books homeschool

which classic novel captures your homeschooling vibe

Over the years I’ve seen an assortment of “homeschool personality type” articles. You know the ones. Your Myers-Briggs homeschooling type. Your Enneagram homeschooling type. Your Simpsons character homeschooling type (I’m totally a Marge, in case you were wondering.) But the other day I started wondering about the homeschooling vibe that comes with some classic books.

I was curious. Is my homeschool vibe more Mary Poppins or Les Miserables? In case you need to answer this burning question as well, you can read these quick profiles to figure it out.

Mary Poppins

If you’re rocking a “drill sergeant with a bit of whimsy” kind of vibe, this might be you. Mary Poppins is organized, efficient, steady, and a bit mysterious. With a strong emphasis on good behavior and children knowing their place, kids in this homeschooling situation will enjoy the lessons learned through music, incredible field trips, and the safety of clear boundaries. If you daydream about having magic powers in order to more efficiently clean up your school room, this may be you.

Pros: Presence of music, clear expectations, and highly organized.

Cons: Lack of warmth, kids are more seen than heard, obsession with tidiness.

Motto: The more Mary Poppins the better.

Little Women

If your family relationships are the driving force in your educational model, this might be you. Siblings form clubs, write dramas, play outside, and generally engage well with the world around them. There is an inclusive atmosphere that pulls in neighbors and sends kids in search of others to help. Studies are mandatory but flexible in regards to student’s interests and goals. Students will wander off into the world but find themselves always drawn back to these familial relationships. They could never love anyone as they love their siblings.

Pros: Emphasis on literature, drama, and social justice; strong sibling bonds, killer home ec skills.

Cons: Potentially volatile sibling relationships, parents may be distracted by their own altruism.

Motto: A strong moral compass is the most valuable inheritance.

Pride and Prejudice

This classical unschooling model believes that all students could be accomplished if they work their tail off on their own. Want to be well read? Study French? Master the piano? You let your kids go for it and do their thing! When you’re embracing that P & P life, you aren’t too worried about today but instead have your eyes on the future and may be slightly obsessed with where your kids end up. If you’ve ever emphasized making connections, a strong social network, or met another homeschool kid who might make an “excellent match” for yours, this is probably you. Your poor nerves!

Pros: Students are free to pursue their interests and take ownership of their education.

Cons: Lack of parental direction/involvement, overemphasis on financial success, image-focused.

Motto: It’s a truth universally acknowledged that those social ladders aren’t going to climb themselves.

Moby Dick

You are all in on this homeschool venture and have a particular tendency toward the deep dive. There will be no “survey” books, no skimming the surface of topics or ideas in the Moby Dick homeschooling. This model places an emphasis on knowing everything about a certain subject and believes that details are king. You roll your eyes at those people who do a unit in a month. Three years on the Revolutionary War? Yep. A whole bookshelf dedicated to books about mollusks? Naturally. You don’t want to know anything if you can’t know all the things about it, and you will lead the hunt for that knowledge with an inspiring and sometimes chillingly fevered focus. Kids may drop off in the process, but you’re pressing forward. When accused of laser-like focus, you simply shrug and say, “Call me intense.”

Pros: Research skills, sustained focus, and a deep understanding of, like, three things.

Cons: Possible educational gaps, instructor may become obsessed with study to the neglect of all else.

Motto: The value of study is in the depth not the breadth.

The Lord of the Rings

You believe wholeheartedly in two strategies: apprenticeship and personal quests. Having embraced the harshness of the world around us, you are focused on equipping and not sheltering your kids. You don’t feel the need to be right next to your kids on their journey but instead send them off to learn as they go. This model may also involve frequent eating (up to seven meals a day), an emphasis on languages, and practical weapons training for self-defense.

Pros: Strong focus on personal responsibility and unique calling, presence of wise and seasoned mentors, group projects, and celebration of light and truth.

Cons: Student may feel isolated, tendency toward peril and high stakes, and students may go where you cannot follow.

Motto: The character of your mentors and the caliber of your friendships are your best weapons against the darkness.

Les Miserables

Look, your homeschooling situation is a little complicated. Though you have tried to facilitate a well-run home through consistent laws and occasional second chances, the students are uniting against you. At the end of the day, they want a total overhaul and a say in the process. You’re pretty confident that you’ll squash this rebellion in due time. However, you’re letting them reap the benefits of sibling bonding, practicing strategy and negotiation, and some practical lessons in philosophy and government. You’ll give it one day more.

Pros: Rhetoric, persuasion, analysis, and a sense of the common good.

Cons: Hostile workplace for you, lots of passion that can be volatile, lack of appreciation for the master of the house. It could get ugly.

Motto: The lines between riot, revolution, and recess are often blurred.

The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway understood the plight of parents who are trying to oversee their kids’s education but still got to pay the bills. Essentially the homeschooling-by-distance model, you may find yourself headed to work each morning and leaving your kids to figure it out. Maybe you can’t work from home. Maybe you’re an essential worker. That’s alright, because you’re doing what you can when you can for your students. They’re finding ways to learn and entertain themselves, and you’re trying not to get eaten by sharks. It’s not ideal, but it’s a living.

Pros: Independence, responsibility, and appreciation of your (sometimes infrequent) presence

Cons: You’re not sure exactly how much school is happening. (Also…sharks.)

Motto: Homeschooling can be destroyed but not defeated.

Lord of the Flies

In moments of total honesty, you admit that this homeschool thing is kind of unraveling. Your home has moved from chaos to anarchy. There’s divisions, factions, and a growing animosity towards all things civilized. Your students believe that clothing is optional, snacking is a free for all, and the control of small, seemingly-once-mundane objects (mainly the remote) is now the determining factor for power. Isolation is increasing these circumstances exponentially. Your main focus is protecting the young, keeping the conflict out of your bedroom, and enforcing weekly baths. You find yourself suddenly weeping for the loss of innocence and the shocking darkness of your own heart.

Pros: Um…. occasional teamwork?

Cons: Possible trauma, unpredictable schedule, messy house.

Motto: What went wrong?

Well, I hope that insight is putting your mind to rest. Whatever your homeschool rhythm is looking like, please know that your child will not be ruined by a bad day or a rough week. If things are trending toward Lord of the Flies at your place, maybe toss in some Mary Poppins to balance things out a bit.

Happy homeschooling, friends. You’re doing great.

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