This one might ruffle some feathers….
I have two Masters degrees in Education. I don’t say this to brag or to make myself look more educated than another person, but simply to start out this post by showing that I have spent over a decade of time and many many many tens of thousands of dollars (cringe) on studying the various philosophies and methodologies about childhood education around the world.
When I first started working with and supporting the homeschooling community years ago, I realized that there is a bit of an obsession around the particular teaching philosophy that one holds to when deciding to educate their children at home. In a way it’s almost like denominations of a religion, in that I see people getting so incredibly caught up in particular methods and processes and routines that they sometimes forget that the entire point of educating their children at home was to create a unique learning environment for their unique child!
And I definitely realize that I’m going to be pushing some buttons and hitting some pain points here today, but I think this is a very important thing that we need to be looking at in ourselves.
Recently I stumbled across an online quiz aimed at homeschoolers that a parent could take to determine what teaching philosophy they best fit within. Just to see what the questions were like, I took the quiz for myself and what I noticed was that every single question in this quiz had to do with you – the parent, the adult, and what your beliefs around education were. There wasn’t a single question about your child… about the way that your child communicates with you, about the way your child prefers to share their knowledge about new things, about your child’s unique learning style, or their interests. Not one question.
At the end of the quiz, the search results came back with a percentage of how much you fit into each of the particular teaching categories – Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, traditional, unschooling, eclectic, etc., etc.
I can’t help but feel that this segmentation and isolation of methodologies and philosophies, particularly those that tend to have an “All or Nothing” belief set (Waldorf often falls in this category, for example), is as detrimental to our children’s success as mainstream public schooling can be.
Yep, I said it.
It’s important to understand that each of the popular teaching methodologies and philosophies that you’re going to find out there stemmed from the studies of a very particular group of children, at a particular location, in a particular time. And while many of the findings and understandings can be extended to children today, just like anything else times change, children change, and our beliefs must be able to change as well.
And most importantly of all, your child is a unique individual with their own special blend of learning style and interests and passions and preferred methods of learning.
While it is absolutely great to research and study up on the various philosophies out there and to arm yourself with knowledge and passion and ideas, it is most important that you keep your unique child at the forefront of all of your beliefs. That you understand that your philosophy and your methodology is based around your child and their particular place in time and space. Understand that you are creating a very unique and tailored learning environment that is set up solely for your child’s success, and that it is perfectly OK, if not essential, that this looks different for every child, even within the same family!
So please do not get caught up on finding Facebook groups, curricula and books that are uniquely tailored to one school of thought only. Don’t put your child in a bubble. Allow yourself the freedom and the flexibility to try different things, to experiment with different ideas, and to really, honestly see what works best for your child and your child alone.
One of the best ways you can do this is by finding out your child’s unique interests and developing a child-led learning plan. Kids learn best when they are truly engaged in what they are learning. Try this free 5 day challenge and discover how to pin point your child’s exact learning style, and what they are truly interested in, plus how you can turn that into lessons!