What is the focus of your homeschool? I’m not asking about what method you use, or what curriculum you purchase. What are your goals in educating your children at home? What is the vision of your family?
It is easy to get caught up in the “homeschooling hype” of peer pressure, right vs. wrong methods, popular curriculum, and homeschoolese (a language that I akin to educanese).
I have sat in on too many discussions about homeschooling that focused on the wrong things. People love to give advice, to brag about the weirdest things (even how “hard” they make their schoolwork), and to control others. New homeschoolers are especially vulnerable to this onslaught due to their eagerness to find other homeschoolers and their lack of knowledge about the different ways to go about the business of homeschooling.
Where is the easy button?
Don’t we all want a simple solution? I desperately desired guidance and a simple list of the best books and methods when I started out homeschooling. The advice I got saved me lots of money and forced me to think deeply about our focus. A wise, veteran homeschooler simply told me, “Find what works for your family, and then do it.”
To this day I am thankful for my friend Gwen’s simple advice. At the time, it frustrated me because I wanted answers. Later I realized that in order to avoid burnout and make homeschooling work I needed to find my own path; the right focus for our family.
It is sometimes beneficial to ask for counsel from those more experienced than us. However, we must always take each piece of advice, each learning tool (because that is all curriculum is- a tool), and each method and evaluate it in the light of our goals and focus.
Finding your focus
Remember, homeschooling should be joyful. So how do you go about finding the focus of your homeschool? First, it is helpful to find your own philosophy of education. Write down your thoughts a beliefs about education such as:
- What is education?
- How do children learn?
- What are your goals for your child’s education?
- What do you believe about learning, intelligence, and ability?
- What constitutes a fulfilled life?
- What are your priorities in family, faith, and life?
- What do your children believe about these things?
The next step is a continual process of filtering. You must filter out all the things that does not work towards your goals. Only keep what enhances and promotes your focus.
One of the big priorities in our homeschool is family. Rarely do we sacrifice family time for other pursuits. If we are able to, we combine learning with spending time together.
If a curriculum or activity is taking significant time away from being together, or it attempts to separate familial relationships, we scrap it.
Another major focus that we have is self-directed learning. Any educational activity that we choose to impose on our children must be purposeful, applicable, and meaningful to them. Doing educational busywork for the sake of a curriculum or specific method is not an option in our home. At all possible moments, if a child is able to gain knowledge through personal pursuits, it is encouraged and fostered.
What your family decides to prioritize and focus on will be a unique combination based on your needs and beliefs. Then, once you have a focus you can find educational paths that will lead you towards the goals and outcomes you value.
A final word
When you are thinking deeply about your homeschool, bring your children and spouse in on the discussion. Their views about priorities and goals are just as important as yours. Your children especially have a vested interest in their own education and will appreciate being included.
But, you don’t have to take my word for it. ;0)
Article by Aadel Bussinger
Aadel has been married to her career Army man for 13 years and they have 2 daughters and a freshly made son. She is a homeschooling mom, volunteer, and online college student. Her hobbies include cooking, organic gardening, sewing, and crocheting. She blogs about their military, unschooling life at These Temporary Tents.
Aadel has written 86 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.