Feb 24, 2021
Doubt and fear come up a lot within homeschooling forums and groups.
It’s natural to feel doubt and fear when you’re choosing something unconventional for your family. Media and social norms make it difficult for us to stay confident in our choice to homeschool.
Jenna shares a list of ways to realign with your values and boost your confidence.
1. Remember your “why”- On days when you’re feeling a bit low, you can try to remind yourself of the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place.
2. Observe + reflect - sit with your child and make mental notes about what they are doing. Consider asking them; What do you like about this game? What else do you want to know about it? What’s the best part of it? What are your favorite things about it? How did you get into this? Where did you learn about it? Who else do you know that likes this? After gathering the information for a week, you will get a better understanding of what your child is learning from the activities they are choosing and learn about ways you can better support them if needed. Reflection is important in unschooling. We need to always be asking ourselves questions and considering how we can adapt and change to accommodate our learners.
3. Focus on the positives - Construct a list of ways your child is learning and thriving. Ask yourself; what opportunities have you been able to offer your child that wouldn’t have been possible in a traditional school setting?
4. Reconnect with your Child - join your children in activities they enjoy. Take the time to see the world through their eyes. Make getting to know them one of your high priority projects. Show him that you understand *him*. To build a relationship with your child is to connect with him as he truly is, not with an idealized version of a child you have in your mind.
5. Build your confidence by increasing your knowledge base - Has it been a while since you read a book about self- directed learning or had a conversation about it with someone? Perhaps it’s time to rebuild your knowledge base. Fear of the unknown is crippling sometimes, but informing yourself is liberating. When asked about your homeschooling approach, do you freeze up? Are you capable of explaining self directed learning to people confidently? If not, it’s a good idea to hit the books. One easy way to avoid developing fear is by collecting information about a topic. Keep learning more about self directed learning, check out my resource page where you can find podcasts, blogs, books, and YouTube videos about self directed learning. Join a webinar or take a workshop every now and then, just to stay up-to-date and gain insight. There are tons of resources out there! Start getting curious. But remember, this requires constant revisiting. You’ll forget things and need reminders. Listening to this podcast is a great place to start!
6. Get support - Open the world to your child. You are not meant to be everything to your kids. Lean on others to fulfill areas you don’t feel as strong in. In fact, for self-directed learning to be optimal, you need to invite other humans into your world and create a web of caring individuals that your children can tap into for various things. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. Find ways which will help your whole family get their needs met.
7. Concentrate on your strengths - Don’t forget you have strengths too! Sit down and make a list, or better yet, get input from your family and friends if you can’t see them for yourself. You have so much to offer your kiddo, perhaps you just aren’t seeing it. Use your strengths on a daily basis, so you feel like you’re providing something meaningful to your family. If your strength is writing, consider writing notes to your kids. If you are great at math, could you invite your kids to play a game with you or use math in everyday tasks together or by creating a project together?
8. Hang up quotes and/or mantras where you can see them - This is a fun way to remind yourself each and every day of what you find important. You can hang these on the fridge,
frame them and put them on the wall, or simply write it on a sticky note next to your laptop.
One of my favorite John Holt quotes is;
“It is as true now as it was then that no matter what tests show, very little of what is taught in school is learned, very little of what is learned is remembered, and very little of what is remembered is used. The things we learn, remember, and use are the things we seek out or meet in the daily, serious, nonschool part of our lives.”
– John Holt
9. Continue to deschool - Asking ourselves questions like; “is this true” and “why do I think this?” can help us to reveal our true thoughts and feelings and reassess whether those beliefs are still serving us. It’s important for us to continue the process of deschooling, as there will always be pressures from conventional schools of thought inundating us on a regular basis, whether that be through the media or through conversations with others, it’s important for us to know schooling has affected our perception of learning.
10. Create a rich learning environment - Sometimes doubt creeps in when we’re feeling uninspired or our kids are feeling that way. Do you have exciting things to do and explore in your home? Perhaps you can arrange a toy or game swap in your community or bring in nature from the yard. If you’re craving creativity, can you splurge on an easel and some quality brushes and paint or go thrifting for low-cost treasures? Creating cozy work spaces and making tools inviting and accessible can be a quick and easy way to get inspired.
11. Make some goals together - We create a very loose schedule and make goals at the beginning of each month, just to realign ourselves with our current passions and ensure we each get the time we need to work on things we deem important. We like to sync our calendars so that we make sure we are available to one another as needed. Perhaps a schedule will help everyone in your family feel more focused too.
12. Let go of controls of outcomes - Some of us may have started with the idea that if we carefully construct a life for our kids with specific opportunities, environments, and scheduled activities, we will single-handedly craft and mold our child into the highly successful and well-adjusted adult we’d hoped for. The reality is, we aren’t raising robots, we are raising humans - humans with individual thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. We can’t possibly know what’s best for someone else. If we can let go of the need to craft specific outcomes from our children, we can begin focusing on getting to know our wonderful and always-worthy-of-your love children. We can begin to help them become who they are, not who you expect them to be. Resist the urge to mold your child into a specific vision of the child you want. Rather spend each day getting to know them better. If you’re holding on to an expectation, question it. Why do you have this expectation? How do you feel about letting go of it? It’s a difficult talk, I know but it’s an important part of the deschooling process. The sooner you let go of this need for control, the sooner you’ll find your footing on your self directed learning journey. For more about this topic, refer to episode 004 where I talk about my experience with this topic.
13. Find Your People - Everyone needs to feel like they belong. It’s a human need and we all feel more encouraged when we have a group of like-minded people we can talk with about our challenges and gleem insight from. There are so many groups out there, so don’t settle for the one nearest you or the first one you find if it isn’t making you feel better. Ditch groups that aren’t enhancing your experience. You’re always welcome to try out the Rogue Learner group. It’s a small community and everyone is really nice and supportive. Try to avoid groups that make you feel inadequate or make you question your instincts. This is a red flag! You ought to feel supported, not demeaned or shamed. Those are not your people!
CAUTION: refrain from taking stranger’s advice about your child. You are the best judge of your child’s needs. Follow your instincts. Don’t let ideology restrict you from listening to your intuition.
That’s it for my list. It’s something I hope you can refer to as well when you’re feeling that doubt creep in. If this list doesn’t help you feel aligned with your values, you may want to reflect on it. Could you consider a different educational approach? There is no shame in looking for alternatives if this path is not feeling right for you or your family. There are so many options for you to consider; alternative schools, democratic schools, free schools, and online self-directed schools might be something to look into. I talked with Kelly Davis in episode 003 about Galileo, an online school for self-directed learners. If you want to try it out, you can use code “Rogue Learner” to get $100 off your student’s tuition.
If you found this episode helpful, please consider sharing it with someone who may also find value in it. In next week’s episode, you’ll get to hear my interview with Kristen Montesano. She is an educator who’s worked in various self-directed learning schools. I think you’re going to love hearing her perspective! We often hear from parents, learners, and researchers, but I was curious to know what she observed from her students in self directed learning environments.
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