Homeschooling? Unschooling? How do I teach to all these styles?
If possible, communicate with learners and families about their learning style preferences. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at some of the educational approaches they may embrace.

Just like you’re free to teach what and when you want (depending on your experience and interests), Outschool learners choose which classes they want to take. One of the factors that matters to them is the ability to learn in a way they find enriching.

How do you know what their preferred learning approaches are? If possible, check in with learners and parents to find out what they want from your class (communicating on the Outschool platform) and again, after the class, to find out how the experience went. Over time, you’ll develop that sweet spot that allows you to bring your best teaching self to learners who connect well with your classes and style.

Read on for some background information on different types of educational approaches that families on Outschool may prefer.

Homeschooling

In 2022, about half of the families on Outschool choose to homeschool at least one child. Outschool research shows that the #1 reason that families homeschool is to better meet their child’s unique learning needs and learning style. They’re also more likely to have a child with special learning issues, whether that’s ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, advanced abilities, or something else.

It’s important to note that families have different approaches to homeschooling. Some may follow a particular method, although many of those families say they don’t stick to that very closely.

What approaches do they use? Here are some brief descriptions:

  • Structured and traditional school-at-home
  • Interest-based and child-led learning (may be called “unschooling”)
  • Project-based education
  • Unit studies
  • Classical education focusing on the Great Books and teaching children in three stages called the Trivium
  • The Charlotte Mason philosophy with nature studies and living books
  • Faith-based schooling
  • Secular education (the majority of homeschool families on Outschool have a secular approach to education)

Families who homeschool may try a variety of approaches to education and adapt these as children’s needs change. The time children spend learning on a screen often increases as they get older. In addition, parents may seek other educators for subjects they feel less qualified to teach (particularly as topics become more advanced) or for children whose learning needs benefit from outside help.

What do homeschool families like about Outschool? No matter what type of homeschooling practiced, families find that Outschool classes can provide a complementary learning experience. Positive elements for these families include:

  • A wide range of classes not found in other places, including those that address niche interests and appropriate learning levels
  • The opportunity to interact socially with others in class
  • A variety of class times, which gives families flexibility
  • Exposure to new perspectives and global educators and classmates
  • A homeschool-friendly approach that accepts non-traditional educational practices like joining class from the yard, a bed, or a tent

If you teach academic classes, keep in mind that homeschooled learners are often at different grade levels in each subject. For this reason, it’s helpful to be clear about what exactly they will learn in your class. In fact, homeschool parents and learners may be interested in working with you to design lessons.

Learners may also want a certificate or other proof that they took the class — particularly if they’re in high school — but be less interested in grades. Be aware that although homeschoolers may welcome extra activities to do on their own time, they may not sign up for “homework.”

Traditional schooling

Those learners who are in traditional schools typically attend in-person programs, although some may be getting their education online. Learners who attend school come to Outschool for academic, social, or extracurricular classes.

Academic focus

Learners seeking academic classes do so for enrichment or remediation. So they may choose advanced classes that their school doesn’t offer or classes that can provide additional support and practice in a subject area. This group is also more likely than those who learn at home to sign up for 1-on-1 tutoring classes.

Most likely, you’ll find these learners looking for classes after school in their time zone.

Socialization opportunities

Like homeschooled learners, some traditional schoolers want classes that provide opportunities to interact in a fun environment with others.

They may join classes that focus on specific interest areas like video games, chess, drawing, or book clubs. Gamification activities, discussions, and skill-building options can all provide a rich environment to build relationships with other students.

Extracurricular activities

Learners attending brick-and-mortar schools will seek out Outschool for particular areas of interest outside of traditional academic subjects.

Here they’ll find a wide range of class possibilities — coding, crafts, drama, sports nutrition, and the list goes on! — at times convenient for them. This can be particularly attractive for learners who have limited opportunities to seek unique classes because they live in rural areas or face other issues that limit their options.

Other educational approaches

Other Outschool learners may arrive in your classes with experiences in alternative approaches to schooling. We’ll highlight a few examples.

  • The Montessori method, based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, emphasizes hands-on activities and individualized learning. Typically, Montessori education features multi-age groupings and long blocks of time to pursue interest-based learning.
  • Founded by the philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf education aims to integrate academic, practical, and artistic learning. A key part of this style of learning is cultivating children’s imagination and creativity in a developmentally-appropriate way.
  • Other non-traditional approaches to in-person schooling include flipped classrooms, programs that invite high family engagement, inquiry-based education, and place-based learning.

Learner-led education

In the end, Outschool is all about learner-led instruction, where students can dive into their passions, meet their learning needs, and, well, love learning.

Learner-led education means students are able to learn at their own pace; devise their own strategies for learning; build collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills; monitor their own progress; and strengthen relationships.

As an educator, if you stay open and welcoming (we know you already are!) to the learners and families who come your way, you’ll have the best chance of finding out about them and their preferences as well as connecting with them.

Keep in mind that besides being comfortable with a particular educational style, learners may also come from another culture or background, be neurodiverse, speak another primary language, or have a specific learning need.

Over time, if you haven’t already, you’ll likely find a niche where you can highlight your unique teaching style and interests and connect with like-minded learners.

Bring your passion and expertise, and be ready to follow where your learners’ lead!

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