Last year, Tate went to a (very affordable, wonderfully diverse) private school for kindergarten. I honestly never thought we’d ever do private school. The year before, living overseas, we worked through a simple homeschool curriculum for preschool. If you asked me before we moved, I’d have told you we’d never, ever homeschool.

This year, we’re homeschooling for first grade. Life’s funny that way.

Kyle and I are both public school products, having attended the same local schools from K through 12th. We both had good experiences, and always assumed we’d default to the same public school route for our own children. Quite honestly, we held to a certain stereotype of homeschoolers. You know the stereotype, too: large families wearing matching jumpers and not letting their kids play with other children. Inept social skills.

In my short stint as a parent, I’ve discovered that there IS one right way to educate your child. And it’s true for every family, every child.

It’s this: whatever works best for your family.

Nothing less. Our family’s goal in educating our children is to foster a lifelong love of learning. From no particular schooling method will our children be able to learn everything, so the next best thing is to nurture the innate love of discovery and growth born in each of us.

We’ve decided that for our family, the method of education will possibly change each year, with each child. Some years, public school will be best. Other years, an online, independent program might be the best thing.

Factors we’ll consider are each of our children, both of us as parents, and our current life situation. Whatever the method, we’ll approach it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and with a plan. No default mode.

I’ve abandoned any homeschooling stereotype, because I’ve learned it just doesn’t exist. There are too many resources, too many approaches, and too many methods to box a homeschooling family into just one mold. If our family’s culture isn’t wearing denim jumpers, reading only the Bible, and traveling the country for spelling bees, then homeschooling isn’t going to magically turn us into that.

Besides, who cares what the stereotype is? No matter what educational path you choose, it’s still your responsibility, as the parent, to educate your children. You may outsource some subjects to your local public school, but the job is still under your jurisdiction. This year, we’re simply choosing to homeschool as our primary method.

If there’s anything I could encourage you in educating your children, it’s this:

1. Don’t have a default mode. Don’t just assume you’ll do public school, or private, or homeschool. Evaluate each child, each year. Thoughtfully consider your family’s needs annually.

2. Never say “We’ll never _____.” 10 years ago, that would have been homeschooling for me. Five years ago, it would have been private school. We’ve already done both.

A few years ago, I met an elderly American woman who lived in Vietnam during the 60s. When her children became teenagers, they went to boarding school in the Philippines. She told me, “Never say you’ll never do boarding school.”

Honestly, I’m not sure I can say that right now. But I’ve never had teenagers, and who knows where we’ll be at that time. If I’m taking my own advice, then I’d need to not say “Never,” even to sending my teens to boarding school. It’ll all depend on our family’s situation.

It’s still true now, when our kids are little. And it’s true for your kids, too. I look forward to starting the next fork in our family’s educational journey next Monday, when we crack open our books and explore.

Why have you chosen your kids’ method of education right now? I’d love to hear.*

*Note: this is a grace-filled place, and I don’t have much room for nonconstructive criticism of others. I’d rather hear the positives of your choices, not your negative opinions of others’ choices. Ad hominem will be deleted.