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The Eclectic Approach to Home Education

written by: Leah Witmond • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 1/5/2012

Eclectic homeschooling is for parents who cannot choose. That’s how some people would define the eclectic approach. But is this true?

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    Eclectic homeschoolers are picky. These are the parents that will not settle for one particular curriculum because they don’t feel any complete curriculum can fulfil their children’s educational needs.

    Eclectic homeschoolers feel uncomfortable in a school-at-home setting, because it’s too rigid to their taste. Unit studies, Living Books, online courses or radical unschooling, neither of these approaches fit their family’s needs. So rather than settling for just one of these options, they choose to incorporate the best of all of them into their educational approach.

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    Characteristics

    There is no one set of characteristics for eclectic learning. An eclectic education is an education that includes elements and characteristics of several different methods and curriculi.

    Using the eclectic approach, parents may, for example, buy a curriculum for math, provide their children with Unit Studies for the human sciences, fill their bookcases with Living Books and take their children on frequent field trips in order to provide them with a learning-rich environment that will spark their natural curiosity and invite them to learn and explore.

    They may enrol their children in online classes to learn a foreign language and encourage them to take music lessons and art classes at the local school of Music and Arts or with private teachers.

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    Pros and Cons

    Advantages of the Eclectic Approach:

    • The homeschooling parents have full control over their children’s educational program and can tailor it to each child’s individual tastes and needs
    • Of all educational styles, this approach is the most flexible – even more so than radical unschooling
    • It can be as structured as the home educating parent wishes it to be
    • Eclectic homeschooling can successfully be done at low-cost, although there's no rule that says you can't spend a lot of money on it if you're so inclined

    Disadvantages of the Eclectic Approach:

    • With so many possibilities to choose from, this approach might be daunting to new and inexperienced homeschoolers
    • Tailoring each child's educational program to her specific needs, will require a lot of time from the homeschooling parent
    • Some parents might worry that their children will not learn enough, or that they will not learn “the right things at the right time”, especially when state regulations require state-mandated testing