Posted by: katlea611 | March 20, 2008

Why We Are Eclectic Homeschoolers

This article by Michele Hastings is exactly how I feel about picking the Eclectic philosophy for my boys…

Eclectic Homeschooling
by Michele Hastings

Upon returning from our annual homeschooling convention this week-end, I ‘ve stepped into this week with a new sense of confidence and assurance. I am endowed with a new identity…that of an “Eclectic” Homeschooler. In the past, I was under the impression that the term eclectic meant using a little bit of this curriculum and a little bit of that. However, I’ve come to understand that the term actually refers to using a variety of “styles and philosophies” rather than referring to using various resources.

Upon embarking on this homeschooling adventure, I just assumed that it would be basically “school at home”. Within a very short time however, I came to the stark realization that my children wanted nothing to do with sitting down at the kitchen table to learn their letters and numbers! After struggling for awhile, I began to look for another way of doing this thing called homeschooling. I discovered the Moore Theory, sometimes referred to as “Delayed Academics”. The materials I read about this philosophy, (of waiting to teach academics until the child was “ready” between the ages of 8-12) began to make sense to me and we set out with new resolve to face the objections I would receive from well meaning friends and family, including other homeschoolers.

Meanwhile, I continued my own “self-education” about homeschooling and soon discovered the “Unschooling” philosophy. Parts of me were very receptive to this theory, (that kids learn best when they pursue their own interests and passions.) I could see evidence of that in my own children as I watched them teach themselves about fishing, coins and football. However, there was a constant nagging in my spirit that they would never really discipline themselves to learn those things that didn’t come naturally, like reading, writing and math. I continued to read and discovered Marilyn Howshall’s “Wisdom’s Way of Learning.” I incorporated a “table time” in amongst my childrens’ daily pursuits and some gains were made in the areas I’ve considered them to be weak. However, there remained a “battle” within me…the desire to allow my kids to blossom in their own time, learning that which they wanted to learn, eventually learning everything they “needed” to learn…and the lack of faith that they actually would!

Well, now I’ve claimed a “label” that I can really be at peace with. Eclectic homeschoolers use whatever works for each child…not letting any particular philosophy dictate what that is. They begin by taking a look at what their child is doing on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis…and deciding what educational value each activity has. Then, they fill in the gaps, using whatever resources seem to meet that particular child’s needs. I can have the best of both worlds! I can allow my kids to pursue their interests and passions and I can also not feel guilty about filling in the holes with tools and activities I deem important.

Everyone needs some sort of “framework” to work from. In fact, that seems to me to be the most reasonable starting place for homeschooling parents to begin from. When I began to homeschool my kids five years ago, I was presented with “styles” of homeschooling, but what we found ourselves doing, didn’t seem to fit into any one style or philosophy. I happen to be the type of person who seems to need to have things make sense. My desire to let the kids initiate and self-direct their own learning, seemed to be in constant conflict with my inner conscience, that feared that they wouldn’t learn those things I felt were so important but they didn’t yet see a need for. Some people have the faith to trust their kids enough to do this…but I don’t. I’ve been calling myself an unschooler because that seems to suit what we’re doing more than anything else..but there are still those areas I tend to “ride” my kids about…which keeps me from being a “true” unschooler. Now I have a new sense of confidence that both my kids’ goals and my goals will be met through Eclectic homeschooling. My thanks to Cafi Cohen who was our keynote speaker at this year’s convention. She brought order and peace to confusion and feelings of guilt, with her description of Eclectic Homeschooling!

© 2000 Michele Hastings. All rights reserved. Re-printed with permission.

Michele and her husband Ted, are the homeschooling parents of two bright, creative boys, ages 8 and 9. They live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and have been leading a “lifestyle of learning” since the children were born. Ted is a Developmental Assistant and also works part-time as a Sanitation Porter. Michele works part-time as a Hairstylist.

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