Homeschool Pedagogy

Homeschool Pedagogy

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!

Strategic Quitting

Strategic Quitting

Strategic Quitting

Business guru Seth Godin says, “Strategic Quitting is the Secret of Successful Organizations.”

Wow. Let that sink in during January of 2021. Because it felt like we all did a lot of quitting in 2020- quitting regular meet-ups with friends, live church, eating out, going to the gym, co-ops, class days, etc.

But that’s forced quitting, and hopefully, we’ll all be back to our life-giving communities SOON.

Strategic Quitting in Business

What about the things we need to give up: things that waste money, time, energy, goodwill, and our personal or collective resources? You know- the chocolate caramel treats you started buying in bulk around, say, March. Quitting that skanky show (you know the one). You won’t let your kids watch it, but you know isn’t so healthy for your attitudes either. The overpriced coffee you buy that blows your budget and supports causes you don’t—that type of quitting.

This month- as you think through habits and dreams, assess what you can cut out. Think through the fluff and fat. Lean up.

If you are in business, what you need to quit might be super obvious- or not. I was getting a recurring charge of $12.99 for a service I didn’t use (no biggie, but glad I caught it), and I was automatically enrolled in membership from a class that cost $129 a month (a definite biggie that I didn’t catch until several hundreds of dollars later (ouch)!

But that’s business. How does this apply to homeschooling?

Strategic Quitting in Your Homeschool

Strategic Quitting Blog Post. I quit calendar note.

Are you clear about your academic, life, and soft skills goals for each kiddo, and are they current? A quarterly mom assessment is not a bad idea.

Are your kids moving forward, or are they frustrated and stuck?

Are you, as the homeschooling teacher, frustrated and stuck?

Remember the Goldilocks Principle as you teach and train your kids: not too hard, not too easy, one step beyond what they know. If you, or your kids, are constantly frustrated by a subject or skill, it might be time to quit giving in to that frustration.

Get some testing, invest in a mentor, or an academic advising session. Those kinds of investments cost pennies on the dollar, point you to effective tools, tips, and curriculum, plus save your child (and you) years of heartache and frustration.

Let’s Quit These Things Together

Do you dread using the curriculum you purchased but feel guilty about tossing it aside? Quit the mom guilt. Sell it or gift it and do something else. There’s plenty of great curriculum out there (some of it free) that will bring you joy. Quit cheating yourself because of guilt. And if you need permission,  as a homeschooling vet of 30 years, I’m giving it to you.

Are you wasting time by not having clearly established rhythms and routines for your day? Quit letting life control you and set a realistic, doable schedule for you and your family. That means taking time to be aware of the natural rhythms and routines y’all have. It means being a student of your family.

Are your kids up way before you and ready to be productive, but you stayed up too late grabbing “me time”? Do you frequently sleep through your kids’ most productive hours of the day? Quit giving in to your emotions. Plan and schedule time so that you get re-fueled in a healthy way that feeds your entire family.

Are you constantly spending money on eating out because you didn’t meal plan? Quit putting off the inevitable. You and your people are going to need to eat. Multiple times a day, in fact, and learning how to plan meals and implement that plan will save you thousands of dollars and your health in the long run.

Is your clean unfolded laundry a permanent fixture on your couch because you ran out of time to fold and put it away? Quit thinking the laundry fairy will come to your rescue. Your Grandma probably had a weekly system that went something like this,  “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, etc.” Create a doable laundry system; wash and dry throughout the week and then set aside 1-3 hours a week where everyone folds, hangs up and puts away laundry.

Addition by Subtraction

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Make 2021 the year you QUIT.

Quit anything that creates distractions and diverts you from your mission. This year, determine to GAIN peace, sanity, and productivity.

Need help, inspiration, and a community of like-minded mommas heading true north? Our Membership Site is just what you are looking for!

Strategic Quitting Infographic Things to Quit in the New Year Quit giving in to frustration - find solutions instead. Quit the mom guilt. Quit that curriculum that isn't working. Quit letting the urgent control you - plan your routine. Quit running on empty - stragtegize time for re-fueling. Quit putting off the inevitable - plan & budget meals. Quit magical thinking - the laundry fairy doesn't exist. Create a chore system that works for your family.

Re-Set for the Win!

Re-Set for the Win!

