Homeschool Methods: Our Educational Philosophy

When I first started thinking about homeschooling I was completely overwhelmed by the different educational philosophies being spouted. Montessori? Charlotte Mason? Classical? Unschooling? What does that even mean? I love to research and analyse and my eldest was only a baby so I had, well, a bit of time before implementing anything other than peek-a-boo. I joined Facebook groups, trawled through blogs, bought and borrowed books. At the bottom of this post I have included a list of helpful books, resources and blogs for a number of different educational methods. Four years later I am confident in my choices, but it took some time to get there. I am thankful that I was able to consider and mull over this for so long. It has been an enjoyable and meandering route.

Initially, I was very drawn to the Montessori method. I especially like this approach for the baby to toddler age. The emphasis on creating an environment that inspires learning and independence appealed to me. I rushed around the house, putting all the toys and books down low. Our son had a floor bed from when he was 14 months old. I bought child sized cleaning utensils and even set up a do-it-yourself snack area. That last one, was a fail, unless you want your two year old eating so much he throws up. Oh my! I had some questions about the method, especially beyond the early years, but I knew that I wanted my home to be a place where learning naturally happened.

I continued to read, research and immerse myself in the homeschool community. Trying to draw on the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before me. The Australian homeschool community is very favourable of unschooling as a method for self-driven learning. Reading books by John Holt I was certainly inspired to discover the learning in everyday life and to pay close attention to the desires and needs of my children. Unschooling in totality, however, has never sat well for me personally but I knew that I wanted to learning to be our way of life.

If you’ve heard of Charlotte Mason, you’ve likely heard her motto, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” When I read that mantra for the first time, it struck me how close it was to what I really wanted learning to look like in our home. Each point was what I had drawn out of other methods as my ideal and yet those other methods never seemed to fit the whole picture. The Mason philosophy, for me, does. It is gentle and respectful and yet rich and disciplined. It doesn’t see children as a sponge, to simply absorb disconnected facts and knowledge, but rather presents them with plentiful ideas and seeks to help them learn to make connections for themselves.  Mason wrote, “We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programmes and each small guest assimilates what he can.” (Philosophy of Education, p. 183). She emphasises good books, art, poetry, music and nature and yet doesn’t diminish the importance of maths and literacy skills. She emphasises truth, beauty and goodness alongside good habits and good discipline. This is the philosophy of education that works best for us.

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” (Charlotte Mason)

Really, though, my family is unique. We are doing what we believe works best for us to achieve our vision for our boys to grow in wisdom and wonder. While we may draw heavily upon the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, we also draw from many others as we wish. Charlotte herself drew upon the Classical method of Education. I may call myself a Charlotte Mason educator but I would be foolish to discount the truths found in other methods. I will continue to read and learn of all the methods and experiences of other homeschooling families in the hope of best serving our family.

Helpful books and resources related to each method of education.

A great starting place to consider these different methods of homeschool is Pam Barnhill’s Ultimate Guide to Homeschool Methods 


How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin

The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori

The Joyful Child by Susan Mayclin Stephenson

Child of the World by Susan Mayclin Stephenson

Suzie’s Home Education Ideas (Australian Blog)


Teach Your Own by John Holt

How Children Learn by John Holt

Free to Learn by Peter Gray

The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

Racheous (Australian Blog)

Happiness is Here (Australian Blog)

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles – From AmblesideOnline

Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series, published by Living Book Press

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Shaeffer-Macaulay

Consider This by Karen Glass

Mind to Mind by Karen Glass (An abridgement of Charlotte Mason’s work)


Simply Charlotte Mason

Homeschooling Downunder (Australian CM & Classical Resources)

Oh Peaceful Day (Australian Blog)


The Well-trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

Homeschooling Downunder (Australian CM & Classical Resources)

Simply Convivial

Schole Sisters

Unit Studies

Five in a Row


Complete Education Australia


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