Why do you homeschool the way you do? How did you come to the style of homeschooling you use?
Do you homeschool the way you do because it's what you know and are comfortable with? Did you research the different styles and choose one that resonated with you?
Nothing about the way I homeschool was comfortable or familiar in the beginning. Embracing unschooling required me to make a complete paradigm shift in what I believe about life, learning, freedom, empowerment, trust, and respect.
My "awakening" - that seems to be a better word than most to describe it - started after I read Robert Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. He made the controversial statement that schools teach our children how to be poor...
...and he's not wrong.
Technology has changed and evolved at an astonishing rate over the last twenty years. Our educational system, on the other hand, still bears remarkable resemblance to its beginnings.
It's a dinosaur. A relic of the Industrial Age. Unresponsive to the massive changes advances in technology have brought forth.
The advice most of us give our children hasn't changed very much in the last 60 years, either.
Get good grades, so you can go to a good college, so you can get a good job.
The problem is, that advice doesn't work very well for increasing numbers of our young people anymore.
Too many of our young people are graduating from college saddled with staggering amounts of debt. Too many end up unemployed or under-employed.
Kiyosaki's proposition intrigued me.
I began looking into what other gurus in personal development, success principles, and entrepreneurship were saying.
I subscribed to the websites of a handful of those gurus because their messages are thought-provoking and empowering. They're counter-cultural because they don't repeat conventional wisdom. I dig that.
You should too.
You should dig it too because, as a homeschooler, you're already bucking the system. In doing so, you've taken responsibility for educating and preparing your small part of the next generation for success in adulthood.
These men can help you do that.
Each day for the next five days, I'll be adding wisdom from one guru to this post, so keep checking back!
Additionally, if you geek out on this sort of stuff like I do, I've got something pretty special set up for you. I've taken 10 quotes from Brendon Burchard and created 10 short (they're all right around two minutes) video lessons from me about how you can benefit from his wisdom. It's free, and delivered one quote each day in Facebook Messenger.
If you're interested in that, click the button below! It'll open up with an introduction in Messenger.
He’s speaking specifically to entrepreneurs and other people interested in personal development or success principles.
Us homeschoolers, though? We’re a bit like entrepreneurs if you think about it...and there’s no way we can be successful without paying attention to our own personal growth and the factors that contribute to success.
So, you’re thinking about homeschooling, or you’re just starting out. If you’re like I was, you’re swamped. Overwhelmed. Anxiety-ridden.
What are you actually afraid of?
Is it the homeschooling itself, or is it the enormous change homeschooling makes to your life?
Burchard recommends four steps for his audience to get them started on achieving their dreams when they feel stuck, and I’ve adapted them just for you!
If you’re stuck, why are you stuck?
If you believe you should pull your child out of school to homeschool, why haven’t you done that yet?
If you’ve just begun homeschooling but you’re floundering around aimlessly, why aren’t you being more purposeful?
The excuses are plentiful. Many of them sound good, noble even.
Problem is - they don’t move you forward.
You need to figure out what’s really holding you back. Be honest about it.
Are you a perfectionist? Worried you don’t have what it takes to be a good homeschooler?
What if, as Burchard says, “...the real issue is that you’re simply uncomfortable with change? Or that you are simply trapped in a rhythm of how much action you are willing to take each day?”
You can’t overcome what you don’t identify, so it’s very important to begin with honesty.
Educating your own children is a big undertaking that should never be taken lightly, regardless of the style of homeschooling you ultimately embrace.
Your kids deserve your best here.
To be your best, you need to focus on your vision of success as it relates to homeschooling. Regardless of where you are in your homeschooling journey, there are always going to be steps you’ll need to take to get to the next level.
Getting those steps done takes focus.
Now, this will work well for you visual types - probably less so than for folks like me who can’t visualize worth beans, but still worthwhile - because using a leaning map to keep track of the knowledge you’ll need to acquire, the skills you’ll need to master, and the to-dos you’ll need to check off along the way will help you overcome inertia.
It’s not enough to just compile a list, though. You actually need to schedule time in your day to get it all done.
“If you don’t schedule when you will learn something, and have a real deadline for learning a certain level of mastery, then it’s difficult to develop real capability and momentum,” says Burchard.
If you convince yourself that it all needs to be done right now and done perfectly, you’ll never start.
Instead, lower your standards.
Commit to doing just three things each day that move you closer to whatever your goal related to homeschooling is.
Take those three things from your learning map. Make each one the next thing that needs to happen to keep you progressing forward.
As you keep taking action, your confidence will grow. Your enthusiasm for whatever you’re working toward will also increase.
You can do this! You can become a confident, successful homeschooler.
If you’d like some extra help or guidance through the process, you can claim my free guide, “5 Steps to Becoming a Confident, Successful Homeschooler” below.
I first took some advice from Brendon Burchard and adapted it for you, to help you figure out how to get yourself going even when you’re scared.
I’ve been homeschooling since 2003, and if I must say so myself, I’ve done a darn good job. However, there’s nothing so special about me that made homeschooling more successful for me than it could be for you.
Ask anyone who knows me in real life and they’ll tell you I most definitely do not have the patience of a saint. I am not a naturally organized or tidy person. I fly by the seat of my pants a lot, and I do have my days of “hot mess.”
Despite all my shortcomings and flaws, I’m a seasoned, confident, successful homeschooler. And if I can do it, so can you.
I had all the same fears as everyone else does when I started homeschooling. I had to deal with them. So can you.
I’ll help you.
Next up, we have some encouragement from success and personal development guru Jim Rohn. I’ve taken his article, 3 Ways to Face Your Fears With Courage, and adapted it for those of you who are still teetering on the edge of homeschooling or who have just started and are still dealing with some fear.
I’m going to ruin my child’s chances of success.
