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Exploring Different Approaches to Home Education: How Do You Know What’s Right for You and Your Children?

There are so many choices when it comes to home ed that it can be quite overwhelming. In this blog post, we’ll explore various approaches to home education and give some tips on how to work out what might be best for you and your family.

Understandably, things can often feel quite out of control when you take your children out of school, not being in the system where everything is known and understood. Google, Facebook and Instagram can offer insights into what other people are doing, but these curated images and posts can often seem unattainable and very far away from our own day to day experiences.  My experience was that I was very quickly overwhelmed by everything I saw and read and actually had to stop looking.

So what did I do? I made some friends. I asked around to find out what people were really doing. We tried a few things and ultimately ditched that things that weren’t working and tried to do more of what felt good.

What I’ve seen in my own community is that there are as many ways to do home ed as there are families doing it. From structured, adult led, curriculum based learning which closely follows the national standards, to completely child led explorative unschooling, there is a full spectrum and most people seem to fall somewhere in between.

Structured approach or Curriculum based

This closely resembles school at home, using the national curriculum as a base, or curriculums produced by other organisations, typically covering maths, language, science, history etc. These lessons are planned and structured and are led by an adult. This is often a parent, but can be tutors or online teachers. This approach is often what people think of when they hear the term home education.

Advantages of this approach are that’s its clear and familiar, and everyone understands what the expectations are. As curriculums are based on standardised measures it’s easy to assess progress. Curriculums can give stability, structure and control which can be helpful.

Some disadvantages are that there is little flexibility and space to accommodate learners individual interests and passions. Structures that are too rigid may not suit some people and could lead to disengagement and conflict. A final consideration is that this approach is entirely focussed on academic achievement and can miss out on more holistic aspects of child development.

Child led learning or unschooling

Child led learning, which is also known as unschooling places the emphasis on encouraging a child’s natural curiosity and ability to learn. Rather than setting the agenda, parents facilitate learning opportunities around their children’s interests and passions.

There are many advantages to this approach. It can allow for freedom and autonomy, which can support children in following their interests at their own pace. It also encourages a love of learning by being enjoyable for the child and motivated by themselves, rather than by the expectations of others. This approach encompasses a more holistic view of childhood and encourages exploration beyond traditional subjects, placing equal emphasis on life skills, hobbies, social and emotional development, creativity and problem solving.

This is not an easy path however, it requires trust and patience from parents, who have to relinquish an element of control over their child’s educational journey. This approach would also not suit parents and children who require more structure. A final consideration is that this approach may require parents and children to let go of traditional measures of achievement and success, which may be a challenge.

In reality I think many home educating families follow a more eclectic approach, taking elements from various philosophies and methods and build a system that works for them and their children. This tailored approach allows parents to really work with their children’s needs, interests and learning styles to provide a rich and fulfilling experience. They may use some structured resources around certain subjects but then create opportunities for hands on learning, group experiences, life lessons in a way that suits everyone.

Structured/Curriculum BasedUnschooling/Child-Led LearningEclectic
DescriptionFollows a curriculum. Structured and planned. Focussed on traditional academic subjects.Child Led Follows child’s interests, passions. Parents facilitating rather than teaching  Uses a variety of methods and approaches. Flexible in approach.  
ProsClear Familiar Standardised Keeps pace with mainstream schoolingPromotes curiosity Freedom Holistic developmentCustomization Versatility Balance
ConsLimited flexibility Rigid Less emphasis on holistic learningLack of structure Lack of External validation Requires trust and patienceRequires research and planning Potential for inconsistency Finding the right balance
Different approaches to home education

Choosing the Right Approach

Ultimately, the decision about which approach to home education is right for you and your children depends on a variety of factors, including your family’s values, educational philosophy, lifestyle, and children’s learning styles.

Here are some steps to help you navigate this decision-making process:

  1. Reflect on your values and goals: Consider what you hope to achieve through home education and what educational principles resonate most with your family.
  2. Know your children: Take time to understand your children’s learning styles, interests, strengths, and challenges.
  3. Research and explore: Learn about different approaches to home education through books, online resources, support groups, and networking with other homeschooling families.
  4. Stay open-minded: Be willing to adapt and evolve your approach based on your experiences, feedback from your children, and changing circumstances.
  5. Trust your instincts: Ultimately, trust your instincts as a parent and choose an approach that feels authentic and sustainable for your family.


The beauty of home education lies in its flexibility and adaptability, allowing families to tailor the learning experience to meet the unique needs and aspirations of each child. Whether you choose a traditional, unschooling, eclectic, or hybrid approach, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What matters most is creating a nurturing and supportive environment where children can thrive, grow, and embrace the joy of lifelong learning. Trust in your journey, and enjoy the adventure of discovering the best approach for you and your children.

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