Who says homeschoolers must stick to one homeschooling product or method? With so many available options and resources, why not customize a child’s educational program by mixing and matching them together?
The practice of picking and choosing educational resources from among the different methods and styles available is often referred to as the “Eclectic Method” of homeschooling. Eclectic homeschooling is a very popular way for parents to choose exactly how they want to teach every subject and exactly which materials (if any) they’ll use to do it. It works because only homeschooling moms and dads know what will work in their own lives, with their own students. Being eclectic means inventing a homeschooling program that is perfectly suited for the people who use it!
Rather than be bound by all of the materials offered with one curriculum or choosing everything from a single publisher, it’s okay to mix and match. Instead of a child completing every single class on-line, using only unit studies all year long, or sticking rigidly to a classical system throughout, it’s alright to use only selected bits and pieces, rather than committing to the entire system or product line.
With eclectic homeschooling, the combinations of experiences and resources are endless. Although it would be impossible to list them all, take a peek into the learning rooms of two different families to get an idea of how eclectic homeschooling works for them:
In this family, language arts and mathematics are taught daily at the kitchen table using structured curriculum products from major homeschooling publishers. Handwriting practice also takes place on a daily basis using purchased workbooks from a handwriting series purchased inexpensively from a local retailer. Tests and assessments for each of these subjects are graded and recorded and a tracking system is used to monitor progress throughout the year. Science, on the other hand, is not a daily activity, and is comprised of a mixture of hands-on experiments performed at home and spending time outdoors observing nature. History is taught mainly through literature available at home and from books checked out at the library. History is also supplemented with television programming and field trips to historical locations and museums. Long-term projects are assigned for both science and history and students are permitted to hone in on topics that interest them for in-depth studies. Fine arts comes from private music lessons, art projects completed at home and participation in a homeschool drama program. A formal character education program is taught at home.
This family does not use a traditional language arts curriculum, preferring instead to introduce grammar, spelling and vocabulary across the curriculum or during daily activities as needed. Reading is done through independent reading and family read-alouds, sometimes followed by discussion sessions, and sometimes not. Mathematics is taught using a book and DVD curriculum, supplemented by online mathematics games and computer programs. Science is taught using a pre-packaged science program containing everything needed to study at home and perform simple lab experiments. Social studies comes from a standard school textbook with links to online activities and scored exams, resulting in a final grade upon completion of the entire book. A homeschooling cooperative provides the children in this family with organized physical activities as well as learning sign language. Character education is modeled at home and taught in church. The children in this family play team sports and volunteer at a homeless shelter.
Clearly there are many different ways that families may combine teaching and educational resources. The key is finding what works and what the family will enjoy, too. If a particular combination of resources isn’t working, a family may always reassess and make changes. Perhaps the best of all worlds, by using the eclectic method, it is certainly possible to create a personalized program for every student!
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