Just what is eclectic homeschooling? The word eclectic can have two slightly different meanings. The first is to be composed of elements drawn from various sources. We are probably most familiar with this meaning as it is used in the world of fashion and home decorating to describe mixing items from two or more styles. This definition could certainly apply to eclectic homeschooling as well. However, when I define our homeschooling style, I envision the other definition, “selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles.”1 In other words, whatever works!
Using Technology in the Eclectic Homeschool
“Whatever works” has been my mantra for homeschooling for many years. As most parents of two or more children realize, the method, discipline technique, or learning style that works for your first child isn’t necessarily a good fit for the second. This is definitely true in our family! I have often needed to exchange the fairly traditional approaches to education that worked for our daughter for more hands-on, kinesthetic methods for our energetic, right-brained son.
As part of my eclectic, whatever works approach to educating our children, we use a variety of technology in our homeschool.
Computer programs: We’ve enjoyed the Jump Start programs, Music Ace, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, and Reader Rabbit. We also use Photoshop Elements to create cards and scrapbooking pages.
MP3 players and audio books: My children have MP3 players loaded with educational songs, good music, and audio books. Our favorite audio series is Adventures in Odyssey. We have collected all but a few volumes. I also make use of librivox.org.
Cameras and video cameras: We use these to record important events and take photos of schoolwork. I also turn my children loose with the cameras. They record themselves singing, playing instruments, and acting out stories we have read, or take photos during nature study or on field trips.
Television, movies, and Netflix: We especially enjoy streaming classical movies and documentaries from Netflix. My daughter, in particular, likes movies from classical literature, such as Little Women or Sense and Sensibility. My son enjoys animal documentaries or programs about sports or vehicles.
Leap Frog: Both of my children have used Leap Pads and Tags while learning to read, as well as Leapsters for reviewing many basic skills.
Wii: Since we spend a significant portion of our year inside much of the day due to snow and bitter temperatures outdoors, our Wii (using Wii Fit) comes in handy for some physical activity on those days. They especially enjoy being able to best my scores in many of the activities!