Homeschooling Methods: An Overview of the Relaxed Approach

relaxed approach, relaxed method
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Since the relaxed, or eclectic, approach to homeschooling is the only remaining method we’ve tried, today’s post will conclude this series. As I stated in the first post, if you’ve had experience with any other methods such as Charlotte Mason, project-based, leadership education, etc., I would be happy to read a description in the comments, or you can even leave a link to a post that you have written!

“Whatever works” is the best way to describe this method of homeschooling. Those who identify as eclectic, or relaxed, learners often refer to their daily routines as a mish mosh of all of the other homeschooling methods. Instead of finding one learning system and staying within the confines of what is considered “procedure” for that particular method, eclectic homeschoolers pull together a routine that will work best for each individual child.

Many relaxed homeschoolers stick to the three R’s and use some sort of curriculum for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then go on to utilize a more unschoolish outlook on the remaining subjects in order to allow their children more time to explore their own interests.

Others may offer a little more guidance in all of the subjects in various ways but will usually remain open to dropping the day’s plans in order to pursue any alternative opportunity that arises.

As with unit studies and unschooling, sometimes an example of a typical day using the eclectic learning method will paint a clearer picture of what it’s all about, so here is a brief description of my high school age son’s current daily routine:

Language Arts– completing vocabulary worksheets three times a week, Greek mythology vocabulary once a week, chatting with fellow online gamers, reading literature selections either of his choosing or assigned by me, practicing diligence in answering all assigned mythology questions in complete sentences

Math– two pages per day of a math curriculum (I will usually assign only half the problems or skip the lesson completely if he already knows how to do it), a myriad of mathematical concepts are covered in the online games he enjoys, managing his own money and making any decisions on future purchases

Social Studies– historical fiction movies (especially military history), historical documentaries, discussion of current events, spending lots of time in the community with people of all ages and ethnicities

Science– spending lots of time in the outdoors observing wildlife and researching anything he discovers but doesn’t recognize, reading astronomy books from the library, astronomy documentaries, researching different types of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids and going to a nearby creek to look for them

Greek Mythology– completing a curriculum centered around a popular mythology book

Technology– creating, editing, and uploading his own videos to YouTube

Photography- taking advantage of his time outside to hone his photography skills since he plans on becoming a wildlife photographer

As you can see, relaxed learning can include everything from textbooks (used very loosely) to following interests in order to learn in a way that suits the child and will remain with him for a long time to come.

Advantages:

Children learn best with activities that fit within their learning styles. Sometimes different techniques will work better for different subjects. Relaxed homeschooling allows for the flexibility needed in order to obtain a successful educational plan for each child.

By being given large amounts of time to pursue their own interests, children will often become immersed in their favorite pasttimes and will soon become “experts” in these areas which can potentially lead to future career opportunities.

Eclectic homeschooling can give just the right amount of structure needed to keep the day from being chaotic.

– As with unit studies, the activities which are assigned on any given day will often provide a springboard for the child to develop new interests they otherwise would not have been aware of.

This method would be a good substitute for those who are drawn to unschooling but are uncomfortable with the uncertainty and lack of structure.

Disadvantages:

Depending on what learning methods are used, it may be difficult to come up with work samples for portfolios in those states in which it is required to do so. Don’t give up too easily, though. There are many homeschool evaluators who recognize that learning does not necessarily come from worksheets and will accept just a few work samples.

Sometimes it may be difficult to rid yourself of the schoolish mindset, and it can be all too easy of falling into the trap of believing that learning cannot happen without filling out worksheets, taking tests, and using textbooks for all subjects. The best remedy for this is to think back to your school days and ponder how much you actually remember from what you learned. I’ll venture a guess that it’s not very much.

This method may be difficult for families with multiple young children. Some children are perfectly fine with only a little bit of structure, but some families with younger children may need a little more order that can be accomplished with activities from interest-based unit studies.

So there you have it! This is everything my experience with these homeschooling approaches has brought to light. When choosing which method fits you best, please keep in mind that even if you prefer a certain method, you will not have the “homeschool police” knocking at your door if you do things just a little differently. After all, it is the flexibility that comes along with homeschooling that makes it so much more successful than traditional school. 

I would love to hear which method you’ve chosen for your family. Leave a comment, and tell me what your plans are. I love to hear from you!

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Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

17 thoughts on “Homeschooling Methods: An Overview of the Relaxed Approach”

  1. I like the relaxed approach you are taking. However, my kids tended to get into mischief or constantly tell me they were bored. So with time, we kept adding stuff. We start off slow, add more and more, then end slower. Maybe because there were used to the longer days of traditional school and the format, that’s what they ask for. But in the summers, we basically do a relaxed approach with projects or field trips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My older daughter sounds a bit like your kids. She wants to keep busy and has chosen three different sciences to do this year- chemistry, physics, and quantum physics. It’s so much fun figuring out what works best for each child!

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  2. Excellent series, Shelly! I’m so impressed. You described the relaxed approach very well. At my house, we use a distance program through a private school which offers live-streamed classes. So, for my son this upcoming fall that will cover three of the basic subjects (history, science and math) and for the rest (English, art, music, etc.) we pretty much take a child-led/unschooling approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve definitely been sticking with this style of learning, as well. I love that we can pick out the features of the different styles that work best for us and integrate them into our learning. Right now, we’ve got aspects of unit studies, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, and a minimal amount of textbook learning in our routine. (Although my oldest daughter uses mostly textbooks because she prefers them. Go figure.) It defintiely gives us some much-needed variety to our days!

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    1. Believe me, we are relaxed homeschoolers, but I am all about structure- I have to be with this many kids! We may not have set times to do every single thing, but we do try to start around the same time everyday. I don’t particularly care how long things take us, but we do try to do things in the same order everyday.🙂

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  3. I think it’s interesting, fantastic and wonderful how each child prefers a different method of learning and learns in different ways! Homeschool really gives parents the ability to cater to the individual needs of each child.

    Liked by 1 person

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