I hear all the time that you need to “de-school” when you bring your kids home from public school. It drives me crazy because it’s probably not what your kids really need.

People say this because it places blame on something external (school) and removes guilt (you didn’t know what else to do, you’re not sure what you are going to do). But it’s really a myth.

What kids need when you bring them home from public school is a re-set.

A “re-set” allows for a growth mindset. De-schooling implies that school is the problem. And really it’s probably a delivery problem, or a pedagogy problem, or a seasonal problem; not necessarily a school problem.


Don’t De-School

Why not? I’m glad you asked. School is an important aspect of our culture. To “de-school” assigns a negative aspect to school. And I get it- maybe school was a negative thing in your kids’ life. But, listen; as parents, we need to help our kids learn to re-frame. This is a really important skill. And schooling will be a part of their lives for a while, maybe a long while, depending on what they do in life.  And we want our kids to have a growth mindset when it comes to school, academics, and education, right?


Re-Set for the Win!

Re-sets imply that you are looking for alternatives, aren’t stuck, and realize that you have options. Even homeschoolers need the occasional re-set. Like when you run into Covid and it wrecks your schedule, or you go back to work but keep homeschooling, or someone gets sick or has an accident or your kids become teenagers or you hit menopause. What was working might not work anymore. But, seriously, it’s not that big of a deal. You just hit re-set.


So, what’s a re-set, anyway?

A re-set is when you set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way.

As I look back, I see some examples of re-sets in my life that I’d like to share:

  • When we moved across the country with five kids, one of which was a nursing babe, we spent the spring painting the house from ceiling to floorboards and packing up. Lots of life skills, great books on tape, and hospitality happened that spring!
  • When we lived in a hotel for six weeks and then ten months in a rental after our house fire. We spent hours at the hotel pool, watched a crazy number of movies, and listened to Story of the World on CD so much that my then 9-year-old had parts of it memorized. We did Writing With Ease every morning poolside because my then littles revealed in the routine of school. Once we hit the rental, we spent hours sorting, inventorying damaged belongings and staining, painting, tiling, drywalling, brick-laying, etc as we remodeled. Maybe not a very “scholastic” year, but boy-howdy, our kids learned a lot of life skills, like dry-walling, but also resiliency and how to tackle a massive project – like a house remodel.
  • When I went back to work and we kept homeschooling- we made use of enrichment and academic co-ops and did school 3 days a week. Our Morning Basket was a really important part of our staying connected during that time.
  • When all of our kids grew up and moved on to college and beyond except our youngest. She does the majority of her school online now and our homeschooling consists of great discussions and her sharing newfound knowledge that goes beyond my expertise in areas that are of great interest to her.

Re-sets are just part of life and can provide a positive re-frame. Especially when you find yourself pivoting in your educational choices or in life in general. As we head into 2021, it’s a great time to assess what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what needs a re-set.

Tell me your thoughts on the issues! I’d love to know!

Experience Based Gift Ideas for Tweens and Teens!

Experience Based Gift Ideas for Tweens and Teens!

The greatest gifts are not wrapped in paper but in love!

The holiday season is just around the corner! Gift-giving is an important part of our Holiday tradition, along with stringing miles of lights and decorating multiple trees, filling our large farmhouse with holiday cheer!

If you are in a rut with gift-giving or feel like it’s materially oriented and has lost the joy of giving and gratitude, consider giving gifts that will contribute to experiences and that you can share together.

Hobbies & Shared Experiences

What hobbies, skills, or crafts grab your kids’ interest that you could encourage? Is there a local guild or artisan around who could mentor them? What about including YouTube links in a card as part of the present?

One son has been greatly interested in blacksmithing. I found some professional equipment for him used, along with a potential mentor, who is also now on the look-out for us for additional materials. The equipment isn’t new (some of it is antique) but it’s in great condition and good enough quality that he can get his feet wet without a huge financial investment. We were excited to find a former homeschooler, turned YouTuber, whose contact information will be part of the gift.

Books, Magazines & The Arts

Don’t forget magazines as a present that gives all year long.

Don’t limit your selections to “kids” magazines- we’ve had issues of Science News, National Geographic, Biblical Archeology Today, Artifax, and others laying around for years.

