I’m often asked the best way to homeschool. If you’ve been homeschooling a while, I’ll bet you get asked this question, too.
After being in this industry for 20 years, I’ve seen lots of different products and studied lots of different methods and theories. Yet, despite my experience, when someone asks me the best way to homeschool, I never start by recommending products, methods and theories. What I do instead, is start exploring their WHY.
Some families know their WHY and can articulate it easily. For others, it takes some discussion before getting to the real reason they’re homeschooling, or the underlying circumstances prompting them to make the choice. Armed with the information they share, I can make recommendations to fit the situation. It helps me help them, since I can customize suggestions to their experiences and present goals.
Do You Know Your WHY?
In my experience, not every family stops to think about their WHY. At least not at first. In a world of social media and Pinterest, it’s become so easy to copy what other people are doing and assume it’ll work for us. With homeschooling growing so rapidly, families can be quick to jump on board without taking the time to sort out all the details first.
What is a WHY?
A WHY is the reason for doing something. In the case of homeschooling, there can be many WHYs, and they may even be different for different children in the family.
For homeschoolers of the past, WHY(s) might’ve looked something like:
For modern homeschoolers, WHY(s) often include things like:
- failing schools
- failing kids
- drugs and violence
- cliques and bullying
- excessive testing or homework
- lack of resources, loss of crucial programs
- highly sexualized school culture
- little recognition of children who learn “differently”
Thanks to an awareness of different schooling options, the modern WHY also includes a lot of things like:
- wanting to create a more relaxed pace lifestyle
- allowing students to focus on talents and interests
- shoring up skills in some areas while skipping ahead in others
- creating time during the day to pursue other things
- removing children from the classroom to explore the world around them
I devote an entire chapter in Suddenly Homeschooling to explaining the modern WHY, if you’re interested in learning more about this.
Once you’ve identified your WHY is when the real progress begins. You’ll stop thinking about what you should be doing or what everybody else is doing. Instead, your choices become clear, since you’re focused on your WHYs.
If, for example, catching up a student in certain skill areas where they’ve been lagging is one of your WHYs, choosing resources for that will become an important part of your homeschool design.
If frequent travel is one of your WHYs, designing a flexible school year using adaptable products and experiences might become your design.
If your WHY is to include time for your child to practice a skill all morning, completing schoolwork in the afternoons or weekends will start to dictate your overall plan.
You get the idea.
What to do now
If you’re still reading, and still looking for the best way to homeschool, it’s probably time to make a list of WHYs. Take some time to look deep into reasons you want to homeschool (or are continuing) and what you truly hope to accomplish by doing it. (And if you’re homeschooling multiple kids, have a list of WHYs for every child, too.)
After doing this exercise, I guarantee choices will start to rise to the surface. You might even want to carry the list around as you shop for products, register for classes, and plan a schedule for your family this year.
The optimal education is different in every family and for every child. Knowing your WHY is the key to finding the best solution all around.
To your success,
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT,Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.