What is the Eclectic Approach and How Can You Make Eclectic Homeschooling Work for Your Family?
When you start homeschooling, you may become overwhelmed with all the new homeschool terms and definitions. As you progress in this new language, you will learn that there are many approaches to homeschooling: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Multiple Intelligences, Thomas Jefferson, Unit Studies, Unschooling, Waldorf, and more. Many families tend to gravitate toward a particular approach or method as a foundation for their curriculums, daily schedules, and even learning environments. Others find that combining styles is the best approach for their family. These families are called “eclectic homeschoolers.” Find out more about this combination of styles and how it may be the right choice for your family:
|Pros and Cons of the Eclectic Method of Homeschooling||Tips and Eclectic Curriculum Materials and Resources|
|Eclectic Homeschooling Stories from Families|
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What is Eclectic Homeschooling?
After hearing all the buzz about different homeschool methods, you may wonder, “What is the eclectic approach to homeschooling?” Well, it really isn’t a particular style. Rather, it is a combination of styles in which a family takes what works and skips what doesn’t within each of the methods. Choices are made based on the family’s needs and the child’s strengths and challenges, as well as the philosophies, schedules, and budgets of the family. Each individual subject or even each task or activity within a subject may reflect a different teaching approach. The approach involves being comfortable straying from the intended use of a curriculum, modifying or adding to a curriculum, or even deciding to scrap a curriculum altogether. What results, then, is a combination of approaches that is truly unique to your family’s homeschool!
Here are some resources where you can find out more about eclectic homeschooling:
Eclectic Homeschool: Curriculum That Works | Time4Learning
Find out information about what eclectic homeschooling is, eclectic versus relaxed homeschooling, eclectic curriculum, eclectic homeschool online, and how Time4Learning can work within the eclectic homeschooling method.
Eclectic Homeschooling | Fearless Homeschool
“Eclectic homeschooling is the style that isn’t a style! Basically, it’s a catch-all style for people that develop their own way of homeschooling that doesn’t really fit into any other style.” Discover more about the homeschool buffet, the good and not-so-good points of eclectic homeschooling, and a course and e-books you can use to learn more.
The Eclectic Homeschooling Style | Great Homeschool Conventions
Stacey Lynn explores what eclectic homeschooling is, why to use it, advantages and disadvantages, as well as information about eclectic curriculum, resources, groups and co-ops, and more.
Pros and Cons of the Eclectic Method of Homeschooling
Like homeschooling in general, one of the main benefits of eclectic homeschooling is the flexibility. Parents can choose to collect curriculum, materials, and activities that meet their child’s learning profiles and then adapt their method of homeschooling as a child’s strengths and challenges and interests change—or even with the seasons. Parents can choose to focus on particular subject areas and support or challenge their child in different ways depending on those subject areas. For example, parents may choose a more structured curriculum for subjects in which their child may struggle and then a less structured curriculum for areas of interest or talent where the child may be self-motivated to explore. Further, because the family is picking only those pieces that work, the cost can be less than purchasing a full curriculum; that is, unless you find yourself purchasing too much for those “in case we have time” moments. Most of all, eclectic homeschooling embodies the notion that so many homeschoolers seek—the opportunity to customize a learning experience specifically for their child!
Some families find that purchasing a complete, pre-packaged or online curriculum is convenient and involves less planning. Eclectic homeschoolers willingly give up those benefits. The result is that they may find they are spending more time researching and planning, perhaps way before the homeschooling year begins, and they may be anxious that all the accountability lies with them. They are the ones who have chosen this particular set of learning materials and this combination of approaches. The results can be great, but eclectic homeschoolers may wonder, “What if they are not?” As a result of the unique combination of learning experiences, being an eclectic homeschooler necessitates constant observation and progress monitoring. Then parents can determine when it is right to change modes completely, modify specific materials, or celebrate success.
