By Beverly S. Krueger, senior editor Eclectic Homeschool Online
When you pick out a box of candy, do you prefer the assorted box? Is the furniture in your home a hodge-podge of different styles made from different woods? Do you find yourself drawn to buffets where you can pick and choose your own food? If so, your homeschooling style is probably quite naturally eclectic. What does it mean to be eclectic? According to the World Book Dictionary eclectic means "selecting and using what seems best from various sources, systems or schools of thought." Eclectic homeschoolers might say they unschool most things, but use curriculum for math. You will also find eclectic homeschoolers that use a variety of different curriculums that they adjust to fit the needs of their families. Most eclectic homeschoolers can't take a product and just use it. Just as a mechanic likes to tweak the engine in his car to get just a bit better performance, so eclectic homeschoolers tweak the curriculum they use. Then you find the eclectic homeschoolers that use no curriculum at all relying on good books and hands on resources to help their children learn.
The operative word here is "seems". Eclectic homeschoolers use what "seems" best at the time. The choices eclectic homeschoolers make are not erratic. The methods and resources they select to use are chosen to further the educational goals they have for their children. Their children's temperaments, gifts, and learning styles are all taken into account in determining how they will homeschool and what they will use. Occasionally what seems best does not actually work out to be best. It can be frustrating and expensive to buy something that does not work. On the other hand, it can be frustrating to a child to continue doing something that they dread.
To avoid making mistakes most eclectic homeschoolers are resource scavengers. They want to know what you are using and why. If you stopped using something they are considering buying, they want to know why you stopped. If someone says they have a list of resources for a study on the middle ages, they want a copy. If you are looking for a particular item, they'll know right where to find it in one of the catalogs they have stacked in a pile. When someone begins a discussion on a particular way of homeschooling, they are all ears listening for new ideas or a different angle on an old idea.
Homeschooling can be compared to building a wall. Some prefer the uniformity of bricks to build their wall. Others give the wall building over to their children providing them with an assortment of building materials and assistance when requested. Eclectic homeschoolers start with a foundation of their own views about what makes a person well educated. To that foundation they will add stones that are similar but of different shape and size selecting each stone to fit in a particular spot, removing a stone that wiggles too much, and shifting a stone to create a tighter fit. The result is a functional stone wall of great beauty and strength. Eclectic homeschoolers strive for a functional education that helps their children become people of great inner beauty and strength.
Beverly Krueger is Senior Editor of the Eclectic Homeschool Online and EHO Lite. She also blogs regularly at HS Blog.