Labels, identity and homeschooling

Labels are a great way to find a like-minded community and search for resources, but they don’t define the way we educate our children.

In this article


By Jessica Pilton | jessicapilton.com

There are so many words for how we identify as home educators…

Unschoolers

Natural learners

Reggio-inspired approach

Road schoolers

Waldorf/Steiner

Project based homeschooling

Eclectic

Classical

Interest-based learning

Charlotte Mason education

Montessori

Worldschoolers

Tidal schooling

Delight-directed

Child-led learning

School at home

We’ve used a lot of these as we have steadied our feet and found our groove our the last couple of years. I know I will also label myself as we continue to homeschool our children.

Labels aren’t inherently bad in this context – they give us something to connect to.

They give us something to grasp when we need to find a way. They provide a place for us to find our people. These labels help centre our thoughts in regards to philosophies on how children learn and most importantly, we choose a style of homeschooling that we adhere to and believe in deeply as we do life with our children.

And were hungry. We’re hungry to see our children have the beautiful riches of a wonderful education. We want them to be self-motivated, curious, attentive, to delve deeply into their passions and have persistence.

These labels give us a hope to cling to.

Yet, labels, as great as they can be for all the above reasons, don’t define the way we educate our children.

At times I’ve felt a great distress feeling like I don’t fit in with any style of homeschooling. I’d read about something and totally agree with the philosophy but for one reason or another I wasn’t seeing it happen in real life – even when all the elements were right to see the desired process or outcome. Or I’d educate myself on another philosophy and agree with some aspects but not others.

Early on our journey I’d be so conflicted – and due to my personality type – I felt if I couldn’t do something wholeheartedly, I wasn’t doing it ‘right’, which lead to a whole lot of disappointment and I felt like I was doing my kids a disservice.

This year – three years after making the decision to homeschool our children – I have finally found my peace with my issue of ‘labels'

I’m simply doing life with my children and really there is no education apart from self-education.

I’m giving them rich experiences with nature, art and the written word. Together we problem solve and learn skills together. We garden, we do handicraft, we sew together, we read together, we watch documentaries together, we attend co-op with our friends and shop together.

We do life.

Yet, we are also somewhat structured. I choose books from Ambleside Online for us to read. Miss 6 narrates from Aesop’s fables and reads our Bible each morning – we are very new to narration.

Alannah (6) has started copy work a few times a week, and recently without much help from me, Alannah has become very interested in reading. We have slowly added more into her day and she is so enjoying it.

Tiffany (4), on the other hand, has no desire for any formal learning in the way of writing or reading, and that’s okay. She is only four. Her work is play. I have no desire for her to catch up – actually, I have no desire for any of my children to be where ‘mainstream’ children in the schooling system would be in regards to skills in academics. It's not something we're aiming for.

 

So mama, allow yourself the freedom to change your course if you need to.

Allow your heart to be prompted to change if something isn’t working for you or your children.

If the label isn’t fitting – take it off, maybe adjust it, restyle it and try it on again, or ditch it and start afresh.

Don’t be held within the label.

Allow labels to work for you – don’t work for the label.

How do you give yourself scope to breathe and just 'be' outside the defining nature of labels? Share your comments below.

This article originally featured on jessicapilton.com and has been republished with permission. 

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Jessica Pilton

Contributor

Jess is a wife and homeschooling mother to three. She blogs about her life homesteading on a nine-acre property in Perth, Australia, with a focus on grace-based parenting and home education. You can find Jess' writing at jessicapilton.com and on Instagram and Facebook.