This post does contain Amazon affiliate links. Please know that I only recommend products that I believe will bring value to you. Please see my full disclosure here.
Eclectic Homeschooling – The combination of several different homeschool methods to make your own.
We are eclectic homeschoolers and we love it!
If you are new to the homeschooling world, you will learn that one of the most common questions you will be asked is “What is your homeschool style?” Once we began considering homeschooling, we found out quickly that we needed to figure out a style. It seemed like once we determined that, all the other decisions would be slightly less complicated.
Is it really that easy? Eeny meany miny mo….and you are it! Um, no. Do I really have to pick one style right now and stick to it for the rest of my kid’s education Um, no.
Don’t get me wrong, we initially got so caught up in trying to figure out “our style” that I kind of lost track of what we really wanted. Each style really has excellent logic for using it, so I began to think that they were all perfect for us.
If you have any interest in what our homeschool looks like on a day to day basis check out A Week Inside Our Eclectic Homeschool.
We Are Eclectic Homeschoolers
We are currently Eclectic homeschoolers. Our homeschool is inspired by the Classical, Charlotte Mason, and the Unit Studies styles.
I approach the kids’ curriculums based on their learning styles while also considering my strengths and weaknesses.
This year, just like last, we have quite the mix of curriculums. The kids’ Math and History curriculums are a Classical style. My daughter will cover all Language Arts (Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar, Writing) in several literature Unit Studies. And then their Science curriculum is more Charlotte Mason.
In addition to their core curriculum, they are both studying typing and coding from free online resources. And my daughter is studying a photography course that I have adapted for her, from a course that my husband took several years ago.
I read aloud to both of them, they listen to audio books, and each day my daughter has a set amount of alone reading time. We read fiction, nonfiction, classics and fun stuff. I like them to make their own reading picks and then I sprinkle in some of mine.
As you can see, our homeschool really is filled with a little of this and little of that!
How Did I Narrow Down the Homeschooling Styles?
The first homeschool book that I read was The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. This book is chock full of information. So much so, that it can be a little intimidating. If I am being honest, I first listened to the audio version since it essentially did not cost us anything. My husband had a lot of Audible credits accumulated, that I “borrowed.”
Even though Susan Wise Bauer advocates for a Classical homeschooling approach, I was inspired by her practical advice and detailed breakdown of curriculum and schedule options. Regardless of your ideal homeschool style, I truly feel that reading this book will benefit any homeschool parent.
Then I watched Simply Charlotte Mason: Five Flavors of Homeschooling and it gave me a better understanding of the different homeschooling methods, opening my eyes to the possibilities.
Sonya’s comparison of homeschooling styles to different cuisines helped to put the styles into perspective. Watching this video is when I realized that I don’t really fit into a single box and neither do my kids.
Why Did Eclectic Homeschooling Seem to Fit?
After a lot of research, I understood the perspective that all the methods offered, but did not feel confident in committing to a single approach.
I wanted to take all the best qualities of each approach and make my own method.
So what qualities did I feel most drawn to?
- Introduce history as a progression through time so it makes logical sense
- Memorize basic concepts at a young age to develop later
- Charlotte Mason
- Read books that come alive to the reader so that your kids develop their own interests and perspectives
- Instill good habits
- Unit Studies
- Diving into a single topic and weaving in multiple subjects to make learning feel seamless and fun
- Letting your child pursue an interest and truly develop all the knowledge and skills related to a single topic seems so awesome to me. However, I have not been able to grasp this yet with my small children. This is my ideal when they are older.
I now understand that I am like so many other homeschoolers. Are you this way? Do you want the best for your kids and just can’t seem to settle on one particular style?
It is hard. We felt it was important for our kids to learn from a variety of methods, no matter their age. So, in our homeschool, we have memorizing, reading, hands-on, and personal interest activities all weaved in.
Eclectic Homeschooling – The perfect mix of what we wanted!
How Do We Do It?
Full confession, Eclectic homeschooling puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Unlike with boxed or all in one curriculum options, I am responsible for selecting every piece of material individually.
