Developing your educational philosophy doesn’t happen as soon as you begin homeschooling. It takes time to fully develop, but it starts forming the day you decide to homeschool your child. I chose to homeschool as a reaction to situations occurring in my daughter’s public school; little boys sitting in a chair with a sad face on it, a back-to-school night in first grade where I was told that the children would bring home papers with uncorrected misspelled words and that it was okay not to correct them, and the inability of the school to get unruly children under control.

I didn’t want my five-year-old son to go to school, sit in a sad chair, and think he was a bad person because he wasn’t ready to sit down to do formal schoolwork. I didn’t want my daughter to be allowed to cement poor spelling in her brain because “we don’t worry about that until much later.”

I didn’t have a big educational philosophy at that time, but I did have tiny little burgeoning buds of a philosophy that eventually bloomed into a full-grown set of principles. It is true indeed that from tiny acorns large oaks do grow.

We began our home schooling journey with a well-known textbook curriculum. It didn’t take long before I realized that all those worksheets and activities were bogging me and my students down with activities that really weren’t a good use of our time or the most natural way to teach. The activities taught learning objectives in isolation from other activities; I feel that learning happens more effectively as a necessary function rather than as a worksheet topic. As an example, there are worksheets that teach how to address an envelope. It seems to me that if addressing an envelope is necessary to learn, the best way is to write an actual letter (practicing handwriting and grammar skills) and to address the envelope in which the letter will be sent.

I also think that if a child has the interest in performing a skill or task, regardless of their age, they should be allowed to try as long as it isn’t harmful. Due to this belief, my youngest daughter began reading at the age of four, when I was attempting to teach her six year-old brother to read. She asked if she could try the blend ladders that her brother was doing and I said, “Sure!” My jaw dropped to the ground when she correctly read “Ba, be, bi, bo, bu.” Norah wasn’t on my lesson plans for that school year but she was obviously ready to read. I certainly wasn’t going to hold her back until she was kindergarten age so she joined her siblings in our school.

In addition, I strongly believe that exposing children to the arts and foreign languages is necessary for a well-rounded education. I make sure that we read poems, view art prints, listen to classical music, and learn some French and Spanish.

As my educational philosophy became more developed, I changed my curriculum. We went from a textbook-based curriculum to a unit study curriculum, and finally ended up aligning closely with the Charlotte Mason method. All this change took place over approximately five years. It takes time to develop and implement an educational philosophy.

Charlotte Mason’s ideas very much encompassed my ideas for how to teach children and expanded upon them. I found her methodology so exciting that I read each of the six books in her Original Homeschooling Series. After reading these informative and instructive books, I was pleased to discover that many of the curriculum choices I made dovetailed nicely with her principles. If you are not familiar with Charlotte Mason, I encourage you to check out Ambleside Online or Simply Charlotte Mason. Of course her approach is just one of many excellent teaching philosophies to explore as you develop your own.

If you are just beginning your homeschooling journey and don’t have an educational philosophy yet, please don’t stress about it. Read everything you can before beginning to home school. As you begin teaching your children and growing as a home educator, you’ll develop your own ideas about how and what to teach your children. Before too long, you will have your own educational philosophy at your fingertips!