Yes, we do follow (sort of) the local school schedule here, mainly because my husband teaches at a University and we like to be in sync with his schedule.
It seems every year I talk about “schooling” straight through the summer, but the truth is: when the summer comes, I need a break from doing lessons so I can get a better picture of the next step. It’s hard to see the grand scheme clearly when you’re mired in the middle of things.
The summer is an excellent time to revisit my philosophy of education, get a handle on where we’re at, what we need to do next, and (finally---this comes last!) make concrete plans of what tools I need (curricula!) to accomplish our goals.
Every year is a new season in our life of learning together and I try not to assume that we’ll just continue on as we’ve been continuing on.
Step 1: Revisiting Our Philosophy of Education
If “philosophy” sounds like a scary topic, what I’m really talking about here is why we homeschool and what we hope to accomplish in educating our kids.
For some people that will mean getting their kids into a 4-year-old college. Some people want their kids to embody their Christian Faith. And there are those who just want to break free of an institutional education.
My husband and I want to give our kids the opportunity to reach their full potential spiritually, intellectually, and physically. We want to raise independent thinkers who are not afraid to engage with the world and all the people in it. While we do share our faith with them by living it in their presence, we believe that each of God’s children can find their own path to Him. It is not for me to tell my children what they believe, as Truth is not on my authority.
We are Catholic, but we do not pursue home education for religious reasons. There’s a Catholic school down the street. We do it because we don’t believe in the “one size fits most” philosophy of education.
Which brings me to another point---I don’t define myself as a “classical” homeschooler, a “traditional” homeschooler, a “Charlotte Mason” homeschooler, a “unit study” homeschooler, an “unschooler,” or any of the other “types” of homeschoolers out there. The best I can come up with is “eclectic”…or maybe “all of the above” would be more appropriate?
I have embraced some part of each those those methods at various points in my career as a teaching mama. But just as I don’t think that the local public (or private school) fits every child, I don’t think that any one of those methods fits every child in every season of learning.
I believe in a fully customized education. I believe in a fully customized upbringing.
I also want my children to share in their learning to some degree. It doesn’t make sense to me for a house full of learners to not work together on some level. The intellectual mind in fed when is engaged by others.
I think you can see that what I’m trying to accomplish for my children and my desire for fulfilling their individual needs will have a pretty big influence upon what we study and the types of materials we use.
To highlight a few key points:
I want to raise independent thinkers---I am comfortable using materials from various sources that present different points of view. While we do read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible, we also read history from secular resources and use a mixture of resources for science (and so on). I don’t limit my curriculum choices to Catholic or Christian publishers.
I have an eclectic approach because I believe in a fully customized education---that means I don’t feel a need to teach each child the same way or reuse the same materials I used with an older sibling. Just because we used Sonlight last year doesn’t mean we’ll use it this year (in fact, we aren’t and for very specific reasons).
I’ve never used an “all in one” boxed curriculum for the same reason. The closest I ever got was when we used Sonlight Core F last year (but we were only using the history/geo/lit). I have one child who would probably do fine if I used one grade level for all subjects for her, but her reading level is still above and beyond her grade level. All of my children have greatly benefitted from being met where they are at and challenged the right amount.
These are the ways that my particular view of education influences how I educate my kids. Next time I’ll talk about where we are at in our homeschool journey and how that influences this year’s curriculum choices.
I suspect that there are as many philosophies of education as there are educators.
What is your educational philosophy? How does it influence how you homeschool?