Eclectic homeschooling involves meshing different educational philosophies and methods into something that works for your family. As a result this will look different from family to family. We are featuring a series of interviews with eclectic homeschoolers to show how varied eclectic homeschooling can be.
Why did you decide to homeschool?
Originally, I didn’t intend to homeschool my children. When my daughter was born, we lived right next to an elementary school in West Palm Beach, Florida. I would daydream about her going there, and me being a very involved parent, but not her primary teacher. Throughout my public school education, I always wanted to be a teacher, but I never became one. But when she was 14 months old, God uprooted us and called us to Brooklyn, NY. Everything in our lives changed at that point. I no longer desired to send her away to school, and by the time she was 2, I was sure that I would keep her home.
How long have you been homeschooling?
We started doing preschool activities (I had experience as a substitute preschool teacher), and when she was 3, her brother was born. They are now ages 7 and 4, and have always been homeschooled.
What were your results on the What Kind of Homeschooler Are You Quiz?
Score for Waldorf Education: 7
Score for Traditional Education: -9
Score for Unit Studies Education:12
Score for Montessori Education: 23
Score for Thomas Jefferson Education: 14
Score for Unschooling: 14
Score for Classical Education: 12
Score for Charlotte Mason Education: 23
Use 3 words to describe your homeschool:
Our homeschool is mostly relaxed, dynamic, and still evolving. I am the most creative and messy person that I know, so I am also very unorganized.
What makes your homeschool eclectic?
I didn’t know what an eclectic homeschooler was until I found your website and facebook page. I just knew that I was unable to stick to any one curriculum, always adding my own ideas and ones I had seen elsewhere. I’ve read and fallen in love with Charlotte Mason’s writings and methods, although I’ve found them difficult to follow wholeheartedly living in such a big city. I’ve even gone so far as to call our homeschool Charlotte Mason in the City (CMC), but I’m currently thinking of a new name, because I am certainly not purely Charlotte Mason, but eclectic.
What do you think makes your homeschool unique?
I think each homeschool is unique, as each family and each child is unique. Probably one unique thing about ours is that I am a highly sensitive mom (and very introverted), and my daughter is a highly sensitive extrovert. My son is also highly sensitive and probably a shy introvert. So we have lots of down time, lots of anxieties to overcome, lots of challenges, and lots of “mental health” days where no formal schooling is done. With that said, I now understand that my choice to homeschool was always the right one, and will most likely always be the right one for my family… even on the tough days when I really want to give up. I see that my sensitive children would be completely overwhelmed at a traditional school at this point in their young lives, so I continue to sacrifice to keep them home. As all homeschool moms do, I choose to put their needs first (and fail big sometimes) rather than do what my introverted self would do in a heartbeat: get them out of the house for school every day! However, God has really shown me that this is my calling, and I accept that.
Perhaps something else that makes us unique is that we identify as a messianic family, meaning that although none of us were born Jewish, we have been called to minister to the Jewish people (why we live in Brooklyn) and to worship in a messianic congregation rather than a traditional church. So not only do we learn about Jewish and Biblical holy days, we celebrate them as well! Learning about Israel and some Hebrew language study are also part of our homeschool. Gardening on my balcony has helped keep me stay sane here in Brooklyn, so we watch vegetables grow every summer, and sometimes we grow sprouts and lettuce indoors the rest of the year.
What does a typical day or week look like in your homeschool?
Check out a Day in the Life post on their blog: Fresh Wineskins
What curriculum has worked in your homeschool?
We have not tried that many types of curriculum, but for Kindergarten I did use mostly My Father’s World. The nature study aspect was great, but my daughter seems to be a visual-spatial learner, so I didn’t find MFW to be very visual. So for first grade, we mixed it up, using Explode the Code for phonics, some MFW for American history, and just a generic workbook for math. Keeping with the Charlotte Mason style, I didn’t teach reading in Kindergarten, and we started it slowly in first grade. Now for second grade, we use many different resources, and I try to be pretty frugal in purchasing curriculum. So I don’t purchase any big bundles or textbooks, etc. This year we have utilized a used Science textbook and workbook (bought online), Explode the Code workbooks, a full second grade curriculum workbook (Harcourt Family), Abeka reader for U.S. History, The Complete Book of Math, The Nature Connection, Geography A-Z from the library, What your Second Grader Needs to Know (from library), and this year I purchased the Home Art Studio DVD for second grade, which is fun. My sister-in-law is a public school teacher, so has given us books and readers she no longer uses, I check out a lot of books at the library, and I get a lot of ideas from Pinterest. So I think I would qualify as an eclectic homeschooler, because otherwise, I’m just a jumbled mess!
Do you have any favorite homeschooling books?
There are a couple books I have read that have really encouraged me to keep going, but the one that comes to mind as a favorite is When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper, a protege of Charlotte Mason. I’m still making my way through Miss Mason’s volumes, but I adore those, too.
Anything else you would like to share:
Something new we have done this year is joining a local, Christian homeschool group, and also participating in a weekly co-op through the group. That has been very enjoyable, and it has helped my daughter form new friendships, and also helped me “stay on schedule” a little more as well. I have homeschool mom friends in several states, some classical, some unschoolers, some Montessori, and some eclectic like me. It’s been wonderful to have community and support, which I would suggest to ALL homeschooling families (even introverted ones) to look for! I think we are all part of a special worldwide community of people who are making good, but sometimes hard, choices for the benefit of our children and families.