We are Eclectic Homechoolers
After an unplanned sabbatical (due to settling in after our move, the holidays, and a fun bout with influenza,) I’m back to share how we are incorporating each style of learning that we love into the perfect formula for us currently. As with most homeschoolers, I think it is safe to say that our teaching style is ever evolving…what works for us in this stage of life might be totally different from what works for us in another stage of life.
As a refresher, we found things we loved in Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, and Unschooling. However, we were never comfortable fully following any of those specific methods. Not because they weren’t each amazing in their own way, but because they didn’t fit our kids completely.
While we dove more and more into each schooling method, we found out what we really wanted to use in our homeschool. And during the small sabbatical I took, I slowly pieced each ideal together, to get to a place where we were truly comfortable.
To start out with, the key to figuring out a homeschool method that truly works is to understand that you don’t have to follow ALL the rules. For us, that meant realizing that while we loved the idea of unschooling, we knew that it didn’t fit because deep down, Explorer Cub was not intrinsically motivated to learn new things. But we also knew that unschooling fit perfect for the days when life just got busy and crazy.
What are we incorporating from each homeschool methodology? Here is our list:
From Charlotte Mason:
- Living books. We really do love that Charlotte Mason relies on living books to teach…we just don’t rely on it completely now.
- Nature study. We are focusing on a different topic each week for our nature study. The topics will be seasonally based and specific to our region.
- Art and Music study. We are excited to be not only focusing on specific artists and music styles like the Charlotte Mason method suggests, but on the composition of art…such as lines and how they are used in every method of fine art.
- Early Childhood.We are applying more of the Montessori Principles to Tiny Timber as he goes through his toddler and preschool years.
- Atmosphere. A huge goal of our parenting style is to incorporate the ideals of Montessori learning. Having the home promote independence and exploration, creativity and play.
- Wooden toys. While we still have plastic toys in the house, but we make sure that there are quality, educational wood toys for Tiny Timber to play with.
- Atmosphere. Again with the atmosphere. We try to incorporate a very natural, calming atmosphere in our home. Making sure that there are comforting smells in the house. And focusing on nourishing all the senses in our home.
- Festivals and celebrations. Sometimes this one overwhelms me, but we are working on really focusing on the beautiful festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
- Natural emphasis with a touch of magic. Nature tables. Gnomes. Window stars to brighten those winter days. Stories that connect to nature. And using nature to teach.
- Slow learning. We have to intention of pushing Tiny Timber to learn how to read before he’s ready. And we fully believe that the Waldorf ideal of waiting until the child is a little older to learn works well. That being said, if Tiny Timber chooses to learn to read, we won’t stop him either.
- Main Lesson Books. I think main lesson books are a wonderful way for Explorer Cub to describe what he is learning…he can draw. He can write. It’s his choice.
- If life gets crazy, we trust those days that unschooling is needed. We know first hand that Explorer Cub learns a lot on his own. We just weren’t seeing the long term goal with him. But on a short term basis, we know that he learns what he needs to.
- After “regular” school is done, Explorer Cub is encouraged to find out things that interest him and run with it. Currently, he is working on improving his YouTube channel and learning ways to produce great videos. We support him on that and take steps to help him get the things he needs to keep learning.
We also are aware that we live in a digital age, and incorporate online learning for his Spanish lessons. Tablet apps specifically targeted for what he’s learning in certain subjects. And word processing for parts of his language arts lessons.
We use a few workbooks, dive deep into beautifully illustrated reference books, and some days spend our day learning from documentaries on Amazon Prime.
We are truly eclectic in our learning…and for the first time as my children’s teacher, I’m good with that. I always felt that I needed to have a specific style. That I needed to follow one method wholeheartedly. I’m finally at a place in our homeschooling that I know that being eclectic is perfectly fine, and that there are lots of families out there like ours.
Going forward, I’m going to be blogging regularly about our weekly homeschool activities, sharing what we use, what works, and what hasn’t, and giving a glimpse into our homeschool “style.”
I look forward to hearing from you…what homeschool style does your family use? Do you stick with one, or do you dabble in multiple styles? Have you found a comfort rhythm in your style, or are you still searching? Leave a comment down below!