Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Homeschooling Goals

Our family became homeschoolers in fits and starts. After a traumatic and disastrous time spent in public school, we knew we had to bring our girls home for good. But I knew I had to deal with the reality of homeschooling. Despite my teacher training in college, the reality of being my children's primary academic educator was a wee bit daunting, no matter how natural the idea felt. What should it look like, really?
Todd and I both felt strongly that we didn't want it to look like the public school system we had pulled them out of. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding alternative educational philosophies, e.g. John Holt, Charlotte Mason, Maria Montessori, Waldorf, etc. I read books of real parents in the homeschooling trenches.
I shared my findings with Todd and we had many long discussions, trying to wrap our minds around a completely different, but more natural, idea of what being educated means. More importantly, what should it look like for us?
We realized we needed to begin with the end in mind: in imagining our children grown, what was it we TRULY wanted them to be able to do, that we could give them REALISTICALLY? Thus our homeschooling "mission statement" was born.

  • We wanted them to be comfortable with math and math concepts.
  • We wanted them to be able to read and to (hopefully) enjoy reading. (If they learn to read, then the world of knowledge opens up for them.)
  • We wanted them to have the skills necessary to find things out for themselves.
  • We wanted them to have the life skills (balance a check book, read a map, follow a recipe, clean a toilet, etc.) that they’d need to negotiate life.
Then I gave myself permission to let the rest go. Their life is not going to be ruined if we cannot/will not provide them with every possible learning experience. My job is to teach them how to learn; they have the rest of their life to experience many, many things, (including arts and crafts and science projects.) The whole of life is a learning journey.

So right now we focus on real books (as opposed to textbooks,) life skills, and math, and plenty of time for them to pursue their own interests.


  1. A lovely, simple, and worthy goal! My goal is also to teach my kids to learn and find answers for themselves, so your mission statement resonates with me.

  2. I really like this post, and I am looking forward to reading more. It sounds like we are very similar in our philosophies!

  3. Fanatastic post! Makes me change my embargo on commenting

  4. Great post! I think it makes so much sense to focus on goals rather than methods or philosophies. And yours are clear, straightforward, and realistic. When put this way, homeschooling is so much less complicated and mystified (and do-able) than it sometimes seems to those who are just starting to think about it.

  5. I might just have to borrow your mission statement. :-)

  6. Love it! This is so us as well. We do math. Teach life skills. And then read and read and read and read. From all that reading we find ourselves doing projects and experiments and all that fun stuff that others slave planning over. When people ask me what kind of homeschoolers we are I say we are library homeschoolers :)

  7. Thanks for the lovely, supportive comments, all.

    (Jocelyne, I like that! "Library Homeschoolers!")