Preparing a Philosophy or Mission Statement
© Beverley Paine, 1997
Evolving a statement of philosophy, sometimes known as a mission statement, is the first, and most important, step in planning an educational program. It is worthy of considerable time spent with partners and children discussing what education means to each of you. Your philosophy naturally determines your education goals, both long and short term.
For most people starting out putting their thoughts on paper is beneficial and is a useful reference when discussing their educational program with others. To begin you need to write down in a simple and meaningful way all the education, spiritual, social, moral and emotional reasons why you wish your children to learn at home. Focus on positive reasons, or desirable outcomes, changing negative statements into positive ones as you go.
This is a good opportunity to practice positive thinking which becomes invaluable when relating to others why you have chosen this educational path for your children. Everyone responds better to positive comments and you will find that others may feel less threatened by what they may see as a radical action taken by you. Thinking positively is one of the best ways to build and maintain self-confidence.
Your philosophy statement serves many purposes:
it is a good guide and reference,
It can include any aspect of education you feel is essential, either intuitively or idealistically, including reference to commercial or other pre-packaged curriculum resources. The preparation of your philosophy statement is a good way to affirm your reasons for choosing home schooling.
The statement does not have to be long, or modeled on a philosophy document may have seen elsewhere. It is a statement of your education beliefs and long term goals, and will have more meaning for you if it is in your own words. If you are familiar with educational terminology use it; however, if educational terms confuse you, don't use them. Use your natural style of language and express, as simply as you can how you feel and what you believe about education.
Philosophy statements can change over time. As you become more experienced it is only natural that you may change some of your views and practices. Reading your statements periodically is a useful habit to adopt. This promotes keeping them up to date as you make additions and alterations when necessary. Changes are often prompted by new information or ideas you have come across as you practice home education.
Our philosophy statement formed the basis of our children's home education curriculum. I divided the statment into different sections, each focusing on a particular area of importance. Because it is such an important foundational aspect of the home learning program, it took several discussions and more than a few drafts to produce a document which clearly outlined our family's educational beliefs and needs.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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