Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Inappropriate Homeschooler's Top Tips for a Better (More Inappropriate) Homeschooling Experience


1. Let go of trying to control everything. 

As parents, we already feel the urge, the need, to control our children's lives.  We want to keep them safe.  We want to keep them healthy.  We want to make sure they have a *great* childhood, a solid foundation, and that they grow up to have a wonderful life!  That urge, that need, can become more than an urge or need though, especially in a homeschooling parent.  We really feel 100% of the responsibility of raising and educating our children because we are.  There is no brightly lit building where we send our children to for 7 hours a day to 'receive' their education.  The decision to homeschool often includes sacrifice.  The sacrifice may be a financial one, an emotional one, or both. It is human nature that when we sacrifice we do so with the hopes that there will be a great return on our investment.  Nothing is more important to a parent than their child/ren.  Despite the fact that we are with our children 24/7, give or take, because we homeschool, does not mean that we can, or should, control everything.  We sweat over every choice we make from the method we are using to school them to the materials we are using to school them.  We worry over their academic and social environment.  We feel completely, totally, utterly responsible for these human beings we are raising, guiding, teaching.  But as adults we have probably already learned in our own lives, in our own daily walk, that the only thing that we can truly control in life is our own attitude and reactions. We have learned, or are in the process of learning that once we accept that, we can be comfortable right where we are, at peace and happy.  The same is true in homeschooling.

2. Let go of trying to please everyone.

Whatever brought you and your family to the place where you chose to homeschool, the only people that homeschooling needs to 'work' for are you and your children.  You do not have to pretend with anyone that your family is something they are not.  You do not have to try to please your extended family with your homeschooling.  You do not have to try and please your neighbors, friends, or fellow homeschoolers.  The one true way to guarantee dissatisfaction with homeschooling is to try and please anyone who does not have a direct impact on your homeschooling experience or will not be directly affected by your homeschooling.  Focus on who matters!

3. Let go of resentment.

Why would I include this in a list of tips for better homeschooling?  Well, I will tell you, it is my experience in talking with hundreds of homeschoolers, that many are homeschooling with some sort of 'deficit'.  That 'deficit' could be anything.  Perhaps you don't have the best financial situation and money issues plague your homeschooling experience?  Perhaps you don't have the level of support of extended family, with your choice to homeschool?  Perhaps you are a secular homeschooler in a homeschooling community that is 98% religious.  When you feel resentful, which can color your outlook and attitude towards homeschooling, remember this:  Only you know what it is like to walk in your own shoes and YOU are the best expert there is on being you.  So, keep on being you and teaching your children how to be themselves!


4. Let go of guilt. 

We hear this one a lot in today's 'self-help' society.  In this particular category, letting go of guilt for a better homeschooling experience means letting go of feeling bad about what you cannot provide for your children and focus on what you can!  We all wish we could provide our children with MORE.  As homeschoolers we wish we could travel more, have more money for field trips, afford expensive curriculum, live in an area with a homeschooling community that better meets our needs, and on and on.  Feeling bad that there are areas of 'lack' in our children's homeschooling lives serves no greater purpose.  Use that guilt to get creative on what you can and do provide them and let the rest go.  This is your path, walk it - in whatever shoes you can afford!


5. Let go of pride. 

Be proud of your children.  Be proud of their accomplishments.  Be proud of your efforts and abilities in homeschooling them.  Do NOT, however, be so prideful that you hold fellow homeschoolers to *your* standard.  You do what works for you and be proud of it, but let everyone else do what works for them without the need to rank yourself or others.


6. Let go of perfectionism. 

I have an expression I use to describe a certain type of mom, homeschooling or otherwise.  "Martha Stewart Mother".  All I mean by that is a mom who believes that being a mother requires perfection.  It is bullshit.  There is no such thing as perfection.  Do YOU, but let go of the idea that what you do has the ability to be 'perfect'.  The same goes for your children.  Trust me, it's about living life, learning, enjoying the ride....it is not about having the 'perfect' anything.  Do not kill yourself trying to be a "Martha Stewart Mom".


7. Let go of negativity.

This is good advice for how we view our selves as homeschooling parents, but it is especially important for how we view our children.  In any given situation we have a choice—look at what’s good and be grateful, or look at what’s wrong and complain.  It is more important to foster your children's creativity then to make sure they color in the lines.  It is more important that we let them explore and discover on their own, then to make sure they meet some 'expert' imposed standard of what they should know.  Be your own best fan and more importantly, be your children's biggest fan!


