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?
After years of total school failure due to Autism Spectrum Disorder (soooo many calls home from school after tantrums – aka Panic Attacks amid struggles within classroom) He is twice-exceptional meaning that he has a genius IQ but is challenged by all the Sensory Processing Issues plus Social Skills problems that accompany Autism. Meeting both sides of him in just about impossible, even in a Special Education Classroom and they have little experience and little patience for working with one who is “so smart, why don’t you just do the work?” Grrr. Because he is Developmentally Disabled, perhaps?!?!
How long have you been homeschooling?
We began with Ohio Virtual Academy for 5th grade but eventually abandoned that school mid-6th grade due to lack of flexibility for my son.
What ages/grades are you homeschooling?
My 13 yr old is the only one being schooled at home
What were your results on the What Kind of Homeschooler Are You Quiz?
Score for Charlotte Mason Education: 18
Score for Montessori Education: 13
Score for Waldorf Education: 11
Score for Unschooling: 10
Score for Unit Studies Education: 8
Score for Thomas Jefferson Education: 0
Score for Classical Education: -8
Score for Traditional Education: -13
Use 3 words to describe your homeschool:
Flexible, Learning through Media, Varied
What makes your homeschool eclectic?
We read many classics – Julius Caesar, Agatha Christie, Around the World in 80 Days and often view the film based on the book following ojur reading. This often leads to an essay of compare and contrast of the two. We sometimes do unit studies (Westward expansion by making a wagon mock-up, using math to weigh items for journey and fill the wagon without overfilling, while reading Little House on the Prairie and cooking food from the Little House website and learning about the travels by following the map) and we include lots of movies and YouTube and Netflix for documentaries about the Civil War or the Amoeba Sisters for Biology or Crash Course History or whatever.
We are using the Life of Fred Series for Math 2 days a week, Painless Algebra 2 days a week and Pixar in a Box through Khan Academy on Fridays. We try to do hands on in ways that reach his brain – recreating a plan and animal cell by baking a cake and decorating it with candy nuclei etc. We watch classic operas and/or symphonies for music time and we sometimes study paintings at a museum or try certain neat projects at home. We use library books on occasion – sometimes interesting looks at historical events or elements of art or fun facts about pioneers or similar.
We do a fair amount using apps such as Stack the States and learning Spanish via Duolingo, though we often switch things up to accommodate his interest level on any given day. There’s some unschooling that goes on – “OK, son, you may log onto Khan Academy.com and do a lesson on anything that interests you” (he ended up choosing a computer coding lesson that kept him engaged for nearly 3 hours!!!) or sometimes it might be allowing him to play anything on Math Playground or any of the dozens of sites I have pre-selected.
Sometimes our Physical Education time is spent at Planet Fitness and sometimes it’s the two of us boxing it out virtually on Xbox Sports or Dance Dance. We do what we need to do on any given day, with plenty of breaks to keep his anxiety levels manageable. My goal is to cover the subjects as thoroughly as possible while accomodating and stretching his capabilities but I don’t have any great love for one method. He actually thrives on have several different ways of presentation – keeping it new and fresh enough without too much changeup to mess up the routine. If any particular day is a monumental struggle, I let it go knowing that we will make it up in the following days or weeks. Ultimate flexibility!!
Have you always been an eclectic homeschooler?
No, as I stated, we did the online academy thing for a while. It was pretty much school through the computer. Classes scheduled, little flexibility, few accommodations. Once we started “pure” homeschooling though we have been eclectic all the way!
What do you think makes your homeschool unique?
Our homeschooling is unique because we are unique and our situation is too. Twice exceptional children are a very small part of the population and meeting both the gifted and the challenged part of these children is incredibly difficult. We manage it by accommodating with a highly flexible schedule, many breaks, highly engaging activities and books, plenty of well chosen media assistance.
What does a typical day or week look like in your homeschool?
We have a weekly ‘plan’ that has all subjects on it that we put a check mark though once we have completed it. Math, Literature, Composition/Essay, P.E., History/Geography/Biography/Government and Spanish are on everyday. Science is on our plan 3 days a week. Bible, Music, Vocab, Health, Research Paper and Art all occur once a week. That being said, our approach more often goes weekly – if he is really cranking on a History assignment and ends up doing a double lesson that bumps into Math time then we double up Math some other time in the week and skip a different days History to make up the time. Son chooses which subject order and has input on how to tackle say “double variable equations” (watch video to learn, have Mom teach, problem solve by himself, practice problems from internet, use a book) but Mom chooses the concept to be learned. We have a master plan of topics to be covered in each subject and we’re getting through all of them as we count up the hours for each “class lesson” each day because PA requires 990 hours a year for an 8th grader. Yes, it is indeed eclectic or ‘quirky’ but it works for us better than anything else!
What curriculum has worked in your homeschool?
We use NO set curriculum, unless you count the Duolingo levels as a set plan.
Do you have any favorite homeschooling books?
The “Painless Algebra” book published by Barron’s has been very useful in explaining some of the concepts in trule painless and easy ways. Plus, my son HATES to do dozens of problems when he grasps the concept after only 4-5 tries. It’s pretty much the only ‘schooling’ book we use. If he needs more helps or more practice we turn to the internet. Tons of free sites with printable math problems or online quizzes for when we complete the reading of “Pygmalion” to make sure he grasped it.
Do you tweak curriculum to work for you? Describe how you do that.
Describe how you do that. We use no set curriculum at all so it’s all creative and flexible on a daily basis. Mom has a set idea of what might work for the day but we take it a subject at a time because son will feel too overwhelmingly anxious if it’s too planned out. He also prefers to be in charge of his schedule, though he knows full well that Mom is truly the driver and she allows him to take the reins in how it’s all implemented. Sometimes wink emoticon
Anything else you would like to share:
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. Some days are so difficult you literally hit your knees and plead with God for an alternative. Other days you finish a lesson together than just ‘clicked’ for both of you and you laughed together while your jaws drop at some cool thing that you just learned. Together. Nice!
Some of us have chosen to homeschool because of a philosophy or conviction but some of us have all but been thrust into it. When you hear your son proclaim that he “wishes he were dead” than to continue attending a public or special school – you yank him away from them as fast as possible, protect your precious baby and find a way to catch your breath and your footing as you seek to heal his wounded heart and self-esteem by teaching him yourself. Recovering his sweet self was priority number one at first and his progress since is astounding. He is not nor never will be an intensely self-directed, motivated student but…he is learning, he is mostly happy and he has recovered from the misery of public school. Is there a better endorsement for homeschooling than that?