It has always amazed me how much information our kids glean, and what interests are piqued by reading books and magazines that are beyond their “ability” or from a different worldview than we hold. Reading and discussing articles together is a great way to have a conversation that can go far beyond the topic!

We’ll also be purchasing some Met Opera tickets to enjoy together- did you know that you can experience the Met live as they stream live performances, probably to a city near you.

The website includes great information about the performances, performers and so much more! During the actual live stream, you’ll get to hear interviews with the directors, performers, and producers, see behind-the-scenes staging and production, and be invited into a unique world of music, dance, and theater!

Learn & Support Local Artists

Our area hosts a small film festival that shows indie films and documentaries, many of which are award winners. Because it’s local, we often get to meet people somehow related to the film and hear interesting tidbits about the film selection along with other unique details. Our local festival shows films bi-monthly at local theaters, the crowd is often interactive and friendly and the movies are thought-provoking and discussion-worthy!

Call your local movie theater and see if there’s a film festival in your town!! Our local festival is great about making sure we know which movies are not suitable for youth and children, but you can always check the listing ahead of time to ensure that they are wholesome. We are buying season tickets this year as a family gift and look forward to some great viewing!

Create your own film festival at home with these fun scratch-off posters. Commit to a regular monthly or bi-monthly viewing with your kids and sit down to some classics like The Princess Bride or Karate Kid. Invite some friends and family and make it a party! 100 Movie scratch-off poster- books, places.

The Great Outdoors & Togetherness

Hit the trails!

Most cities have lovely bike or walking trails. Our mid-sized city has tens of miles of biking trails. Give commitments to biking somewhere together on a regular basis. Make it even more fun by adding in some early morning pedals to get coffee or hot chocolate together- or commit to evening summer rides to a favorite restaurant or Shakespeare in the park!

Give your kids coupons with times and dates, committing to a weekly conversation and coffee date – just you and them – sans electronics.

Not sure what to chat about? Check out our free list of Tween/ Teen Winter Convo Starters.

Get creative this Holiday season and celebrate your interests and relationships!

I’d love to hear about your creative, relational, or experience related gifts!

About the author: Lisa Nehring’s most memorable gifts were an engagement ring tied into a church Christmas ornament and a month-long backpacking trip to the High Uinta’s Wilderness areas – two grand adventures that changed her life. Along with gathering gifts (and gratefully receiving them) she owns, blogs, and teaches here at True North Homeschool Academy, which offers live online and self-paced classes, clubs, transcripts, testing, Special Needs resources, a vibrant active support community and more! Working at a job she loves and is passionate about, along with homeschooling, is one of her most favorite gifts of all!  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and hanging out in her Facebook group; True North Homeschool Tribe.



Creating a Christmas Shopping Budget with Your Kids

Creating a Christmas Shopping Budget with Your Kids

Creating a Christmas Shopping Budget

At True North Homeschool Academy, we are proponents of teaching teens how to budget while they are still at home.

A fun and easy way to introduce the life skill of budgeting with your kiddos is to allow them a specific amount to do their Christmas shopping with and then have them create a budget with the money.

It’s not a difficult task and can be quite fun. In fact, my teens love budgets because it permits them to spend money, and hopefully, your teen will feel the same way!

So, get the Christmas budget download worksheet, and let’s get started.

Super Simple Christmas Budgeting

  • Have them go down the name category listing friends, family, and mentors for whom they want to buy gifts.
  • Next, real quick, have them jot down any particular ideas they have for gift ideas. If they aren’t sure, have them leave it blank.
  • Now, have your teen write at the top of the money section their TOTAL amount of money they have to spend.
  • Talk through cost for different items they definitely want to purchase.  They may also want to brainstorm, creating some of their gifts.
  • And finally – once all the money is spent on paper, encourage your teen to take the budget with them and have fun Christmas shopping!

Christmas budget lesson – DONE!

We hope you love the FREE Christmas Budget worksheet. We have included a bonus Christmas Wishlist worksheet as an early holiday gift to you all!

If you are planning your Christmas homeschool lessons and celebrations now you may also want to take a look at other helpful articles like our Holiday Book Ideas, and Unique Gifts for Tweens & Teens, creating Holiday Traditions, and Celebrating Christmas!

The True North Homeschool team is wishing you a sweet Christmas season, sweet homeschool families!