Monday, March 10, 2014

W is for We do What Works for us

After posting about unschooling recently, I realized that I've never fully explained what I mean when I say that we are Eclectic Homeschoolers.

To start the post, I thought I'd see what the dictionary actually says the word, eclectic means.

1. selecting or choosing from various sources. . . .
3. not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine, etc., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.

WOW! No need to say anything else, that sums it up PERFECTLY! But of course, you know me, I WILL say lots more . . . it's what I do :)

There are so many great approaches to homeschooling. When the twins were preschool age, and asking to "do school", I discovered a fun, Waldorf preschool curriculum that focused on art and nature. PERFECT for little ones who want to "do school" but are still so little, and developmentally aren't ready for the logic and reasoning skills of academic work. We had great fun with it, and Little Bit has been enjoying that same curriculum now. In fact, the older girls often join us. Art and nature are awesome at any age!

As we got to the end of that curriculum, the twins were starting to be more ready for academic work, asking to learn to read, asking intelligent questions about the many historic sites we visited with their grandparents, etc. And so we stepped away from one specific approach and started just doing what works for us.

Over the years we've used "old fashion" things like McGuffy's Primer. We've pulled many ideas from Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, Classical education, Unit Studies, Notebooking, Lapbooking, etc. We also love using National Park Junior Ranger programs as a part of our school, and we happily set aside whatever else we might be doing if a field trip opportunity comes along!

I've found many things I've loved in each of these approaches, but also find that, in all of them, there are things that don't work for us. One major "flaw" in most approaches is that the approach dictates what is taught when. Children (and everyone) remember information much better if it's something they are interested in, and wanting to learn, so a key element that has threaded it's way through all of our homeschool journey has been focusing on things that the children are interested in.  When I noticed 5-year-old Ashlyn building a model solar system out of black walnuts on the patio, I suggested that we do a (preschool) science unit study on the solar system. When we wanted a chronological approach to world history, I discovered that a book typically used by classical homeschoolers would work well for this, but we chose to use Charlotte Mason's idea of "living books" to flesh out the classical spine.

Eclectic homeschooling has been, and continues to be, a great fit for our family, because it molds itself to what works for us. It also adapts to each of the children's interests.  Little Bit has, from the time she was 3, loved to do "workbooky things".  When she gets a new coloring book, she immediately goes through it, hunting for "activities" . . . circle the differences, mazes, trace the letters, dot-to-dots, those are all right up her alley. At her age, her sisters wanted NOTHING to do with such things (which works well, she's going through all her sisters' old coloring books and doing those pages they skipped LOL).  Ashlyn is my art-lover, so she often adds art projects into everything that we're studying, such as watching youtube videos to teach her how to paint an Egyptian mummy as a part of our study of Ancient Egypt.

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1 comment:

Monica said...

Love it, LaRee! You are always such an inspiration! :)