If you haven’t wanted to commit to a particular educational philosophy because you like so many things about so many different methods, chances are you’re using the relaxed eclectic homeschooling method. Many home educators want to remain flexible and don’t want to be tied down to a set curriculum or educational method. For this reason, they choose this relaxed method which you might find suits your homeschool also.
Relaxed home educators have it made. After all, they just do the parts of the curriculum that they like and disregard the rest. But, can you really do that and give your children a great education?
It’s easy to think that we need to make our children complete a certain number of hours in the textbook or do every page on the curriculum that they’re using. However, the relaxed method says to ‘keep it simple’.
Keeping it simple (like this teacher turned homeschool mom did) has a number of advantages. It reduces stress in your homeschool and keeps the learning environment light and, therefore, promotes interest-based-learning which increases motivation.
These are certainly advantages, but there are some possible disadvantages to this method. I say possible as the main disadvantage is related to personality. That is, people who love flexibility in their lives can live without a completely structured curriculum. However, those who rely on structure and box-ticking may find this method far from relaxing.
What is Eclectic Homeschooling?
Eclectic homeschooling is a medley of different educational approaches. You can pick and choose the parts of this method you love and discard the elements you dislike. Here are some of the different methods families might use in their eclectic home school:
- Traditional (School-at-home)
- Charlotte Mason
- Unschooling and the
- Montessori approach.
A great example of eclectic homeschooling is picking and choosing classical education elements you love. If you think your children will benefit from debating skills, but you don’t think they should read big Greek tomes or learn Greek or Latin, you can do the former and forget the latter tenets of this type of education. You can fill the spare time they would have spent learning Greek by doing nature walks or reading living books (both core elements of Charlotte Mason education).
School Inflexibility vs Home Education Flexibility
A lot of the time, the reason parents choose to homeschool is they want a little more flexibility in their family’s life. Perhaps you have a child with special needs and you’ve decided the school system isn’t giving them what they need – so you homeschool, hoping it will give them more freedom.
This freedom is hard to come by if you are locked into a rigid curriculum that doesn’t allow for much flexibility.
Homeschools can add more flexibility to their schedule as they don’t have to waste time as schools do in busywork (and the eclectic method allows you even more flexibility within your homeschool). That is, schools are not always able to make children do constructive work all day.
They cannot do this for many reasons:
- most children can’t concentrate for that long especially if the material is delivered in the traditional way it is in many schools today
- substitute teachers often don’t know the material being taught so they pad the day out with busywork – work that doesn’t benefit students
- other children misbehaving means well-behaved students spend much of their time twiddling their thumbs while the order is restored
- review work is set to benefit the slowest child the most; smart children become frustrated as they do the unnecessary review work
Busywork is inbuilt curricula fluff to pad a curriculum out. It wastes brilliant minds on monotonous, boring tasks, eventually killing the natural love of learning every child starts school with.
And this is where eclectic homeschooling enters like a knight in shining (un-fluffy) armour. It allows you to say, ‘No more fluff today. Let’s do something constructive!’
Why Love Eclectic Homeschooling
Relaxed eclectic homeschooling lets parents have flexibility in their routines and their children’s curriculum. This flexibility allows you to better adapt to the peculiar learning preferences you notice in your children.
For example, if you notice your children learn well using a certain program, but they don’t seem to respond to the way that program teaches mathematics, you can use a different method to teach them maths.
Children with giftings, special, or other learning needs respond particularly well to the eclectic method as it allows them time to spend on areas they want to spend more time on and allows them time to stop formal education when they need to.
For example, if a gifted child wants to spend extra time on an entrepreneurial pursuit, they can allocate the time accordingly. If a child with disabilities needs to spend a few weeks recovering from a bout of sickness, they can stop their work when they’re sick and resume it when they’re feeling better.
Eclectic Homeschooling Is Less Stressful for Homeschool Moms
Sitting back, relaxing, and going with the flow will always be less stressful than trying to do absolutely everything.
Some homeschooling curriculum packages are impossible to finish completely and you’ll stress out yourself and your child if you make them try to do it. You’ll both begin to feel like you’re drowning and question whether home education is the right choice for your family.
One of the top causes of stress for a homeschool mom is trying to replicate traditional school in their loungeroom (this is called traditional homeschooling, and I recommend caution if you use a curriculum that employs this method.)
While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional curriculum (in fact, I’d recommend it for new home educators), you don’t have to cross all your i’s and dot all your t’s if you use them. Just make sure your children have learned the concept, and then go out and play for the rest of the day.
The relaxed eclectic homeschooling method is a great choice for many families. It allows more flexibility than one might have if they were committed to studying a certain curriculum using a certain method. It also allows parents to choose the bits they love out of their favorite curriculum, but also include bits from other curricula they like. It gives gifted, disabled, and special needs children flexibility they rarely find in schools. It cuts through the fluff and reduces busywork. And that’s why many people choose relaxed eclectic homeschooling!