In the last 6 weeks I've had several younger women ask me about our home school philosophy and the curriculum we've used. They've also asked me what I did about our sons' different learning styles and how I taught to multiple grade levels at the same time.
Those are all good questions and I wish I would've thought about them 20 years ago! A game plan would've been nice.
However, I didn't really establish a game plan before I began. I just jumped in and did it. Even without "a plan" I count our home school experience a success.
While we never did sit down and come up with a "home school philosophy", we did sit down and establish goals. We had 12 year goals, and we had yearly goals, both for our family and for each of our sons.
We wanted, first and foremost, for our sons to know and love the God of the bible. We wanted them to know what sin is, that we are all sinners, that someone has to pay a price for sin, that Jesus paid that price when He died for our sins, that He loves us, and that eternal life is not just saying a prayer:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
The bible goes on to explain what eternal life is:
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3
We wanted to help them, in any way we could, to know God the Father and Jesus the Son. We wanted to teach them about repentance, submission, God's faithfulness to us, and His amazing Love for us. We felt that the best way WE could do that was to spend time with them. As much time as possible. We tried to ground them in the bible-to teach them that the bible is the inherent word of God and by being familiar with the bible we do indeed get to know God the Father.
Home schooling allowed us the joy and the freedom to spend as much time as possible with our sons. We did almost everything together as a family. Hiking, picnics, day trips, fishing trips, meals together, camping trips,yard work, house work, etc. etc. We wanted to be friends with our sons and let them know they were/are loved and accepted.
(Just to keep it real, I will tell you that one year I flaked out. I'd had it with boys, messes, noise and sibling rivalry. I got on-line and looked up military boarding schools. I even found one just a few hours away. Perfect! They could come home for holidays, but otherwise I'd be free! free! free! I didn't follow through with that, but boy, for one afternoon the idea was tempting.)
Overall, I'd have to say that other than my husband, our sons are my best friends.
I love having them around. I love talking and laughing with them. I love their humor, and their stories. I love listening to their thoughts about life and their goals. I love their facial expressions and the fact that we know each other so well. One of the sweetest gifts in my life has been the freedom to home school.
I could not imagine putting them on a school bus and watching them drive away each morning. I wanted to learn with them and watch them grow. I wanted to be a part of every discovery they made when they were growing up. I wanted to see the excitement in their eyes when they "got" something.
The best part has been being with them as their faith became their own. Because we were with them so, so much, we were able to watch the Lord work in their hearts almost on a daily basis. We were able to pray with them when they struggled with something, as they were struggling. And I'm not just talking about vague, nebulous things. I'm talking about verbs...algebra...that paper on U.S. history they didn't feel like writing...I'm talking about the anger they felt when their brother was a pill... or when a friend hurt their feelings.
I've written a series of posts about our strong willed son, and the things we learned and the joy we've experienced as he's allowed the Lord to become the Lord in his heart. I firmly believe that would've happened whether we home schooled that boy or not, but being here, at home with him, watching him grow spiritually, has been huge. Words can't describe it. I'm just so thankful I didn't send that boy to military boarding school. I would've missed out on so much. The growth would've occurred but it would've been like watching a slide show instead of a movie. Does that make sense? And being with our other sons as they did school at home was the same way.
Like I said before, we didn't have a "philosophy". We didn't use the Charlotte Mason method, or take the "classical" approach. We didn't "un-school". We simply wanted to be with our sons, to love on them and with them. We wanted them to learn the 3 R's, but more importantly, we wanted them to know they were loved by the Lord and their parents. Please don't even think I'm saying that parents who don't home school do not love their children! Not even close! I think what I'm trying to say is that the whole "philosophy" question is intimidating to me. It makes me feel like I've "missed it" somehow as a home school parent because that's something we never really thought about or discussed...we simply bumbled along hoping and praying our sons would grow into young men who love the Lord....so, in a nutshell, I'd have to say that was our "philosophy".