I know so many homeschool moms who have chosen the path of eclectic homeschooling. Although,. . . I’m sure most of them would tell you that it felt like it was the other way around: eclectic homeschooling kind of found THEM.
Most homeschoolers begin their journey looking through the abundant and wonderful options of complete, packaged, homeschool curricula. Many of them even start there, giving it a go for a year, or two, or three. But at some point, those of us who call ourselves “eclectic homeschoolers” veered off that path. (Or we never even set foot on it at all.)
At some point, we decided to buy one piece of one curriculum, and another piece of a different one. Next thing you know, we’re buying various pieces from all over the place. Without making a conscious decision to BE an eclectic homeschooler, we find ourselves knee deep in it.
Whether you jumped into eclectic homeschooling with both feet from the beginning or wandered off into it slowly,. . . there will probably come a time when you question whether it mightn’t be easier or better to just buy the big all-in-box of curriculum.
Or maybe, you’re still using the all-in-one curriculum and you’re wondering if it wouldn’t be better to jump ship and piece your material together yourself.
Whatever the case, let me tell you: there are many great reasons to embrace eclectic homeschooling.
101 Reasons to Embrace Eclectic Homeschooling
Eclectic homeschooling brings freedom.
- You have freedom to choose different pieces, which means,
- you can choose pieces across grade levels (a more advanced piece in one subject and a less advanced piece in another,) or
- choose pieces from various publishers, and
- build a curriculum best suited for your child’s learning style, strengths, and weaknesses.
- It also means you can have more control over the material studied;
- you can choose the literature you read in language arts,
- and choose the area of science that will be studied each year.
- You get to choose pieces that are faith-based,
- or not,
- or a little of both. However you please.
Eclectic homeschooling allows you to specifically personalize each child’s education.
While the ability to add various electives and learning methods is one of the perks for all homeschoolers, if you aren’t tied one curriculum set and everything that comes in the kit, you can choose electives and material styles that aren’t available through just one publisher.
- You can choose the same language arts material for all of your children
- and different math curriculum for each kid based on their learning styles.
- You can choose individual curriculum pieces for math and language arts (which they work on individually,)
- and group curriculum for history (which you all study together.)
- With eclectic homeschooling, you can easily adjust for skill level and ability,
- Choosing materials that challenge your children without over-stressing them,
- or choosing materials that push and stretch your children who like to be challenged.
- Each of your children can work with different kinds of materials at the same time (with more or less reading, more or less writing, more or less hands on projects, etc.)
- With eclectic homeschooling, it’s easier to increase the areas that interest them: science, or history, or art.
- When eclectically homeschooling high school, you can easily build a high school education that will prepare your children for the college, trade school, or training courses they will take for the career fields they are interested in.
But eclectically homeschooling is about more than books and electives, it’s about styles and methods, too!
Eclectic homeschooling encourages flexibility.
- You can choose bits and pieces from different homeschooling methods.
- Ban twaddle and dive into living books like Charlotte Mason suggests, if that’s something that speaks to you.
- Study Latin and follow the Trivium like the Classical homeschoolers, if that’s right up your alley.
- You can do a unit study together,
- teach your kids through Notebooking,
- and have workbooks, too.
- If you’d like, you can add some Interest-led Learning,
- and maybe even dip your toes into the pool of Unschooling.
- While choosing bits and pieces from various methods, you can create your own special “blend” of homeschool that is just right for your family.
- And as your kids grow and change, your homeschool blend can change, too!
Another reason to embrace eclectic homeschooling: it’s frugal.
If I were to purchase boxed curriculum for my three kids each year, I’d spend $600-$900 dollars! I never spend that much on curriculum each year. Never ever.
- For many reasons, eclectic homeschooling is usually cheaper than buying all-in-one boxed curriculum for each child.
- With eclectic homeschooling, you can choose to buy more non-consumable items which can be re-used by younger siblings.
- From McGuffey readers, to Life of Fred math books, there are many WONDERFUL, non-consumable, hard-backed curriculum options to stock your shelves with without breaking the bank.
- When you work on through one unity study or textbook together, you are saving money.
- Every time you read-aloud to your children from one copy of some great piece of literature, you are saving money there, too.
- As you buy these reusable, non-consumables, a few at a time, you are building a homeschool library of great resources that can be used again and again.
- The purchasing cost for these can be spread out in pieces instead of needing to be spent all at once.
- Many of these types of materials can be purchased used.
- You can shop around (between different curricula, choosing the cheaper of two similar materials,) and comparison shop (between the various websites where you can purchase a material, to see who has the best prices.)
