The Sweet Side of Eclectic Homeschool (The Benefits)
1.) You can tailor each child’s learning experience specific to their needs. Need a harder math and an easier grammar program? Or vice versa? Challenge your children in their strengths and provide extra support and time in their weaker areas.
2.) You have the ability to pursue your own interests. Unlike with an all in one boxed curriculum, you get to choose which history period or area of science you will study. We love our history and science programs so much I couldn’t imagine home school without them (Mystery of History and Apologia Science.)
3.) The ability to choose curriculum better suited for group learning. It would be very difficult to accomplish group learning solely with “grade leveled” curriculum. Choosing curriculum suitable for a range of grades, with a variety of age level activities and projects, enables us to all learn things together.
4.) The freedom to abandon things that aren’t working! You chose that (fill in the blank) curriculum, you can “UNchoose” it. Ditch it. Pick something else. Try again. There are no rules! The flipside is that you also get to experiment and try new things as you want, or set down the regular books and do a holiday themed unit study, or whatever!
5.) The ability to incorporate so many different methods of learning. Watch documentaries, go on nature walks, do notebooking, add some computer games, enjoy historical read alouds, play math games, sing songs, use flash cards, dress up, act out the lesson, or whatever!
The Not As Sweet Side of Eclectic Homeschool (The Downsides)
1.) You might save money (or you might spend more!) That boxed curriculum might look a little pricey at first but you might actually end up spending a little more by the time you piece together your own – especially if you fall in love with some super pricey science or spelling curriculum or something. Then again, you might not if you’re a a savvy shopper, and if you teach group learning for several subjects. Keep an eye on that shopping cart!
2.) You might end up with things on your bookshelves that you’re never going to use. Either from collecting too many things you’d like to try to fit in or from trying things that didn’t work out, your bookshelves might start to become a curriculum graveyard. Purge, purge, purge!
3.) You might save things “for the next child” and then find you can’t use that either. If you’re buying with learning style and ability in mind, you might find that reusing that expensive math curriculum isn’t going to work with the next child. It’s the risk you take, but it’s worth it in the end.
4.) You might find yourself wasting time on window shopping. If you don’t already know that you’re going to buy the next grade level boxed set of the xyz curriculum, you’re probably going to spend some time researching next year’s materials. Even if you already know that you *are* going to continue with certain publishers for many of your subjects, you might find the siren call of the catalogs and websites too irresistible.. you know.. just “to see what’s out there now.”
5.) It might take a while to find your particular style of eclectic homeschooling. With all of the possible methods to incorporate, the learning tools, the amazing variety in curriculum, you may have to spend a few years finding YOUR fit for YOUR family. But it’s like a recipe and once you find YOUR flavor of homeschool, the end results are so sweet!
What would you add?
*NOTE: I do realize that many of these also apply to other methods of homeschooling. I’m certainly not trying to knock any other methods – in fact, I draw from many of them myself. Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Study.. we enjoy many elements of these in our own flavor of homeschool. That’s what I love best about Eclectic Homeschooling. =)
Linked up with iHN’s Ten Weeks of Top Ten at Many Little Blessings.
Background Image Source: Colour Pencils by George Hodan
Thanks for sharing this, Amber. What a great way to list the pros/cons of schooling! Although we do use a set curriculum with MFW, we have learned how to add/subtract what works for us, especially with adding in MoH with our history in MFW. Love it!
Yes, Jackie, I have some friends who use MFW and do substitute some other things. I’ve heard really really great things about MFW.
Our one experience with an all in one box was a popular computer based 5th grade curriculum with language arts, math, science, history and bible. It was FINE. There was nothing WRONG with it. But I wouldn’t be able to use that with all the kids, and we much prefer doing bible, science, history, art and music together as a group. I love that. =)
Love this 5 and 5 list. You’ve covered things pretty well! I highly agree with all 5 of your Sweet Side points, and I’ve pretty much experienced all of the not-so-sweet side points too. It’s what makes this homeshooling journey so exciting and worthwhile!