For the longest time, I thought you had to choose one or the other. I wasn't fully able to grasp the concept to each style and how to incorporate more than one educational method into my homeschooling.
Or what I like to call "Public Schooling at Home". Most people fall into this category, especially when first starting out in their homeschooling plans. It's what we're all used to, the structure, specific grade levels, worksheets, seat work, separate and defined subjects. It's a set plan that fits into a fixed outline of all your basic subjects. In fact, this traditional method is how I was homeschooled. Most homeschool parents were brought up in public schools, so this style is often times the most comfortable option.
This one is more difficult to explain. Basically, the classical teaching is a middle ages method, constructed on classic literature, poetry, history, philosophy, art, and foreign languages (most often times, Latin). Classical style is broken up into three parts or phases. In the first phase, you teach your children how to learn based on grammar, rhetoric, and reasoning. The child will learn many facts, even if they don't yet understand them all. The second phase incorporates putting the facts learned in the first phase into understanding. This also is when arithmetic, geometry, history, science, and music are added. By the third and final stage, the child will be able to use all the facts he has learned, and form and debate his own opinions.
Charlotte Mason Method
The best method for my "creative" child, to put it nicely. If you have ever thought negatively of Charlotte Mason style, believing it to be unstructured or free-spirited, then you've been misinformed. This method includes what is called "living books", books written from an author's personal experiences or from an author's passion on the subject, as opposed to books full of dull, boring facts compiled of someones thoughts and all wrapped up in a textbook. With living books, the child readily identifies with the author and becomes excited about the subject themselves, encouraging the learning process. The lessons are short (about 20 minutes) and subject matter includes; nature notebooks, narration/dictation, art, classical music, foreign language, and history. Moving around, getting out and involved with nature, and not keeping to one subject too long, is encouraged. If you want to know more, a friend of mine introduced me to Simply Charlotte Mason, a wonderful resource for this style.
All of the Above
Our curriculum includes all three methods. This fits our family quite well, as we have many varying learning styles. We use a traditional curriculum of math, english, and spelling. Our history, science, and literature combines a classical method of learning and processing lots of facts, with a Charlotte Mason method utilizing lots of living books, and narration and dictation. We also listen to and study classical music and art, incorporating history and geography. My children keep a nature journal, and I adjust it according to age and understanding. Our language of choice is Latin, and although Spanish might be more logical for our region, Latin is a good base language for our education.
Some people, who combine all methods, can easily put their curriculum together, but if you still need some structure or guidance, My Father's World is a good place to start. MFW takes Classical and Charlotte Mason and combines them creating a full curriculum. Then, you add your traditional math and english subjects. One thing I really appreciate about MFW is you can teach various grades together. Everyone learns the same thing at the same time, but adjustments may be made for older children.
I know I couldn't fully explain all methods, but it's easy to do an online search to find out more information on each style. Don't be held captive to a strict traditional style of teaching, our children need a little wiggle room, even in their school work.