Your Homeschool Philosophy and Vision
(This is Part 1 of a two-part series focusing on choosing curriculum for elementary and middle school.)
Curriculum… the rabbit hole of rabbit holes for homeschoolers. Some of us love to talk curriculum, research it, categorize it, buy it, collect it, live it, breathe it. Others… well, a root canal sounds better. Thankfully, you don’t have to love or hate curriculum to be able to make a good choice for your child. However, how to select the right curriculum for your child can feel daunting.
Grab a notebook and a pen and write out your answers to the questions below. Discuss them with your spouse and ask his/her opinion as well. Use this as a starting point for discussions about how homeschooling might look in your family.
Basics: Why are You Homeschooling?
- No really… why are you doing this in the first place? Religious reasons, frustration with the public school system, a desire to guide your own children’s education, medical needs, desire to spend more time with family? Is this a long-term lifestyle or a temporary change?
- What do you hope to accomplish through homeschooling? Do you want your kids to get scholarships and top honors to the Ivy League? Do you want to raise a child with a specific worldview? Do you want to study specific topics not covered in the public schools? Is moral character your priority?
Your Education Philosophy
- What do you think is the purpose of education? Is it to have a good working knowledge of facts, dates, and figures? To get a high-paying job and be successful? Is it to strengthen character and become a productive member of society? Is it to improve the mind and think great thoughts? Or maybe all of the above? Think about this one for a few minutes and write down all the words and phrases that come to mind. Prioritize your answers.
- How do you think your student will learn best? Through textbooks and traditional lectures? Reading novels and fiction and biographies? Hands-on? Through music or fine arts? Learning through living without formal lessons? Write down individual subjects and thoughts of how you would like to present these to your child.
Your Daily Vision
- Write a few sentences describing the atmosphere of “my homeschool.” Is it relaxed and more discussion-led, or more structured, with assignments and timetables? Do you all gather round the table to read together and do some subjects as a group, or is everyone working independently?
- How much structure is enough? Do you like the idea of a daily rhythm without a strict schedule, or do you love an hour-by-hour day planned out in detail? What do your kids prefer? How much free time is enough? (Be sure to discuss this one with your spouse! You might be surprised by different tolerance levels for unstructured days.)
- What are your current daily rhythms and routines? Early risers or late? Sluggish in the mornings and bright-eyed, bushy-tailed in the afternoons? Do you have littles who still need naps?
Putting it All Together
Phew! Hard part done! Grab a coffee and take a breather. When you come back, read over your answers. What themes do you see?
- Do you lean towards structure, academics, and traditional methods?
- Do you want to integrate learning more into daily life rather than keeping it separate?
- Do you feel religious and moral instruction is the theme running through your answers?
- Do you like everything equally and want to balance it all out?
Identifying one or several themes helps you see where your priorities and inclinations lay, and these will help you select curriculum.
For the most in-depth information on how to plan your homeschool, plus printable workbooks, check out Homeschool University’s Start Strong Indiana. Over the course of 14 days, this self-paced online course will give you a detailed roadmap from laws and regulations, to academic nuts and bolts, to planning for the future.
- Learn about the different Homeschool Styles.
- Note which ones appeal to you based on your answers above. Are there any styles that catch your attention but seem opposite to your educational philosophies?
- Research the individual homeschool styles and curricula that intrigue you.