Monday, July 30, 2012

Mixed-up or Eclectic? {Back to Homeschool Blog Hop: Homeschool Methods}

My favorite term for the homeschooling method we use is "eclectic".  It sounds so quirky and yet high-class, doesn't it?  But in reality, I think "eclectic" is an easy way of saying that we take the aspects we like from a variety of other approaches, and blend them into something that work for us.

I found the following list of methods to choose from on The Hip Homeschool Moms "Ultimate Homeschool Blogroll":
  • Charlotte Mason/Living Books 
  • Classical Trivium Style (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric)
  • Eclectic (combination of two or more styles)
  • Montessori 
  • Traditional Textbook Style 
  • Unit Studies 
  • Unschool/Child-Led Learning 
Not surprisingly, the Eclectic blogroll list is by far the longest.  Many of us who have been at this homeschooling thing for a few years and have more than one student find ourselves combining methods or borrowing from another method or two along the way.  

We started out sort of traditional textbook style.  I bought a Grade One curriculum package from one publisher because without doing that I had no idea where to look or what I should be teaching.  The second year we were still using mostly traditional textbooks, but I chose them from several publishers. By the third year I was exploring unit studies and willing to go off on "tangents" if the boys were particularly interested in certain subjects.  I read The Well-Trained Mind, which explains the classical trivium style so thoroughly, and it encouraged me to continue using my combination of resources and inspired me to write my own science and history studies using the trivium framework.  Then I had a high schooler and I needed him to study more on his own while I gave more attention to the youngest kids.  So the balance of styles has changed over the years, and I won't be surprised if it changes again by the time my two youngest are both high schoolers.

  • Like Charlotte Mason, we believe in using "living books" more often than textbooks, we use narration and discussion in our studies, and we try to include art and music appreciation.
  • For a few years, we studied science and history using the four-year model employed in the Classical Trivium style - Ancient History along with biology; Medieval Times and Renaissance along with earth science and astronomy; Reformation to the Industrial Revolution along with chemistry; and Modern Times along with physics.
  • I was going to say we haven't ever used any Montessori method, but I suppose since we have what could be called a mixed-age classroom and do as much hands-on learning as we can, that might be considered as borrowed from Montessori!
  • we use traditional textbooks for math, for some of our Language Arts, and for some high school science.
  • we have been using unit studies in one way or another in each of the past 10 years.  Sometimes just one or two short unit studies during the year, sometimes more than that.  And there have been a couple of years that our social studies or science was all from unit studies.
  • unschooling and child-led learning seems to have lots of different definitions.  We don't unschool, but I do try to allow for as much input from the kids as possible when choosing resources and planning.  
What looks like a crazy, mixed-up collection of books and ideas and styles is what has worked for us, and I've learned that it's easier to describe it as "eclectic".

I guess I'm eclectic too.  I'm from a western Canadian city, but I now live in rural eastern America south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Beef is what's for dinner (I grew up in cattle country, after all) and I don't really do seafood, but we're all about barbecue and if I can find a way to deep-fry a food, I'll try it so I've got that southern food angle covered.  I listen to almost every type of music - classical to classic rock, and country to metal, and most everything in between.  I have trouble picking my favorite in any category, because there's so much I like that I simply cannot narrow it down.  Crazy and mixed-up? Or eclectic?

I'm sticking with eclectic, which means that I only have to stick with what works!

What works for you?  I invite you to share a virtual cup of coffee with me and comment, and enjoy a regular coffee break with me by following my blog.  Thanks for stopping by!


Fellow bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew talk about their Homeschool Methods today in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!


Stefanie said...

I've always wanted to go to your homeschool.

Patty said...

I agree that most of us land in the eclectic frame of mind! Love that you are willing to follow your kids lead!

Unknown said...

The way I see it, there's not going to be any one perfect curriculum that you can use for every subject, because nothing is perfect. That's why I'm most interested in Eclectic Homeschooling, because I can pick and choose from multiple curriculum and methods of teaching.

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