A Little Bit of Everything: Eclectic Homeschooling

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The Google dictionary defines it as: Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Eclectic.

I’d have to say this describes not only my homeschool philosophy and teaching style, but who I am as well. Let me back up and tell you a little about myself first so you can see how our homeschool ended up the way it did.

I guess you would classify me as a strong-willed child. Not so much when I was little, but definitely when I entered high school, college, and beyond. For the most part, and only through the grace of God, I kept my strong will in check. However, I can remember when I received my teaching materials for my first year in the classroom, I thought to myself, You want me to use these? No way. Of course I did. Yielding to authority is important. But this was the point at which I knew I enjoyed making up my own curriculum and/or finding other curriculum that I knew was fun, engaging, and worked.

One of my students made a model of Memphis, Egypt for his ancient history report.

One of my students made a model of Memphis, Egypt for his ancient history report.

This young lady chose to do a power point presentation.

This young lady chose to do a power point presentation.

Therefore I got a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. Throughout my teaching career I rarely ever cracked the Teacher’s manual except for checking papers. If I was unsure how to teach something, I’d read about it and then teach it in a fun, creative way. I am a creative thinker, and project oriented, and this thought process was reflected in the assignments that I handed out to my students. I knew that if I got bored with something, then they would probably get bored with it as well. But not all kids think like I do. Not all kids learn as I do. Some of my students ate up those projects and hands-on activities. Others begged for a test. By my fifth year teaching, if at all possible, I tried to allow three to four possible ways for the kids to be assessed. They would be allowed to choose. It worked well!

One of the saddest things, I think, is when I see public school kids taken to an amusement park for a field trip. There are other options. Field trips and life experiences teach children so much. I tried to find unusual field trips; and I always had plenty of board games, and even a huge bag filled with wooden blocks, for my 4th and 5th graders to play with.

Mammal pattern blocks

Mammal pattern blocks

And now I homeschool. We have started our third year, and I’m learning more everyday. There are many more seasoned homeschool families out there from which to glean information from, but I do want to share how I have begun our homeschool journey.

Because I taught in the classroom, I had the opportunity to teach different types of curriculum, different publishers, and use different approaches. I saw what worked in my classroom and what didn’t. I’ve also had the opportunity to freelance and actually write different types of lessons and activities for different educational entities (textbooks, computer programs, and online teacher plans).

Therefore, I’m eclectic. For our homeschooling purposes, I pull in, what I think, is the best of the best of what I have seen and experienced through the years, and what seems to be the best fit for my kids. I do use some textbooks. I also use journals, lapbooks, and living books. I use field trips, play dates, and church activities. I use projects that I find on-line from wonderful blogs and I use resources put out by public school teachers. We read A LOT of library books. I also use Unit Studies. And when I see one of my children is struggling, or bored, or frustrated…no problem! I just pull from a different publisher or approach and we try something else.

Writing Journal

Writing Journal

You can see from my 2013 Scope and Sequence that we really do a mixture of things. I’d also add that we get quite a few books, and music, on CD so we can car school as well. The kids have learned so much about classical music this way. Another thing we do, or don’t do really, is watch TV and/or videos. We just don’t take the time for it. The kids are lucky to receive about 1 hour of TV a week. The children also have a lot of what I call “open ended” toys. These are the toys that allow imaginations to flourish: legos, dramatic play costumes and props, a doll house, wooden blocks, and art supplies.

The world is so rich with ways to learn. Not just one way is best because God created each child for His unique purpose. But there is one thing that all children need: the day to day guidance and love from their parents. That truth will never change no matter which homeschool method you choose.

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