My kids love building miniature houses. I think most children their age share this same interest. Colorful Lego castles, cardboard Victorian mansions, popsicle stick cabins–our living room floor has seen them all.
Homeschooling families have something in common with these structures my children like to build–both are diverse and unique.
If you’ve been homeschooling for a while or have just started looking into it you might be familiar with the following scenario: We start reading about the crafts, Latin studies, Shakespeare play, acre garden or cool science experiments that other families do and we rush out to do the same thing.
We want to build a homeschool environment that looks just like another family’s. But what we really need to build is our own creation.
Can I encourage you to do something before you start paying for phonics curriculum, pottery lessons and Lego robotics?
Take some time to answer the following questions.
Have an idea in mind of what you are hoping to build before you start swinging a hammer or putting together those Lincoln Logs.
- Who are we as a family?
- What are our family’s learning goals?
- Do our curriculum choices reflect who are and what we value?
Maybe you’re still trying to answer the first question. Tsh at Simple Mom wrote an excellent post on creating a family mission statement. No written mission? No worries. We don’t have one either, but we do talk often about our family’s purpose, goals and dreams.
If you’re just getting started, hang tight. Spend time reflecting on your family’s needs before you rush out to buy that classical curriculum or decide to start an unschoolers co-op.
Our family places the outdoors and time together high on our list of values. We have other priorities too, such as creative freedom, interest-led learning and meaningful household and community contribution.
Knowing who we are and our goals helps me evaluate and choose from all the good homeschooling opportunities I encounter.
Photo by Renee Tougas
So when a learning experience is offered in our community every Saturday, I feel confident saying no. That’s the day we set aside for being outdoors together. Alternately, when my artist son has the opportunity to take drawing lessons if we change Tuesday’s schedule a bit we say yes.
Answering those first two questions makes evaluating curriculum and other homeschool decision-making much easier.
Look around for inspiration. By all means read homeschool books, magazines and blogs.
But mostly be who you are as a family.
Just as our kids create original miniatures, we too can build a home and homeschooling environment that is unique.
What about you? What makes your family unique? Does your homeschooling reflect that?