Charlotte Mason: Based on a method introduced by nineteenth-centure educator Charlotte Mason, this approach includes nature studies, journaling, narration, and living books.
Classical: Based on Dorothy Sayers' The Lost Tools of Learning, in which child development is broken up into three "stages" of learning commonly called "the Trivium".
Delight Directed: This puts the learning in the hands of the child based on his or her interests. Parents help facilitate this type of learning with appropriate instructional materials.
Eclectic: A mix of philosophies and curricula to accommodate each child's abilities and interests. Parents choose from any method or style only those components that fit their specific needs.
The Principle Approach: An approach based on the principles of our Founding Fathers and an emphasis on God's Word as the basis for every subject.
Tratitional Textbook: Normally uses a full-range, packaged, textbook type curriculum that also may include a scope and sequence, testing, and recordkeeping.
Unit Studies: All or most core subjects are covered while studying any one topic or unit of study, using a variety of resources and supplemental activities.
Unschooling: A relaxed setting where learning is directed by the child. Parts of this philosophy are based on research by John Taylor Gatto and John Holt.
(These descriptions are from the Spring 2009 issue of "The Old Schoolhouse" magazine)
As you prepare to begin homeschooling, you will need to decide which of these approaches you would like to try. You may find that the first one you try really doesn't work for your or your children, and you may need to try another. You may have to try a few until you find the one that really fits, or you may need to change as your children get older.
As I have mentioned, we have homeschooled for six years now. Our first year, we used the Unit Studies approach. It seemed to me the easiest way to teach more than one child of different ages. So, we tried Konos curriculum. We liked the curriculum as far as we really enjoyed studying the subject matter -- medieval times with knights and horses and the topic of "light". However, I felt that I had to really gear quite a bit of the activities down for my younger son or too many things went over his head. We finished the curriculum early because some of the activities were way to much work for me to accomplish and we skipped those activities.
Then, I created my own unit study with the knowledge that I had from using Konos and with the help of a book I read about creating your own unit studies. I let the boys choose a topic. They chose China and we went to the library and checked out books about China. We checked out a book on Tienamen Square, we read a great historical fiction book called The Kite Flyer, and we read a book on Confuscious. We looked at China on a map and read about it in our atlas. We listened to Chinese music. We found a Chinese cookbook in the children's reference section and checked it our and made a Chinese meal. I gave the boys vocabulary words from the things we read and assigned them writing assignments based on things we read as well. We even found a video at the library about the Chinese New Year. We watched it and on the video they gave directions for an art project -- making your own dragon using an egg carton and popsicle sticks and construction paper and sequins. I think we enjoyed our unit study on China even more than we enjoyed the Konos curriculum and because we used the library it was considerably cheaper. I didn't spend anything on the books or the video we used. The only things I needed to buy were the ingredients for the Chinese meal and some of the supplies for the art project.
So, if money is an issue, Unit Studies work great and you can really utilize your library. I'm sure that you can utilize your library for other homeschool styles as well.
For the two years after that we used the Eclectic style and we selected different subjects from different curricula.
For the past three years, we have been using the Charlotte Mason approach. We love books! That is why this approach works for us so well. We read a lot of books for history and science, not boring old textbooks, but what are considered living books. Books that tell stories and some of the characters may be fictitious but the time period and the facts and places of the time period are real history.
So, you see, you may need to try different approaches until you find the one that best fits you and your children. But, one thing I would really like to say is Don't Let Your First Year overwhelm or discourage you. It gets easier with each year, especially if you join a group and get to know other homeschool parents because you can learn from them and find support from them. It also helps to listen to your children. We study what the children are most interested in for the most part. I just make sure we cover all of the subjects that we need to cover.