Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc.

Homeschooling Styles

By Roberta Van Vlack

One of the most frequent questions we receive from new homeschoolers is: “How do I do the academics?” The short answer is: “However you like!” In Massachusetts we have a lot of leeway in terms of what, when, and how to teach.

What to teach

The Massachusetts General Laws chapter 69, section 1D lists as core subjects mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages, and the arts. Subjects from Chapter 71 Sections 1 and 3 include orthography, reading, writing, the English language and grammar, geography, arithmetic, drawing, music, the history and constitution of the United States, the duties of citizenship, health education, physical education, and good behavior. These subjects need to be covered at some point in your child’s education. You do not have to do every subject every year.

How to teach

Nor may school officials dictate the manner in which the subjects will be taught. (Charles) The Brunelle Court pointed out that “…some of the most effective curricular materials…may not be tangible. For example, travel, community service, visits to educationally enriching facilities and places, and meeting with various resource people can all provide important learning experiences…” (Brunelle at 518)

Homeschooling Styles

What this means in practice is that you can really educate your child in any way you like. Your homeschool may not look like your neighbor’s. Each family will have its own needs, interests, and values. Experienced homeschoolers often find that their children thrive when they make the most of the flexibility that comes with homeschooling.

Below are some of the most common approaches to homeschooling. This list is intended to be a starting point as you explore how your family will approach education. It represents only a small fraction of the materials available to homeschoolers today. Visit our Resources page for some jumping off points.


Classical Education (including Christian Classical)

Charlotte Mason Education




Reggio Emilia

Values-Based Curricula

The following are more methods than philosophies, and it is possible to mix and match:

Unit Studies

Living books based curricula

Nature-based approaches

Traditional Education/School-at-Home

Online Education

Independent learning

Hands-on and/or Project-based

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