I have relied heavily on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind and 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. Prior to the start of our school year, I spend a lot of time researching, reading reviews, and sample pages.
Our first year, I solely relied on my research to select our curriculum. But since we became full-fledged homeschoolers, I have had the opportunity to swap stories and pick other homeschooler mom brains about their curriculum experiences and recommendations.
It is truly invaluable to be able to talk with a mom about their experiences.
We homeschool year-round, but we do take a 3-4 week break between “school years”. So, I set aside a week to spend preparing for our upcoming homeschool year. During this time, I research and shop for the best deals. I make our homeschool calendar, finalize the subjects of study, and order supplies and curriculums for the start of the new curriculum year.
We use our local library whenever possible for all reading and curriculum supplements. It is rare that I purchase books outside of worktexts.
If the idea of starting from scratch for your curriculum is overwhelming, trust me you can do it. Start with the subjects you want them to learn, know your goals, and then read those reviews. It will be easier than you think. I promise you can do this!
Speaking of Subjects, What Do My Kids Learn?
I wanted to start with the basics, so both of my kids’ curriculums start with the core subjects:
- Language Arts – Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar
- History, Geography, Social Studies
Then we add in subjects that they are interested in or that are important to us that they learn. These are some of the additional subjects that we had added:
- Arts & Crafts
- Personal Development: Chores, Age Appropriate Skills, etc.
There are so many subjects that your kids can pursue. I get really excited when I think about the endless learning opportunities that are ahead of us!
A Little of This, A Little of That
To be honest, I didn’t even realize that what I was doing had a name until after we started it.
In the beginning, when someone asked what style homeschoolers we were I would say “We do a little of this and a little of that.” Oftentimes in response, I would get a look of confusion. I am sure they were wondering what in the world I was really teaching my kids!
Now, if someone asks I can say we are Eclectic homeschoolers. Meaning, we take care of the “must knows” and then throw in a lot of the “I really want to knows.”
This style has morphed a little since the beginning, but overall it has been a great fit for me and my kids. Eclectic homeschooling truly makes learning fun for all three of us!
Do You Know Your Style?
So many people expect homeschoolers to follow a set curriculum and schedule like the traditional school. But isn’t part of the reason that we homeschool to tailor the needs to our family?
Do your research, read about other’s experiences, talk to other homeschool parents, and make a list of what is important to you and you will figure out what your style is.
If you are new to homeschooling and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, like I once did, take a deep breath and know that you will find a grove for you and your kids. Trust me it may not always be on the first try.
Take comfort in knowing that there are a variety of homeschooling styles out there to fit the variety of personalities we all have. If one does not seem to be a good fit, be like me and so many others, and choose your own eclectic path.
Looking for clarity on the different homeschooling styles or wondering if you even need one? Check out my homeschooling series for guidance:
- New to Homeschool: Making Sense of Homeschooling Styles
- All About Classical Homeschooling
- Charlotte Mason: Homeschooling Styles Day 2
- Homeschooling Styles Day 3: Unschooling
- Homeschooling Styles Day 4: Unit Studies
- Homeschooling Styles Day 5: Traditional School At Home
- Homeschooling Styles Day 6: Montessori & Waldorf
- Homeschooling Styles Day 7: Eclectic Homeschooling
If you are still considering homeschooling or just starting to set up your homeschool, check out these posts:
- 10 Fundamental Questions To Ask Before Homeschooling
- Homeschool Expenses: Our First Year
- How to Start Homeschooling Checklist
- 8 Must Watch Homeschooling TED Talks
If you are looking for a little extra to help you get started homeschooling, try my 10-Day Email Homeschool Bootcamp course for FREE.
I wish I could have had someone holding my hand and walking me through setting up my homeschool, so I am offering this Bootcamp to you for FREE! Simply subscribe to my email list and over the next ten days, I will walk you through everything you need to be confident in your homeschool.
Homeschool Beginner Bootcamp
Subscribe to Start Your FREE 10-Day Homeschool Beginner Bootcamp Email Course Today!