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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A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers

Curious as to how a super-size family manages their homeschool? Join me in an overview of our days!

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

Today when I was looking over the search terms that bring people to my blog, I realized something profound- I write about homeschooling a large family but have never actually written about how we break down our day.

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I mean, really. How did that get past me? Anyway…

Today I will write about just that. First things first. Our homeschool day gets broken down into three groups:

The Littles- our 7, 6, and almost 5-yr.-olds. (and sometimes our almost 3-yr.-old because occasionally she wants to “do school,” too)

The Big Kids- our 11, 10, and 8-yr.-olds

The Teens- our 14, 16, and almost 17-yr.-olds

It’s important to note that my 14 and 16-yr.-old do take turns each week watching the younger kids until it is their time for school. This is such a huge blessing for me. We actually just started doing this in November, and I wish I would have thought of it long ago because it would have prevented so many stressful days! They do get a very small stipend for doing this, but it is so worth it.

To make things as simple as possible, I’m going to break down our day by using these three groups because that is exactly how things get broken down at home, too.

Before getting started, I do want to clarify that we are fairly relaxed homeschoolers. I do not believe lessons need to take six hours a day because there are so many other things to learn about in everyday life. I try to ground my children in the basics, inspire them with a few activities, and allow them the rest of the day to explore as they choose. With that being said, here we go!

The Littles

10 am- Bible time-I  usually read just a verse or two, and we have a very short discussion afterwards. Sometimes this may include a Bible story or even an episode of Veggie Tales.

– Table Time- I sit down with each child individually and work on math and either phonics or reading, unless one of those subjects will be covered that day in the unit study.

– Five in a Row– (This is done every other day, and we take two weeks to complete a book instead of one.) I read aloud a selected title, and we do two activities related to the story. This week we are reading Lentil.

The Big Kids

11(ish)am- Bible Time- I read aloud from The Children’s Adventure Bible, and we have a   question and answer time.

Read-Aloud Time- Last week we started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

– Table Time- As with the Littles, I work with each child individually on math and either spelling or grammar, unless one of those subjects will be covered in the unit study that day. As the children wait for their turn with me, they do their silent reading.

– Konos Volume 2– (This is done every other day.) Each unit focuses on a  character trait. Currently for us this is inquisitiveness, and we are studying it through a section entitled “Research and Reference.”  We typically do two activities per day and will sometimes read a separate read-aloud to go with the unit.

12 pm- Lunch/Chores/ Free Time- While this is not technically part of our homeschooling day, I am including it to show when we get these things done. How is a story for another day. 🙂

2 pm- We finish up whatever  was not completed before lunch, after which I try to read aloud to the teens. Here’s where it gets interesting…

The Teens

2:30(ish)pm- I read aloud from Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human.

That is the only schoolish thing we do before dinner and evening chores. The homeschool day of my teens does not normally begin until at least 8pm. Please don’t be dismayed. They are night owls, and it works for us in this season of life.

8pm- One-on-One-Time- While my teenagers do the vast majority of their work themselves, this is the time I’ve specifically set aside to help them with anything they need me to, usually some branch of math. Sigh.

Each child is so different that I’m finding it necessary to write about them separately, so here goes:

The 14-yr.-old– She loves to read, so we’ve taken advantage of that by using a literature-based math curriculum, Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology. She and my younger children have actually been working their way through this entire series. What I like the most about this book is that it includes enough biology to count towards her science credit, so, although she always has library books checked out on everything from the universe to chinchillas, if she ever runs out of things to read, her science is covered. For history we use living books. Right now she is reading The Book Thief, which is based in WWII era. Since she does so much reading, and she loves to voluntarily write reports, the only language arts she does is vocabulary, and that is because she asked for it.

The 16-yr.-old– If you’ve ever had a child who needs to be prodded along, this is mine. Don’t get me wrong. He is brilliant with computers and can probably identify every single spider and frog on the planet, but he does not like to be bogged down with school work. After much tweaking and trial and error, we’ve found a routine that works for him. He uses a math curriculum, but I usually only assign him every other problem because he has no patience for drilling. Like his sister, at his request, he does do a vocabulary curriculum. He uses library books and documentaries for astronomy, and he uses living books, movies, and documentaries for military history. He is also working through D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and the accompanying Student Guide.

The almost-17-yr.-old– This is my overachiever, but she would deny it if you asked her. 😛  She also uses a math curriculum for geometry. She’s in her 3rd year of psychology, her 2nd year of Japanese with Rosetta Stone and she is learning both sets of Japanese characters through a workbook from a friend who is from Japan. While we had no plans on doing geography this year, she became interested in US geography and devised her own intricate method of studying this subject involving mapping, demographics, and interesting facts about each state. She uses A Beka for biology and has already finished her grammar workbook.

….And that’s about it. I hope I didn’t make this too confusing for those of you looking for guidance on how to handle homeschooling lots of kiddos! If anyone has any questions or would like me to clarify anything, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I always look forward to hearing from you!

 

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