Homeschooling Methods: An Overview of the Relaxed Approach

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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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Homeschooling Multiple Ages? Simplicity Is the Key to Success

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Of all of the fears I hear from would-be homeschoolers, the issue of multi-level homeschooling is very near the top of the list. I can totally identify with that because that was one of my very own when I started homeschooling. It’s true that educating several children of differing ages can seem like a nightmare if you are looking at home education through the lens of a public school atmosphere.

When people hear that I have eleven children and homeschool nine of them, I can tell by the looks on their faces what they’re imagining my days to be like:

A classroom of school desks with my children excitedly raising their hands in order to answer a question. Me standing at the front of the room wearing an apron with a duster in one hand and a pointer in the other. Classical music playing in the background while I conjugate Latin verbs with my 5-yr-old.

or…

A classroom of school desks thrown askew as a slew of children parade around the room banging on pots and pans, protesting that day’s assignments. Me standing at the front of the room, hair falling out of a bun, dark circles under my eyes, pleading with them to please sit down and do their 3x each. The three-yr-old in the background, going through the makeup I no longer have time to apply, drawing cat whiskers on her own face with my eyeliner.

Although I have had days with features of each of these :), neither of these is an accurate depiction of what goes on in the average homeschooler’s school day. Thankfully, homeschooling does not have to fit the traditional school model, which is most fortunate for those of us who are homeschooling larger families.

Of all the homeschooling approaches I’ve tried, the one thing that has kept our days happy and manageable has been simplicity. The very first point I want to get across is that homeschooling does not have to take six hours a day. There are various reasons that a public school day takes that long, which is a post for another day, but suffice it to say that most homeschooling families do not spend nearly that much time on formal assignments.

While each family does it differently, and no one way is right or wrong, these are the routines that have helped with our family.

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

– Focus on the three R’s- reading writing, and ‘rithmetic. Although this approach is often seen as being for younger children, it can work quite well with inquisitive older kids, too. My teenage son does not use any textbooks for anything other than language arts and math. He has no need to. He loves reading about and watching movies about WW2 and is an avid outdoorsman. It seems like everyday he is bringing one critter or another home from the creek to observe. (As a matter of fact, he lost two snakes in my yard just this week! His response to my alarm? “Don’t worry, Mom. There are only three venomous snakes in the state of PA, and these weren’t any of them.” That doesn’t exactly reassure me, but it does let me know that he’s been doing his research!)

– Teach your kids together with unit studies. Right now this has been the go-to method for our family. Since I do have so many children, I’ve found that it works better for me to separate the kids into two groups with separate unit studies, which they take turns doing every other day. After I work individually with each child on language arts and math (which is not really necessary, but I do enjoy the one-on-one time with my kids) I will read aloud to them, and then they will complete some unit study assignments together. The nice thing about unit studies is that they are cross-curricular; there is no need to teach each subject individually. Each topic explored will tie in one way with the next and everything from math to science to history to art (and so on) is almost guaranteed to be covered. Some of our favorite unit study curricula have been Konos, Five in a Row, Media Angels Creation Units, and various thematic units. I’ve also written unit studies of my own on Famous Inventors/Inventions, Greek Mythology, and the Little House series- all of which can be found here on my blog. It’s so much more relaxing to know that you can adequately educate all of your children either together, or in groups, as I do.

– Keep in mind that as children get older, they also gain more independence. While I do technically homeschool nine children, it has to be said that I am really only heavily involved with the teaching of six of them, and even that is not terribly time-consuming nor stressful because of the way we approach things. My older kids will occasionally ask for help with math (why is it always math??) and are pretty competent on their own with everything else. They know I am there if they need assistance, but my actual involvement with their school work is minimal.

The prospect of homeschooling multiple ages can seem intimidating and stressful at first glance, but once you’ve found a routine that is comfortable for you and your family, it can be one of the most delightful endeavors you’ve ever accomplished. Simply remember that homeschooling is not school at home. Focus less on that and more on keeping the home in your school, and success will soon follow!

 

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Lazy Day Links- 4/23/16

Having a lazy day? I’ve got some links and books you just might be interested in!

lazy day links
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(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.)

If you’re anything like I am, there are some days that you just can’t seem to get yourself moving. These are the days you spend lazily browsing blog after blog and website after website, trying to find something that will interest you for at least a little while. Since these days are usually on the weekends for me, I’ve decided to share links with you each Saturday. These will include 5 of my favorite blog posts from other bloggers, 5 of my own that you may not have seen, and 5 books I think are worth reading. I hope you enjoy!

Favorite Blog Posts:

10 Guarantees I Wish Homeschooling Offered {But It Doesn’t}– Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

5 Things That Really Matter in Your Child’s Education (Homeschooling Moms, Read This.)– Generation Cedar

My Biggest Homeschooling Mistake: Over-Thinking Methods and Philosophies– Amongst Lovely Things

Education and Doll Making– FIMBY

10 ways you’re making your homeschool day harder than it needs to be– Simple Homeschool

My Older Posts:

Maybe ”Educational” Should Be a Bad Word

Sometimes Simple Is Hard

What Exactly Is an Unschooler?

Just Let Your Kids Play, Already!

The Top Ten Reasons I Homeschool

Books Worth Reading:

Learning All the Time– John Holt

As It Was in the Days of Noah– Jeff Kinley

On the Trail of the Nephilim- Volume 1– LA Marzulli

Monster– Frank Peretti

Angelology: A Novel (Angelology Series)– Danielle Trussoni

 

Do you have any suggestions? Have a great weekend!

Linking up with:

5 After 5

Inspire Me Monday

Literacy Musing Mondays