Considering eclectic homeschooling? Want to know if this relaxed homeschooling method will work for your family? We’ll cover the pros and cons of eclectic learning and how to get started in this ultimate guide to education at home in a more relaxed way! See our personal sample relaxed homeschool schedule and personal experience with examples for a weekly eclectic home school schedule!
UNDERSTANDING ECLECTIC HOMESCHOOLING (The Relaxed Homeschool Method And Our Personal Experience With It)
What is eclectic homeschooling? (What is the relaxed homeschool method?)
What is eclectic style homeschooling? The eclectic homeschool style is a popular method also known as relaxed homeschooling. This home school method mixes and matches different homeschooling resources instead of using a traditional homeschool curriculum and can include child-led learning. Eclectic homeschoolers use learning like a DIY buffet where they pick and choose the best options from each learning resource. It’s often defined as laid back home school for one of the different homeschool styles.
What eclectic homeschool is:
- Unique homeschooling, tailored to each child’s learning style
- Mixing and matching and using different homeschool curricula, educational resources, online classes, and learning tools for home school
- Learning as you go and seeing everything as a learning opportunity
- Picking and choosing different parts of a curriculum or course that works best of your child
- Following your child’s interest and ideas and incorporating those into learning
- Incorporating real life experiences and hands-on learning
- Understanding your child’s learning style and providing learning tools for that style
- Being relaxed in how your child learns best
You may also hear this called relaxed and minimal homeschool, but minimalist homeschooling is a little different.
Now that we’ve covered what is relaxed homeschooling, let’s better understand what isn’t included in a relaxed homeschooling definition.
What eclectic homeschool is NOT:
- One specific learning style (it involves many different learning styles and tools)
- Using just one single homeschool curriculum for learning (but it can use parts of a homeschool curriculum)
- Specific, strict homeschool schedules
- One set standard on how to learn
- Allowing children to do whatever they want, whenever they want
Keep reading for more tips on relaxed homeschooling and what it’s all about — including our personal relaxed eclectic homeschool schedule examples that we use for this mix of homeschool methods.
What is eclectic curriculum?
An eclectic homeschool curriculum takes into account a child’s interests and learning styles. Then, different educational tools and resources are built around how to help kids best learn using a personalized approach to learning. There is no specific eclectic homeschooling curriculum. You build it yourself using different homeschool tools and homeschool resources! Parental involvement is key in this methodology.
IMPORTANT: Don’t look for a specific relaxed homeschool curriculum! You create your own relaxed home school from different education elements and home schooling resources.
Which homeschool program is the best?
The great thing about eclectic homeschooling is that there is no one best home school program! You may use one program for math, a different homeschool program online for language arts, and then no homeschooling program at all for art and just let your child unschool for that. The best homeschool program is what works best for your flexible homeschool schedule!
Eclectic Homeschooling vs Hybrid Homeschooling
What is the difference between eclectic homeschool and hybrid homeschool? Eclectic homeschool uses a variety of learning tools and resources for home school. Hybrid home school is part schooling at home and part traditional school like public school. It’s like partial homeschooling, but the courses and curricula are all directed by the public school system.
Can you eclectic homeschool online?
Yes! With eclectic schooling you can include any online homeschool classes or online programs that meet your needs. Eclectic homeschooling isn’t about what you can’t use. It’s about what educational resources you can use to best meet your needs, and that includes homeschool curriculum, online homeschool programs, classes at the library, textbooks and even extracurricular activities for kids.
Eclectic Homeschooling vs Traditional Homeschooling Curriculum
Wondering about the difference between eclectic homeschooling and a traditional homeschooling curriculum? With a traditional homeschooling curriculum, homeschoolers follow a predetermined curriculum with lessons or activities and use it for all of their learning and subjects that comprise a course (or at least one subject area). In eclectic homeschooling, you may use a homeschool curriculum for one subject, an online course for another subject, and an outside the home class for other subject.
Now that you understand the homeschool relaxed definition, let’s talk more about eclectic relaxed homeschool vs unschool.
Relaxed Homeschooling versus Unschooling
Relaxed homeschooling (aka: eclectic homeschooling) is a homeschool method or approach that incorporates many different learning tools from online courses to in-person classes to even elements of a homeschool curriculum. Unschooling is child led learning (child directed) that follows a child’s interests and also incorporates real world experiences. Both of these homeschool styles often can (and do!) use elements of the other.
You’ll find that you use aspects of both, so there’s not necessarily only relaxed homeschooling vs unschooling.
MORE LEARNING RESOURCES: You can learn more about the unschool method here.
