by Sarah Hicks, July 2020

Scores of books have been written on educational philosophy. A lot of those resources make education harder than it has to be—especially since most people already have an educational philosophy, even if they’ve never realized it or named it.

Your ideas on education are personal. They include elements of your own education that you liked or did not like. They also include elements you wish you had experienced, pitfalls you’ve heard that others experienced, and your fears. Educational philosophy is not something upon which we all have to agree, and it really comes down to answering three simple questions:

  • How do I think learning occurs?
  • What are my goals in education?
  • How do I get learning to occur… so that I can accomplish my goals in education?

Your educational philosophy is what causes you to say a curriculum or co-op feels easier, seems more natural, or just makes the most sense to you, and here’s why.

Some parents are more pragmatic and prefer selecting curriculum that they feel comfortable teaching. Why? Because their philosophy is built on the belief that the teacher’s mastery of the subject and effective, fervent communication will impart learning to the student.

Other parents simply surround their children with beautiful things, and then relax and let their children decide what they want to do.  Why? Because their philosophy is rooted in the idea that learning will occur when a child follows her own interests and discovers things at her own pace.

Still others will choose curriculum because it seems like the best methodology—whether they and their children really like it or not. Why? Because they believe that learning is systematic, and their philosophy is centered on following the system that will produce educational results.

One of the things I like the most about NCHE is that our board is happy to help parents find resources, but they do not generally offer opinions about which you should choose. That’s because our collective educational philosophy is grounded in the belief that parents know what works best for their own children. When you and your spouse identify your educational philosophy, everything that fits into that scope becomes apparent to you. Everything that doesn’t, clearly isn’t for you. This is quite liberating! And you are filled with confidence when you discern this for yourself.

Here are some questions that could help you and your spouse get the conversation started:

  • Try writing down what you believe about how children learn in general.
  • Now write down what you have observed about how your child learns in particular.
  • What are your goals in your children’s education?
  • What are your expectations of yourself, your spouse, and your child?
  • Have you discussed your expectations together as a family?

If parents are lifelong learners, they will model the joy of learning for their children.  So be sure to sharpen the tools in your own toolbox– attend conferences, read blogs, join a support group, rest, and read!  Take care of yourself, because a whole education is more than just learning facts about reading, writing, and arithmetic. A complete education nurtures your mind, body, and soul.  You have what it takes to teach your children, and NCHE is here to help you every step of the way!

Did these questions help you determine your educational philosophy? Let us know in the comments below.