Tips and Eclectic Curriculum Materials and Resources
Interested in becoming an eclectic homeschooler? Sometimes families start in one approach and then gradually move toward the eclectic method. Whether you are purposely beginning on this path or finding yourself morphing into the eclectic homeschooler, you will find that there are information and resources out there to get you on the right track. How about an eclectic homeschool planner or a journal/study guide? Maybe you just want some good tips. Check out these resources:
180 Day Homeschooling Planner & Organizer $
By Sarah Janisse Brown (Author)
“Do-It-Yourself for the creative student: 180 days of delight-directed homeschooling for eclectic families. […] For 180 days of homeschooling fun! This is a wonderful and simple organizer that can be used by the child or the parent.”
Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling Handbook: Library Based Curriculum: Journal and Study Guide for Eclectic High School Students $
By Sarah Janisse Brown (Author) and Linda Beltran (Author)
“This is a huge book, almost 500 pages! Your student can make it last from anywhere from 6 weeks-a whole semester by completing 6-12 pages per day. This journal covers Science, History, English/Grammar, Nature Study, Spelling, Creative Writing, Economics and Finance; all you need to add is a math program. Designed to be used along with library books, audio books, tutorials, documentaries, and classical music. Allow your student to take pride in their work and find a love of learning with this beautiful handbook.”
Eclectic Homeschooling | Education Corner
Becton Loveless describes basic strategies for how to get started with eclectic homeschooling and differentiates eclectic homeschooling from unschooling. The author also lists some of the pros and cons of this method.
Homeschool Lesson Planning Notebook: 12-Month Undated Dot Grid Planner $
By Megan Van Sipe (Author)
“The Homeschool Lesson Planning Notebook uses a dot grid journal-inspired framework to guide you in planning and documenting your homeschool lessons. The templates are flexible and open-ended, so you can make it your own to fit your needs and the way you homeschool. The planner is designed as an undated, 12-month journal, with first an overview of the month, then the weekly schedule and lesson plan, and finally some pages to list out your daily work. There are 4 weeks in each month, which adds up to 48 weeks of school – plenty of space to document your school year even if you do school year-round.”
How to Homeschool with the Eclectic Method | Homeschool.com
“Eclectic method of homeschooling is a mixture of various approaches. This philosophy utilizes a combination of approaches to find what works. A little of this and a little of that.” Find out what the eclectic homeschooling method is, how it could fit your lifestyle, examples of eclectic “mash-ups,” and what a typical day is like for the eclectic homeschooler. Links to podcasts about homeschooling methods are also listed here.
Find more schedules to use for your eclectic homeschooling here:
Eclectic Homeschooling Stories from Families
While you may appreciate the advice of homeschooling and educational organizations, sometimes the best knowledge can come from those in the trenches—those who have already made the mistakes and then the corrections. Below are some homeschoolers who have thoughts to share about their own eclectic homeschooling:
101 Reasons Eclectic Homeschooling Works for Gifted Kids | Raising Lifelong Learners
Colleen has several gifted and twice-exceptional children and has found that being eclectic fits her family the best. Discover her list of why eclectic homeschooling worked for her family.
Support for the Eclectic Homeschooler
Designing “education à la carte” can be both intimidating and fun. What you need is a network of homeschoolers who are also using a DIY eclectic curriculum. Remember that there are local homeschool support groups out there to help, as well as online groups that are focused on eclectic homeschooling. See if any of these groups can provide assistance and a supportive community for your family:
Adventures in Eclectic Homeschool
“This group is meant to be incredibly inclusive! I don’t care if you’re a mom, dad, nanny, granny, or whatever. If you’re helping kid(s) literally any and all age(s) learn, I want to hear about it. I’m starting this group to share my kids’ experiences in our homeschool, and I hope you feel safe enough to do so as well. I personally use such a varied mix of no curriculum and 1,000 curriculums, and a lot of Pinterest. I’ve had so much trial and error, and I plan to continue experiencing that as my kids are still young. Please feel free to share whatever is working for you and your tribe.”
Chat: for Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers members
“Potential members need to be a member of the Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers group. […] While this is a SEA Homeschoolers affiliated group, it is not just a homeschooling group. SEA Homeschoolers Chat is a place for SEA members to have non-academic discussions that are considered off topic in our main group. This includes parenting, general life, and more. It is also for discussing the nonacademic, social, and emotional aspects of homeschooling.
