What is a homeschooling philosophy
Simply put, a philosophy is “a particular system of thought”. Your philosophy on a topic is just your beliefs and assumptions about it. In this case, your homeschooling philosophy is your knowledge and beliefs about things like: how children in general learn best, how your particular child learns best, how her educational needs will change as she develops, and what specific knowledge you want your child to acquire.
When someone asks you why you made a particular educational choice, or suggests you use a certain curriculum, your philosophy is the basis for your reply to them. It underpins all of the thousands of choices you will make as a homeschooling parent. And you will make those choices more quickly and easily if you have a clearly defined philosophy. It will give you a map to navigate homeschooling for the years ahead. Not having one is being tossed by the waves and guessing which direction to go.
In fact, everyone already has a philosophy about education rather they know it or not. Most people develop it unconsciously based on their own experiences and what they hear from others. That is why I believe it is so crucial to question these unconsciously held beliefs. You must spend time intentionally considering why you homeschool and what kind of education you want to give your child.
Why developing a homeschooling philosophy is so important
Moms often ask me what we do and how we do it when it comes to homeschooling. But the more important question I am rarely asked is why we do what we do. The answers to the “whys” are your philosophy. And knowing what yours are will help you in countless ways:
- It will narrow down the excessive choices in curriculum, materials, and extracurricular activities. With it you will focus on only those things that fit into your plan.
- It will give you confidence in your direction going forward. Homeschooling is a marathon and sometimes it is daunting to think of all the years that lie ahead of you. But a philosophy on how to best educate YOUR child will be your map.
- And here is the best thing. It will give you a cohesive explanation, both for yourself and anyone else, of what you do and why you do it this way.
You will know that you have chosen a math workbook because it is in line with how your child best learns math. Not just because you like the fun, colorful illustrations. You will confidently answer skeptical family members about your choices. I believe having a thought-out philosophy is so important that the long-term success or failure of your homeschool may ride upon it.
Our guiding principal is the belief that no one is better equipped to educate a child than her own parents. No one else has a child’s best interests more at heart. No one has more of a stake in the outcome of her education (than perhaps the child herself), or knows her better, than her parents.
The primary purpose of the education I will give my child will be to prepare her for adulthood and all that that may hold, personally and professionally. I want to give her a lifelong love of learning. And she will need the skills and self-confidence to seek out knowledge for herself. She will never master all she needs to know in the years that I have to teach her. Perhaps the most critical thing I will teach her is how to learn.
I believe that an excellent education is built on a solid foundation of knowledge (facts), and mastery of language and math skills. I prioritize these things in the early years over more abstract processes such as critical thinking and creative arts because I believe that those things build upon factual knowledge and basic skills. A child must have facts about which to think critically. She must have ideas in her mind to inspire creativity.
A child has an innate, natural love of and ability to learn. But it is a parent’s job to build a foundation of knowledge in a planned and cumulative way. We cannot leave to chance that a child will naturally absorb all the knowledge they will need.
I believe hard work is not just necessary for achievement, but can be actually enjoyable and rewarding, even for children. Children derive self-confidence by mastering knowledge and skills. High expectations inspire them.
A child not only can learn but desires to learn much more than we think. We can’t see beyond a closed door. And we often will not be interested in what is behind it’s opened. My goal is to open as many doors of knowledge for my girls as possible.
But more than all of this, we choose to homeschool because we are family and we love each other. What better environment in which to learn? We homeschool because we ENJOY our children. We enjoy spending time with them, watching them learn and discover. And we enjoy everything that comes with these things. And because we know how precious these experiences are, we cannot imagine giving them away to another person to enjoy.
This is the core of our homeschooling philosophy. But it is just a part of a broader parenting philosophy which includes things like passing on our values and traditions to our girls, the role of friends in their lives, etc. Many things overlap with our philosophy of education and factor into our decision to homeschool.