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Eclectic- There’s More Than One Homeschooling Method

Eclectic There's more than 1 homeschool method-

I hope you have your coffee ready because today’s line up has brought it. They came fully prepared to share their views on Eclectic Homeschooling. Let’s walk.

WHY Eclectic?

Lisa (The Canadian Homeschooler)
In our house, we have settled into eclectic style. This means that we have rather mix and match approach to learning. How did we get here? It started after Kindergarten of schooling my oldest. I’d been using an American boxed curriculum for that year, under the recommendations of my homeschooling friends. As the year progressed, I was more and more frustrated by the Americana and decided it was time to find Canadian materials. Sadly, there isn’t a quick and easy Canadian curriculum that you can buy in a box, so I started picking and choosing a variety of products.

Kathy (Simply Homeschool Living)
We are going into our fourth year of homeschooling, and the eclectic style we use has worked wonders for our children. An eclectic homeschool is basically choosing materials based on your child’s needs, rather than a boxed set. Our kids attended public school before we homeschooled. We pulled them out when my son was in fifth grade and my daughter in third (entering those grades). The man reason for pulling them as that they were both 2E- twice exceptional. This means they are both gifted but also both have learning disabilities/differences. Every person on Earth learns differently, and learns each subject differently. Also, many ‘subjects’ are easier to learn when they are in the real world, as opposed to being separated for easy grading.

Karen (Tots and Me)
Why did I pick Eclectic Homeschooling? Hmm, I don’t know that I actually chose to go the eclectic route. When we discussed homeschooling our oldest daughter, I wasn’t exactly sure what ‘homeschooling’ was going to entail. At first I was thinking along the lines of schoolroom, desks, textbooks; in a nutshell, I was thinking homeschool meant school at home. Then I started researching.

I took out tons of books from our inter-library loan system. I realized I didn’t need a schoolroom, I probably wasn’t going to need the crates of homeschool textbooks I found at the thrift shop for $20, and I wasn’t going to have to be limited to a specific style. One of the most helpful books I read was “Homeschooling: Take a Deep Breath-You Can Do This!” by Terrie Lynn Bittner. In the chapter titled “How Am I Going to Teach? How Are They Going to Learn?” eclectic learning is described as “a combination of structured and unstructured learning,” and the reader is told it “allows you to mix various methods together to create a complete curriculum personalized to the way your child learns, the way you teach and the materials you have access to.”

Now, I loved school growing up, but didn’t see going a full textbook route for our homeschool. I had experience working in a Montessori before the children were born, so that was something I was looking into. I also learned about Charlotte Mason and unschooling, and was intrigued.  The thing I noticed was, I am a bit of a rebel. I can see the benefits in each of these methods/philosophies, but I didn’t want to be locked into one method because I didn’t agree with any of these methods fully.


Lisa (The Canadian Homeschooler)
One of the main benefits of homeschooling eclectically is that we are able to be completely flexible and personalized in our approach. I can use any materials that I want throughout the year, change things or choose something else in the middle of the school year, find new resources if something isn’t working, and even combine different materials as we go along. It’s perfect for me to use with my kids- all of whom learn differently.

Kathy (Simply Homeschool Living)
Meets the children’s needs exactly and allows freedom to focus on what they want to learn, when they want to learn it. Like I said before, every person learns differently. My son is a visual learner who does best with videos. Math is difficult for him but he does well with My daughter is a tactile learner, the least accommodated learning style in public school. She learns best with manipulatives and does great with Math Mammoth.

Karen (Tots and Me)
So, what are the pros of eclectic homeschooling?
Flexibility: I think the biggest pro for me regarding eclectic homeschooling is that if I see something I want to use with the girls I can just go ahead and use it. If something isn’t working, I can try something else. Being eclectic gives us the chance to personalize the children’s education, which is one of the biggest benefits to homeschooling in first place.

