Exploring Educational Opportunities

Learning outside

Even though my daughter is not quite two yet, I am well and truly already thinking about her education.  Not because I have any intention of rushing her, but because she herself is so interested in learning about things.  It is wonderful to see her enthusiasm for learning new things. At this age learning is fun and I would hate for this change. It is very important for me, then, for me to find out about different methods of learning to determine what will work for me and my daughter. With this in mind, I am starting a series on learning styles and educational theories. I don’t want Gaia’s schooling days to be like mine where my love of learning was lost in my inquisitive nature suppressed.

Homeschooling is one potential that I am seriously contemplating.  For me, if I were to take this journey with my daughter, I imagine that at least part of my method would be of an eclectic nature, as I, myself, have such eclectic interests.  It would, of course, then depend quite a bit on my daughter’s personality and needs… and, with her only two years of age at this point, it is way too premature to speculate on what will work for her when she begins including state requirements in her education.

Eclectic Homeschooling

The available definitions for Eclectic Homeschooling are as wide and varied as the possibilities it provides. Many non-homeschoolers imagine homeschooling to be very similar in structure to public schooling, although at home. They assume that homeschooled students sit at a desk all day, working their way through a set curriculum, as well as completing assignments and exams. Indeed, this is the way that some families choose to homeschool, and it can work very well.

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Eclectic homeschooling, however, involves utilising resources and information from anywhere and everywhere. Rather than be restricted to one set curriculum, they may utilise a variety of text books. But, eclectic homeschooling certainly doesn’t stop there. Eclectic homeschooling also includes using a variety of methods, tools and even locations, to educate your children, as well as letting their needs and desires determine what is taught and how. Many parents of special needs children home-school their children in an eclectic fashion.

Eclectic homeschooling is a form of homeschooling that is simply bursting with potential, because your family’s educational journey is only limited by your imagination… and, perhaps, funding. Many parents will take a child interests and turn it into a fun school subject or use a variety of books to teach literature instead of buying a program or a boring anthology of works. Eclectic homeschooling families are often very talented at discovering what works. While some parents will buy a curriculum and persevere, following it to the letter, even if their kids are struggling, this should never be the case in homeschooling. Don’t be afraid to change! If the kids are struggling, and there is little progress, maybe its time to look into another way to doing things. This is where eclectic homeschooling really comes into its own. If it’s broke, definitely fix it. It’s your kids and their future, and they are the reason we are homeshooling in the first place!

Unschooling

Somewhat closely associated to Eclectic Homeschooling is the concept of Unschooling. This method of education takes advantage of the fact that children are natural learners. Instead of setting a rigid structure, Unschoolers allow their children’s interests to direct their education, with the parents, as homeschool teachers, acting as facilitators of the learning process, rather than directors/writers/dictators.

Unschooling can be surprisingly effective when well-guided, allowing the child to maintain an interest and some influence over his/her own learning materials, utilising real life activities, as well of books and standard resources. Orthodox Unschoolers believe that learners self-determine what is important to know in the world and, as there is more to learn than can ever be learned, the skills learned in self-directed learning will keep students in good stead throughout life. Also, they argue that there is no such thing as particular topics of study being critical to know, or more important than other subjects in the grand scheme of things. Therefore, whatever direction of study the student chooses is the right one for them. Critics of Unschooling, however, express concern that Unschoolers may avoid topics that are not of interest, and may therefore be lacking in particular aspects of education and/or social skills, including those deemed important for the workforce.

Regardless of the style of homeschooling adopted long-term, many homeschooling families make good use of Unschooling as a transition from government schooling to homeschooling, allowing the child to create new educational associations, and slip into the new freedoms that homeschooling allows.

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