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How Does Pedagogy Apply to Home Education?

Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching, especially an academic subject or theoretical concept.

There are several distinct Homeschool Pedagogies. These are helpful to know as you research curriculum, consider your family's abilities and challenges, and future goals.

Pedagogy is distinct from the method's delivery; you can utilize a classical pedagogy at home, in a co-op, or an online venue. Just as educational pedagogies vary, so do delivery methods, and it's good to know and understand both. For example, an online program might utilize a classical, textbook, or unit study approach.

For a complete discussion on online education, check out Online Learning: A Homeschool Primer.

You might also have heard of Pedagogies referred to as Methodologies. What’s the difference? Pedagogy is a discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education; in other words, why are you doing what you are doing. The Methodology is the practical application of the theory, so Pedagogy deals with the theory, and Methodology is the practical application of that theory.

Charlotte Mason

This Pedagogy is named after, not surprisingly, Charlotte Mason. Mason believed that traditional educational methods expected too little of the student while, at the same time,  interacting with them in a way that was too harsh. This method focuses on “living books” rather than twaddle. Living books are books written well and authored by those who love their material. The method also emphasizes narration which is a verbal retelling of the material rather than the use of worksheets and quizzes to determine what a child is learning. Rather than focusing on seatwork, learning happens through exploration, hands-on activities, and nature study. The emphasis is on short lessons that take advantage of a child's attention while they are interested and focused. While Charlotte Mason believed whole-heartedly in studying nature, she believed that a child’s nature should not be left unbridled but reined in by good habits; thus, Habit Training is an important piece of the Charlotte Mason pedagogy.

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Tools and Resources

The method is based on Mason’s 20 Principles.

Prominent Features of this Pedagogy

  • Habit Formation
  • Nature Studies
  • Living Books
  • Narration Journaling
  • Composer and Pictures Study

Homeschooled children On Outdoor Activity Camping Trip Looking At Map TogetherClassical

The Classical Pedagogy is based on the theory of the stages of learning below:

  1. Trivium – the 3 paths: Grammar, Dialectic (or Logic), and Rhetoric. These stages are primarily language-based. The Grammar stage focuses on memory work and the study of Latin. Students progress in their studies by furthering their understanding of logic, critical thinking, and the art of argument. As they continue to gain influence and mastery, they become the expert and the teacher in the rhetoric stage.
  2. Quadrivium –the 4 paths. These areas of study are more Math based and often tackled in the later years: Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music.

Course work is integrated throughout studies. Students make connections about the importance that each subject plays in working towards an integrated whole of understanding the universe. There is an appreciation of the importance that history and language studies play in this integrated approach.

Related Resources

Prominent Features of this Pedagogy

  •  Memorization & Skill Acquisition through practice
  • Socratic Discussion
  • Logic study, Timelines
  • Great Books
  • Systematic learning
  • emphasis on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful
  • Latin studies
  • Moral formation through story and Myth

Black homeschooling mother and cute smiling girl using digital tablet while lying in illuminted tent in kid bedroom. Cheerful ethnic woman and lovely daughter on video call under a cozy hut. Lovely little girl with mom watching cartoon on digital tablet in bedroom.


This term was coined by John Holt, who was one of the forerunners of the homeschooling movement and a public school teacher. The term originally referred to people leaving traditional or government schools. Holt advocated for providing resources for your child, being aware of their interests and passions, and letting those be the guiding factor in your student’s education. The main tenant of his writing was that play was a child’s work and that children are learning all the time. He believed that children should direct their own studies, and parents were to be mentors and guides to help children reach their individual educational goals.

Related Resources

Prominent Features of this Pedagogy:

  • Parents take the lead from the child
  • Children take responsibility for their own learning
  • Students learn through natural life experiences
  • Adventure-driven
  • Adaptable and an excellent way to take advantage of unique lifestyles like Globe schooling or Road schooling

Unit Study

Prominent Educator Raymond and his wife, Dorothy Moore, were probably the first to talk about Unit Studies, also known as Delight Directed Learning. Their method was to manage your homeschool time by blocks of time each day devoted to time working around the house, time for table work (what would be considered traditional school work), and Unit Studies or Delight Directed learning. For instance, if you are studying about the Revolutionary War, you would create a unit learning the weaponry or clothing of that time period, incorporating writing and cooking projects about this time period, and reading letters or works of fiction about this time period. A student is learning more as a result of integrating subjects. Their interest and a love of learning are retained since they are immersed in the topic and learn more than a list of facts about that subject.

Related Resources

Prominent Features of this Pedagogy

  • Books
  • Projects & Crafts
  • Activities
  • Lap books
  • Research
  • Easily school several students at once


Many hardbound books background, selective focus

The textbook method of education uses texts to convey the information. This can be a very effective way to convey large and complicated bodies of information. This method requires that the student can read and understand the text and has the ability to take effective notes for study. It is often used in conjunction with a teacher giving live or pre-recorded lectures. Textbooks are particularly beneficial for upper-level subjects and grades.

Prominent Features of this Pedagogy

  •  Conventional & Traditional
  • Formal standards
  • Many options
  • Can make use of readily available resources

Related Resources

  • Abeka
  • BobJones
  • Any other large textbook company such as Prentice Hall


While many people do homeschool “eclectically,” this can be either a well thought out pedagogy and method or an educational salad- or a combination of both.

It is picking and choosing what one likes or appreciates from one pedagogy and leaving behind what one doesn't. And, as very few homeschooling curriculums or pedagogically “pure,” we are all probably homeschooling somewhat eclectically anyway.

What is your preferred Homeschooling Pedagogy? We'd love to hear about it and we chat about all things homeschool in our Facebook group – please join in the conversation!

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