An eclectic home educator is one who takes different parts of methods and philosophies and adapts them to form their own particular style to best suit their family. Essentially, eclectic home education is a mix of resources and approaches that is highly individualised to meet the needs and abilities of children. Parent might use a unit study approach for science and humanities, a curriculum product for English and maths, and cover other areas through natural learning.
When talking to eclectic home educators about how they do things, it is quite common to hear people say that they are natural learners in most subjects, but for maths and English they use a curriculum package. For others, they choose a natural learning approach for maths and English but may use a science curriculum. Each family has a unique mix.
HEN’s 2019 survey found that out of 588 respondents, 71% of those who have been home educating for over five years identify as being eclectic home educators. This indicates that the longer people home educate, the more they move away from styles considered more school-like.
An eclectic learning approach often begins with the parent having made observations of how their children learn best: what things work, what things cause resistance, what product was a flop, what resource was devoured by the kids, how the kids like to have fun, how long they’re able to focus and so on. For many people who start off with a more school-like home ed style and remove to a more informal, or an eclectic style, that change has taken place over some months or perhaps a year. If you have spent money on a shiny boxed all-in-one curriculum you may be reluctant to ditch it even if the kids hate it! With eclectic home ed, you can still use the elements of your purchased curriculum. You just pick and choose the bits that worked, and adapt as necessary.
With eclectic home ed, if something you try doesn’t work, that’s okay– you just try something else and see what suits your children best. And as your children grow, you can adapt your eclectic style accordingly.