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View Full Version : Just What is Eclectic Homeschooling, anyhow?



Theresa Holland Ryder
09-02-2010, 09:54 AM
Some homeschoolers I know seem to think I'm an eclectic homeschooler because I don't use a curriculum in a box type program. I know I'm not an unschooler; the unschoolers I've met think of me as the oppressive overlady of overly structured learning! We follow a Well Trained Mind/Classical model, adapted to fit our family and the kids' needs.

I realized that I tend to equate eclectic with unschooling, and maybe that really isn't what eclectic is. But I'm pretty sure it's not simply anyone who didn't buy curriculum in a box.

dbmamaz
09-02-2010, 10:07 AM
I did see one article somewhere that equated eclectic w unschooling, and I was VERY offended! IMO, eclectic means you use a bit of this and a bit of that - not classical, not all unit studies, but definitely NOT unschooling!

http://www.homeschooldiner.com/guide/eclectic_homeschooling.html is where I first got my ideas from. I cant find the article that annoyed me by saying unschooling was the same as eclectic. But . . . i know that for me, radical unschooling is what I think of when I hear the term unschooling, so maybe non-radical unschooling is closer to eclectic.

Shoe
09-02-2010, 10:27 AM
Some homeschoolers I know seem to think I'm an eclectic homeschooler because I don't use a curriculum in a box type program. I know I'm not an unschooler; the unschoolers I've met think of me as the oppressive overlady of overly structured learning! We follow a Well Trained Mind/Classical model, adapted to fit our family and the kids' needs.

I realized that I tend to equate eclectic with unschooling, and maybe that really isn't what eclectic is. But I'm pretty sure it's not simply anyone who didn't buy curriculum in a box.

I call myself eclectic because I tend to pick and choose from a variety of methods and curriculum materials. Maybe it's just a synonym for "indecisive"?

hockeymom
09-02-2010, 10:45 AM
LOL Shoe! I like that! :) (fits us so well!)

StartingOver
09-02-2010, 10:48 AM
I have followed The Well Trained Mind for years, I identify our homeschool as rigorous classical.

But we are eclectic, and classical, and boxed. I use TWTM as a guide, not all of her suggestions, SOTW, WWE, FLL, OPGTR. I use Sonlight for literature for the most part and plug the history into the 4 year cycle, and science rearranged TWTM style. I also use Saxon, Math Mammoth, Young Scientists Kits, Song School Latin, All About Spelling, & tons more.

Eclectic - to me means that you use curriculum from different publishers or methods.

LMAO Shoe !!!

Busygoddess
09-02-2010, 11:13 AM
The meaning of Eclectic Homeschooling seems to depend on the person speaking about it. I've known homeschoolers who very obviously used a school-at-home approach - very scheduled, specific times for each subject, all text books & work books, a schoolroom in their house complete with desks, etc. However, because they used boxed curriculum from more than just one publisher, they considered themselves Eclectic Homeschoolers. In fact, eclectic choice in materials seems to be the basis of most people's decision to call themselves Eclectic Homeschoolers, even if they specifically follow just one method. Though, at best, I would call that Eclectic __________ (fill in the blank with method of choice). Other's call themselves Eclectic Homeschoolers because they use just one method, but don't strictly stick to the 'guidelines' of that method - in other words, they tweak the method a bit to fit their kids.

Personally, I would say that an Eclectic Homeschooler is one who uses many methods or aspects of many methods. For many, this means using different methods for different subjects - School-at-Home for Math & Language Arts, Unit studies for Social Studies & Science, Child led for Music & Art, etc.
I consider myself Eclectic because I use aspects of different methods. I don't use just one method, and I don't use different methods for different subjects. I've taken parts I liked from various methods, combined them with my own ideas, and created a method completely different from all others.

I've learned to view Eclectic Homeschoolers on a spectrum. At one end are the ones who are eclectic in material choice only, sticking to one method, like the Eclectic Shool-at-Homers I mentioned above. In the middle are those who use different methods for different subjects. The other end of the spectrum is the people who use aspects or parts of methods, combining to create something entirely new.

Unschoolers are different from Eclectic Homeschoolers. Though Unschooling does have it's eclectic elements. The main difference is this: Eclectic Homeschoolers choose the subjects & materials they use. They may involve the child in the choices, they may not. Either way, the adult is in charge of the child's education. Unschoolers leave the choice entirely up tp the child. It is child led. The parents don't force certain subjects or materials. The child is in charge of their own education.

