What is a principle?

A principle is something we know to be true, something that is foundational to our thinking that informs our choices. A principle is a guiding code that leads us down certain paths and not others. A principle filters the methods we assume when we have to troubleshoot our situation.

Principles give us the criteria for making decisions. Decisions must be made, and if we don’t have a set of filters to run the options through, we’ll default to what is most comfortable or easy or familiar.

We don’t want to run on default.

So principles are not nice extras in our homeschool journey, something to tack on after we’ve been doing it for awhile. We have principles whether we’ve thought about them or not, but if we haven’t thought about them and consciously chosen them, they are likely to be assumptions we made unconsciously in our own childhoods about what school is, what it looks like, what matters.

Principles are foundational. They are what tell us the right thing to do when we are researching curriculum, troubleshooting a difficulty, or choosing between extracurriculars.

Whatever measures and standards you use to make those decisions – and you must make those decisions – those are your principles.

Principles are practical. The practical things we do each day are done because we made the choices to do them. Our principles are the why behind the everyday practical. If we aren’t happy with our practical application, chances are it is actually the foundational principles that informed the practical choices which is off and needs adjusting.

We don’t need to sort through and try approach after approach after approach to see what fits. We need to take a step back and think about our assumptions, our values, our principles. Those will shed light on the options and narrow down the field considerably. They don’t give a One Right Way. Principles are foundational, but there are many applications of them. However, they do eliminate a lot of the noise out there in social groups, in social media, in catalogues, in bookstores.

Awhile back Brandy and I recorded a conversation about three important education principles and how they affect our daily homeschool decisions.

We think you’ll love it and find it helpful in your own homeschool nitty-gritty days:


  1. “If we aren’t happy with our practical application, chances are it is actually the foundational principles that informed the practical choices which is off and needs adjusting.”

    I think that yes, our practical applications are often a direct outflow of our principles. What I find in my own home and school is that my frustration often comes from the disconnect between principles and application. So, for example, my “foundational principles” are being reformed and refined, and my practical applications are not yet caught up. For me, then, the inverse of your statement is true. I find myself frustrated at the daily grind because my practical applications don’t always match up with my foundational principles. Does that make sense?
    You two are so wise.

  2. I have finally watched the whole video–it was really good. It gave me lots to think on. I have learned lots from the videos that you have done with the other schole sisters. Thank you for taking the time to do these. They have been helpful.

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