When I saw my kids flourish during COVID-19 schooling this past spring, I started researching homeschooling. I had no idea there were so many styles and curriculums to choose from. As an educator myself, I grew both overwhelmed — and excited — with all of the information available. I fell in love with many of the different styles of educating my kids at home, which is why I chose to go the eclectic route. In homeschool language, this just means that I gave myself permission to follow my kids' learning styles and interests and choose different curriculums that fit their needs. It's kind of a mix and match approach.
As a nature-loving family, I immediately gravitated toward both the Waldorf and Charlotte Mason philosophies. As a homeschooling pioneer, Mason dedicated a lot of her teachings to giving kids the gift of nature. In that spirit, we're implementing nature study and journaling into our lives. This will teach my children how to observe, be patient, and appreciate the outside world. Weekly (and hopefully more), we'll venture into the woods, collect "treasures" (leaves, wildflowers, rocks, and more), and then head home to draw and journal about them. I'll do this right along with them. The Waldorf philosophy also encourages keeping a nature table in line with the seasons, where you display these treasures so that you can constantly learn about them. Our table is already full of our summer findings — and we're learning more than I could have dreamed.
For our homeschool routines, I'm combining Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, and even Classical teachings. All of these styles incorporate books as a way to teach children. So, daily we'll start our mornings reading aloud together, whether it's poetry, short stories, novels, or nonfiction. I also incorporate Socratic teachings, asking my children open-ended questions about what we read to promote inquiry, curiosity, and discovery. After we read aloud, my kids will narrate in numerous ways to show understanding of the story. They may put on a miniplay, make a mock YouTube show, or even act it out with Legos. This style is implemented through Blossom and Root Language Arts, a program I bought for this school year.
For math, we chose Singapore Math because many eclectic homeschoolers recommended it to me. Not only does it have a wonderful reputation, but I figured it was close enough to traditional homeschooling so that if we end up going back to public education next year, my kids will still be on-track. We'll use manipulatives (objects like blocks, post-it notes, buttons, and more) to help with the mastering of math so that they won't solely be using worksheets. For example, my first grade daughter will run into the yard and gather a bunch of fallen sticks. From here, we'll add and subtract with them. She loves physically getting involved in her learning.
In regards to social studies, I am going to utilize our freedom by teaching my kids about all kinds of diversity and civic issues. It's an election year, so this should be fairly easy. Further, I'll use Teaching Tolerance, books, and strong videos or documentaries to teach my children accurate history (not a white-washed version), including social injustices and ways to advocate against them.
In regards to extracurricular activities, the kids will be in safe and socially distanced, outside activities and we'll use Outschool for art and music. The best part about choosing an eclectic homeschool education is the ability to give my kids space to find their own interests and hobbies, too. I can observe my kids' and watch them take the lead. For example, my son has already taken a great interest in both woodworking and baking, so I'll be sure to simply help him thrive in those areas. Further, when we head to the library, I'll gladly allow them to choose whatever books are of interest to them. I've already found that backing off allows my kids the space to choose and grow in whatever areas they like. This is a win-win for all of us.
This school year will be a wild ride for all of us, but after a lot of research, I am pleased with using an eclectic homeschool style so that I can give my kids their own individualized schooling so that their interests soar.