Eclectic Schooling, Unschooling, and Deschooling – New Age or Long Overdue?

In my last few blogs I have discussed many options for you and your homeschoolers regarding curriculum. There are a few more that I would like to mention that seem to be growing in popularity and that you may want to consider.

The first one is Eclectic Schooling. This means that homeschooling families use parts of preplanned curriculum along with supplemental workbooks purchased from local educational vendors. This also means using educational games on the internet, maybe using a virtual school or a co-op for more supplemental classes.

It could also mean that you may use Alpha Omega for English and Science but choose to use Saxon for math. Reading time would be spent enjoying something that you picked out together at the Library. Physical Education may be a hike in the woods or swimming in your own pool. Basically whatever suits your child best!

Just like in the public school system, your child may not fall into a perfect preset curriculum. He may respond better to hands on activities for science but prefers to read about history as opposed to museums. You center your teaching methods to what your child responds to more.

I have noticed in the Homeschooling Forum here at Families.com quite a bit of dialogue regarding Unschooling. For those of you not quite sure what this means let me explain.

Unschooling is very similar to Eclectic Schooling. However, with unschooling there is even less daily structure. Basically unschooling is the belief that learning occurs naturally everyday. The experiences / encounters that you have each day are an opportunity to learn.

The child is largely responsible for his weekly activities by being allowed to follow his interests and learning style. Parents act as guides along this path encouraging their children’s development in these interests. Unschooling is a great way for children to have their “why” questions answered.

This type of homeschooling works especially well with very young children. Between birth and age 5 children gain a tremendous amount of knowledge. Like walking, talking, etc. I am sure that you have noticed that young children are some of the most determined minded individuals in these early years! How do they accomplish these things? They accomplish these milestones by trial and error and persistence. Children’s natural curiosity drives them to learn.

Some unschooling examples are:

• Have a project to build something, maybe a robot, model car, etc.
• Research the history regarding these projects.
• Question scientific backgrounds for the above.
• Question how they work.
• Write a short book about one of your projects.
• Create colorful illustrations for your original.
• Any new interests that are presented follow through in a similar manner.

Deschooling follows the basic principle of unschooling. Parents may find deschooling particularly necessary when a child has been involved in public school. The homeschooler has been used to rigid school schedules and class bells separating his day. In Deschooling, the homeschooler is allowed freedom to just relax and think, to read books, and notice the world around him as he separates himself from a school environment.

This flexible educational format should be geared toward your child’s learning style and his particular areas of interest. Deschooling is learning for the purpose of gaining knowledge, independent thinking and learning how to be self directed in finding answers. Deschooled homeschoolers are not “spoon fed” answers to their questions. Deschooled homeschoolers are encouraged to seek information to answer their “why” questions. This will be particularly useful for them in college and throughout life.

Also remember that children’s play can also be educational. When I was a child I loved to play school. I would come home and reenact what the teacher had taught us that day. Through this I later realized that I actually was reinforcing that day’s lesson for myself. Again, it all works together when you school at home.

I have touched on a few of the options available and I am sure that I will be discussing more in the coming weeks. With so many wonderful educational opportunities and freedom to explore your family and friends will be impressed at what homeschooling has to offer. Inevitably, however, you will consistently be asked “what about socialization?”

I am so glad that you asked. Next blog, we’ll get together on that.