Three simple steps? Yes, really! Certainly not easy steps; this process requires much effort on the part of the home educating parent, but I promise they are simple enough.
My own introduction to home education came when my now-twelve-year-old daughter was just four months old. I stumbled across the ideas of Charlotte Mason and was enthralled. I read, researched, and read some more. We followed the ideas of this renowned educator pretty faithfully, until I had a dalliance with Steiner for a year. Although I then returned to the arms of Miss Mason for comfort, solace, and support, my head turned with each and every shiny new idea that crossed my path. Confusion reigned. I spent hours glued to the computer each night, after my wee ones were tucked up in bed, reading articles and blogs, buying new books and curriculum that some other mother said had ‘transformed’ her home school or ‘made learning fun.’ It all sounded so very good, even though many of the ideas and curriculum were quite opposites of each other.
I have finally come to a place of rest in my educational philosophy, and I would like to share with you the three steps that led me to this sense of peace.
STEP 1: Spend time thinking about why you are choosing to home educate.
Yes, just think. Turn off that computer, step away from the blogs and Facebook. This is the time to explore and consider your own thoughts and reasons. If you are a person of faith, do this step prayerfully.
Parents choose to home educate for many different reasons. Some choose home education because they wish to keep close ties with their child, others because they want to provide a superior education. Many seek out home education as a rich alternative to the fact-driven education and “Model School” that Charles Dickens warned us of in his novel Hard Times, which unfortunately pervades the education system of today.
Make a list of your own reasons, questions, concerns, and non-negotiables. Keep this list safe – it will become as gold to you in the future.
Step 2: Research the different educational philosophies available to you.
There are numerous educational philosophies available to us as home educating parents; here is a short list to get you started:
Autonomous / unschooling
School at home
Steiner / Waldorf
Read books and articles pertaining to the various methods; talk to other parents and educators; discover the main principles of each style. Research child development – which methods have pedagogical ideas that resonate with your own understanding and experience? Make lots of notes; look to specifically address the questions and concerns you had in step 1.
Step 3: Think some more.
This can be the hardest step. It is so much easier in our fast-paced world to browse the blogs and forums and choose to follow what other families are doing. But, whilst their ideas may be wonderful, noble even, they are not your family. Now is the time to dig deep and invest in the future of your child(ren). Why are you choosing to home educate your child(ren)? After all your research, which method will serve you best?
Parents, this is so very important. Without this step, you will always be subject, as I was myself, to the latest blog post, to whatever the families at your local home education group are doing, and so forth. You will doubt yourself and be blown around by each new wind of ideas that comes along.
This process is not easy. It requires our efforts and our own pure thoughts, not the pre-digested ideas of others. But if we push ahead, we will reap the reward of an authentic childhood for those whom we love.