Many times as new homeschoolers or even as not-so-new-homeschoolers we’re encouraged to develop a personal philosophy of home education. That sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? But really, all it means is that you’ve thought through some very basic factors that define your home school and that will impact your homeschooling curriculum choices.

Your family’s homeschooling objectives are a unique combination of six family factors. These are easy to remember if you use the acronym, F-A-M-IL-Y: Faith, Approaches, Money, Individuals, Life, and You.

Since it’s one thing to say “think through” and quite another to do it, here are a few diagnostic questions for each factor – to get your thought processes warmed up.

  • Faith/philosophy: Why are you homeschooling? What will success look like? What things do you consider most important for your children to learn?
  • Approaches: What do you believe about how children learn? What is your vision for your homeschool?
  • Money: What are your financial boundaries? What are your priorities?
  • Individuals: How does your child learn – by seeing, hearing, doing? What motivates your child to learn? Do you have a Learning Blessed or a Learning Differently child?
  • Life: In what season of life is your family – young students, preschoolers, high schoolers? What special events – short term or long term – will be factors in your homeschooling?
  • You: What are your (as teacher) time priorities, limitations? How much structure do you need? How confident are you about how to teach?

Any two families might have similar answers to some of these questions but the combination of answers and the priorities assigned to each will differ and your family will ultimately have a unique set of factors that describe and define your homeschooling experience.

Now I promised a ten minute philosophy of education and I’ll be the first to admit that the thinking through process just outlined will probably take longer than ten minutes. Go ahead and take all the time you need to discuss these with your spouse. Plan a special Saturday morning breakfast meeting. Go out to dinner. Maybe even take a little planning retreat away for a weekend. But once you
have all the thinking out of the way, try this exercise. For each letter in your last name choose a word that highlights your position on one of the FAMILY factors. If you can’t get your last name to cooperate in terms of appropriate letters, use a first or middle name – or make one up that’s a combination of names – like what you see on email addresses. I’m sure you can find something that will work – and which will serve as a functioning acronym for the philosophy of education for your homeschool.

Why go to all the trouble? Well, for one thing, it’s a good reminder on those days when you find yourself asking “why am I doing this?” Also, it’s very helpful in making curriculum choices. Your family is unique – truly unique (look it up) – and you are different from all other homeschooling families in some way. And whatever that way is, it might be the most important factor in choosing curriculum. That factor might mean that a product that is perfect for your friend – or for tons of other homeschoolers – just won’t work for you. That factor might be exactly the focus you need to find the curriculum product that is THE BEST – for your family.

— Janice Price