Eight Principles for Eclectic Homeschooling in the Elementary Grades.

by Annamarie

What is eclectic homeschooling?

Eclectic education is a teaching approach that advocates the freedom of the teacher (or parent) to choose different teaching methods (curricula) and strategies for achieving the learning goals.

It involves making decisions based on what seems best (for a particular child) instead of following some single doctrine or style.

It is therefore, customized education for every individual child.

Herewith the 8 principles to guide you in this approach:

  1. You (mom) are the main curriculum!
  • Do not try and replicate the school system at home! School as we know it is a relatively new system (only the last century). For centuries before that the natural way for children to learn was at home from their parents. Think how Jesus was taught as a child by his carpenter father, Joseph, and young mother Mary and yet at a young age he was found in the synagogue teaching the Rabbi’s. Of course, we know that He was God incarnate! Just to point to the way things were for hundreds of years before the industrial revolution required women in the work force outside the home. Schools were created as systems of controlling masses of children, to allow both parents to work outside the home. Well, the rest is history, we only need to take a realistic look at the state of families, children and marriages and the worldly agenda to indoctrinate our children to know why the school system was never God’s idea for families.
  • The most important factor in your homeschool is you mom. Your children will not one day look back and wax lyrical about this or that curriculum but will remember times with you and their siblings, shared learning experiences, shared stories from books read aloud. And remember you are not switching between “mom” and “teacher” hats, but you are always the parent, facilitating learning. The most difficult thing about homeschooling is “parenting” – disciplining, shepherding, and dying to self a 1000 times per day! Part of our sanctification!
  • Curricula are learning aids, and you should never feel like a slave to a particular curriculum. If you get anxious about not getting “through” the work and your children are stressed, toss the curriculum, and try something different. That is why it is wise not to invest in an expensive box curriculum or system when your children are young, because the chances of you not sticking to it is high. You are still figuring out your children’s unique temperaments and learning styles.
  • 2. Start with the desired end in mind.
  1. Write out a vision for your homeschool.
  2. What kind of people do you want your children to be one day? Character traits.
  3. How can you train them up in the way they should go so that they can serve the body of Christ?
  4. Are you living in a way that teach them your conviction and values? Children learn way more through our examples than through lessons!
  • 3. Keep it simple.
  • The three R’s: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic!
  • Focus on skills acquisition and character training.
  • 4. Play is learning!

Children learn through play. They enter into imaginary worlds – worlds that they are introduced to through read aloud of good books.

They need to develop their gross motor skills first before they are ready to acquire fine motor skills necessary for formal learning.

Let them climb, jump, swing, be physically active!

  • 5. Involve children in household chores.
  • Gives them a sense of belonging, to your team, clan.
  • Teaches personal responsibility, diligence, and stewardship.
  • Research shows that children who are involved in daily chores and other family errands and in their parents’ interests and work, grow up to be well adjusted individuals. Rather than parents centring their lives around their children’s needs.
  • 6. Be a read-aloud family.
  • Read “The Read-Aloud Family” by Sarah Mackenzie.
  • Children learn so much through “Book schooling”, the read aloud of interesting books set in different times of history.
  • In our home my husband reads to the children every evening from exciting chapter books, Chronicles of Narnia, The Ranger’s Apprentice, Never-ending Story, The Lord of the Rings, etc. When they were younger, he read through all the Enid Blyton books, The Wishing Chair, Adventures of the Secret five and seven, etc.
  • 7. Be sure to give enough time for learning readiness to develop.

Most children of the legally required age of compulsory school attendance between 5 and 7 years, and the starting age is pushed for younger, are not ready for formal academic learning. Their nervous system and brain are still developing, their wiring is not in place yet for the demands of formal academic learning. One example is that children are by nature far sighted and the pressure to learn to read at too young age places tremendous strain on the visual system. Of course, children vary in their development tempos, but in general, boys especially, are only ready to start with formal learning (reading, writing, arithmetic) between 8 – 10 years! (See “Better Late than Early” by Dr. Raymond Moore). This is not to say that children do not learn before this. They are learning all the time through play, observation, emulation, conversation, listening to stories, developing gross motor skills through rough and tumble play which is so necessary to get the brain wiring in place to be learning ready for school skills.

As an Integrated Learning Therapist and have helped many children with learning readiness and learning problems through gentle movement programs.

  • 8. To live is to learn!

Finally know that your children are learning all the time. Learning does not only happen behind school desks or with workbooks in front of them.

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