What is “eclectic” homeschooling? Eclectic homeschooling is a wild ride that uses a variety of methods and tools to create a homeschool experience that best fits the goals, needs, and interests of the family. Sounds good, right? That’s why most homeschoolers fall into the “eclectic” category, whether they say so or not. A family may align mostly with classical, Charlotte Mason, or another method, but true purists are few and far between.
One thing about homeschoolers is that we have a bit of an independent streak *grin* and even the most rigid among us will venture outside the box on occasion. However, with the great freedom allowed in the eclectic style, there are also some potential downsides. Let’s explore the pros and cons!
- Best of Everything – You get to incorporate the parts of each method that you want in your homeschool, such as a living books focus, rigorous memory work, workbooks, etc.
- Customized – It is easier to fit the needs of your child and your own teaching styles because you’re not locked into a particular method. Your options for how to approach a certain subject or learning opportunity are numerous.
- Flexible – There are so many ways to put together your eclectic homeschool program. It is flexible to the needs of your current season, particular goals, and there’s almost sure to be something out there that’s just what you’re looking for.
- Freedom to Pursue Interests – If your son or daughter is suddenly interested in horses, do a unit study! If your child is obsessed with Legos, well, they can be incorporated into pretty much any subject.
- Cost – For any teaching need you have, there is usually a free or frugal option available.
- Time and Planning – Piecing together the curriculum for the year is more time consuming than going with an out-of-the-box solution. So much freedom and so many choices means that there is more to wade through and decide on. You will have to find a balance if you put any value on sleep and sanity. For example, we piece together our science and history but go with a complete follow-the-script curriculum for reading, spelling, and grammar.
- Analysis Paralysis – I love to gather information and research options. However, having so many choices can be a bad thing. Research can distract you from what’s already working or lead you down a rabbit trail. This is particularly true if you tend to worry that you might miss some important aspect of their education. Overcome this by prioritizing your goals, remembering that every education has gaps, and praying that God will bring you the right plans and curriculum. It works so much better.
- Grass is Always Greener – Similar to analysis paralysis, you may see that shiny new-to-you science or art curriculum and suddenly feel like yours isn’t awesome. Resist the urge to dig into another one, especially if what you already have is working just fine. Make a note of that curriculum for after you finish with what you’re already using. Another tip: treat used curriculum sales like the grocery store and stick to your list. Trust me. *cringe*
- Doing Too Much – You can easily put together a homeschool curriculum that is simply too much for you, your kids, or the pesky constraints of time. To avoid this, prioritize character and educational goals for your kids, and cut out the things that just won’t fit. This can be hard to do, but it’s worth it. Cramming in too much can leave your kids frustrated and sabotage your homeschool progress.
- Cost – While eclectic homeschooling can be frugal, it can also be expensive if you don’t curb your curriculum envy or desire to do too much. Setting a budget helps a lot. Consider the big box curriculum whose price tag you scoff at and keep that number in mind. Left unchecked, you may end up meeting or exceeding it!
Our Eclectic Homeschool
Here are some of the elements of our homeschool right now. Highly subject to change. *wink*
- Classical Conversations memory work and geography at home (not in a community), and we aren’t doing latin or the science and art/music projects. We will likely do latin roots later.
- Nature studies – This is something we’re just venturing into and will be the backbone of our science experience.
- Great books – We’ve been leaning more into Charlotte Mason in all subjects lately. Right now, great book lists and a lot of read-aloud time holds our homeschool together.
- Delight-directed – When the kids show a particular interest in a topic, we take the time to explore it!
- FIAR or other unit studies when the kids (or mom) needs a break from the norm.
- Montessori-inspired activities for the kids.
- Unschooling on off weeks or when we need a rest. Learning never ends!
No matter what homeschool method or curriculum you are looking into, take the time to really pray about God’s plan for your family. He can guide you on vision, priorities, goals, and even the finer details like which curriculum to use, whether to spend money, whether to ditch what you’re using or try it a new way, or whether to join that co-op. Allow God to take the wheel in your homeschool road trip, and He will. How blessed we are to be on this crazy awesome ride with our children!