Find Your Homeschooling Teaching Style

A big question homeschool parents often wonder about: how am I going to present the material so my children actually learn? It can seem like a daunting task.

The good news is – there are a number of great teaching styles you can use to approach a subject, lesson, or activity to give your children the best chance of understanding and retaining the information.

The teaching styles we’re going to cover are:

  • Teacher-Centered Instruction
  • Student-Centered/Constructivist Approach
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Group learning
  • Individual learning (self-directed)
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Expeditionary learning
  • Role-playing

One thing to remember: these teaching styles aren’t mutually exclusive. You can (and should) use different teaching styles depending on the child, the situation, and the goal of the lesson.

Teacher-Centered

This is very much the style used in a traditional classroom. I call it the “Sage on the stage” approach to teaching.

This teaching style works best for a large group of students, where you have to provide them with information at the same time.

For homeschooling parents, while your job is to direct the learning process and set the pace of instruction, there are better teaching styles to implement in your homeschool classroom.

Student-Centered

If teacher-centered is “Sage on the stage”, then the student-centered approach is more like being a “guide on the side”.

You act as a facilitator, helping your children explore the topics and material in an independent way. This helps them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

This approach is better for older children (grade 6 and up); younger children may need more guidance and structure to be successful.

Differentiated Approach

In my opinion, this teaching style fits the homeschool classroom really well.

With the differentiated approach, you tailor your instruction to meet the needs of each of your children. You are able to build up on their strengths and work on areas they need more help.

With this approach, you can vary the amount of involvement you play. For younger children, you play a more active role; with older children, you can give them more leeway for independent study.

The differentiated approach is very flexible and fits well into the homeschool classroom.

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning (PBL) focuses on hands-on, real world experiences to learn the material.

It emphasizes collaboration and problem-solving. When you use a project-based approach, your children work on a project or task over a longer period of time.

The goal is to create a tangible outcome or solution. The great thing about PBL is it can include concepts from multiple subject areas and the end result can be anything from community service projects, presentations, research papers, or product designs.

PBL is a great approach to help your children demonstrate how to combine their knowledge from multiple subjects that culminates into a tangible outcome that demonstrates what they know (and great to add to your child’s homeschool portfolio).

Group Learning

Initially, you might think that this teaching style doesn’t fit as well into the homeschool classroom, but let me show you why you should consider it.

Let’s say you have three children you’re homeschooling, each at a different grade level. You can allow them to work on a group assignment where each contributes what they know to the overall outcome.

The oldest child can be given tasks that are more inline with their expertise and knowledge, let the middle child work on aspects of the assignment that are within their skill level, the same for the youngest.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Teaching is like learning twice”? The oldest mentors and helps the two youngest; the middle child mentors and helps the youngest.

You may have to be a little creative with this approach, but it works really well and can easily be implemented into your homeschool classroom.

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning is where the responsibility for learning a subject is placed on the student. This is the true definition of being a “guide on the side”.

Your child sets their own goals for what they want to learn; they get to choose their own materials and resources, and they get to work at their own pace.

This teaching style works well with older children (high school), but you can use aspects of it for younger children as well.

The great part about self-directed learning is that your child gets to create their learning experience based on their own interests, goals, and needs – which increases their motivation and engagement.

Inquiry-Based Learning

This teaching style makes me think of a combination of project-based learning + group learning.

It’s very student-driven and focuses on discovery and exploration of a topic. There is a little more input from the parent because they are encouraged to ask questions then investigate the topic.

They do research, experiment, and collaborate to find the solution. Your role is to guide them, not provide them with the answers.

Expeditionary Learning

I love this teaching style – it’s one I use a lot. The focus is on learning through experiences and exploration.

For this to work, you need to take your children out of the “homeschool classroom” and into the real world so they can learn. Hands-on activities and projects work well to help them learn and demonstrate their understanding.

Reading about how bread is made can “teach” them; bringing them to the kitchen and actually mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, working the process and tasting the final result is far more powerful and memorable, wouldn’t you agree?

Role-Playing

This approach is a great way to help your children cement their learning – kinesthetic learners love this!

The idea is for your children to act out roles or scenarios to help them understand different concepts or situations.

Whether it’s a topic from science, language arts, social studies or math, your children will experience things first-hand. This helps them understand different perspectives.

Let’s Recap

It’s important to understand, as a homeschool parent, you don’t have to choose just one teaching style to be successful.

It’s actually encouraged to incorporate several teaching styles into your homeschool classroom. It keeps things fresh and interesting for both you and your children.

And they will have the opportunity to learn in many different ways. See what fits for their learning style.