It doesn’t take long at all to discover that homeschooling is just like a lot of other aspects of parenting — there are lots of people out there with strong opinions about how other people should do it. From blogs to books to forums to friends offering advice, it’s a sea of often contradictory opinions.
Should you use a text book “school at home approach”, a relaxed approach, a classical approach, an unschooling approach or something in between? Should you take a summer break or school year-round? Start academics early or wait? Use an all-in-one curriculum, or piece it together on your own? Is spiral or mastery better for math? Should reading be taught with phonics, and if so what kind of approach to phonics? Should we use a unit study approach to science and history, or a systematic four year rotation?
I’ve read or heard advice promoting all of these choice and approaches at one time or another. Sometimes it’s just people shouting the praises of an approach or a curriculum that works well for them. I like to do that too. If I’ve found something works, I love to tell my friends about it.
It’s the people with slightly stronger opinions that can be harder to shake off. I read a blog post earlier this summer that practically claimed it was a sin to not take a summer break from homeschooling. Other bloggers are almost equally strong in proclaiming that we are modeling that learning is not a lifestyle or that we are conforming too much to the school system if we take the summer off. Friends try and persuade other friends that curriculum X is the Best Thing Ever and Everyone Will Love It!
I think it’s pretty clear that different choices and approaches will work best for different students and different families. Not everyone has the same goals. Not everyone has kids with the same strengths and weaknesses. We as parents may have different teaching styles and preferences. We all have different scheduling situations, different budgets, different family dynamics and different climates we live in. All those things and more can affect our homeschooling decisions.
I love to read what other homeschoolers have to say about their methods, approaches and curricula. I love to talk shop with other homeschooling moms. But I also know that at the end of the day, I (along with my husband) need to decide what’s best for our family — for who we are, for who are kids and and for the goals that we feel God has laid on our hearts for our family.
I’m writing this post as a part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge at Ben and Me (I’m trying to get caught up to “R” by next week!).