Monday, July 7, 2014

The Art of Inappropriate Homeschooling


The Inappropriate Homeschooler

Inappropriate homeschooling is the easiest of all homeschooling methods.   There's really only a few items on the check list of homeschooling inappropriately.

1.  Be Authentic. 
 There's only one way to be happy:  Be your authentic self.  That bit of wisdom is not only true for living but for homeschooling as well.  If it isn't 'for you' don't try to make it 'for you'.  Don't worry about trying to teach kids fractions while cooking if you hate to cook.  Don't worry about trying to teach your kids all about plants by planting your own garden if you hate gardening.  Don't worry about following a curriculum if you *hate* following curriculums.  Follow a curriculum if you *love* following a curriculum.  Read all sorts of blog posts and pinterest boards for fabulous ideas on homeschooling if it works for you.  If doing that makes you feel sick to your stomach, don't read them - except this one of course.  The bottom line here is be true to yourself and allow your children to be true to themselves.  Find what works for you and your kids - no matter what it looks like to anyone else - and DO THAT.  If you are pulling your hair out, constantly 'sweating' over homeschooling, or continually feeling like you are failing then you are not being your authentic self and that doesn't work.  Trust me.

2.  Be Honest

The first step to being authentic is be honest.  Be honest with yourself, about yourself and about your kids.  This is hard-core, look yourself in the mirror honesty.  Do you work well with schedules?  Do your kids?  Do you do better with curricula?  Do your kids?  How do you best accomplish goals?  Are the goals you set ones that matter to you?  (Most of us don't accomplish goals that don't either matter to us or pay some dividend so we have to do what works for us).  If you already know that planning that BIG science project and buying all the supplies is as far as you'll get with it - be honest about that and skip it.  There *are* other ways to achieve objectives.  If you want or need your child to learn a foreign language, you don't have to learn it first you just have to find a resource for your child that works for him to learn it.  The same is true for science projects, gardening, and cooking (with fractions).  The more honest you are about who you are and what works for you the easy it is to look at your kids and be honest about what works for them and then find the authentic path that is your family's homeschooling.

3.  Be Confident

The dirty little secret to homeschooling is that no one's behind-the-scenes looks like their highlight reel.  Even those who do all those homeschooling things you wish you could do have a behind-the-scenes where one kid, or more, isn't cooperating or isn't enjoying the activity.  Everyone has a child who struggles IN SOME WAY.  Period.  Any parent who says otherwise is either lying or operating under a delusion.  Give a stranger 30 minutes with any kid and they can see the 'odd' or 'different' in a kid.  And, that's okay too.  Be confident that your child is marching to his own drummer and will do and learn all that she needs to do and learn in her own time, in her own way.  Your job is to provide the opportunities and the encouragement.  There is no 'right' way to homeschool except the way that is right for your family.  Have confidence in that and don't compare your behind-the-scenes to other homeschooler's highlight reel or anything else.  Other than following the legal requirements of your state, your homeschooling does not have to feel like, sound like, or look like anyone else's homeschooling.  It's doesn't even have to smell or taste like anyone else's either!

4.  Know Your Objectives

Why are you homeschooling your child?  Quick, off the top of your head name three reasons you are homeschooling your child.  Write them down.  Now, those three things (okay 5 things because you probably thought of more and you aren't a rule-follower) are the heart of why you homeschool.  Build your goals around those reasons.  Those reasons are your 'gut' speaking.  What you truly want for your children and their future lies in those reasons and so you make a plan on reaching those objectives and work that plan.

5.  Opportunistic Flexibility

Inappropriate homeschooling is all about flexibility.  Wait, you say, "I'm a 'structured' homeschool that's what works for me!"  No problem.  Opportunistic Flexibility works great with 'structured homeschooler'.  What opportunistic flexibility really means is that once your have your system in place (be it structured or relaxed or unschooled)  you develop a mind-set that you will recognize opportunities when they present themselves and ACT on them.  What types of opportunities, you wonder?  Well, that depends on your #4 objectives.  The trick is learning to recognize these opportunities that pop up and having a willingness to be flexible.  Life is about living and living is learning.  It's OKAY to take away from your 'educational' plan to give your children the chance to partake of an opportunity that is unexpected, especially when it excites them and fulfills your objectives. 

That's it.  That's all there is.  I was a newbie and despite all my research and all my study I never fit into the 'mold' of homeschooling and I still don't.  Punky doesn't either.  Heading into our 6th year (yikes, I have a 7th grader!), Punky still struggles with math (and we finally found a curriculum last year that works, thank you Learn Math Fast).  She still scores as a 'struggling' reader on standardized testing, despite the fact that she read the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies in less than a week, each.  She still has test anxiety (thank you Georgia 1st grade CRCT testing) and she still does half-ass work on projects and assignments she has no real interest in or there's a lack of 'meaning' for her.  However, she has played the lead in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' at the local theatre and she earned a place on the competitive Tap Dance team.  She took it upon herself to write to the author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) because she was so moved by the book.  She is developing a great sense of humor and still embraces the silly.  She was disrespected by a public school boy recently and she had the confidence to defend herself and the esteem to realize that he was the idiot and no one will treat her in such a disrespectful way and be allowed in her life.  She's traveled all over with me as I work for N.A.S.H. and she's sat in on my business meetings picking up who knows what by way of life lessons at the age of 12.

Our homeschooling doesn't look like anyone else's and that my friend, is the real joy of homeschooling.  Bask in the joy! 

Oh, and one last 'inappropriate' homeschooling method - if 'they' criticize you, well there's a meme for that:

~Mari B.


  1. Excellent Post! Thanks!! One of the great things about Home Schooling for us is that while I get to embrace what authentically motivates me (as a home schooling parent) so do my children! :D

  2. Yes!! I am so glad I found your blog this morning. I am going to become an inappropriate homeschooler starting today. Thanks again!

  3. Well said! I am in the same boat that you are and couldn't agree with you more. Homeschooling is amazing!


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