If you’re new to homeschooling, you might be drowning in a sea of homeschooling styles, acronyms, and unfamiliar terms: CM, Classical, CC, Unschooling, Eclectic, TJed, Waldorf, and more. What does all of this mean? How are you supposed to determine which method is the best?
Alternatively, most veteran homeschoolers know many families that will die on the hill of whatever method they have determined is superior. Differences in homeschooling style can cause division in homeschool groups, co-ops, park days, and Facebook groups. Honestly, it can get ugly at times.
Why do we sometimes react with instant judgment when we learn how someone chooses to homeschool? I guess it’s human nature, but let me explain why I think you shouldn’t worry so much about homeschooling styles and focus more on the goodness of home education.
The Problem With Homeschooling Styles
Of course, there are differences between homeschool methods, but we tend to over-inflate their importance.
For example, does your child’s future really depend on a 4-year chronological history cycle? Probably not, yet this is a big sticking point for Charlotte Mason and Classical home educators.
How many hours make up a “credit”? Irrelevant to an unschooler, but a hand-wringing metric for a more traditional school-at-home family.
Should you plan out perfectly integrated curriculum choices for the next 12 years, or should you throw caution to the wind and see what life brings?
Are any of these ideas and concerns “wrong,” not especially. They’re more indicative of the parents’ personalities and goals for homeschooling than they are about what is “best.”
That’s okay, but as homeschoolers, we should be honest about the reasons we chose our method, and not eat our own with criticism and dismissal.
Focus On Our Similarity
It’s human nature to want to find our “people,” the ones that hold our same opinions and agree with our choices. Therefore, we look for that affirmation even within the narrow population of people that homeschool.
I think that’s why the ubiquitous question, “what curriculum do you use,” exists. It’s a little peek into their homeschool philosophy without getting too personal and seeming impolite.
However, when you meet that new homeschooler, remember, you’ve both already chosen to belong to one of the smallest and most controversial groups around. When faced with the well-worn path of compulsory education, our country demands you take, you both said: “no, thanks.”
Think about that for a moment. No matter your homeschooling method, you’ve both made the very active decision to not send your children to institutional school.
Surely, that is more important than your history cycle.
Let’s Hold Our Judgments
Homeschoolers are a strong-willed, courageous group. We have to be a bit fearless and sure of ourselves to make a decision that is the antithesis of almost every institution in our country. It really is amazing.
To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves…and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.John Holt
Honestly, I believe this is why more people don’t choose to homeschool; they don’t trust themselves. Yet, when we meet another homeschooler, we’re coming face to face with someone who does trust themselves or is at least moving in that direction.
So let’s hold our judgments for another time. When we focus on a homeschooling style and dismiss others as inferior, we’re engaging in the same thought process as those that think homeschooling shouldn’t be allowed. The idea that there is only one right way, and others can’t be trusted.
There isn’t only one right way to homeschool, just as there is no one right way to live, no matter what that busybody in a Facebook group says.
Homeschool is More Than Method
The beauty and strength of homeschooling do not lie in the method chosen. It comes from taking control and trusting yourself and your children.
It’s in the ability to determine what is best for your family and not be forced into meeting the demands of strangers.
It’s in realizing there is no one “right way,” and embracing an alternative path.
So if you’re a new homeschooler, don’t get mired in choosing a homeschool method. Yet, even if you want one, know it will look different in your family than it does in another.
Once we dig deeper, we see that homeschooling is more than a method.