30 July 2012

The Eclectic Homeschooler

 Ah, one of the big topics of discussion among homeschoolers: methods.

Are you more Classically inclined?  Do you lean more toward Charlotte Mason's methods?  Do you subscribe more to Montessori style?  Do you enjoy teaching with unit studies?  Are you simply traditional?  Or are you an eclectic combination of more than one method?

When it comes to my own personal style, I am a healthy mix of Charlotte Mason, Classical, and more ....a true eclectic!

We have homeschooled our children from the beginning.  And while we had always known that we wanted to do that, when our oldest was about four years old I began researching in earnest all the ways of homeschooling.  I read several really good books on homeschooling, a favorite being So You're Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Welchel.  I liked this book because it introduces the reader to 15 different homeschool families, which means 15 different ways to homeschool.  Learning about so many different methods was very informative and helpful ...and also sometimes confusing since I'd not heard of them all before at that time.  So the research continued with more great books such as The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer and Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson.  These books are probably the two that have most-shaped my homeschool methodology.  Another book (by Karen Andreola) that has been very helpful is A Charlotte Mason Companion.  This book reinforced and expounded on ideas that I'd only read a little about, but was very interested in.

Thus here I am: the eclectic homeschooler.

What I have gleaned from Classical Methods:
I love the trivium!  This method is very much rooted in language and while I have not strictly followed all of the suggested curriculum for this method I do use some and loosely follow it.  We definitely do history, math, and grammar in this style.

What I have taken from Charlotte Mason's ideas:
I love her thoughts on surrounding children with a creative atmosphere that sparks learning.  I also love how she used nature studies and living books.  My children have nature journals that they love to add to when we are out and about.  We enjoy doing science together as a family and use a curriculum that is narrative in form and wonderful to read together (our history is like this, too).  I try to make sure my children are not reading "twaddle" but are reading good literature.  We also love our composer and artist studies throughout the school year.

Other methods I use:
I guess you could say that I incorporate a bit of the Montessori style in that I am always looking for ways to keep my son's hands busy for learning.  He is a very active boy and likes to learn by "doing" and anything hands-on works great for him.
Unit Studies are something that we occasionally use.  The way that a unit focuses on one single topic and yet brings out history, math, science, writing, grammar and more from that single topic is so much fun!  A great way to really learn about something.

The beauty of homeschooling is that it is so incredibly flexible and can be custom-tailored to fit your child's learning style.  A classroom can incorporate some of these methods as well, but must focus overall on what is best for the group as a whole.  Homeschooling, however, has the wonderful opportunity to work however works best for your teaching style and/or your children's learning style.  A true advantage!

So I hope you're not stressing over which method you should use.  Instead do a little research, read a few good books (I highly recommend the ones I've mentioned above), see if there are ideas out there that you may not have thought of but that sound like they may work well for your family.  And feel free to tweak those ideas.  That's what we homeschoolers do best:)

This week I am participating in the Schoolhouse Review Crew Back-to-Homeschool Blog Hop with over 70 other homeschool bloggers!  I hope you'll click over today to read more about homeschool methods.



April said...

I love how you pick the best from each method. I don't know why, but I never had you pegged as an eclectic. I guess you seem so together and organized and eclectic tends to lend itself to disorganization and fly by the seat of your pants-- at least in my case! Ha ha.

Tonia said...

I've read a bit of Charlotte Mason's methods and was slightly overwhelmed. But I really like how you've added some of her ideas but have made it your own.

Homeschooling6 said...

Enjoyed your post, I too have cherry picked from the different methods and philosophies. At Homeschooling6 I have found we like the structure of schooling at home but do add great literature, copywork and so forth.

Tiffany said...

I love this. I cherry picked from the same and the books you mentioned are some of my favorite. Well, I guess Education the Whole Hearted Child can't be one of my faves since I haven't finished it yet but I will. :)

Linda said...

I, too, am an eclectic homeschooler. We use Time4Learning as our core curriculum because it gives us a great basis to learn other things. I think the pick and choose idea of homeschooling is the best because each child is different, and each year is different. In order to give them what they need to learn their best, sometimes you need to think outside of the box. Thanks for sharing how it works in your homeschool!

Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

Thanks for sharing! My methods are actually all over the place, but very similar to yours :) We pull from many different methods as well, to end up with something that works for our family and our children.