We’re approaching the end of our homeschooling journey with just two more years to go after this one. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what we’ve done to get to this point. Like most homeschoolers, we’ve done many things very well. We made some excellent choices that have paid off. There are also things I would do differently if I could do them over. We’ve had our struggles at times.
Because of our family’s particular life situations, we’ve never fit neatly into any homeschooling framework or fit any of the traditional labels. The only description I found that fit us fairly well was relaxed homeschooling and so that is the terminology I used whenever I wrote about homeschooling. Eclectic and delight-directed felt too curriculum-focused and never appealed to me as accurate for us. We were close to unschooling at times, but we’re not unschoolers. Relaxed homeschooling was the best way for me to describe it using a term that was already circulating in the homeschool world.
But I still think it fails to address the fullness of what we’ve done. The word “relaxed” feels like it carries a bit of a negative connotation in our culture. I don’t think younger homeschoolers know or understand the label since it is not widely used except by long-time homeschoolers and someone who set up a website with that name for selling printable curriculum. If I tell someone I’m a relaxed homeschooler, it isn’t self-evident what it means which has always been a bit frustrating..
So last October as I reflected back on our homeschooling experience and discussed it with others, I realized something else better describes what we’ve done (and even bought the domain name for it at that time when the name clicked for me). It might seem a bit odd to adopt a new description for what we do this late in our homeschooling journey, but that’s where we are and doing so is also intentional.
I would describe our homeschooling philosophy as Discipleship Homeschooling.
What are the key characteristics?
- Focused on growth of whole child
- Family relationships focused
I’ve often remarked over the years that I’m making it up as I go and that’s the truth. I’ve never attended a homeschool convention. I’ve read very few homeschooling books. I’ve relied on God, prayer, the Scriptures, David, some experienced homeschoolers I trust, and my own intuition. I don’t mean this in a prideful way as if there was nothing I could learn from others. It was because nothing else resonated with me for our particular situation other than some relaxed homeschooling articles and blog posts I read here and there at the right time. Otherwise I felt very alone in what I was trying to do.
Why is that? Part of it was due to the particular needs of my creative, gifted/2e child that were quite different from the mainstream. It’s also because my thinking about life completely integrates all of it and I find most people don’t experience and think about life in that way. Most people operate with many segments that overlap (and interfere) with each other. They can think exclusively about one or two segments of their life and keep them completely separate from others. I’m not wired that way.
In our experience, discipleship homeschooling is about assessing the child’s interconnected needs each step of the way and making intentional choices to meet those needs and facilitate growth. The needs include:
All of the choices we’ve made have been impacted at various times and to varying degrees by the above. Sometimes one need overrode the rest. The primary need changed from time to time. All five were always in play, but to varying degrees based on life.
Homeschooling for us has never been only about what we would traditionally call the academics. In many ways, academics was not even the primary focus at times if you think of academics in the traditional book learning kind of way. I see a child’s education as far more than academic subjects as organized by a bureaucrat or textbook writer. When you add in the additional blessings and challenges of gifted/2e (both parenting and homeschooling), you are compelled to create a totally different kind of educational experience for your child.
So we’re Discipleship Homeschoolers. Yes, I coined the term. I would imagine, however, there are many of us who fit this description and have felt a bit adrift at times in the sea of homeschool labels. Hopefully we can find each other.
So why adopt a new name and not just continue to work with the acceptable label of relaxed homeschoolers? Because as I write about our experiences, I want a more precise term. As newer and younger homeschoolers read what I’ve written in the coming years, I want them to understand the fullness of what we set out to do and accomplished. Our homeschool journey will not resonate with everyone. But our homeschool journey will resonate loudly with some and those are the people for whom I’m writing.
Perhaps in doing so I can help future homeschoolers feel less alone and a bit more understood as they take their own unique journey of discipleship homeschooling.
So I will be going into my older posts and tweaking them to reflect this change. I’m doing this to avoid the confusion of having relaxed homeschooling posts on the site while I’m writing about discipleship homeschooling moving forward. I don’t plan to change the posts in any significant ways because I’m not out to rewrite history. Far from it. I want an accurate record of what we did – both the successes and the struggles. But I think the change will be helpful and this post will serve as a record as to why we made the adjustments we did.