The Right Homeschool Recipe: Put the How Before the What

Many families start with the curriculum (the “what”) before they have explored the methods (the “how”) of homeschooling.  I want to challenge families to put the “how” before the “what.”

Some of you may be like me as a new homeschool mom, “What are methods?”   Methods are ideas about the best way to do something…like homeschooling.  So, a method is a recipe.

A homeschooling method is a process of educating your students.  It is the “recipe” you will use to get the desired outcome for your children.  So, are you ready to cook?

The Right Homeschool Recipe:  Put the How before the What

Before you cook anything, you have to decide what you want to cook.  This is the reason you need to look back at your homeschooling Why.  The Why will point you to what type of outcome you desire for your students. (Click here for a few posts about your Why)

Some of you may be able to throw together a little something to eat without a recipe, but with homeschooling you need to be more purposeful.  We are talking about people, not brownies after all!

If you decide you want to make brownies, there are a million recipes to get you there!  I normally look through the ingredient list to see what I already have in my pantry.  The recipe that has the most of my pantry items is usually the recipe I choose to use.   In the same way, the method that has the most similarities to what you already naturally do is usually the first option to try.

I won’t go into which methods make the best “brownies.”  Results depend on the teacher and the homeschooling Why.  But, please know that all methods have strengths and weaknesses.  Just like recipes, teachers can choose to mix in different ingredients and mess up the original idea.  Or the change can bring a new idea or better process!  Everything has room for improvement.

As you can imagine, there are lots of “recipes” that claim to be the best way to educate children.

Here is a brief list of the most common homeschool methods and main “ingredients”:


  • give a child a book to read, lecture them about the book, then test to evaluate learning
  • use worksheets and repetition to encourage long term success


  • understand the abilities and strengths of different age levels
  • have younger students memorize facts and give exposure to ideas of others
  • have middle school students start to analyze the ideas of others
  • have high school students start creating and defending their own ideas

Charlotte Mason

  • develop a love of learning through exposure to “living” books, nature, and art
  • encourages narration to develop language skills


  • allow students to explore education through their own interests
  • takes a lot more preparation for the parent because there is no teacher’s manual

Unit Studies

  • Learn through activities centered around a particular subject
  • Usually lots of hands-on, creative work


  • Picks and chooses favorite ideas from other methods
  • More personalized plan of study

Moore Formula

  • Service and responsibility at younger ages
  • Formal schooling does not start until age 8

You can click on each title to get links to more information about each method.  This is not a complete list.  And, my “ingredients” list is very basic.  There is much more to be explored.

Research the ones that make you want to know more, that fit into what you are already doing at home.  Look at the goals of the method and make sure it lines up with your Why.  THEN, you can start to look for curriculum that takes you through that process.

Don’t be overwhelmed.  Take the time to know the How before the What.  You will find strength in having a process to follow.  The schoolwork will have more meaning.  You will have confidence that there is a yummy “brownie” coming out of the homeschool “oven”!

Let’s Chat:  What homeschool method most interests you? Click here to share your thoughts.

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