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Friday, January 18, 2013

Decide on Your Philosophy of Education Before You Buy a Curriculum

Lately is seems that every time I turn around, I hear of another parent talking about embarking on a journey of homeschooling, whether they are starting with little ones or taking older children out of a traditional school setting.  And it seems like the first question they ask is:  What curriculum should I use?

It frustrates me, because I think it’s the wrong question to ask. 

Curriculum is a tool that you use to help you to achieve your educational goals.

But you can’t start with the curriculum. 

Choosing the curriculum first is a little like buying your plane ticket before you decide on your destination.  Nobody makes their travel arrangements before deciding where they want to go, right? 

The danger is that you’ll either mold your goals to fit in with the curriculum, or you’ll become a curriculum hopper, first trying on this program, then that program, always searching for the right thing.  You may never find it if you don’t have some direction.

Decide where you are going before you choose how to get there---you will save yourself money, time, and frustration!

Ask yourself first:

What is my philosophy of education?

What's Your Philosophy of Education? I know, I know, big words.  That’s just a fancy way of saying, “how do I view education in general and how does that impact how I will teach my children?  What are my educational goals?”

Because once you have a clearer picture of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, the path to get there becomes much clearer and a whole lot less intimidating. 

The unknown will trip you up every time.  If you can imagine a future instead of a blurry mist of endless potential, you can more confidently educate your children.

Developing a clear philosophy of education will also help you to figure out that big question: 

Why Homeschool?

Throughout the years there have been times when I’ve wanted to pack it in, send all the kids to school, and spend my time keeping house and packing lunches.  Or at least the more annoying kids. {wink}  Because you know that it’s not all rainbows and roses around here…rainbows come with rain and roses come with thorns.  We love them, but they vex us. 

Kids are the same way. 

I’ve seen the dueling FB status updates round about September.  There are the people saying how relieved they are to have their kids back in school.  Then there are homeschoolers saying how sad it is that so many people are so relieved to be sending their kids away.

I can relate to both statuses, they really aren’t at odds with each other, just 2 sides of the same coin. 

I love my kids.  I’m thrilled to teach them.  But there are times that I wouldn’t mind hiding in a broom closet if I had one.  People are like that!  Let’s be honest!

Yes, maybe it would be easier to send them off and let someone else teach them.  It might be nice to have whole hours of quiet in the middle of the day.

But what always brings me back around is my philosophy of education---what I want for my kids isn’t available at the local brick and mortar school, but I can offer it to them at home.

Knowing our educational goals strengthens my resolve and helps me to keep the challenges in perspective.

And keeping my eyes on the journey as a whole reminds me that no matter how hard this particular moment might be, it is not all that there is.  I can look back at where we have been and see how far we have already come.  And I can also look forward to the future and imagine where we are going.

Do you know what you are trying to achieve by homeschooling?

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  1. Great reminder! I know this has been a big thing at Sonlight, which is why we publish our educational philosophy, our top 10 goals, as well as 27 reasons NOT to buy Sonlight [smile]. Knowing why you homeschool--and what you hope to achieve by doing so--can help you stay the course when the less than fun days hit. And such days always hit eventually.


  2. Yes, knowing why you are doing something is a big incentive for keeping keeping at it.


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