studies on eye damage due to too much exposure to close work as well as the timing of the development of neural paths for learning. The Moore’s believe that a child will “catch” up to their peers in a very short time if the academics are delayed. The first years are for the development of “head, heart, hand and health” and the reading of good literature and exposure to life.

Delaying academic disciplines allows the child to develop at their individual rate. Gives time for the parent to train the child’s character before introducing academics

It can be a harder path to take for the parent who is not able to let go of their own paradigms of peers whose children start schooling at the accepted ages of 6 and 7.

Curriculum providers and book titles
The Moore Academy. Better Late than Early, Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Homegrown Kids, Mind your own business – all by Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

“The idea that parents should hurry reading, spelling, or math ahead of children’s normal development is not supported by a single replicable research study in the world or by any clinical experience in history. All history, research and common sense points in the opposite direction! We repeat: any who push the three R’s early deny the readiness the Creator built in – reasonable mature vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, reason, brain growth, coordination – as clearly documented in our books Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait.” Dr Raymond Moore, Successful Homeschool Family Handbook.

Take a look at their books that I have reviewed at my Homeschooling Book Reviews

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Delight Directed

Many parents work alongside their children to develop their own scope and sequence based on the child’s interests. Delight Directed learning enables the parent to help groom their child for their future purpose and hopes to enable the then adult child to work within their passion and interest. This type of learning philosophy requires the parent to create a productive and rich learning environment. It also requires that the parent validates a child’s interest whether it is spending time mixing solutions of sand and water at a young age or designing hundreds of paper horses or collecting a vast amount of rocks.

An example of a curriculum plan for a child with a love for horses could be:

  • Literature: Black Beauty; King of the Wind

  • History: Investigation of the use of the Horse through the Ages OR The Study of the Horse in War

  • Natural Sciences: Study of the anatomy of the horse; classification of the horse; habitat of the horse; horse care and management

  • Geography: Comparison of different types and breeds of horses and plotting on a map of the regions in which they are found

  • Music Appreciation: Investigation of the paces of the horse and listening to music with beats (timing) that is reminiscent of those paces

  • Extramural: Horse Riding

  • Video: The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Spirit, Racing Stripes or Sea Biscuit

  • Outing: Visit to a working stable or horse show; trip to the stables when the Farrier is there to see how horses are shod
  • Strengths
    Allows your child to develop in their natural bent
    Gives your child an in depth knowledge of their topic and interests
    Lets the child be productively busy at home


    Parent can be unsure of herself as a lot of the onus is on the child to pursue their interest
    The parent may be concerned about gaps in the child’s learning.
    If there are many children in the home, keeping track of what everyone is doing will be a challenge.

    Marilyn Howshall, Barb Edtl Shelton, Heart of Wisdom

    “We all want to have something of consequence to show for the effort expended in our children’s learning process; not simply outward products, but more importantly what we want the product to represent – mature character and an educated mind. In our race to acquire the product, we may dangerously shorten the process itself, which is the very thing that will yield the vital inner growth we want to see demonstrated in our children.” Marilyn Howshall, Wisdom’s Way of Learning.

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    Unit Study Philosophies

    Unit studies are designed to let your child study a theme or period from all angles of language, history, geography, science etc.
    Example: Medieval times

  • Read literature like Usborne Time traveler, Door in the Wall, Minstrel in the tower (reading)

  • Build a castle from cardboard boxes (craft)

  • Plot the crusades on a map (geography)

  • Written or oral narration to describe a castle (language)

  • Make a bow and arrow or catapult (technology)

  • Plan and prepare food and costumes for a banquet (cooking, sewing)
  • Example: Space

  • Read biographies of Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong

  • Build a rocket (science)

  • Visit the observatory or planetarium (field trip)

  • Build a model of the planets (Technology)

  • Create the planets of our solar system with paper mache (Craft)

  • Write an essay on the first trip to the moon or development of space travel

  • Watch “The Right Stuff” and “Apollo 13”
  • Strengths
    You can pursue your child’s interest in the topic for as long as the interest is there. You have freedom in choosing your topics and themes if you create them yourself.

    You will need to invest time sourcing your materials and making lesson plans.
    Many parents worry about creating “gaps” in their children’s education.

    Curriculum providers Weaver, Konos, Valerie Bendt, Five in a Row, Before Five in a Row, Footprints on Our Land, Little Footprints. Are you South African? Take a look at this page: South African Homeschooling Curriculum.

