According to the dictionary Eclectic means ‘deriving ideas, styles or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.’
What is Eclectic Homeschooling?
Eclectic homeschooling is a way to provide a customised education. Basically it is a style that isn’t a style, it’s a catch all. If you find yourself combining several of the different homeschooling methods you are probably an eclectic homeschooler. Eclectics tend to gather what works for them from multiple homeschool methods and leave what doesn’t fit for their family.
You as the parents pick and choose the best parts of several different resources. As such the method is completely different for every family who implements it.
Eclectic homeschooling has become very popular because it allows you as the parents to design a curriculum with your own children’s unique personality in mind. You as the parent know your children the best and know what they find interesting. As the parent your may find some topics particularly important or engaging. This approach gives you the freedom to focus on those topics.
The eclectic homeschooling style allows for extensive individualisation opportunities as a result of combining various resources and different homeschooling methods. You can carefully note how your children learn, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what their interests are and learning styles to better decide which approach would lead to better academic results.
There is a lot of work involved for you as the parent long before the actual eclectic homeschooling begins. You have to review a variety of curriculum choices and other resources to find the perfect fit for you and your children.
Our Journey to Eclectic Home Education
Over the years we have tried many different curricula, some worked and some still sit on the shelf hardly used. Eventually we learnt to stick with what works best for both myself and my child. We also learned that there is no such thing as the “perfect” curriculum. Each curriculum has its pros and cons for the parents, from the children’s points of view and from a cost perspective.
When you are new to home education nearly everything you read or seasoned homeschoolers tell you is to find a method that suits your family.
Well I know that most people do choose but few stick with it.
The reason for this is because when we first start to home educate it is hard to know what will best suit our family until we have tried it.
Are you one of the home educators who feels like some things are working and some just aren’t?
You are not alone!
This is just a normal process when starting to home educate. You and your family are experimenting with the curriculum and finding out what works for you and your children.
Believe me when we started we probably tried most homeschooling methods. We have done unit studies, Charlotte Mason, textbook approach and a few others.
The main point though is that my child was still learning with these different methods but we as a family were also learning how to home educate. In fact I think that going through this learning process and having explored different methods we have been able to find things that work best for our family.
Why We chose the Eclectic Method
If your family is able to find a single method for home education then stick with it. I am not saying it is wrong to pick a single method, just that it didn’t work for our family.
All children are different and have different interests and gifts. Allowing your children the freedom to be themselves allows them to learn so much better.
My main reason for not sticking with one method is because I found that it became too restrictive.
We didn’t just stop one day though and suddenly change to eclectic homeschooling. It evolved over time. We have taken our favourite parts, the bits that worked for our family and put them together with new resources and curriculum to make a curriculum that fits our family.
What is an Eclectic Curriculum?
An eclectic curriculum is achieved by mixing, adding and removing elements from different curriculum. It is what we as parents choose from an array of different sources.
Creating an Eclectic Curriculum
When creating your own eclectic curriculum it can be very intimidating to start. To begin, make a list of your children’s strengths and weaknesses. List their learning styles.
Sometimes eclectic homeschooling simply means choosing certain parts from a curriculum or textbook and leaving out the rest. If it offers suggestions that you don’t agree with or which don’t fit your child’s learning style you can simply leave them out.
Usually as you progress it will become clear what areas your children need a little help or extra work in. Knowing your child best you can design activities and lessons that will help compensate for these relative weaknesses and ultimately overcome them. Be mindful of their learning styles as you design your curriculum. If your child struggles in a subject you may want to include occasional breaks in the lesson or present it in an entertaining way.
Advantages of an Eclectic Approach in Teaching
- Complete personalised learning. Each child has resources that are suited to their development till level interests and ability
- Choice of the best of everything. Eclectic homeschooling allows you to choose the resources and activities that suit each particular learning area for you and your child.
- It allows you to keep your options open. If something isn’t working you can change it.
- The approach allows you to find resources that will work for varied ages if you have more than one child.
- Your children are able to explore their own passions.
- It is easy to target specific areas that need work.
The Not so Good Points of Eclectic Homeschooling
- You have to review and decide from a greater range of resources.
- You need a greater knowledge of all the different styles and approaches to education to know the options available to you.
- It will take a while to find your path in terms of getting to know your children and their interests and abilities intimately and learning what works for your family.
In conclusion every child is different and eclectic homeschooling allows you to create a course of study specially adapted to your children’s needs.
Eclectic homeschooling can fit into any family routine since it is so easy to pick and choose what is best for your family. You as the parent need to be constantly alert and attentive to your children’s evolving interests and be ready to change directions whenever necessary.
There are many different homeschooling styles or approaches and it is about finding what fits your family best.