Engaged Homeschooling“How do you homeschool?”

About a year ago, while I was talking with a friend, I suddenly realized — the organizing factor of our homeschooling has always been what creates engagement in my children. 

I had answered the “how-do-you-homeschool” question for sixteen years, across three sons and three states. I had a mash-up of answers, mostly focusing on naming various approaches to homeschooling, but I never felt my answers nailed it.

In that one conversation, it dawned on me: my approach is Engaged Homeschooling. 

Whether you’ve been homeschooling for a while or you’ve just started reading about homeschooling, you’re aware of the question of homeschooling style–your method or approach to home education.

Depending on how long you’ve been homeschooling or learning about it, you’ve heard of Charlotte Mason, unit studies, Montessori, unschooling, eclectic, relaxed homeschooling, virtual homeschooling, school-at-home, Waldorf, curriculum-based, Classical, Thomas Jefferson Education, co-op learning, and probably some other approaches to homeschooling.

I’ve embraced different aspects of these well-known homeschooling styles during my more than sixteen years as a homeschool mom. I’ve spoken at a lot of homeschooling conferences and workshops, often about finding the homeschooling style that’s right for you.


The bits and pieces of my personal homeschooling didn’t fit some purists’ definitions of the specific homeschooling styles. “Eclectic homeschooling” didn’t seem to describe what I was doing very well; yes, it hints at the “bits and pieces” aspect, but it doesn’t say anything about why I was doing what I was doing with my kids, and the label “eclectic” seems to reside more in “the parent’s choices” than in “the kids’ learning.”

One day it hit me — the organizing factor of our homeschooling is what creates engagement in my children. 

Engagement is the defining aspect of our homeschooling. We’ve been doing Engaged Homeschooling for years.

Sifting what you do with your kids based on their level of engagement makes sense–it’s both more effective and more efficient. No use spinning your wheels on stuff they’re not getting no matter how much you believe in the lesson.

Keep doing the things that create engagement; let go of the things that don’t.

Do kids have to learn they may  need to do some slogging? Sure. Funny thing is, an emphasis on engagement seems to make that work out better, too.

I’ll be exploring “Engaged Homeschooling” in a session at the 2014 VaHomeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair March 21-22. I hope you’ll join me there as well as here, as we consider together how to make Engagement work as the key element of homeschooling.

If there’s a secret sauce in homeschooling, it’s Engagement. 


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