8. Let go of negative people.

Whether we are consciously aware of it at the time or not, people convey their energy to others.  Positive people convey positive energy and it is uplifting to be around them.  Negative people do the exact opposite for us.  Surround yourself and your children, as much as you can, with positive people who are supportive of YOU doing YOU. 

9. Let go of the busyness.

Somewhere along the way, many of us have bought into the notion that the busier we are and the more we achieve, the happier we will be.   One of the best aspects to homeschooling is that you are not a slave to someone else's schedule or timetable.  Embrace that!  Let go of the idea that more is better.  More, often, is just more.  Live in the moment with your children so you can embrace the unexpected and follow it down whatever trail is leads you.  If you are too scheduled, too busy, then you increase your chance of being too unfocused or too stressed to notice the moments when they pop up.  *Those* moments are the real memory makers.  I never cease to be amazed at the memories Punky has that come from small, unexpected moments in our lives.  Sure, she remembers the birthday parties, the Christmases, and what not.  But the memories she really holds in her heart *all* came from unexpected 'pop up' moments in our lives.


10. Let go of the fear of failure. 

The fear of failure in homeschooling our children is almost a deal breaker, right?  These are our kids we are talking about after all!  We cannot fail them!  They must learn, they must succeed!  After all they need to become responsible, contributing, adults in just a few years!  It is a real fear.  The best way I have learned how to deal with this fear is to not let it rule my life.  I do that by embracing, yes embracing, the idea that in some ways I will fail.  Punky will not learn everything she may need to know.  Punky will have gaps.  Punky will have missed opportunities.  Punky will have a reason to lie on a shrink's couch one day and bitch.  That is ok.  We all have those 'failures' because that is how life works.  No one can know everything they may need to know.  Everyone has gaps and missed opportunities.  It is more important that she learns to try, learns how to figure things out, learns how to learn what she needs to know when she needs to know it, and then learns how to apply it!  Most importantly our actions need to teach our children, through practical demonstration, that everybody who tries anything worthwhile fails at some point or the other. We need to demonstrate that failure does not mean we are broken and it does not mean we stop trying.


11. Let go of comparison.

I remember seeing a facebook status, or meme, or something that said:  "Don't compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else's highlights reel."   Wise words right there.  It is true, in general, but I think it is especially good advice for homeschoolers.  Someone is always going to have a kid that is better at something than your kid, or more advanced in some way, or whatever.  The same is true that your kid is always going to be better at something that some other kid or more advanced in some way.  Personally, the way I get around this sort of useless, and even harmful thinking, is that I refuse to participate in the false reality of a 'ranking system'.  The world operates in this reality, I know.  I just refuse to play along.  The real truth is that everyone has value and has something to contribute for themselves, their family, their community, our world.  Shifting my perspective to this reality has been how I have been able to let go of comparisons.  Punky is benefiting from it as well, not only because she is not compared to others by me, but she does not feel the need, as much, to compare herself to others.


12. Let go of expectations.

I have often said that expectations are the root cause of problems in a relationship.  More accurately, having very demanding and inflexible expectations in a relationship can cause serious problems.  You have expectations for yourself, sure; it is your life.  We all have expectations of our children, of course, that is allowed, even needed.  Where we get into trouble is when our expectations for ourselves and our children are so demanding or so inflexible that failure is built into them.  In the end, it will be okay and if it is not okay, it is not the end.  I live by that motto.  That and, "If you are going through hell, keep going." (Thank you, W. Churchill). Life can be hard, challenging, miraculous, joyful, tragic, inspiring, and so much more.  Having unnecessary or unrealistic expectations creates unnecessary burdens.   I have learned, be it counter-intuitive or not, that letting go of expectations helps everything else fall in place.

Bonus Tip:  Teach your children that if you yell "Sut Up!" they know to yell, 'DRINK!"

~Mari B.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mari,
    Glad I found this post this morning. Thank you. We have been homeschooling for just over a year. I find myself struggling with enjoying the process. I enjoy my kids, but when it comes to following the 'curriculum' I have decided upon it makes me feel really uptight and judgemental about my kiddos. My expectations are high and I am pouring my tension and struggle out upon my kids. I know I need to just back off and reignite our joy of learning, right now my kids 'hate school'. Not a good place to be. Anyway, today we are going to ditch the workbooks and just enjoy exploring the world together. No tears today. Thanks again for such a good post. I am going to print it out and post inside my closet as a gentle reminder.


Thank you for commenting on my blog! Upon a quick review of your post - to make sure you have not made me cry or really ticked me off - your comments will appear!