The Eclectic Homeschooling style is one in which the parents pick a chose various curriculums and resources from a number of places, aren't tied to anyone style, and often customize what is being learned in the home by whatever the parent plans and directs. The flexibility within eclectic homeschooling is great as they aren't tied to any one curriculum and can bounce around and not be tied down to a text book. Costs can be less with eclectic homeschooling can also be much less than those who use a specific curriculum as anything can be used to learn - library books, used books, the Bible, or whatever the parents decide. As such there really isn't any curriculum I can share - anything could make a good curriculum for the eclectic homeschooler. I would imagine used homeschool curriculum sales are a favorite place for the eclectic homeschooling family to find possible options for the year. Eclectic homeschooling does leave more responsibility on the parents to make sure the children are learning all that should be learned and creating a well rounded education.
If you have trouble staying focused on any one curriculum or find yourself wanting to create your own curriculum that is special tailored to your children then perhaps the eclectic style of homeschooling would be a perfect fit for you. I would not recommend a first year homeschool family try the eclectic style. Having a couple years experience with another style and/or curriculum would give you a good grasp at what you do and don't like, how your children best learn, and what you would want in your eclectic homeschool.
The eclectic style of homeschooling is certainly one worth looking into when picking what curriculum you want to use with your family and could be a great option for those who want a homeschool that is very out of the box!
The Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling is really a method. She believed in education the whole child not just the mind. Rather than write a bunch on this I'm going to give you this link (CLICK HERE) Sonya Schaeffer from Simply Charlotte Mason does an excellent job explaining the Charlotte Mason video and has a video to explain more. It's a fabulous introduction to what a Charlotte Mason education is - so read and watch.
There are many curriculums that claim to be Charlotte Mason inspired however, very few are truly CM. I would highly encourage you if you are just looking into Charlotte Mason to dig into information that will give you a true (or "whole hog" as they call it in CM world) reflection of a Charlotte Mason philosophy. Many of these "inspired" CM curriculums say things that are not true to CM and their curriculum would not hold up to the standard of CM.
To learn about the true Charlotte Mason philosophy - here are my recommendations
Here are Charlotte Mason curriculums. The Charlotte Mason curriculums that are "whole hog" or true CM curriculums are the BLACK buttons the "inspired" curriculums are the WHITE buttons.
Unit study homeschooling style simply put is taking a theme and learning all you can learn about that theme in all the subjects you wish for your children to study. For a basic example, you could pick the theme of prairies. For history you could study the time of the pioneers in the prairie, for lit you could read Little House on the Prairie, for science you could study the animals that live in and on the prairie or plants that grow on the prairie, for an artist study you could learn about an artist who primarily painted prairie scenes, for music history you could learn about music that came out of those who lived on the prairie, a field trip could be finding an environment near you that is similar to a prairie - you get the idea you can take basically any theme and create a unit study around the theme you chose. The sky is the limit on what you can chose and how deep you can dig into unit study learning. One major benefit of unit study learning is that your children will learn how to research a topic and the unit study style is perfect for families with multiple children as you can all study the same theme but gear the activities, books, and assignments to each child's learning style or age. Math and Grammar are usually covered separately and not tied to the unit study learning.
Many curriculums can fall into more than one style of homeschooling. Unit study style can be a hard style to nail down in curriculums alone. There are really only 2 that I know of that sell themselves as a Unit Study curriculum. These 2 are Five in a Row and Gather Round.
Five in a Row is an excellent curriculum it has been around for a long time and is one of my favorite young children curriculums. Five in a Row is a unit study curriculum based on literature books and is a fantastic way for children to learn.
Gather Round is new and has potential to be a crazy great curriculum. However, because it is a brand new curriculum that is being released one unit at a time I would be hesitant to pick this curriculum if my children were in upper elementary ages. There are no examples with Gather Round - we don't know how a student who uses this curriculum exclusively will academically turn out and I would not take the risk in the upper elementary ages. In younger elementary ages I think it would be worth the risk and honestly it can't hurt your child's academic progress that much. This is certainly a curriculum I will be watching in coming years and am hoping it is everything they have promised.
There are many other curriculums that are a mix of unit study, Charlotte Mason, and/or classical as well. The buttons below will take you to the website of these curriculums. The BLACK buttons are the 2 "true unit study" curriculums and the WHITE buttons are the mixed curriculums.
