By Dinah Whitton.

After nearly becoming the top spokesperson for back to school, even I’m shocked that I love homeschooling so much. It’s hard to believe this is our second year of our home education journey. My adventure as a new homeschooler has been eventful to say the least, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything (click here to find out how it all began!).

Originally I only planned to homeschool our younger children; but, it turns out all of our school age children prefer the flexibility and advantages of being educated at home. We have tremendous support from experienced home educators and our community is filled with various co-ops, field trips and activities for homeschoolers. What more could I ask for!

While I still consider myself a new homeschooler, the adventure continues to evolve. I understand and appreciate the benefits of homeschooling, but I also have a better understanding of how my children learn. During my initial research phase I was amazed at the methods and curriculum used by various families. I was hoping for a ‘one size fits all’ approach to make it easier for me. That’s when I realized the true benefit of homeschooling is quite the opposite.

So now it’s time for another phase of research. Join me on my humble journey as I examine various homeschool methods. Over the next couple of weeks I will be highlighting a variety of methods and speaking with homeschoolers from all walks of life. The power of sharing knowledge to gain understanding and wisdom has been an exceptional part of my journey so far. So, without further ado…let’s begin!

Eclectic/Relaxed (Mixed) Method

This popular method of homeschooling includes a variety of sources hand-picked by parents. Many parents choose this method based on their children’s learning style. Once you’ve had the opportunity to observe your children, it becomes easier to customize their curriculum. Understanding your children’s interests and evolving talents can give you an incredible advantage to tailoring their homeschool schedule.

In this method, even the schedule can be reflective of their personality. Perhaps if your child doesn’t enjoy sitting for long periods or completing worksheets, you could incorporate a hands-on activity to achieve the same educational outcome. From science experiments, educational games and software, there are numerous ways to effectively engage your homeschooler. This method is also great for parents who don’t want to use one particular curriculum, but use a personalized mix of workbooks or even textbooks.

What Home Educators Are Saying

Home educators from all walks of life enjoy the eclectic/relaxed method for various reasons. Desirée is a mother of five (10, 8, 7, 5 and 2 years old) and enjoys the freedom and flexibility of a relaxed homeschool. She describes their method as “Charlotte Mason-inspired, mixed with classical and delight-directed (interest led).” While they still have formal school time, which includes their core subjects, it is literature based and includes intentional free time based on her children’s interests. “Boxed curriculum sets just don’t work well with my teaching style,” Desirée said. “As a home educator I also have to be flexible and change my teaching methods to accommodate my children.” After 7 years of homeschooling, Desirée encourages parents to do what is best for their own homeschool and avoid comparisons. “Take some time to define your goals and find out what your children like to do,” said Desirée. “You can be inspired by others, but don’t try to duplicate.”

What Homeschool Students Are Saying

While it’s always great to hear from parent educators, it’s equally as important to hear from the students. 18-year old Morgan and her two sisters (12 and 8 years old) have been homeschooled from the beginning and enjoy every moment. With their mom as the primary educator and dad working from home, an eclectic/mixed method works well for them. “Homeschooling opened the door to customize our education to our specific needs.” Although Morgan’s family uses a specific curriculum, by grade 6 Morgan began working more independently and self taught by grade 8. “This allowed our parents to bring in other subjects and customize it,” said Morgan.

Morgan’s family says they did not choose a specific homeschool method; but, their parents took the time to understand each child and worked accordingly. “Get to know your child and don’t assume they will just ‘get it’”, said Morgan. With such a rich experience, it’s no wonder this well-rounded young lady already has plans to homeschool her future children. In the meantime, Morgan is considering a few universities to pursue a career as an English literature professor.

So what’s your story? Is this method working in your homeschool? Are you considering this method over another? We always love hearing from fellow homeschoolers, so send us an email at info@hslda.ca.