IMPORTANT HOME SCHOOLING TIP: Switching from a traditional classroom (like public school / traditional schools) to homeschooling? Learn about deschooling, an important homeschool process that can make or break or your homeschooling journey! One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in homeschooling is not taking the time to do this!
HOW TO START ECLECTIC HOME SCHOOL (HOW TO HOMESCHOOL RELAXED)
These are the homeschool steps we took to create a successful relaxed homeschooling lifestyle!
To get started with relaxed homeschooling:
1. CHECK YOUR HOMESCHOOL LAWS.
Understand the homeschool laws and homeschool requirements for your state/area.
Do you have to homeschool a specific way or report in a specific way? Be sure to build that into your eclectic home school.
NEW HOMESCHOOL TIPS: If you’re a new homeschooling family, this Homeschool Planning 101 Guide is super helpful!
2. UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR CHILD LEARNS.
Take some time to understand how your child best learns.
Sometimes this simply means observing your child for a few weeks and seeing what they gravitate to during this period.
Do they find activity books more interesting or do they learn with field trips better?
This is your child’s education, so take the time to tailor learning to how they learn best at home and the best way to meet those needs!
Talk to them when creating any lesson plan or before researching resources!
“Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places.” ― John Holt, Learning All The Time
3. INCORPORATE YOUR CHILD’S INTERESTS.
Don’t make this all about parental goals for home school. Look beyond your own goals and talk to your kids about their interests.
Schooling in your home should be about way more than just to-do lists to check off! You have the opportunity to make learning fun and engaging!
ASK: What would they like to learn about as part of their school work?
I, personally, think that this is an often overlooked step by a homeschool mom or homeschooling parents! This is an important thing!
Your children, no matter their age, should have a say in their own education and their own homeschool days — especially as relaxed homeschoolers!
Then, work to include your child’s interests into their learning. (Read about how to do this with a unit study.) If you need relaxed homeschooling ideas, just ask your kids!
4. UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR CHILD STRUGGLES.
Understanding your child’s challenges will help you match learning tools to help with those struggles.
For example, if your child struggles with reading, it doesn’t make sense to choose homeschool curricula or classes that require a lot of reading. Instead, use things like Vooks, podcasts like this, or audiobooks. (Read-aloud time doesn’t have to include physical books!)
5. START WITH A LIST.
List out what is required from your area’s homeschool laws (if any).
Then, add in the subjects you want/need to learn or add to your lesson packs, fun learning centers, or unit studies.
HELPFUL HOMESCHOOL INFORMATION: Learn how to make your own homeschool unit study packs.
6. MATCH THE SUBJECTS TO YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE.
Once you have the list of required subjects, match them to learning resources that best match your child’s learning style.
If they learn best by listening, try podcasts or play music while learning.
If your kids learn well with games, try game-based learning. Just start with a simple online search like game reading resources.
Take notes of resources that look promising for that topic/subject and then move on to the next.
If you don’t find a resource that you really love, then leave that topic open for unschooling.
Eclectic Homeschool Tip: Set a timer (like 10-15 minutes) to research resources or subjects for each topic or subject. Otherwise, you can easily fall down a rabbit hole of spending hours online researching one homeschool subject.
7. SET A LOOSE SCHEDULE FOR YOUR RELAXED HOMESCHOOLING JOURNEY.
Once you have your subjects and homeschool resources you will use, make a simple homeschool schedule.
It can be a simple weekly calendar like:
Monday: History, Drama
Tuesday: Reading, Math, PE
Wednesday: Read-alouds, Art (etc.)
IMPORTANT: With eclectic learning, you want to leave you schedule simple to allow learning and time for exploring topics.
If a science project interests your child enough to continue learning by looking up YouTube videos, you don’t want to rush them along just for the purpose of completing a task list.
This is a mistake new homeschool parents make by rushing through things just to complete the lessons.
This is not how a love of lifelong learning is created!
8. DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET GO!
One of the best things about eclectic home school is that if something is not working, then stop using it.
You have an unlimited amount of resources (yes, even free homeschool resources) available to you and your children.
Don’t torture your family by forcing your kids to complete something that they aren’t enjoying and isn’t working.
Have fun with your relaxed homeschooling lifestyle!
This will feel unnatural or unusual for your first year of homeschooling, but once you trust this process it gets better! Becoming relaxed homeschooling parents takes some time and practice!
Download our free school schedule and use it for your eclectic homeschool planner.