The style of online and/or video homeschooling is simply your child being taught by online or video instruction. There is limited amount of work on you as a parent - usually just grading or filling in when questions arise. Most online and video homeschool programs offer an umbrella structure for the family as well. The benefits of online and video homeschooling is that you have expert teachers educating your children. There are many programs that offer online or video programing and I suspect we will see a surge in this style of homeschool curriculum in coming years due to the Covid pandemic.
Below you will find buttons that you can click on to learn more about online and video homeschooling curriculum. There are a lot and I will do my best to list them all, but I'm sure I will some. As always, Raising Arrows will not recommend curriculum that is not Christian and that does not have a fantastic reputation. We only want to show you the best of the best. If the button below is BLACK it will take you straight to the curriculum website. If the button below is WHITE then this is a curriculum that we have personally used and recommend and it will take you to our blog post on the curriculum which will then lead you to the curriculum website.
Classical Homeschooling is based on a three part process - grammar, logic and rhetoric. These three parts are called the trivium. The grammar stage is the elementary years and includes building the foundation of learning language, learning how to learn, memorizing and repetition. The logic years, which start in late elementary years, are are where logic and reasoning start to take place. Finally, the rhetoric stage is in high school is where all three stages come together making the trivium. In these high school years much emphasis is placed on speech and debate, communication, and articulating thoughts well.
At its foundation classical homeschool education is teaching children to love the process of learning and can grow life long learners. Core subjects will be taught and taught well, latin is a strong focus in classical education as well. The Well Trained Mind (CLICK HERE) is a fantastic book to read explaining in detail the ins and outs of classical curriculum along with what should be taught on a year by year basis.
Below you will find links to classical homeschool curriculums - if the button is black it will take you straight to the website, if the button is white then it is a curriculum I have use and recommend and will take you to my post on this curriculum with links to the website. As always, Raising Arrows will only post Christian homeschool curriculum that we are confident in recommending (not that we have used all of the recommended but we won't recommend anything that doesn't have a solid strong reputation)
Traditional homeschooling, simply put, is taking curriculum used in a traditional classroom setting and using it in your homeschool. Many of these curriculums have created a version of the curriculum specific for homeschool families and offer an umbrella option too. Your traditional homeschool will look like a classroom and your children will receive virtually the same education just based out of your own home instead.
You might want to consider Traditional Homeschooling if:
Raising Arrows always encourages families to keep Christ at the center of their home and homeschool, therefore most of the curriculum and resources we share are Christian. There are many other secular traditional curriculums available that you can research on your own.
Below you can see buttons, these are the curriculums that fall under the traditional homeschool style. If the button is BLACK it will take you straight to the website of the curriculum and is a curriculum I personally haven't used. If the button is WHITE when you click on the button it will take you to the Raising Arrows review of the curriculum, which will then take you to the website.
Along with keeping a yearly plan for homeschooling it is also important to keep a daily schedule of what you are doing in your homeschool. This can be broken down by subject matter, by the hour, or by the day. The important part is that you keep a good record of what you are doing. Think of it as a journal for homeschooling.
If you have older kids (4th grade and up) make them write their own daily schedule. We take time every Sunday evening sit together as a family and plan out the week. Who is doing what on what days, what chores are happening, what other classes, field trips, or appointments are happening they write all these things down. You are not doing your kids a favor by writing their daily schedule for them when they are old enough to do it themselves. We want to equip and teach our children to keep a schedule and a to do list for themselves. This is a great life skill you are giving them - so don't sell them short by writing out the plan for them.
Facebook is also a great way to keep track of your homeschool journey. Many a mom I know will post homeschooling day #87 take a few photos and list what they did on that day. This is another great option you can do in addition to a paper or computer daily plan!
Here is a very simple daily schedule you could use
Here is a weekly lesson plan you could use too
There are plenty of free online versions you can find as well!
Oh lesson planning a homeschool mom can get lost in the lesson planning. Here is my advice - DO NOT PLAN MORE THAN A MONTH AT A TIME!!!! (especially if this is your first year!)
It's so easy to plan out the year and then feel so very discouraged when 3 weeks into the year you are behind and every days lesson plan reminds you of how behind you are! Don't do this to yourself. I recommend a very general yearly plan. For example, if there are 120 lessons in math and you plan to school for 9 months than the goal should be about 13 lessons a month. Each month check to see if you are making this goal and adjust as needed.