I also see Homeschooling methods on a spectrum with the School-at-Home approach at one end & Unschoolers at the other. Eclectic falls somewhere in the middle.

MamaB2C
09-02-2010, 11:28 AM
I consider myself Eclectic because I use aspects of different methods. I don't use just one method, and I don't use different methods for different subjects. I've taken parts I liked from various methods, combined them with my own ideas, and created a method completely different from all others.

This. This is exactly why I call myself eclectic. I am not classical, though I do some literature based projects. I am not school at home in that I don't use packaged curriculum. I don't pay any attention to others' timelines. I am not an unschooler, though some subjects are and will be unschoolish. I do a lot of self created stuff because it adds variety or if I think DS needs a different approach.

I set our goals and I find resources and materials I think will help meet them....they may come from vastly different methods and philosophies.

Riceball_Mommy
09-02-2010, 01:29 PM
We use a box curriculum but I think we are still eclectic. I don't strictly follow the Calvert curriculum, I customize and substitute things. We also add on workbooks from Kumon and now Disney School Skills, we also use some online game site like Starfall as well. I take a bit of a unschool approach to somethings with infusing a bit of child-led learning. We pick out lots of extra books on many different topics and add on some science kits as well.
I'm not sure if we'd strictly be defined as eclectic but we definitely aren't as orderly and structured as you'd expect a box curriculum user to be, I suppose.

farrarwilliams
09-02-2010, 08:32 PM
Agreed with how others have defined it. Just wanted to add that I think eclectic homeschoolers often get the short end from all sides. The really formal curriculum people think we're too wishy washy and disorganized. The unschoolers think we're killing our kids' love of learning.

dbmamaz
09-02-2010, 09:22 PM
more like the classicals think we are giving our children a substandard education and the unschoolers think we are stick-in-the-muds, talking about curriculum and not willing to get together for free play 24-7 or let the kids stay up past midnight for mid-week parties. sigh.

Melissa541
09-02-2010, 11:01 PM
the oppressive overlady of overly structured learning!


I want this on a t-shirt. :)

I say we're eclectic because we don't follow any one certain style. Indecisive fits, too. :)

AshleysMum
09-03-2010, 02:29 AM
Some homeschoolers I know seem to think I'm an eclectic homeschooler because I don't use a curriculum in a box type program. I know I'm not an unschooler; the unschoolers I've met think of me as the oppressive overlady of overly structured learning! We follow a Well Trained Mind/Classical model, adapted to fit our family and the kids' needs.

I realized that I tend to equate eclectic with unschooling, and maybe that really isn't what eclectic is. But I'm pretty sure it's not simply anyone who didn't buy curriculum in a box.

Ok Theresa, you're starting to scare me. I mean, you sound like ME. Poor thing LOL. We are eclectic as well because we just kinda do our own thing. Ash won't have unschooling, so we do things. We also follow the Well Trained Mind but our curriculum is well, whatever. I think we define eclectic as anything that doesn't fit any predefined category. Kind of a catch all, I think. I do not think it is unschooling at all, not in the slightest. That has its own label.

Kylie
09-03-2010, 08:57 AM
This. This is exactly why I call myself eclectic. I am not classical, though I do some literature based projects. I am not school at home in that I don't use packaged curriculum. I don't pay any attention to others' timelines. I am not an unschooler, though some subjects are and will be unschoolish. I do a lot of self created stuff because it adds variety or if I think DS needs a different approach.

I set our goals and I find resources and materials I think will help meet them....they may come from vastly different methods and philosophies.

Yep this is pretty much about us too....although I felt akin to Shoe's 'indecisive' comment hehehe.

I do think, just like the "What Makes You Secular Question" you are going to get just as many varied responses to this one.

However , after 3 years of this I am still trying to fathom why homeschoolers need to 'pick' on other homeschoolers at all. Why can't we just all realise that we are doing what we feel is best for our kids, period.

wild_destiny
09-03-2010, 09:54 AM
Excellent point, Kylie. "Why do homeschoolers need to pick on other homeschoolers at all." Personally, I consider us to be eclectic because we do not follow any one strict method fully. :)

farrarwilliams
09-03-2010, 11:30 AM
However , after 3 years of this I am still trying to fathom why homeschoolers need to 'pick' on other homeschoolers at all. Why can't we just all realise that we are doing what we feel is best for our kids, period.

