Monday, March 5, 2012

Eclectic Home Education: What it looks like for us; Living and Learning, with Purpose

We are an eclectic homeschool family. This means we fall into the category of using a variety of curriculum, books, and methods. This in itself is a method: the “eclectic method” of homeschooling.
"Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of everything. This might include
workbooks for math, copy work or memorization for studying the Bible, living
books for read-alouds, and plenty of freedom to make changes. Eclectic
homeschoolers frequently participate in outside classes, field trips, and clubs to
round out their child’s education. This method allows parents to choose the best
of everything." -Sonya Haskins
That is us, to a tee. I've known that for over two years and each time I read about education methodology, it reaffirms for me that the eclectic approach fits us best. The methods that we embrace most as we mix, or rather that hold the values for what our family goals are, include Unit Studies, the Charlotte Mason method, the Waldorf method, some aspects of the Montessori method and some of the Classical approach. Somehow, we take the best of all those philosophies and make it work for us. We're structured, but relaxed. (And granted, we're not always structured, nor are we always relaxed, but around the circumstances in life we try to steady ourselves in that middle.) We're making space for imagination and creativity, and also not losing a sense of direction for the bigger picture. It works for us. The picture of our homeschool doesn't have to be what works for anyone else, that's the beauty of home learning. We tie it all together with some grade-by-grade checklists and reference books to make sure we're not leaving out the basics, and of course for some subjects, like reading and math, we're following a program in which our knowledge is building on knowledge. Even our history and science programs may look different year by year, but they build on each other.
It gives us freedom to follow interest-led learning, where beautiful things line up and fall into place to round out their experiences. It gives us flexibility, but also purpose. We embrace thoughtful purpose in our lives. It doesn't always happen, but even in our unstructured time we are meeting the goals of a well-rounded childhood in which character building, friendships, relationships, critical thinking and creativity are flourishing. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, "knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world." That doesn't mean we limit knowledge, or that imagination replaces the need for knowledge, and for us, that means we still need to lay that knowledgeable foundation while embracing imagination.
That requires responsibility, and accountability.
We value accountability in our house. Accountability to God. Accountability to society, to family, to our commitments. Accountability involves your actions toward or involving others that reflect the integrity of who you want to be. It's about that integrity, and raising children with it.
Because we value that, does that mean we are perfect in our accountability? Nope. We are a constant work in progress to meet and change the areas in which our weaknesses lie.
We are building for the future. We are doing our best to live out the priorities we want our children to embrace. And those are not priorities based on materialism or consumerism. We are showing them through example where and what to value, what virtues to hold dear. And we're saying these virtues and values, including the value of a proper education, are so vital, we aren't willing to leave that to the chance of a greater system too vague or agenda-driven to perhaps slight our values along the way. That takes evaluation, followed by repeated evaluation. It requires re-evaluating how to meet the needs of your family every year.
God is a God of order. He did not create the universe out of random chaos. And while chaos does exist in the universe, it is not from this that we find order, stability and purpose-filled creation. There is reason, and purpose, and TO EVERY PURPOSE, there is a time and a season, under Heaven.

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