These five tips will help you no matter what you face on your homeschooling journey – and beyond, really. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day-to-day activities or trying to provide that “just-right” learning environment, the biggies like this get swept aside.
After all these years of parenting, I can tell you that paying attention to these particular points will make all the difference in your family.
Let’s talk about why. And! If you have others that you think I’ve forgotten about, I’d love to hear what you think should rank right up there in Top Tips!
We get so caught up in how we WANT things to play out that we hang onto ideas long past their expiration date. We do what we can to make educated guesses about the future, but we have no idea how the path will bend or what new variable might be tossed into the mix. Maintaining flexibility helps us stay connected with what IS and not what we WISH was happening in our lives right now. And that includes staying tuned in with that child standing right in front of you. Being able to make adjustments can save your entire day!
Their Path Is Not Your Path
We only want the best for our kids, right? But sometimes they have to make choices that we wish they wouldn’t make. Our own personal experiences certainly give us some wisdom… we can often see “the handwriting on the wall.” And then toss a heaping dose of parental fear into that mix, and we find ourselves predicting dire outcomes. What we haven’t factored in is their experiences, their surroundings, their support systems, their motivations. All that experience of ours may not predict accurately at all!
Additionally, sometimes mistakes help us learn what to avoid next time, how to adjust our course. Their life experiences – the good and (what we consider) the bad – become part of the intricate weavings of your child’s life.
Stay Focused on the Now
It sounds cliché, but “now” is really all we have. We can’t undo the past and there’s no telling what’s in the future. Wasting time focusing on either of those is exactly that – wasting time.
If you find that this is a habit of yours, dig around a little deeper and see if you can figure out why that is. Here are some reasons that might sound familiar:
- Making plans for the future to avoid some of the mundane-ness of the present. Maybe you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing with your kids?
- Using “I’m searching for resources” as a way to procrastinate
- Allowing fear to be in the driver’s seat: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of messing up your kids, fear of looking bad as a parent – and the list can go on and on!
Truly, that child standing in front of you is giving you all the cues you need as to what to do. Get out of your head and tune into them.
Relationship Above Everything
Do you notice that you push your kids a little hard? What does that do for you? My guess is that in your mind, you think you’re helping them prepare for their future. And there’s two things wrong with that notion: it might not even be true; and is it worth the price?
When we sacrifice our relationship because of… well, anything… it has long term implications. Do you really want to be one of those parents whose kids phone home with the obligatory weekly call – or not at all? Do you want them to be those young people who can’t wait to get away from their controlling/overbearing family? They have plenty of time to learn anything they’ll need as adults. There’s no “finish line” where we have to squeeze in all their learning for their lifetime – so why wreck the relationship for something that really doesn’t matter? And, if we do, we lose the opportunity to guide them or to have them value our experience. We listen to people we respect – and we respect people who respect us.
Be Their Biggest Supporter
If you listen to interviews of people who excel in their fields – from movie directors to scientists, you’ll find that they have one thing in common: They had someone rooting for them. Life is full of so many opportunities. And we want our children to be brave enough to venture into new territories and make discoveries on their own. But when anyone takes risks exploring options, failures are inevitable. It’s much easier to have courage – and to dust yourself off from a misstep – when you know that you have a parent helping you see your strengths, encouraging you to try again, loving you no.matter.what.
I know that new homeschoolers may have hoped my list would give them great insights into organizational tools or tips about finding resources. I have those – and I’m happy to share them! But it’s the “thought work” that’s going to lead to homeschooling/unschooling success. Getting clear in your thinking – and a lot of it is revisiting how we parent – these are some critical first steps. It’s what weaves itself through our choices and decisions, making our family lives so much better.
All the rest will work itself out.
If you’re new and wishing you had someone to walk you through the first steps of homeschooling, you’re in luck! I’ve created a group mentoring program that will start in August. Leave me your name and email, and I’ll keep you posted about it.
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