Totally agreed. It's especially bizarre to me when the really formal curriculum people accuse unschoolers of educational neglect and say they should be arrested and crazy stuff like that. Maybe you don't want to be best friends, but if you want the right to school how you think is best, then you should respect others' rights in the same way.

Shoe
09-03-2010, 11:33 AM
Totally agreed. It's especially bizarre to me when the really formal curriculum people accuse unschoolers of educational neglect and say they should be arrested and crazy stuff like that. Maybe you don't want to be best friends, but if you want the right to school how you think is best, then you should respect others' rights in the same way.

I completely agree with you on this.

fbfamily111
09-03-2010, 03:46 PM
I call myself eclectic because I tend to pick and choose from a variety of methods and curriculum materials. Maybe it's just a synonym for "indecisive"?

Oh, thats so me!
We are without a doubt eclectic. I use textbooks, and reference books as a starting point. But I don't use any curriculum. I did in the beginning consider a boxed set(way to expensive). I was afraid of HS'ing, and unsure of myself. This our 3rd year, we chucked all traditional textbooks. But we are not unschoolers. I mean I plan each day out. There's assigned reading, writing, math, ect... I feel so much better this year about what we're learning. There's more depth to it. And I love the fact that we can take as long or as little time on each thing as WE want too.

Wilma
09-05-2010, 08:39 AM
We are eclectic. My main goal is to get my kids to be independent learners. A big problem in schools, IMO, is that the kids are constantly spoon fed info and they view education as a finite endeavor. Whatever accomplishes the goal of fostering independent learning is what we use. However, because of our co-op situation, we have to stick to one thing, which right now is unit studies. But I definitely prefer variety.

Maybe we are not eclectic so much as easily bored.

Rebecca in Texas
09-13-2010, 12:52 AM
I have followed The Well Trained Mind for years, I identify our homeschool as rigorous classical.

But we are eclectic, and classical, and boxed. I use TWTM as a guide, not all of her suggestions, SOTW, WWE, FLL, OPGTR. I use Sonlight for literature for the most part and plug the history into the 4 year cycle, and science rearranged TWTM style. I also use Saxon, Math Mammoth, Young Scientists Kits, Song School Latin, All About Spelling, & tons more.

Eclectic - to me means that you use curriculum from different publishers or methods.

LMAO Shoe !!!



Okay now what is "rigorous" classical?? I've never seen that term in anything I've read.

InstinctiveMom
09-13-2010, 03:05 AM
I call myself eclectic because I tend to pick and choose from a variety of methods and curriculum materials. Maybe it's just a synonym for "indecisive"?

LOL - yes, I think that might be true in our case as well :)



Personally, I would say that an Eclectic Homeschooler is one who uses many methods or aspects of many methods. For many, this means using different methods for different subjects - School-at-Home for Math & Language Arts, Unit studies for Social Studies & Science, Child led for Music & Art, etc.
I consider myself Eclectic because I use aspects of different methods. I don't use just one method, and I don't use different methods for different subjects. I've taken parts I liked from various methods, combined them with my own ideas, and created a method completely different from all others.



I tend to agree with Brandi. We use aspects from many methods - CM, WTM, 'school at home', unschooling... it depends largely on what our needs are for the day and what we have planned (and if we follow that plan or chuck it in favor of something else). We also have tweaked our curriculum about over 6 weeks, sometimes after only a couple of weeks; it really depends on how it's working for the boys.
~h

dbmamaz
09-13-2010, 10:18 AM
I would assume rigorou classical just means she works her kids hard and expects a lot from them. The opposite of relaxed (i'm relaxed . . maybe too relaxed .. )

StartingOver
09-13-2010, 10:22 AM
Okay now what is "rigorous" classical?? I've never seen that term in anything I've read.

Well we are strict The Well Trained Mind users. And even beyond that really. We do Latin from K-12. I require at least 2 other languages along the way. We learn some Greek. We read the classics. We use a 4 year cycle for History and Science. I follow the Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric stages. It is more of an old fashioned style of education.