Eclectic Homeschool Hub
Enter your email and become a member to access “innovative, creative, eco-friendly products, tools, and points to ponder.” Find games, blogs, media, resources, adventure, and community. Join the private Facebook group, which focuses on “homeschooling the eclectic way” here.
Eclectic Homeschooling NZ
“A New Zealand-based homeschooling group for those of us who are eclectic homeschooling, not following one philosophy solely, but […] pick the best bits from them all to suit our families during the different seasons of life. So, a bit school-at-home, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, unschooling, multiple intelligences, unit studies, internet, Thomas Jefferson….”
Eclectic Homeschool Resource Junkies
“The place for piecemeal curriculum lovers. We help with piecing a curriculum together from all manner of outlets. […] This is for all homeschoolers that use curriculum, but do so in a way that suits them, picking and choosing what they bring into their homeschool from a myriad of different resources. It’s a place to chat about all things curriculum, resources and how to piece together units of study, across all manner of topics. Homeschooling methods, philosophies and religious leanings play no role within this group.”
Eclectic, Secular, Progressive Homeschoolers of Middle Tennessee
“Born out of the Eclectic Homeschoolers of Middle Tennessee […] we recognized the need to create a truly safe space for Homeschoolers who celebrate the diversity of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, neurodiversity, religious expression, spirituality, ability, and lifestyle throughout all of humanity; this group is actively anti-racist and will not tolerate the intolerant. […] We are a secular group, meaning we are not overtly religious as a group. We are aware that our membership will be diverse and from all walks of life. […] We have included the word progressive in our name because we are actively anti-racist, pro-immigrant, and are allies to the LGBTQ+ community. Be prepared to be challenged.”
Gifted and 2e: for Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers members
“Potential members need to be a member of the Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers group. […] Secular Eclectic Academics Homeschoolers Gifted and Twice-Exceptional is a support group for parents who are homeschooling gifted and twice-exceptional students. Twice-exceptional students are students who have been identified as being gifted and having a learning disability. Most children are identified as gifted or 2E during testing either at a school or in a private setting. This is a support group and is a shoot-off of Secular Eclectic Academics Homeschoolers.”
MS & HS: for Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers Members
“Potential members need to be a member of the Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers group. […] This subgroup is a place for SEA Homeschoolers’ members to discuss and share secular materials and resources for homeschooling through the middle school and high school years, as well as a place of community support during the triumphs and challenges that come with educating older children.”
Preschool/Kinder: for Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers members
“We are a subgroup of Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers. You must be a member of our main group to join. […] This group is a place to talk about secular academics and other issues in regards to our youngest learners. It is also a place of positive community support while educating children from birth through first grade.
Pueblo Eclectic Homeschoolers
“The purpose of this group is to provide opportunities for our children, for us as parents and for our families to spend time together, to get to know each other better, to share wisdom and knowledge with each other, and to learn along with our children. […] As this is a homeschooling support group, we want to focus on doing just that ~ supporting each other in our homeschooling. […] We don’t require participation in activities, but since participation is sort of the point, it is recommended. Of course, if you can’t or don’t want to participate, you are most welcome to hang on our group page. There’s lots of good information shared daily!”
ROSE Homeschoolers: Relaxed, Older kids, Secular Eclectic Homeschoolers
“This is a kind, generous, inclusive, group for secular homeschoolers with older kids (8+). We are a relaxed group, and relaxed homeschoolers as that is defined by each of us. We are eclectic, in that we use anything and everything we can find to help our kids learn what they want to learn in the world. We welcome new and seasoned homeschoolers to the group. We provide a safe place for big (and sometimes tough) conversations and hope that if you haven’t yet found your “homeschool tribe” you’ll find a home with us.”
Secular, Eclectic, Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers
“Welcome to Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers! We are a friendly, diverse community. Our motto is, “Our differences are our strength.” We highly value the diversity each member brings to our group. The group is intended as a positive force, and only those people who want to have a constructive discussion should join. The group is open to people of any faith or lack thereof. We only discuss secular academics in this group. That does not mean people cannot discuss religion within education, but it has to be from the perspective of academics, and all resources discussed will be strictly secular.”
Do you have a simply eclectic homeschool? If you have good information or resources for eclectic homeschooling, please share your thoughts, advice, and suggestions in the comments below!