Have you ever wondered what the term “eclectic homeschooling” means? I heard it many times in the first years of our homeschool journey, when I started reading homeschool blogs and researching curriculum. The word was foreign to me. I never knew exactly what it meant until I finally looked it up in the dictionary. I discovered that we are eclectic homeschoolers.
So, what is eclectic homeschooling?
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary eclectic means to select what appears to be the best of various doctrines, methods, or styles; composed of elements drawn from various sources.
In the homeschool, this translates to meaning that instead of buying a complete boxed curriculum set from one publisher with lesson plans all laid out and a schedule to follow, the parent (often with the child(ren)’s input) have chosen to put together a curriculum composed of what they consider to be the best from various styles, applying a variety of methods that fit the family, and ultimately equals a well-rounded education with a mix & match approach to curricula.
Why be an eclectic homeschooler?
Being a eclectic homeschooler is very freeing and allows for expression of interest from each child, while being customized to the parent’s teaching style. With this style of homeschooling, the parent is able to pull from many resources; including textbooks and living books from various publishers, lapbooks and notebooking pages, nature studies and field trips, audio books and movies, internet classes and video curriculum, and hands-on arts and crafts. It means the parent can freely embrace the practice of combining several subjects into one, making life a little easier.
Besides the foundational subjects of math and language arts, the child can customize most of their education based on their interests and goals. Often, even math and language arts can be “tacked” on to another – more interesting – subject.
How does this look in our homeschool?
In our homeschool, with all of my children still in elementary grades, I have chosen to keep our formal school hours short and to the point. I believe strongly in laying a solid foundation in language arts and math. Those are our main focus in the elementary years.
I have chosen a math textbook that fits all 3 of my current school-aged children’s styles well. Our language arts program is a classical/notebooking style that embraces the “dead language” of Latin and includes grammar, phonics, penmanship, spelling, and reading.
Kindergarten and first grade are both relaxed with phonics and simple math concepts introduced and mastered in a mere 15-30 minutes each day. In second grade, printing and spelling are set in stone and addition/subtraction are mastered. By third and fourth grade, the workload increases to include cursive, multiplication, and division. We loosely follow the Trivium stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
All other subjects, such as art, health, history, science, music, social studies, and foreign language are simply part of our life. We immerse ourselves in documentaries, living books, textbooks, factual-based audio dramas, and a huge variety of music. The kids are allowed to draw and color to their hearts’ content.
I plan to include occupational education, science, history, art, health, social studies, foreign language, and music into our formal school hours as my children get older, with high school being a lot more structured, but still completely tailored to each child. I think as long as the state’s and parent’s high school graduation requirements are met, the child should have an opinion about which studies to pursue. It makes it much more enjoyable for everyone.
Choosing eclectic homeschooling has allowed us to embrace learning as a family and nurture our children’s desire to learn, rather than placing them in a box without any room for growth and expression. As a result, our children may not be thrilled with their spelling or writing lesson, but they know that completing it gives them the time to do what they love, like read and do science experiments!