The 2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don’t Matter

The 2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don’t Matter
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Labels, like those on soup cans, can help with organization and identification. In the homeschooling world, a label for what kind of homeschooler you are can make it easier to find like-minded individuals who are educating their children in a similar manner.

But the whole concept of labels can get messy when homeschooling labels are tossed around in either a superior or demeaning way to accuse other homeschoolers of not doing it right.

The unfortunate reality is that some homeschoolers have taken educational labels and skewed them into something that is not only no longer helpful, but is now a new reason for others to stress out: What kind of homeschooler am I? What label do I fit under? And if I want to claim that certain label…am I doing things the right way?

Well friends, I’ve figured out a couple reasons why the labels really shouldn’t get us all worked up.

Reason #1: My kids don’t care what kind of homeschoolers we are.

With all this crazy obsession over labels, I had to stop and wonder: do my kids have in-depth knowledge of the term radical unschooler? Do my kids know what classical education is? Do my children know the difference between Charlotte Mason and Waldorf inspired homeschools?
Not really.

2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don't Matter

I asked my children once what kind of homeschoolers they thought we were, and after the blank stare, and the, “what do you mean what kind of homeschoolers are we?” the answer came: “We don’t go to public school. We learn at home. That’s what kind of homeschoolers we are.”

2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don't Matter

Isn’t that simple and beautiful? To my children, our learning at home is just that. Learning at home. The way we do it is the way we do it.

You may also enjoy… What Kids Think About Homeschooling

We’re just homeschoolers, mom.

2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don't Matter

I’ve learned that the labels we toss around (sometimes not very nicely) are for the moms. The dads. The teacher at co-op. The lady in the homeschool support group. The neighbor who homeschools…but not the way you do.

The labels, at least as far as I can tell, mean nothing to the kids.

2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don't Matter
I don’t homeschool for grandma, or the teacher at co-op, or the lady in the homeschool support group, or the neighbor. I homeschool for my children.

Reason #2: I can’t even figure out a label for myself as a person.

The other reason that labels in homeschooling can be tough is that for the parent, a label can sometimes make you feel that you need to fit into a box.

Whoa. Hold up. A box?

As a human being, I’m pretty tough to label. I am just as comfortable writing in a coffee shop as I am hunting in a deer stand as I am speaking at a conference as I am reading the Bible as I am learning to milk a goat or tear down a gun. My musical playlists flip from Mercy Me to Punch Brothers to Rhianna to Mozart. How do you label that?

My guess is you’re the same way. Maybe not with the same specific items, but I bet you can list just as many things that are different about you. Things that don’t quite fit…but perfectly fit together to make you who You are – even without an all-encompassing category to name it.

That’s what home education is for us. And I’m guessing that might be what learning is for a whole bunch of home educators. The way we do things doesn’t quite fit into a nice clean definition, but it all fits perfectly together to make the world of learning that works for us.

2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don't Matter

Which makes me wonder – if we can’t easily slap a label on who we are, how in the world do we slap a label on our way of educating? And, more importantly, if our kids don’t care what kind of homeschoolers we are, why do we as parents?

Maybe instead of concentrating so hard on what kind of homeschoolers we are, we could all just be homeschoolers. 🙂

Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.

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18 thoughts on “The 2 Reasons Homeschool Labels Don’t Matter”

  • Aweseome!

    We're also effected by labels placed on my youngest son who has a neurological disorder (Sensory Processing Disorder). Although he needed the label to get his therapies which have been positive for him, he's now considered "disabled" by his doctor and other "officials". And it bugs me! He's anything BUT "disabled"!

  • Being new to homeschooling, and still new to Mommyhood, I've been asked that question several times. Although I have done some of my own research into all the "types" of homeschooling and the jargon attached to them so I don't seem totally clueless.
    But I agree with your post 100%, why can't it just be LEARNING? Do you think our great grandparents agonized over which style of "homeschooling" to teach their children?
    Guess it sells more homeschooling books if you can call it different things and then you can have arguments about which method is better.

  • Right on as always. I love ya for it.

    I just wanted to say, Our Side of the Mountain–we too have "quirk" running amok in our household and I. can't. stand. the. labels. Particularly when they are followed by NOS: Not Otherwise Specified, which in my opinion (not so humble) means: we don't know what the heck is going on, but we're going to label it anyway.

    Ahem. Sorry for the mini blog.

  • I would love to have the opportunity to hear you speak at a conference. I have not been to one yet. There is one next spring in Hartford that I may pop into.

    You are right. Labels can be divisive. We should be supporting one another, helping build each other up, rather than tearing each other down by referring to these labels as if they had meaning other than the arbitrary value we assign to them.

  • Susan – thanks for the kind words. 🙂

    Awesome Sauce – I need to remember this, too. 😉 Sometimes I have to refer back to my own posts…since I'm only human. 🙂

    Our Side – how frustrating that must be! I saw a video once on Youtube that was all about the difference between seeing a kid or seeing their label. It was amazing!

    CR – You're right. Why CAN'T it just be learning??? Why does it have to be more than that?

    RM – At least you figured out what NOS really stands for. 😉 We love your darling Boo, labeled up or none at all. 🙂

    Winnie – Divisive, that's the word I was looking for. 🙂 I get the intent, but things don't often work out the way they are intended to. If we don't support each other as homeschoolers, who will?

  • bravo! You are so right! I have been frustrated by being labeled and judged, but you really gave me a good way to think about it- the kids don't care and don't see the labels, we are just "homeschoolers"

    thank you!

  • Thank you for this, MamaTea. Exactly, and YES. (And I want one of those t-shirts, too!) I'm writing this 9 whole days after you posted, which means you're about to speak at the homeschool conference. You will rock it. I wish I could come hear your words. I know they will be inspiring.

  • Well, I surely don’t fit into a box. I do call myself a “Charlotte Mason” homeschooler on my blog, mostly because that’s what I write about. However, people who know me (or have even had a homeschool consultation with me), know I’m really more of a relaxed, Charlotte Mason unschooler who does a lot of field trips and dreams of roadschooling.

    So, where’s my box? 😉

  • I know this is an old post, but I just discovered your blog and have to say THANK YOU for this. I am entering my third year homeschooling (began by pulling my then-third grader from public school, and since then have added four of my other kids to the mix), and have found that one of my biggest stressors is this continual quest to figure out what kind of homeschoolers we are. And you’re right – once you buy into that pressure to be a certain kind of homeschooler, then you spend a lot of time worrying if you’re doing it the right way. Blah. The truth is, we cobble things together, and it’s a continuously evolving endeavor. Thank you again!

    • I think it’s really common to struggle with naming what you do. It was hugely eye-opening for me to realize that my kids didn’t buy into the labels. If my kids didn’t care, why did I? 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • I love this! I never thought about how the kids don’t care about the labels, but it’s so true. And if you’re homeschooling for your kids, then why do they labels truly matter? It’s definitely a way to categorize ourselves among our peers, but it can certainly be hurtful at times. Just be homeschoolers. Love it!

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