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    Literature Based Philosophies

    These homeschool philosophy reviews are almost all based on the Charlotte Mason principal of using good literature, called “living books” to teach all, if not many of the recognized school subjects.

    Example of literature studies

  • Learn about bacteria – read a biography on Louis Pasteur

  • Learn about flight – read about the Wright brothers

  • Learn about pioneers – read about the Lewis and Clarke Expedition
  • Strengths
    Literature covers a broad range of ages which allows a simpler way of homeschooling, as most homeschool families have different ages they need to cater for. Literature is a non-confrontational way to learn. It presents information in an enjoyable format.

    If the child or parent does not enjoy reading, this will be a hard philosophy to follow.

    Curriculum providers
    Sonlight, Five in a Row, Before Five in a Row, Footprints on Our Land, Little Footprints

    Charlotte Mason Approach

    Charlotte Mason advocated using Living Books to spark the thought environment of children. She also believes that God is the source of all ideas and that He imparts them to those who will make the most of them. The role of the educator is to impart the right idea, or connect the child to the right book at the right time or at the moment of his interest. Her methods provide a liberal (generous) education incorporating the humanities, fine arts and great literature. She believed that education was a series of relationships with topics which the child needs to be connected with at their moment of interest.

    Emphasis on living books, exposure to the arts, music and art appreciation, strong language skills, free time to explore nature, real life learning and the preservation of the dignity of the child.

    Authors & Curriculum providers
    Charlotte Mason, Sonlight, Karen Andreola, Susan Schaeffer Macauley, Ruth Beechick, Cindy Rushton, Clay & Sally Clarkson,, Footprints on Our Land, Footprints into the 21st Century, Ambleside Online and others.

    "A child is a person in whom all possibilities are present - present now at this very moment - not to be educed after many years and efforts manifold on the part of the educator" Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series

    I have reviewed many books about this philosophy on my Charlotte Mason Book Reviews

    You may also be interested in the following articles:
    Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
    Education is a Science of Relations.

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    The last few homeschool philosophy reviews are not philosophies with which I personally have any experience. Many families do choose to use them.

    Textbook Based Studies

    Using a textbook based system is a systematic and comprehensive way for your child to study. It offers the parent a way to homeschool their children without having to plan themselves.

    Material is presented by subject and by grade. Parents can easily compare their children’s progress with the school system. Tests and exam papers are offered by some service providers. For many parents, since this has been their experience of education, it seems a “safe” way to begin homeschooling, until they find their family’s preferred system/philosophy of learning

    The great weakness with this system is that it can replicate the school system. It uses snippets of information instead of getting the student connected with their subject matter and interests. Many text book based curricula have rigid schedules and require a lot of busywork which can potentially ‘burn out’ young students and take the joy out of learning, if not used selectively.

    Curriculum providers
    Bob Jones, A Beka, Alpha Omega, ACE, Christian Liberty, Rod and Staff.

    Computer Based Studies

    It is my opinion that due to the nature of learning on the computer, this system will not produce the sought after qualities that we need our children to have to enjoy learning. A computer can be a wonderful tool to advance a child’s studies but, I believe, they should not be the sole source of learning. In certain circumstances using a computer based program may be the only alternative to a parent who has a child with learning or physical disabilities.

    Program Providers
    Switched on Schoolhouse, Homequest.

    Supplementary Learning Dorling Kindersley has an amazing array of interactive CD Roms that are generally free from twaddle normally associated with this type of activity.

    Accelerated Education

    This philosophy advocates that a child begin learning as young as possible and accelerates at a rapid rate to complete their high school grades by as early as 10 yrs old in some cases. It is based on a 12 month school year, 5 days a week. This would then mean that the child would enter into college courses in their early to mid teens. Advocates of this system see it as a way to capitalize on a child’s ability to learn at a young age. It must be noted that some highschool students choose to accelrate themselves and are motivated to finish their school years early.

    As the child would be finished with her school career in her early teens, it affords more opportunities during the young adult years. Time is used efficiently and dawdling is discouraged.

    Weaknesses For a child who tends towards any other learning style other than one suited to a textbook based education, that child runs a high risk of being de-motivated and stressed. The mother who follows this philosophy will have to forfeit many other learning opportunities that arise from the more relaxed or normal paced homeschooling style. Chances of burnout for mom and student run very high, unless this accelerated process is balanced by a lot of free time and life skills training.

    Joyce Swann, Alexander Swann, School Of Tomorrow

    I hope that these homeschool philosophy reviews have been helpful. I suggest that you make a stop at my learning styles page and read through those too.


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