Most will take parts and pieces of the classical.

Most would call us over structured. Not when the kids are this little. But by 3rd we get really serious.

WendyW
09-13-2010, 08:15 PM
The really formal curriculum people think we're too wishy washy and disorganized. The unschoolers think we're killing our kids' love of learning.

I sometimes wonder if the hyper-schooling and unschooling families I know are actually as critical of me as I feel of myself when I compare notes with them. It can really tug at my insecurities that my kid isn't speaking fluent Latin while playing six instruments at the age of 8 like so-and-so's kids. Or that my son isn't pursuing a research project on phytoplankton on his own initiative while starting a theater group on the side like the other so-and-so's kids.

Is it so wrong for a homeschooled kid to be average, and do average kid things, and progress at an average pace?

In any case, eclectic for me means that we follow a book for one subject, take a class with other kids for one subject, use a computer-based curriculum for another, and sort of un-school for the rest.

StartingOver
09-14-2010, 08:57 AM
I sometimes wonder if the hyper-schooling and unschooling families I know are actually as critical of me as I feel of myself when I compare notes with them. It can really tug at my insecurities that my kid isn't speaking fluent Latin while playing six instruments at the age of 8 like so-and-so's kids. Or that my son isn't pursuing a research project on phytoplankton on his own initiative while starting a theater group on the side like the other so-and-so's kids.

Is it so wrong for a homeschooled kid to be average, and do average kid things, and progress at an average pace?

In any case, eclectic for me means that we follow a book for one subject, take a class with other kids for one subject, use a computer-based curriculum for another, and sort of un-school for the rest.

Wendy, every child is individual. The beauty of homeschooling is being able to meet their needs and interests.

Busygoddess
09-14-2010, 09:27 AM
I sometimes wonder if the hyper-schooling and unschooling families I know are actually as critical of me as I feel of myself when I compare notes with them. It can really tug at my insecurities that my kid isn't speaking fluent Latin while playing six instruments at the age of 8 like so-and-so's kids. Or that my son isn't pursuing a research project on phytoplankton on his own initiative while starting a theater group on the side like the other so-and-so's kids.

Is it so wrong for a homeschooled kid to be average, and do average kid things, and progress at an average pace?

In any case, eclectic for me means that we follow a book for one subject, take a class with other kids for one subject, use a computer-based curriculum for another, and sort of un-school for the rest.

The completely honest answer is that, yes, some of those moms are probably judging you. Just like there are plenty of people judging them.

There is nothing wrong with average kids, doing average things, progressing at an average pace. Every child is different, works at their own pace, has their own interests, etc. There is nothing wrong with kids not learning an instrument (or more than one), not learning several languages, not taking 17 extra-curricular classes, etc. As long as you aren't holding your kids back or pushing them too hard or fast, there is nothing wrong with the pace your kids are going.

LJean
09-14-2010, 10:02 AM
I call myself eclectic because I tend to pick and choose from a variety of methods and curriculum materials. Maybe it's just a synonym for "indecisive"?

[email protected]! That would fit me to a tee.

Theresa Holland Ryder
09-14-2010, 05:32 PM
Is it so wrong for a homeschooled kid to be average, and do average kid things, and progress at an average pace?


Homeschooling, like someone said recently, is like Lake Woebegone. All the children are Above Average, whatever that means. I'm sure there are genius kids doing astounding things in homeschooling situations, but co-op classes taught me that a lot of people chat their kids up as being the next Stephan Hawking or Yo-Yo Ma when in fact they are bright, normal kids. Your kids, on the other hand, since you think they're average, are probably going to grow up to discover the cure for cancer or solve the energy crisis! Because you're letting them be themselves and not forcing all kinds of crazy, unrealistic expectations on them. :)

Dad The Baker
09-28-2010, 02:26 AM
Wow. I am bedazzled... like, I live in this little sheltered world I created, not knowing that there are so many types/sub types/sub type types of different types of typical homeschoolers.

Almost like a religous experience <giggle>.

I am a totally disorganized, shoot from the hip, if I dont have someone hold my hand and tell me what to do homeschooler; my 5th grader would probably still be in kindergarden. That is why I go with the K12 curriculum, cause they hold my hand and walk me to where I "need" to go. I tried Gorman last year....not my cup o' tea.