I plan a month at a time and this includes making a list of all necessary books, arts supplies, baking supplies, and whatever else I might need in the month. I also check up on the goals for each subject and if I'm making the progress I was hoping for.
Then every Sunday evening I spend about 30 minutes planning out the week and making sure I know what's coming at me for the week!
There are a million different ways you can lesson plan and I'm not about to list them all here! Etsy has tons of printable with these pages, there are free pages, digital pages, computer programs that will do the planning for you, or paper planners like The Well Planned Gal that you can check out as well. Find the lesson plan book that makes the most sense to your brain. The important part is simply to keep your lesson plans. Don't write your plans on a white board then you have no record of what you are accomplishing in school.
Lesson plans are one of the areas that is a to each his own. Different personality types need different types of lesson plans. Some only write in pencil, some like a different color pen for each subject matter, some are very creative and make their own beautiful bullet journal lesson plans. Do what works best for you and don't be afraid to scrap something that isn't working and start over with a new plan if you hate what you are using (it'll make the year much better!)
At some point I'll probably write a few blog posts on what specifically I use but for now these are the general ideas on lesson planning!
Before we start talking about the nitty gritty of how to homeschool we must start with THE WHY. Just as scripture is clear that a foundation not built on the Rock is shaky a homeschool foundation not built on the Rock is also shaky.
I want to start by making sure we are all on the same page with two statement:
1. Education is NEVER neutral
There is always an agenda behind everything taught. Furthermore the Bible is clear that you are either for Christ or against Him. There is no middle ground here and the same is true with the education of your children. Martin Luther said "I am much afraid that schools will prove the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt." We must realize that the education of our children is to be guarded carefully. Be wise and seek Godly advice on what to teach, which curriculums to use, and what voices you allow in your home.
2. Education is ALWAYS discipleship
Whomever you allow to educate your children has the power to disciple your children. In the case of homeschooling this puts a large weight on our shoulders. However, the Lord has already put this weight on our shoulders. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
As parents we are to be teaching our children about the Lord when we sit at home, when we are out, when we lie down and when we get up. That pretty much covers ALL day. As homeschool families we are given the unique opportunity to have our children with us all the time. This means we can follow this scripture and surround our children daily in The Word. Teaching science - God is the Author and Creator of life. Science points to Christ. Teaching history - The Lord has numbered our days and allowed all of history to happen. His finger print is all over history. History points to Christ. Teaching math. God is a God of order and logic. Math points to Christ. All subject either point to Christ or away from Christ and we need to take up the charge of this passage in Deuteronomy and be sure that in all ways in all our days with our children we are pointing our family back to our Savior.
So back to the question at hand what is your families "why" I challenge all Christian families that THE WHY of homeschooling should not be academic excellence (though there is nothing wrong with an academic education) If at the end of high school our children know more about American History, Chemistry, or Algebra 2 than they know the Word of God then we have failed. If our children's education is not founded on faith, discipling our children daily in the foundation of the Word of God than what is the point in bringing them home. We need to recognize that we are not just homeschooling our children for an education but, we are homeschooling our children with their future in mind. Our number one goal as parents should be to raise children who love the Lord God with all their hearts minds and souls and this should be no different when homeschooling. Yes, the methods in which we do this can vary from family to family however, the foundation should be the same. What a beautiful thing to be in a community of God fearing families whose number one objective as homeschool families is to grow their children into passionate followers of Christ!
This is our Why and without it your homeschool will crumble. There will come hard days in homeschooling and when they come you need to have the truth of why you are homeschooling to fall back on. A school day may go horribly wrong (and they do sometimes) but if you have pointed your children to Christ, taken time to read and discuss scripture together, and been an example of what a follower of Christ looks like than your day is NEVER waisted!
A few other verses for you to ponder as you consider THE WHY for your family and the Lords instruction to parents on teaching our children His Word:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old--
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors--
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
I know what you are thinking, record keeping sounds intimidating! Yes, it can be intimidating, but it is actually very simple so lets break this down into simple and easy terms!
Each state has its own laws on what records need to be saved. Check with the state you live in on which specific records you should be keeping. HSLDA is a great resource to look at for your state laws.
Below you you will find a simple list of the basic records that most states require you to keep or just simple records that are a good idea to keep on file.
A set of records should be kept on each child and should include:
Other recommend records