Find Purpose and Direction

Do you need inspiration to find purpose and direction in your homeschool? Are you struggling to find authenticity and joy in your homeschooling journey?  It might be your first year in homeschooling, and your entire educational paradigm is being upended.  Alternately, you might be wondering how to best approach schooling with a growing and changing learner.  You’ve been working with her for years and she is no longer responding to what used to “work”.  Sometimes it’s confusing while we’re trying to find our way along this road less traveled.

It can be tempting to find a homeschooling family you admire and try to reproduce their homeschool down to the last detail.  No matter how awesome the family is, how successful their methods, or how happy their kids are, this will not work.  But why not?  Why can’t someone just tell you exactly what to do and how to do it to ensure the results you’re looking for?  The simple answer is this: every family is unique.

I’m not saying that another homeschooling family can’t be your inspiration or mentor in the process of your own journey.  A personal guide is extremely helpful.   Emulating your favorite practices from another family’s example can help you to find your own groove, so to speak.  But there will always be things that need “tweaked” for your situation no matter how similar your families are.

 

Family Culture

Yes, I suppose there are threads that make up a general culture common to most homeschoolers.  I think it’s safe to say that we all value education.  We are all concerned with homeschooling laws and legislation where we live.  Additionally, the gift of time with our families is important to us.  But there is no one size fits all way to approach home education.  Homeschooling does not pretend to be standardized.

 

family walking toward the direction of a barn in a field

There is no need to chase every new fad on a whim to find out what works for you.  Instead of always looking around at what everyone else is doing, look at your own family for direction.  What are you already doing?  What is important to you, the collective family “you” and you as an individual?  Family culture is made up of your collective attitudes, ideals, beliefs, and environment, just like a country’s culture.  We live, work, learn, and play together day by day within our families.  Really getting to know ourselves and our families is an important step in improving our homeschools.

 

A Homeschool is Shaped by Family Culture

Defining your family culture can help you to find focus and direction in your homeschool that feels comfortable and authentic.  For decades, companies have used the idea of creating a “culture” within their organizations.  They build cultures to promote loyalty, boost morale, retain and attract talent, and become a positive influence in their areas of expertise.  While families are by no means corporations, professionals have studied the family as the fundamental unit of society in order to understand the basic components that promote success.

As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to spend more time together as families than many participating in mainstream education.  It’s time to get back to basics, and be more purposeful in creating and defining our own family cultures.  Then we can approach  curriculum choices, educational methods, and evaluation systems through the lens of our own unique family cultures.

Ask yourself questions like these to get started:

How does your home environment feel?  Loud and fun?  Cozy and inviting?

Where do you invest your time and money?

What do you enjoy doing together as a family?

What makes you happy?

How would you describe your philosophy of education?

Where do you see your family in the future? What goals do you have?

What are your family rules?

What are your family values?

Is religious faith important to you?

Do you have meaningful traditions in your family?  What are they?

How would you describe your family worldview?

 

Possibilities

One family might enjoy playing games, field trips to historical sites, and celebrating birthdays with parties and piñatas.  They may feel it’s best to limit TV viewing, believe in child led learning, and not see college as a prerequisite to a successful adulthood.  Another family might enjoy quiet read aloud times snuggled on the couch, exploring nature, and serving at a soup kitchen every Thanksgiving.  They may place a high value on self-expression through the arts and invest money in home entertainment gear as avid movie watchers.

There are innumerable combinations and possibilities.   There is no one universally guaranteed approach.  Each person and family has unique gifts, talents, and preferences.  Some ways of thinking and behaving have been passed on in your family for generations.  Others are brand new ideas and traditions created by you and the unique combination of people in your own family.

Family

Make Purposeful Change

Family culture is influenced in part by societal influences at large.   These are things we have less direct influence on individually (such as what our current culture believes about gender roles, are we in times of war or peace, economic upheaval or prosperity). But if your family is not happy with how they interact or what they spend their time on, and values seem to be misunderstood or elusive at best, work together to change it.  A family culture is not static and is constantly growing and changing with the family as they learn and grow together.

The beauty of a home education is that you can embrace what makes your family unique.  You can live out your days with purpose and direction and enjoy the journey at the same time.  Holding a family meeting and learning to set goals and make compromises is a valuable skill.  This practice of working together and improving communication will serve your family greatly in the days ahead. Having the freedom to allow you and your children to be more true to themselves and not be required to conform to another’s concept of the “ideal” is an amazing opportunity.  As home educators, we definitely have the gift of time on our side.  Let’s work to ensure a balance between quantity and quality time by periodically refocusing and making sure our homeschools reflect our current family culture.

How would you define your family culture?

Let’s do this thing!

Heather Tinker

Photos from Unsplash