- Some pieces available out there are indeed quite pricey (like a certain popular spelling curriculum, and a certain popular writing curriculum,) but there are cheaper curriculum choices that are highly praised by others, and even if you were to purchase something more expensive, you can balance that out by saving money everywhere else.
Sometimes eclectic homeschooling can be completely free:
If you choose or need to, you can eclectically pick and choose from all sorts of free curricula and resources..
- You can find free history resources (see my post, Ten Free History Resources,)
- and free math resources (see my post, Ten Free Math Resources,)
- and free language arts resources (see my post, Ten Free Language Arts Resources.)
- Currclick.com sells a huge variety of lapbooks, unit studies, and other curricula–many of which are completely free!
- You can find LOTS of free things for holidays! Like these Free Valentine’s Day Resources, Free President’s Day Resources, Free Thanksgiving Resources, Christmas And Advent Study Resources, and this Homeschool Leap Year Study.
- Amazon offers MANY of the great classic novels for free on Kindle. (Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, King Arthur, Shakespeare, the Odyssey, and so much more.) If you don’t have a kindle, you can read them on your phone with the free Kindle App instead.
- Utilize your local library! You may be surprised to find that in addition to great reading material, they may also carry some textbooks and other teaching materials. Our has a set of McGuffey readers! Likewise, they’ll have books that can teach your kids to sew, knit, craft, cook, carve wood, or any other area they may have interest in. Most libraries also have occasional events for the kids that you can participate in. I recently learned that not all libraries are free like ours, but if you’re already paying for a membership then use it to the fullest extent!
- YouTube tutorials can teach your kids how to do all kinds of things. Look up science experiments to do, crafts to make, or learn how to do a new skill or hobby. Much of what my daughter has learned about art can be contributed to YouTube tutorials.
- Use Netflix or Hulu for school if you have it. If you’re already using television streaming of some sort, then use it to your schooling advantage. Documentaries have come a long way since I was a kid! My kids enjoy most of the documentaries we have found. There’s a wide variety of other educational shows, too, from pre-school, to art, to cooking. These make great supplements during the school day.
- For high schoolers, there’s Alison. Alison is similar to Linda.com (if you’re familiar with that,) except that it’s free to sign up for and use, you only pay at the end if you want an official certificate of some kind, but for your homeschool teenagers, you won’t likely want to go that far. Alison is definitely worth checking out!
Eclectic homeschooling can bring less waste and less guilt.
- Using more reusables and less consumables means less waste – literally. (I never know what to do with all those used books anyway.)
- If a book doesn’t work with one kid, you can save it for another.
- If you end up not liking a book at all, you can stop using without guilt and resell it (since it’s non-consumable.)
- Many of the popular choices for eclectic homeschooling (McGuffey readers, Mystery of History, Life of Fred, Apologia, and more) are easy to resell to recoup a little bit of your investment.
- If you incorporate a lot of living books, documentaries, YouTube videos, online games, and library books.. these things create no waste at all, and if you incorporate a lot of free printables and other free things, there’s no guilt if they don’t work with your kids. 😉
Eclectic Homeschooling *Might* Be More Fun For Your Kids
Because learning should be fun! Your kids might have more fun working through an all-in-one boxed curriculum. OR….
- Your kids MIGHT have more fun working through an eclectic variety of items chosen just for your family. You don’t know if you don’t try. 😉
- They might enjoy trying different homeschooling methods, like unit studies or lapbooks.
- Your children might like having a say in the kinds of materials and resources you choose for them (curricula with audio-books or with lots of experiments, for example.)
- They might squawk about doing read-alouds or group lessons at first but might come to love and look forward to the time together.
- Your children might enjoy school more if you tailor their supplements and electives in their areas of interest.
You will have the opportunity to experience great things with your kids as a direct result of your eclectic homeschool style:
You’ll experience great things with your kids either way, but there are some things we’ve seen because we school the way we do. (In no particular order.)
- I’ve seen a kid succeed in math when we found the right curriculum fit for her, after years of struggling. (Life of Fred Math)
- I’ve seen a “refusing reader” speed through three “reading grade levels” when he was ready, thanks to adjusting his reading program for a time, a good dose of patience, and the McGuffey readers.
- Our kids have had some pretty deep, theological or philosophical discussions together because of a group lesson on worldview, history, or the Bible.
- I’ve watched kids learning to work together on one project or experiment together.
- We’ve enjoyed the flexibility of MANY a school day at the park, toting along our group texts and read-alouds, and a workbook or two.
- We’ve rabbit-trailed and learned about many interesting things that caught our attention.
