If you’ve been homeschooling awhile, or even been reading up on homeschooling, it’s highly likely you’ve encountered more than one educational method or style. There are dozens of methods/philosophies and even more ways families use and implement these methods. If you find yourself flitting from method to method, or unable to find one philosophy that seems like a perfect fit for your family – eclectic homeschooling could be the solution!
What is Eclectic Homeschooling?
Eclectic Homeschooling is a style of homeschooling in which families adopt and practice the best parts of at least two different homeschooling philosophies. Therefore, eclectic homeschooling isn’t a set of steps and “rules” to follow (like the Classical or Charlotte Mason philosophies), because it varies immensely for every family who practices it.
The eclectic homeschool is extremely popular with families because parents are able to choose the elements and practices of multiple methods that fit their lifestyle without being tied down to a rigid structure that is ill-fitting. Eclectic homeschooling is a highly personalized and customized way of educating at home.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Eclectic Homeschooling
This style of home education is extremely flexible, allowing your approach to learning to adapt with each child’s ever-changing interests, strengths, and weaknesses. It is easily customized to your child’s unique learning style and personality.
Eclectic homeschooling can either save money or bust the budget, it really depends on the situation. Because you aren’t tied down to purchasing an entire system or boxed curriculum and can piece things together, it can be a huge money saver. However, the temptation to “try all the things” can quickly turn into owning a mountain of materials that never seem to be finished or used more than once. I will talk more about this in tomorrow’s post, so make sure you come back for that!
Some drawbacks can be that there is more responsibility and time required from the teacher-parent. Because you most likely won’t be using a boxed, open-and-go curriculum, you will spend more time researching curriculum and materials and piecing things together that complement your child’s studies.
Another factor to consider is that eclectic homeschooling requires the parent to be finely attuned to each child’s individual growth and changing needs so that adjustments can be made and help given when necessary. It can be tricky measuring progress when an eclectic style is being implemented. That being said, I personally find this factor to be a benefit. After all, we are choosing to educate our own children because we want to be involved in their learning process and nurture a strong, intimate relationship with them!
What it Looks Like in our Home
We started out many years ago doing “school at home” and using a boxed curriculum from a major christian homeschooling company. We did this for a couple of years with a couple of different publishers before I discovered the unit study method. We then used boxed curriculum for math and language arts only and enjoyed doing unit studies for a season. Then we discovered and used a very popular classical literature-based program for a few years for everything but math. You get the idea!
We spent our first 5-7 years of homeschooling learning about and trying different things to foster a love of learning. I soon realized that the reason we jumped from curriculum to curriculum and method to method so often was that our ideal way of learning didn’t fit into any one specific method or philosophy. So I began to implement an eclectic homeschooling mix of practices, resources, and approaches that worked best for each of my children.
At present, we use a lot of living books and use notebooking/lapbooks to document and reinforce our learning (narration style a la Charlotte Mason). We are not very fond of dry, textbook-style learning – but there are times that we will use this style of resource because of time limitations. However, we always adapt traditional materials in order to make them more interesting and supplement as needed. We love unit studies and taking deep dives into a topic or time period. When my children are young, we use as much hands-on materials, manipulatives, games, and crafts as we can in lieu of workbooks. We have recently discovered the Brave Learner/Brave Writer philosophy and are undergoing big changes in the way we approach spelling, grammar and writing. We have started doing more read alouds and are looking forward to implementing the practices of a weekly freewrite and poetry tea time.
A few years from now, I will only have pre-k, elementary, and middle school level children and at that time, our way of learning will most likely undergo more change. That’s what eclectic homeschooling looks like for us! It’s ever-changing and improving because as I am teaching my children I am learning alongside them. I am observing what works and what doesn’t and making course corrections along the way.
Tomorrow, I will be sharing another eclectic homeschooling related post focusing on piecing together learning materials and saving money on curriculum. Make sure you read my other NOT Back to School Blog Hop: A Week of Eclectic Homeschooling posts for more great content!
To read more great content from the Schoolhouse Review Crew and the NOT Back to School Blog Hop, click the images in the linky below to “hop” from blog to blog!