Like many of you, I’ve learned so much homeschooling my kids. Understanding how they learn best, tricks for organizing our home, and choosing just the right products are just a few the skills I managed to pick up along the way.
But, there is one lesson that sticks out above the rest. Really, when it comes to homeschooling, at least in our home, it’s probably the single largest contributor to our success.
It has to do with me.
And this one secret I’m about to share is what made all the difference in my kids’ learning, their productivity, their happiness in our homeschool, and my satisfaction with the whole process.
Getting out of my own way
There it is. The greatest lesson I’ve learned while teaching my kids at home is how to get out of my own way. Turns out, learning to spot my own behaviors and how, in fact, I was threatening our homeschool, was a critical realization I had early on. Thank goodness I spotted that, too. Because recognizing the background and mind-set I brought into our homeschool, and realizing how those could sabotage my kids, turned out to be the crucial step to leveraging the power of homeschooling and achieving a level of success.
Today, I’d like to share some examples of this self-sabotage, where ones background and way of thinking can potentially undermine the homeschool, thus, the kids. In my work, I’ve noticed these are common in other families, too. So, while you’re reading, I’d like you to consider whether these threats also speak to you, and whether maybe this kind of sabotage manifests in your homeschool, as well.
Your Previous Background
What’s your background? What kind of training and experience do you bring to your homeschool?
I am a college professor and school teacher by training. I taught on campuses and in classrooms for many years before becoming a homeschool parent. When I tell my ‘teacher-turned-home-mom’ story in public, I get lots of acceptance and support (since non-homeschool audiences assume I know what I’m doing). However (long-time homeschoolers may understand this) I was actually at a great disadvantage by bringing my teaching background into our homeschool.
Let me explain.
You see, my education and my training was all about institutional school-type stuff. I learned to follow textbooks, organize lessons, deliver material, issue exams and check off daily boxes. I learned to treat all the students in my classrooms equally, and I was taught to expect the same outcomes from every one of them, too.
As you can imagine, my background in teaching to large groups of people at one time did little to prepare me to be an effective homeschool parent to a small group — specifically, my very unique children, who were all different ages, all with differing needs and habits, all at the same time. If anything, my classroom experience worked very much against my goal of providing an extraordinary homeschool education. Looking back, I was doing a lot of ‘bossing everybody around’ and telling everybody how to think.
It took a couple of years for me to notice how I was behaving. It really wasn’t until I learned to get out of my own way and trust the possibilities of a true home education that my kids really began to flourish. Leaving my training behind was one of the major keys to our success.
Listening to Others
Do you listen to what others say? Do you have a tendency to believe what you hear?
As with anyone doing something slightly different, homeschoolers are highly prone to receiving advice from others. Between family members, friends, and even total strangers, it seems everyone has an opinion about homeschooling and how we should raise our kids. I could not even begin to count the number of well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) educational and child-rearing tips I have received over the last 20 years. (But, if I did, I’d need to count by the hundreds…)
Now, should you be part of the lucky few who manage to completely ignore these outside opinions, you’re invited to skip this section entirely. But, if you’re like the rest of us, you understand how those darned outside voices can really get into our heads…
It’s a constant battle at times, trying to fight the mental battle of “What if’s” and “Should I’s” when it comes to our kids. Hard as that is, it’s especially why we need to get out of our own way. Homeschool parents have to remember to look upon their own situations and the reasons they chose homeschooling to begin with. They need to personally reaffirm their own decisions, so they can avoid the temptation to adopt the framework used by everyone else.
Getting out of our own way, and listening to our own experience and intuition, is the only way to avoid the self-sabotage of allowing others to influence what we do. Make sense?
Worrying About the Future
Do you worry about your child’s future? Do you wonder if you’re doing the right thing?
Worrying too much about the future is perhaps the ultimate sabotage to what could be an extraordinary homeschool experience. By constantly measuring children against standards, worrying how kids are going to “turn out”, and continually seeking evidence of homeschool success in the research and literature, we prevent any possibility of really tapping into the potential of homeschooling. The risk of being so fixated on worry is that we miss out on things like customizing the school day or getting creative with the curriculum. We also severely limit our potential for joy along the way.
Though lots of evidence exists for homeschooling successes, we need to get out of the way and trust in the process. After making an informed decision to engage in homeschooling, we need to get to the business of doing it, and just leave it at that. The logical mind has a terrible way of questioning every decision we make for our kids! Worrying too much about the future doesn’t just make homeschooling miserable and difficult, it steals from your kids probably the most influential experience of their early lives.
I think a valuable exercise for each of us is to take a few minutes to reflect on what we bring to the homeschooling table. Take a minute to check if your behaviors, actions or ways of thinking could be contributing to the types of sabotage I’ve just talked about. See if “getting in your own way” is something you manifest, too.
Leave a COMMENT. I’d love to share in your realizations, and encourage you the rest of the way, too.
To your success,
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A liaison for regional school-to-home organizations, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach and trainer, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT, Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.