Affordability: With the eclectic style, it doesn’t matter that I can’t afford to buy the huge boxed curricula that are out there. There are so many free and cheap resources available for homeschoolers. So finances were definitely another concern that led us down the eclectic route. Yes, we do use My Father’s World, but I chose it because it is affordable and I can combine all the children. It is not textbook based and there is a lot of hands-on learning. There is an element of Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies as well. Additionally, I do a lot of supplementing, along with adding and changing lessons to fit our styles.

Some Structure: While researching, I learned a bit about unschooling. I love the idea of child-led learning, but I knew I needed some structure. With eclectic homeschooling I can incorporate as much or as little structure as works for us.

Review Homeschooling: We are blessed to be on The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I say we, because my children are just as much a part of the team because they are the ones using the materials we receive. Because we are not locked into a specific style or curriculum, I have found some wonderful resources that work for our family.


Lisa (The Canadian Homeschooler)
The drawback I’ve found is that its harder to keep on track. There is no real plan outline, leaving you to pull it all together and make sure you are getting everything done that you want to complete. It’s easy to find yourself wandering down rabbit trails instead of staying focused on a lesson or current topic. It can also be hard to narrow down your choice of curriculum- as everything is available to try!

Kathy (Simply Homeschool Living)
One of the main disadvantage is that it can be expensive to go through curriculum that didn’t fit.

Karen (Tots and Me)
What would I say are the cons to eclectic homeschooling?
The Need to be Perceptive: In order to realize that a curriculum/product isn’t working for one of the children I need to be perceptive, and that is not one of my strong points. This is obviously something I am working on. I have been more focused on choosing curriculum based on the way I teach, but I realize I need to start being more focused on the way the children learn.

Disappointment: If something I thought was going to work isn’t working or suddenly isn’t working anymore, I feel that I made the wrong decision. I guess this goes back to needing to be more perceptive.

Stubbornness: Getting past my stubbornness of feeling something specific needs to be completed even if it isn’t working. This also goes back to affordability. If we purchased something specific and it isn’t working we may not have the money to buy something new right away, so I will insist we need to continue working with it.

Well, there you have it. The big guns of Eclectic homeschooling have spoken. Join us next week Tuesday when we have Katie of KatieFurlong a Montessori trained mama who used to operate a Montessori private school.

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Saturday 28th of June 2014

I have been enjoying this series of various homeschool methods and even read about classical method. I think we tried them all in the beginning. I purchased a box set from a friend in the beginning because I had no idea and thought it would all be the same. Oh I had much to learn!!! The box set was a failure in so many ways...ugh! Now I started to read. I was also impressed with the classical method. Over the years as we tried one method or another we ended up frustrated with so many tears, wasted curriculum, well drained minds and my serious thinking I was raising morons, I decided to re-evaluate what did work. It was then that I found out about learning styles, teaching core subjects and minimizing "fluff", skipping subjects for several years (gasp!) because they aren't ready for it now nor will they remember it anyway so why force it? That was when I heard the term "eclectic". I didn't set out to have a "style" of homeschooling. It formed on it's own as I learned to listen to my kids needs. Curriculum waste happens in any form of schooling. Just because we stick to it and force our way through and on to our kids does not equal success or learning. For me, I would prefer classical if I didn't find it so difficult to teach over a broad range of ages, very teacher intensive and I have other interests beyond school, and though I love it, it doesn't teach my children who have different learning styles from eachother. The best advice I could ever give on homeschooling is to take a deep breath and know that you will not ruin your kids or raise morons. If you did nothing but laugh and enjoy them for a year or two they would be better off then anything public school could offer. Relax, find what their needs are and always remember that teaching them about a biblical worldview is THE most important education they could ever love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Sorry, turned into an article rather than a comment! ;)


Saturday 28th of June 2014

I absolutely love your advice at the end Bethany and that's ok if you post an article as opposed to a comment. Glad you are enjoying the new series.


Saturday 21st of June 2014

Hi I'm a Jamaican homeschooler in the U.S. I am a newbie. I use the Charlotte Mason style. But I am happy to learn about your style.