What To Use for Eclectic Homeschooling
Relaxed Homeschooling Resources / Creating An Eclectic Curriculum
Here are some of the learning tools and resources we’ve used for successful eclectic homeschooling for different subject areas:
- READING: Vooks; audio books (or favorite good book series)
- SPELLING: Osmo (also for Math, Coding, Music, Social Studies / Geography+)
- WRITING/LANGUAGE ARTS: Night Zookeeper
- HISTORY: Honest History Magazine
- MATH: Prodigy learning game; Free Math Antics Videos
- CURRENT EVENT: The Juice
- COURSES: Great Courses Plus, Outschool
- HANDS-ON LEARNING (including science and art): Subscription boxes
- MORE LEARNING RESOURCES: Podcasts
We also do a lot of unschooling, which allows my daughter to follow her interests in learning.
HELP WITH HOMESCHOOLING PLANNING: SEE OUR PERSONAL LIST OF HOMESCHOOL CLASSES, HOMESCHOOLING RESOURCES, AND HOME SCHOOL TOOLS WE’VE USED AND LOVED
What Does Homeschooling Look Like With A Relaxed Schedule? Our Eclectic Homeschooling Schedule Example
Each month, I make a homeschool schedule for my daughter. This is a real example of one of the homeschool classes weeks.
As you can see, I don’t put any times on the school classes unless it’s a specific online class on her homeschool laptop or class outside the home at a specific time.
That way, if she wants to expand her learning on some of these learning topics, she can do that without feeling rushed to move on by a certain time.
I never want my daughter to stop learning something she’s interested in because her schedule says she has to move on to something else by 2:oo p.m. just to meet a clock schedule!
On her monthly schedule, I also include special holidays or things of interest for that week or month or even season.
Some of these items are from a homeschool curriculum, some are from online homeschool programs, some are outside classes, and some are unschooling topics that she’s interested in (like creating video games, creating music online, history documentaries, etc.).
Notice, on the home school schedule I left room for her to write in any extra things she did for home school or any goals we want to set for the week. This changes weekly!
OUR RELAXED HOMESCHOOL SCHEDULE EXAMPLE – not a relaxed homeschooling curriculum!
HOMESCHOOL SCHEDULING TIP: Start with the pre-scheduled courses (like online courses and outside the house classes on specific days and times). Then, fill in your study ideas around those times and days.
Your eclectic homeschool schedule may look very different based on what works for your family! Play around with your relaxed homeschooling schedule.
IMPORTANT HOMESCHOOL TIP FROM OUR EXPERIENCE: If something isn’t working for your kids, don’t be afraid to change it up for the next month! It took me a long time to learn this and I wish it’s something I would’ve done sooner. Ditch the homeschool curricula or learning tools that aren’t working and find ones that will work!
Pros and Cons of Eclectic Homeschooling
Is Relaxed Homeschooling Bad for Homeschoolers?
Is eclectic homeschooling right for your family?
Understanding the relaxed eclectic homeschooling benefits and drawbacks will help you better decide.
Benefits of Eclectic Homeschooling
Benefits Of A Relaxed Homeschooling Style:
- Super flexible and allows you to adjust the learning schedule to your lifestyle
- Great for all types of learners, from gifted kids to kids who like to follow their interests
- Ability to tailor learning for each subject or course topic (for example, you may prefer to use a homeschool math curriculum but use unschooling for art)
- Allows room for kids to incorporate their interests, which keeps them engaged in learning
- Ability to adjust and change curriculum and tools that aren’t working for your child and shift when necessary
- Great way to for kids to take responsibility for their own time
- Wide range of educational resources are available because this home school method allows for different learning tools, classes, curriculum, and activities (whatever works, use that!)
- Can decrease monotony or boredom because you’re switching between learning tools throughout the week
- Can be a successful homeschool year for all ages / any grade level — from preschool to high schoolers! (Looking for a preschool curriculum? READ THIS ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN FIRST)
- Helps kids develop a love of learning because they’re working on topics of interest in a pressure-free environment
Disadvantages of Eclectic Homeschooling
Cons To Eclectic Homeschooling / Relaxed Homeschooling Disadvantages:
- There is no “blueprint” to show you what to pick and choose and what homeschool schedule to follow, which can feel overwhelming (especially for new homeschool parents)
- Parents are responsible for researching and choosing learning tools, classes, and curricula for each subject
- Research is time-consuming
- Can seem overwhelming to new homeschoolers because there is no step-by-step curriculum to follow
- Too many options sometimes makes it difficult to narrow down what you want to use (FOMO)
- Can be a tendency to give up too quickly and change to something new as soon as it seems like it’s not working
- May be uncomfortable or unsuccessful if your family (or child) works best on a strict schedule or a preplanned curriculum that is done for you
READ MORE ABOUT RELAXED HOMESCHOOL: Flexible Homeschool Schedule And Our Secret Planning Tool for Homeschool Programs
There are so many benefits of a relaxed homeschool style! An eclectic education can be fun and exciting for your kids and help make for a successful homeschool journey!