Each homeschooler does things a bit differently but generally they fit into some sort of category. They include: eclectic, unschooler, Charlotte Mason (CM) follower, Classical education, secular, unit studies, online, and charter. (Do not get me wrong, there ARE other styles out there, but I think these are the majority of them.) Now you can do a combination of them. We did classical and CM simultaneously once. I have a friend who is also using CM and unschooling and another friend is an eclectic secular homeschooling mom.
You may ask what these words mean so let me explain.
Eclectic: These people take bits and pieces of curriculum from different programs. If they like the English from one place they use it despite not wanting to use the math from the same program. These moms (and dads) piece together each subject their children need to study and just pick their favorites.
Unschooler: These people take life experiences and turn them into lessons and are VERY child led. If the child is interested in say space they may go to the library, get a bunch of books on space and the child then proceeds to read all he/she can about space. They may do space projects, go on space oriented field trips and so forth. These homeschoolers essentially reject the modern educational pattern and create their own definition of education.
Charlotte Mason: These families spend a lot of time doing nature studies, shorter lessons, they tend to delay education until the child is 6 and sometimes older depending on the state. However there is a bit of rigor to this program. Abridged version of Shakespeare is introduced in year 1 and children take a more “classical” approach to education by reading classical literature and narrating (re-telling) their lessons.
Classical: These children are taught in a cyclic method. Children start in the grammar years (elementary), they repeat similar information in the Dialectic stage (junior high) and then again at a much higher level of education in the rhetoric (high school) stage. Children are thought how to think for themselves and Latin generally plays a big part in a classical education.
Secular: A lot of homeschoolers are religious oriented homeschoolers but just because a lot of them are does not mean ALL of them are. Secular homeschoolers would simply be the families that do not want any mention of a God or a Creator in their programs or any religion for that matter.
Unit Studies: Going back to unschooling and the child who was interested in space, unit studies is very similar. Say your daughter was interested in princess, well you can find a princess unit study (in all honesty I have no clue if they truly exist but worse come to worse you could make your own) and she/you could study princess and everything there was to know about being a princess from her tiara to her toes. This is often child led as well but it does not have to be.
Online: Now there are actually two forms of online programs for homeschoolers. There is a program that is simply public school at home and then there are programs that are for children that are online. For this blog when I say online I am talking about programs that are not public school at home.
Charter: These children attend a charter school part of the time and then homeschool the other 2/3 days out of the week. Depending on the charter the parent gets to pick their curriculum as well but when they are at the charter they must do the work they provide as well.