Eclectic Style Learning

Eclectic homeschoolMost homeschoolers eventually gravitate to eclectic style learning for their kids.  This means they pick and choose the best fits for their family from many styles of learning. School teachers eventually do the same thing for their classrooms.

It takes some experience and trial and error to figure out what the best is.  No one else can really do it for you since your families needs and preferences will be unique.  Some of the factors are:

  • hands on learning or ready made workbook?
  • activity based learning or fill in the blank?
  • print heavy or image heavy?
  • computer or print?
  • any expense is acceptable for the best or tight budget?
  • integrated creative curriculum or subject based curriculum?
  • highly academic or free-style learning?
  • very structured or flexible?
  • one student or many different ages at once?
  • more comfortable with science and math or do creative writing and art float your boat?

There are probably other factors as well.  All these taken into consideration mean that the math program I love may not be the one that you love and that’s okay.  Teacher/parents are all different and so are kids.

The first thing to determine is how much control and formality do you want the resources you choose have?  If you love creatively planning whole units and have the time to do it then don’t pick a text book approach.  If you have very little time between the six kids and your part time job and the church activities then you probably want some ready-made materials that kids can do independently.  If you manage to keep your house mostly clean, have a home-made dinner on the table every night, and know exactly how many dollars are in your bank account at any given time then you can deal successfully with a less organized free-form approach to homeschooling.  If on the other hand your life is helter-skelter and you can’t remember where the car keys are then you may want a more pre-packaged text book type approach.  If it’s not user friendly for the teacher than it makes no difference what the kids learning style is, ’cause you won’t do it at all.

The second thing to determine is how your kids learn.  This is best accomplished by picking something that fits the teacher’s style and if the kid doesn’t get it then switching to another program still in the teachers style.  Most kids will do great with a program that combines lots of reading with hands on projects, but some kids won’t.  Trial and error is the only way I know that really works.

In general the more comfortable you are with a subject the more you can go it alone.  Karen has grammar principles down and teaches her kids mini grammar lessons on the fly.  I buy workbooks for my kids to work through grammar and struggle with the teachers manuals trying to figure it out.  We are the opposite when it comes to science.  Whatever your weaker subjects are is where you want the more formal, pulled together program.

Even though it’s not possible to give you a perfect-for-your-family list of resources we will list what we think is the best available in each subject for each grade level in this printable PDF.

Because we feel like there could be even better stuff, we’re writing the Layers of Learning program which combines Classical, Charlotte Mason and Unit Study styles in the science, geography, history, and arts topics.  Layers of Learning is organized into a four year rotation, covering all the basics for academics and cultural literacy, with lots of different activities and reading suggestions for each topic, leaving lots of flexibility.  We think you’re really going to like it.


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