How to homeschool? We ask this question because we know all about school – most of us have done school but as we step into homeschooling we have this sense that this might be different.
We need to know what we believe about education
What we believe about education will shape every decision we make about our homeschool. For Peter and I, our philosophy, what we believe about education and why, has evolved over the years. As we learn more:
- our understanding or definition of education has become clear
- our definition of success has been formed. Read How do you Define Success?
- and our perception how to learn has also changed
You may not have the time of researching a lot of how to’s before you start – that is okay. Grow and learn with your children. Become a family that learn together. You don’t have to have this sorted before you start – but you do have to be prepared to change your choices once you understand what you believe about education.
I believe that homeschooling is the opportunity
- to build relationship with your kids – to build strong family ties
- to shape our children’s values
- to give them an individualised education
A common thread in homeschooling families, regardless of philosophy or methods chosen, is our desire to see our children love learning. Our method, on the one hand may be seen as eclectic, but we have an overriding direction that pulls it all together. We see this approach as a discipleship approach. In my words, the discipleship approach is where you focus on the inner person of each child – their beliefs, character and passions. It is a whole-life focus.
Over the years Peter and I have had to look into the Scriptures and look into our hearts to define many areas of our life, and in many cases, redefine definitions that we grew up with. One such area has been education. And though we don’t hold that homeschooling is Biblical (and therefore the only way to go) there are principles in the Bible that we want to live by in all we do – and that includes education. Read Train up a Child.
We believe that parents are to train their children. Proverb 22:6 tells us that.
Whole Child approach to Homeschooling
We believe that children have six capacities – these capacities enable us to do all that we do:
- Spiritual: enables us to have a relationship with God
- Moral: enables us to know right from wrong
- Emotional: enables us to feel
- Social: enables us to have relationships
- Intellectual: enables us to think
- Physical: enables us to move and use our bodies
A parents role is to teach, train, guide and help our children grow in all of these capacities. This is where discipleship homeschooling finds its full application – it isn’t just about the academics, it is just as much about character development as knowledge as life skills.
Though it is tempting to use educational institutional guidelines and outcomes to guide me, I have had to rewrite (re think) education through so I can remain true to my education philosophy. I want to keep relationships first, see my children as individual and make room for every day living and at the same time deliver a high quality education for my children.
Focusing on these principles help me keep things in order:
- My priorities as I look at my day are relationships first, then skills and then academics.
- I set goals for each of my children that are guided by these developmental phases – Character, Love of Learning, Study Skills and then we reach the stage of Independent learner.
- I recognise that every day activities that we have happen in our family are opportunities to learn and I don’t need to replicate these experiences in our ‘school’ time.
- We Read, we Research and we Respond. Responding can be oral, or written or creative.
- We read to be inspired – to be inspired not only to knowledge but to be inspired to Wisdom
- Each child learns differently, so we need to adapt our teaching and learning methods to fit each individual child.
We also believe that with freedom comes much responsibility. With the freedom – or privilege – to homeschool comes a sense of great responsibility to do this well. So though we see our children learn in real life situations, we are also intentional and directional in presenting our kids with specific knowledge and skills that we see as necessary for living life in this generation. We want our kids to have a broad general knowledge, to be able to communicate with a wide spectrum of people and to live life responsibly. So though we make room for our children’s delights and their individual bents we also set a course of study and practice that is not negotiable.
What you believe about education will shape your homeschool
What you believe about education will shape your homeschool: it will shape the methods you use, the curriculum you buy, the routines you practice and the habits your form. Though you can think these things through at the beginning, it is also a growing process in itself – don’t be afraid to learn about education, and change your mind as you go along. We started out with a school-mindset though it wasn’t long till I burnt out with trying to balance running a mini-school and a family of young children. This made me pause and think about what we were doing and why; it made me reconsider what I believed about education and what I wanted out homeschool to look like. It was in this process that I began to see a whole-life approach develop. Whether you use the word discipleship – or the word mentor – it is the same concept – we need to live life with our kids, growing and learning together.
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