10 Lessons for a Homeschooling Mom to Unlearn
It’s all about the “learning”, right? We hear that all the time. And it’s true!
But it’s also about the UNlearning! And homeschooling moms seem to have the biggest challenges in this regard.
I don’t know whether we’re so conditioned for approval – thank you schools and mainstrem socialization – or really why this is. But over and over these same particular issues crop up for those of us who choose to step into the home education world.
See if any of these ideas are lurking in your head. Let’s clear them up so you can get on to successfully homeschooling your kids!
I’m not smart enough!
Don’t you think it’s odd when this irrational thought crosses your path? Most likely, you are a product of the school system yourself. And you want to put your child in the same place that didn’t prepare you well enough? That’s not logical.
Who am I to do this?
Do you hear that voice, “Who do you think you are, young lady?” Boy do I hear that loud and clear! This kind of talk seems to hone in on our self-doubt, magnifying it and attempting to embarrass us. It’s odd how we can do that to ourselves. But after years of conditioning, it shouldn’t be surprising.This is a spin-off of the idea that we need to always call in The Experts. We can’t possibly know wha to do in any given situation.Does this one plague you?But did you call in a specialist when your child learned to walk or to eat solid foods? Did you have a tutor sitting with you and your baby when he would attempt to talk? Of course not! Maybe you consulted some baby development websites… but otherwise, you left it to nature. You were completely ok with that. But learning – another one of those natural tendencies all humans have – you somehow don’t think you can do the same. Not true! You can. Your child is hardwired to learn. Your role is kind of like when they were learning all of those baby skills: You created an environment that was conducive for them developmentally and based upon their interests. You were flexible and continued to offer options as the baby began to figure it all out. The exact same process can happen with learning. And it IS happening with learning all around the country.
“Real learning” has to look like school.
School really creates a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. But educational research shows that children learn in so many different ways – visually, auditorily, kinesthetically, experientially. There’s no way schools can accommodate all the different ways a classroom full of kids could possibly need. So instead of admitting that, they simply try to make the kids adapt. They declare that their way is The Way, and that’s that. But it’s not true.In fact, when we look back at the things we retain and/or the things we really learned – more often than not those experiences happened outside the classroom. More about this.
What will the neighbors/relatives think?
This can be tough. Peer pressure has such a strong grip on so many of us. Again, all those years of having to fend for yourself for hours at school – you had to learn how to cope with peer pressure! So when we care too much about what a stranger at the park or the clerk at CVS has to say about why our little one isn’t in school, we need to recognize that as truly inconsequential to our day. Because it is! For relatives we only see at holidays or special gatherings, we have some options for dealing with them in Dealing with Naysayers and Pass the Bean Dip.
My kids are so unmotivated!
Kids can be unmotivated for a variety of reasons – and now that you’re going to be with them more, you’ll be able to figure out why that is. Usually it’s because they haven’t been allowed to make very many choices for themselves. Either a teacher was telling them what to do, or we as parents were prodding them along from one thing to another. Sure, they may have been unmotivated in the old setting, but that doesn’t have to be the new norm.
Worrying about gaps in their learning?
Another thing to remove is this fear that they will have gaps or that we need to “stay on track.” On track to what? Those tracks that you’re worried about really only apply in a school setting. Truth is, we all have gaps – times we weren’t paying attention or weren’t interested and tuned it all out. If it’s something we ended up needing, we can look it up! “Hello, Siri?” And then we are much more likely to remember it.
Children need more structure.
This is a myth. Structure makes US feel better when life is feeling chaotic. But let’s not kid ourselves – the children aren’t the one who are needing structure. Sure, some prefer to have bit of a routine, or need more lead time when shifting from one activity to another. But no child needs the structure of Math every morning at 10 a.m. or History every afternoon at 1 p.m. Sometimes we have to look at the fact that the adults cling to the idea of structure when they feel life is a bit chaotic. More about this.
Compare and despair!
Comparisons and competition is also a remnant of years in school. It was used to motivate us and even to shame us into complying with the expectations for the class. So it needs to go.As parents, the comparing often looks like, “Her kid is doing xyz or knows qrst and mine doesn’t! Oh no! I’m failing!” We need to remember that comparing is never a good idea – whether it’s kids or even comparing ourselves with other mothers. Kids all develop differently. They have interests and needs that vary from child to child. Homeschooling is your opportunity to create TRULY individualized learning situations. And comparing yourself to other moms? So often we look at a mom who seems really on top of things and we feel sub-par. But we don’t know what her life is like. We don’t know how much longer she’s been at this either! It’s a bad idea to compare your beginning on this homeschooling path, with someone who started years before you. Also, you have no idea what challenges she has regarding her own family – people often only share the highlights on social media.
Everyone’s House is Clean Except Mine
Let me put this one to rest right away. When people LIVE in a house, it gets messy! Period. Don’t let having a clean house become a stumbling block to learning. Think about when you dove into some project. Didn’t you spread your stuff out? Same for kids and their projects. Create environments where they can explore their curiosity and get creative. There will be plenty of time later on to have a clean house.
If something doesn’t work out, I’m a miserable failure at this.
I think this is more of that same school conditioning. We stumble a little and we want to throw in the towel. But remember – even if you’re taking two steps forward and one step back – you’re still making progress! Don’t give up!