I just came across something I wrote back in May 2005 about my homeschooling goals in response to a question of “what keeps you motivated; what are your goals & philosophies?” It was really interesting to read over five years later; I was surprised to see how similar what I wrote then was to what I would write now. So I thought I’d share it here with you.
“My philosophy could be summarized as follows: no one knows, loves, understands, and cares about my children and their successful development the way that I do. I want to be directly involved in their lives, and want us all to share significant experiences as a family. I want learning to be a lifelong pursuit that is filled with joy, and feel that it can be when children are treated as the individuals that they are, and taught when their minds are developmentally ready for the material presented.
I’m not sure if you are asking about academic goals or what I consider the more important substantive goals.
- Firstly, for me, would be helping them build good character, including a strong internal moral compass and the willingness to do what is right( even when it isn’t popular), kindness, and respect for others;
- a healthy sense of self-worth and value, to be responsible members of family and society, to be hard working, responsible, independent and able to be interdependent;
- to be able to think critically, have strong basic academic skills (which for me means, fluency in reading, writing, math, and the ability to navigate Torah texts) which are precursors to more advanced learning;
- to have strong bonds with their parents and siblings, to imbue them with a strong sense of our values as pertains to Torah philosophy and behavior, and to have the interpersonal skills necessary to form healthy relationships as adults which result in a healthy marriage and family;
There are many more things I could write, but I think most of them would fall somewhere into the above goals. For example, they have time to develop their interests and have more relaxed and balanced lives. They avoid a bunch of negatives, such as peer dependency from a young age, unhealthy competition, etc. They learn to navigate the world more effectively from a young age (eg, managing money and interacting with people of different ages).
I don’t think it is necessary to be able to pin down exactly what your reasons and goals are, just to have a strong feeling for what they are. As your kids get older, your goals will become more specific. So much of why we do what we do comes from an instinctive sense of what is right, that it often can’t easily be defined.
I formed my goals based on who I am, what is important to me and feel will be important skills for my children in the future, and by doing lots and lots of reading and thinking. I read many things I disagreed with, but forced myself to think through why I disagreed with those positions. Many, many, many hours of thought have gone into my philosophy as it developed, and into the specific decisions I have made as a result. I have adapted along the way, finding that what I sometimes thought the best way to do things changed depending on my children’s personalities and their ages.
As far as staying motivated, I personally haven’t found that a challenge. When you continually see your goals being achieved, and there so many validations of your approach (both internal and external), there is nothing more motivating than that. I love who I see my children becoming, and am incredibly grateful for the quality of life we have.
I am far from perfect, but am raising kids who are better than those I ever could have raised if they were in school for most of their waking hours. I love seeing how they don’t make distinctions between learning and fun; for example, doing mind benders (deductive reasoning exercises) for fun late at night, begging me to read more of our historical read aloud, doing lots of lessons at a time in math or grammar, just because they enjoy it. I appreciate having a positive, stimulating, and loving home environment.
And I really, really love having a very strong relationship with them, which gets us through many situations that I don’t know how parents navigate without that relationship.