I want to show you pictures of my new schoolroom that has consumed the better part of several days. But first, I probably need to explain my title, especially for the non-homeschoolers among my readers who might not see the joke right away. A common question when homeschoolers get together is to ask what method a person favors. I always dread this question a bit because I don't like to be pinned down, using a few ideas from a wide variety of techniques. "Eclectic" just sounds so... meh. As I sorted through all of my homeschool supplies, I realize that eclectic doesn't even begin to describe what I do, because it makes it seem as if I blend all these techniques into a whole rather than careening from method to method depending on what feeling I'm currently reacting against.
Our average homeschool year looks more like this:
Classical (the method that believes education should be rigorous and focused on the trivium, the three stages of learning [grammar, rhetoric, and logic]. Latin is a big part of this as well as memorization, such as a grade school child memorizing the forms of 'to be'... am, are is, was, were, be, been, being, if you're curious.) I head in this direction when the panic that I am not preparing my children well enough for academic work sets in. While in this extreme, we have been known to work on memorizing The Lord's Prayer in Latin.
Unschooling (the method which says that children are natural learners, and given the time and freedom and resources to explore their world, they will learn just as much, or more, than children sitting at desks in a school room.) Inevitably, after a brief stay on the classical end of things, I veer heavily towards the other end of the spectrum, unschooling. This usually happens because I feel a little too trapped by the structure and rigidness of the classical method as well as the feeling of missing out on all the opportunities to follow the varied interests of my children.
Unit studies (the method that takes one subject and studies it in depth, relating as much as possible all the branches of learning to the subject at hand.) This is my middle ground, and where I often land after veering back and forth between the first two. We live in this method quite a bit, but usually incorporating the next three aspects into it.
Charlotte Mason (the method based on the writings of Charlotte Mason, a 19th century educator who believed in using real books for learning. There is a focus on living books, nature studies, narration [telling back what has been read or heard], and learning about the great artists.) I really like a lot of Charlotte Mason's ideas and tend to use real books (non-text books) in our learning. I just can't pull off a full Charlotte Mason, though, because there is very little allowance for students with significant special needs.
Waldorf (While not necessarily a homeschooling method, it is an education method started by Rudolph Steiner. A man whose personal philosophy is not one I can really agree with, but do like some of what Waldorf schools do.) I like the emphasis on play, handwork, delayed academics, and the role of imagination in the learning process. Plus, some of the Waldorf-based play and art supplies are just really, really lovely.
Maria Montessori (Probably the best-known person or method of all I have mentioned. Her method focuses on real-life work for children, choosing the thing to be worked on, and independent learning.) I really love the use of word cards and free-choice in this education method. This is especially true for my children who did not have a lot of early experiences in choosing. I also really like the emphasis on using real tools and the belief that children are capable of doing real and helpful work.
There you go. This is going to be my new go-to answer the next time someone asks me what homeschooling method I use. Besides, Chardorfissori is so much more fun to say than eclectic. Chardorfissori... Chardorfissori... Chardorfissori...
I was going to show you pictures. We are now back to having a dedicated schoolroom, this time on the third floor. I've lost track of which version of doing school this is. Like my homeschooling method, where we do school seems to veer between extremes as well. The short story is that I was tired of having to look at all the school stuff which was living in the kitchen day after day. It wasn't restful. Now it can all be upstairs where I don't have to see when we aren't hitting the books.
This picture shows the school area from the door of the 3rd floor. It is in the same place as my resource area which was previously housed up here. You can also see the addition of more bookcases to help delineate a larger space. The opening between the two brown cases is the official doorway.
Here we are looking in at the area on the other side of the large white bookcases in the picture above.
The same area from another angle. These books are all our non-fiction books, organized by subject. (Yes, I wanted to be a librarian when I was little.)
Looking the other direction in the same room. You can see the small table that I am going to display special things for children to look at or do on a weekly basis. Being able to do this was really the impetus behind going back to a dedicated schoolroom. I want to get another table to put in the center so people can be more spread out for doing actual work. You can also look through the funny little angled passage and see more of the dedicated room.
Here we are heading down that passage. The chapter books, alphabetized by author's last name begin on that bookcase in the foreground.
Here we are in the work area. We plan on figuring out how to create walls between the tall white bookcases, making it a more separate space.
Looking at is from the other side. When we are finished, you won't be able to see into the school space from this side.
One final view.
You can see that even by taking a larger chunk of the room, there is still plenty of room left to play.
There you go. Now to make it really work, I just need a couple of cheap rugs (the sound is still very echo-y), a clock, and some better lighting above the table. I'd also like to paint the brown cases white, and then there's that extra table, and the picture book shelves and bean bags for our picture books, and....