Just funny that there are so many labels... I just wanna get my kids done skoolin so they can get the distraction over with and move onto their real lives ;)

Red Oak Lane
10-24-2010, 10:19 PM
Hmmm...I always think that eclectic means you can take a little from here a little from there...for instance, I like the idea of starting history from the beginning, so my husband actually did some research and came up with some lessons on evolution. Then, to present both sides, I am using Story of the World and presenting, I guess, creationism so the kids get both philosophies and they can eventually decide for themselves. For Writing, I like how loose Writing Strands is...for spelling we use Sequential Spelling, for Math we like Teaching Textbooks...we sometimes do Unit Studies, just whatever seems to work...a little classical, a little Unit Studies...today we took a Leaf Walk, so I guess there is a little Waldorf in there. I don't want to pick one style and say, "I'm Classical" or 'Charlotte Mason"...I would rather do a little of everything depending on what we feel we need to learn what we want to learn. :cool:

Isabel
10-28-2010, 07:23 PM
I think that the confusion over how to define various kinds of homeschooling/unschooling has arisen because there are two different aspects: the educational philosophy that is being followed, and the educational practices, which includes the amount and kind of structure, resources chosen, and so on. These aspects are related but not identical. For example, the unschooling philosophy generally entails trusting the student to direct her own education and acting as a facilitator rather than a traditional teacher. However many unschoolers do use structured curricula, especially in the older age range, and some unschoolers will even be studying in a way that looks more strict than most home schoolers.

I call our family eclectic because we have researched many different approaches and taken what we like from each of them.

Sam
12-31-2010, 04:57 PM
I consider myself eclectic because I do a little of everything BUT follow the book. I'd consider anyone who gets curriculum/methods from several different ideas/places to be eclectic, whether it's making your curriculum from scratch and completely by hand (like myself) or buying curriculum from different publishers.

Right now our approach is school-at-home in the sit down, do your work theory (we're still new HSers) but will evolve as we go. I've gone through books for several methods, but didn't like any one of them enough to follow a specific one. Also, I'm to cheap to buy a boxed curriculum lol

Kell
12-31-2010, 10:15 PM
I've often used the term "eclectic" to describe our preschool years, because we simply used anything and everything that we felt would interest and educate the boys. The very definition of eclectic is "selecting or choosing from a variety of sources," so, personally, I consider anything that is not pre-packaged/planned out for you to be eclectic.

Theresa Holland Ryder
01-03-2011, 09:09 AM
If you read down the definition of "eclectic" a bit, #3 is "not using any one system as of philosophy, medicine, etc., but selecting and using the what are considered the best elements of all systems".

Which sounds like what a lot of you are doing, and more power to you! :) It is not, however, what those of us who are following a certain homeschooling philosophy and choosing our materials from a variety of publishers and material sources are doing. Even formal public schools buy curriculum from a variety of publishers. Pedagogy and curricula are not identical.

You don't have to buy all your books from one press in order to be a Classical style homeschool, or a Waldorf style homeschool or a Charlotte Mason style homeschool or a Sudbury style homeschool or a Circle style homeschool. Anyone who tells you differently is probably trying to suck money out of your pocket.

This discussion has been great. It's really helped me synthesize how to explain why we are not eclectic homeschoolers. And I don't mean that as any criticism of eclectic homeschoolers. I think everyone should homeschool according to their children's unique needs and the dictates of their own conscience. If that means eclectic homeschooling at your house, yay!:cool:

Kell
01-03-2011, 02:58 PM
I completely agree. My previous reference to pre-planning/packaged was an "or" rather than an "and" statement. While our preschool time with my oldest child was eclectic, our schooling now is decidedly not. We are following TWTM. Though we follow it, we select our own spines. In no way does that make us eclectic, as it is planned out for us. Our path is plotted. We know where we are going, in which order, and by which method we will get there.

Perhaps, that is why unschooling seems often to equate with eclectic. It is quite the opposite of the structured classical approach in the sense that there is no specific path laid out in one spot for reference. If someone says they follow TWTM, you get a very good sense of what they're doing (and likely when they're doing it), but if someone is using an eclectic method, you have no idea what is going on in their hs, unless they tell you.

I've also found this to be quite enlightening, as I've often tossed around the word, without thinking it through too deeply.