What is your educational philosophy and why?
I love talking about educational philosophies. Knowing your philosophy of education will help you to make strong, solid decisions in your homeschooling lifestyle. My #1 favorite homeschooling book is called, "The Joyful Homeschooler" by Mary Hood. Mary is the pioneer of relaxed homeschooling. Though I find value in every option out there, "Relaxed Homeschooling" grabbed my heart in a very emotional way. I literally cried through some of the chapters as my whole being was encouraged through her powerful words of encouragement and thought provoking questions. I find that "Relaxed Homeschooling" is often confused or clumped with Unschooling, but they really are very different.
Relaxed Homeschooling encourages having an educational plan in place, but discourages following the status quo. An example that Mary gives in her book is that of her son. He was going into 7th grade and was feeling a bit burned out and not very motivated to learn about anything in particular. She prayed and asked the Lord to show her where she could most encourage her son. All she felt led to do with him one year was math and guitar. She shared her conversation with the Lord that went something like this, "Math and guitar?! That's it? Are you sure Lord?" Well, all these years later he went to college and guess what he became..., A MUSIC pastor! However, they did math and guitar consistently everyday as part of their plan. In a nutshell, Relaxed homeschoolers have a plan in place, but oftentimes the plan does not include every single subject.
Unschooling takes a very special commitment. There are all types of unschoolers out there. I personally have the deepest respect for unschoolers. Boredom is their best teaching tool. Unschoolers allow the children to be in the drivers seat of their education. They wait and watch their children and take their cues from them. They walk beside them and show them how to be self learners. I love the book, "Christian Unschooling" as it talks about how to walk as an unschooler with strong parental boundaries, though every family has different goals. Here is an article on using Time4Learning in your Unschooling program.
Traditional Schooling is a strong option for new homeschoolers. It is often workbooks, textbooks, etc.., In my experience of working with homeschoolers for several years I find that most homeschoolers who start strong with textbooks tend to blend their love of traditional with other philosophies. In our home I LOVE traditional math and language arts.
Unit Studies are a hit with my younger children. I love tying together history, science, writing, reading and bible. For instance, when my oldest son used a Unit Study program called, "Five In a Row" when he was younger we read the book, "Follow The Drinking Gourd" and learned about the Civil War and Slavery. We went to a Civil War re-enactment, read about Harriet Tubman and the Underground railroad, wrote a paper about Harriet and her bravery and then shared scriptures that talk about loving each person for who they are. Here is an article on combining unit studies with Time4Learning.
Classical Education uses the classical mode of learning within the home. Most classical educators read wonderful classic books, they add latin, lots of memory and break education up into three parts. Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. The grammar Stage is a lot of memory, Logic stage begins to build on the "why's" and Rhetoric is the debate stage of education. It's owning what you believe. Though I loved the book, "The Well Trained Mind". This was not a good fit for our home. However, I have many MANY friends who use and love this philosophy of education. Here is a great article written several months ago by one of my colleagues that talks about combining classical education and on-line learning.
At the end of the day, homeschoolers tend to blend many philosophies of education into our homeschool programs. However, we are normally drawn to a primary choice that influences our decisions, curriculum and activities. Which educational philosophy most lines up with your homeschool?