- Quite often, I’ve seen older kids helping younger kids with things like math, reading, and writing.
- We’ve schooled year round, or taken the summer off, or had long spring breaks, without the pressure of a more structured and rigid program. (Programs that have detailed daily lesson plans with specific page numbers and time increments stress me out anyway!)
- I’ve watched kids dig into books that interest them instead of what the language arts books told them to read, building their love of reading. One daughter only read books about horses for a while. She didn’t read about horses forever; now she is devouring the Series of Unfortunate Events.
- I’ve watched my kids come to enjoy read-aloud books I chose that they didn’t think they were going to like.
- Each of my children have been obsessed with learning about ONE topic for a while, and they had the freedom to do so.
- We easily added dual-credit courses to my daughter’s curriculum, swapping in a dual credit course for one or two subjects, while continuing the others with our own pieces.
- Our freedom to choose has given me the freedom to skip things we don’t want to read, do, or study, guilt-free.
- I believe that in some ways, our varied curriculum experiences and flexible approach has prepared my oldest daughter for college, in which each class is different, with different amounts of bookwork and computer work, and where each professor has different expectations. She has had a few normal struggles but has adjusted to overcome each one.
- Our tailored approach has not only allowed me to encourage each child in their interests, but has allowed ample room for training their hearts and pointing them to God (in the middle of every sibling conflict, while rabbit-trailing through the wonders of God’s creation, and so much more.)
I’ve Written About Eclectic Homeschooling Before. . .
Over the years, I’ve written about eclectic homeschooling, and why we do this, and how we do it, and why it works for us. I’ve also written about a few specific details like using one text for multiple ages, or how our school room works with our relaxed, eclectic approach. And of course, I’ve included a couple of helpful resources for the moms along the way, too.
- Eclectic Homeschooling (What is it?)
- Top 10 Signs You Might Be an Eclectic Homeschooler
- Methods (And Why I’m An Eclectic Homeschooler)
- 10 Pros and Cons of Eclectic Homeschooling
- How to Plan a Group Subject With One Text
- Why A Dedicated School Room Works With Our Relaxed, Eclectic Style
- The Only Three Things You NEED For Homeschooling (Everything else is fluff.)
- Q&A With Classic Housewife – A peek into our eclectic homeschool.
- 5 Ways to Stay Encouraged For Homeschool Moms (<– Because making decisions about curriculum and styles and methods while listening to the kids complain or bicker or whine can really drag you down.)
- 10 Helpful Books for the Homeschool Mom (<–Books that can help you find balance, reach your kids hearts, and understand the way your kids learn and think, as you’re developing your eclectic homeschool approach to learning day in and day out.)
But Don’t Take My Word for It…. Here are 15 More Thoughts on Eclectic Homeschooling:
- What Makes Me an Eclectic Homeschooler – Starts at Eight
- What Kind of Eclectic Are We? – Blessed Learners
- 10 Reasons Why We’re Eclectic Homeschoolers – Embracing Destiny
- Our Homeschool Methods – Finding Joy in the Journey
- Peek Into An Eclectic Homeschool – Finding Joy in the Journey
- Eclectic Homeschooling: Learning A La Carte – The Unlikely Homeschool
- How an Eclectic Homeschooler Uses Workbooks – The Unlikely Homeschool
- Eclectic Homeschooling – Rock Your Homeschool
- How to Homeschool Middle School – Why, Eclectic, of Course! – Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool
- Why Eclectic Method Works Best – Renee at Great Peace
- Eclectic Homeschooling: Does Doing What Works Really Work? – As We Walk Along The Road
- The Eclectic Homeschool Method – The Homeschool Post
- 20 Minute Homeschool Schedule (How one eclectic homeschooler gets things done.) – Adventures in Mommydom
- What Is Eclectic Homeschooling and Why Does It Work For Us? Kathy’s Cluttered Mind/The Family Table
- 10 Reasons for Our Eclectic Homeschooling – Real Life At Home
Reason Number 101 to Embrace Eclectic Homeschooling: Embrace it if it works for your family!
If you’ve ended up here, but you’re second guessing yourself for no good reason–don’t! If it’s working for your family, then go with it. Make this homeschool journey distinctly yours. There’s no “right way” or “wrong way” so you aren’t going to mess it up!
We’ve tried a lot of things along the way and found a lot of things we love. To take a look at our favorites, check out my Curriculum Page.
*This post is a part of the iHomeschool Network “101 Reasons” series. For more “101 Reasons” lists on a variety of homeschooling and family topics, visit 101 Reasons at iHomeschool Network.