I’m going to utterly fail my child.
My child is going to end up an uneducated, unmotivated slug who lives out all his days in my basement, eating Cheetos and playing video games all day.
There are others, but these seem to be among the most common fears of new or struggling homeschoolers.
Let me place your mind at ease here: if any of those have registered on your radar of concern, the odds are great that you’ll never have to face any of them.
Because you’re taking your child’s education seriously. Parents like that will have a hard time screwing it up. I promise.
So, do yourself a favor and stop letting your imagination run wild. Rein it in. Instead of focusing on the worst case scenario (AKA the remote possibility), play it a little closer to the vest. Plan for the more probable possibilities.
Let’s go back to those remote possibilities for a second. The way to deal with them is to expose them for their absurdity. I’ll show you how.
Take irrational fear #1: I’m going to ruin my child’s chances of success.
Here you have permission to let your imagination run wild for just a bit. Take it to the extreme. Conjure up the absolute worst case scenario you can possibly come up with.
Now ask yourself, how could I deal with that if it happened?
Figure out a game plan for how you could effectively deal with the worst case scenario.
Good. Now you no longer have to worry about it. Your fear can be put to rest because you know you can handle it if the worst case scenario comes to pass.
Don’t stop there.
Now ask yourself, what could I have done to avoid having that happen?
You see, you have a lot more personal power than you may think you do. There are lots of options. Lots of possibilities.
One of those possibilities is to cave to the pressure, give in to the fear. Don’t start homeschooling, or abandon it if you’ve already started.
Now, as Rohn writes, “Picture the result of giving into your fears. Really feel the cost of being ruled by fear; then really feel the benefits of courageously following your ambition. Carefully weigh the two and see the difference.”
Also, since Rohn isn’t specifically addressing parents and children, add your children into that visualization. Feel the cost to them if you allow yourself to be ruled by fear. Feel the benefits to your children if you courageously follow your heart’s desire to homeschool.
You’ll know what the right thing is to do for your family.
We all got into this homeschooling thing because education is important to us, right?
I find entrepreneur Ramit Sethi interesting precisely because he is a student of learning. Of all the gurus in success principles, personal development, and entrepreneurship, he is the one who seems to advocate most strongly for the importance of self-directed learning.
“Today I’m often asked what skills were critical for growing my website,” Sethi writes in his article 3 Techniques to Never Stop Learning. “People are always surprised at my answer because it has nothing to do with technical skills such as coding or search engine optimization. The most important skill I’ve learned is the need to adopt the mindset of a student, no matter how experienced you are.”
As homeschoolers, we are guiding little students. Their enthusiasm for and exposure to information, skills, and options are largely in our hands.
Whenever I am asked if I worry about being able to teach my children everything they’ll need to know in order to be successful as adults, most people are surprised at my answer...because it isn’t “yes, I am worried.”
No, I am not worried about being able to teach my children everything they’ll need to know in order to be successful as adults, because I don’t see it as my job to teach them everything they’ll need to know in order to be successful as adults for three reasons.
Instead, like Sethi, I choose to focus on maintaining and cultivating that student mindset in myself and for my children.
I see my job as threefold:
If I have done my job well, then my kids will be well-equipped with this "student mindset" to learn anything they could possibly want or need to know at any point in their lives.
In his article, Sethi gives his readers three techniques for implementing the student mindset.
Well, that should be easy for us! We’re working with children!
Children ask why all the time. Children want to know how things work. Children seek to make sense out of the world around them. Little children are remarkably adept at teaching themselves the things they want or need to know - without any formal lessons along the way.
We need to be mindful not to socialize their childlike curiosity right out of our kids because we’re too worried about making sure we get through the full curriculum or that our children don’t “fall behind.”
Many adults become slaves to the status quo. We stop questioning and stop innovating, and when we do, it infects our kids.
Yes, as homeschoolers, we are our kids’ primary teachers, but that doesn’t mean we should be their only teachers. Nor does it mean we shouldn’t be seeking our own teachers for our own personal growth.
As Sethi writes, “Professional athletes, famous musicians and actors all have coaches and advisors. If these people, who are experts in their fields, have coaches, then why shouldn’t we?”
We’ve heard it before: readers are leaders. There is no shortage of very successful people who emphasize the importance of reading.
I’m a voracious reader myself, but I also have two dyslexic daughters who do not learn well at all through reading. So the change I’d make here is to advise you and your kids to seek, seek, seek knowledge and skill through whichever form works the best for you.
Nowadays, technology has given us options we didn’t have before. You and your kids can hack a world-class education through audio books, podcasts, video, and online courses. The important thing is accessing the information, not how you get it.
And as Sethi says, “It all starts with being a student for life.”
We’ve already talked about getting started homeschooling even though you’re scared and three ways to face those fears with courage. Now let’s take some words of wisdom from personal development guru Brian Tracy and tackle ways to handle the inevitable problems that crop up along the way.
Homeschooling isn’t all sunshine and roses. It almost never looks anything like the images of happy families gathered eagerly at the kitchen table poring over (insert curriculum here) in the pages of that company’s catalog.
There will be days you just don’t feel like homeschooling. Period. End of discussion.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or has never homeschooled.
Expect, ahead of time, to have some problems. And figure out, ahead of time, the strategy you will use to overcome those problems.
Brian Tracy gives us four easy-to-use strategies for doing just that in his article, Look for the Hidden Good and 3 Other Ways to React to Problems, that I have adapted for the homeschooling population.
Deeeeeeeep breath, mama (or papa).
This too shall pass. That’s been a mantra of mine for parenting since my first child was born in 1998. Since unschooling is just parenting on steroids, this too shall pass works as well when our kids are school-aged as it does when they’re still in diapers.
As Tracy writes, “Instead of worrying about who did what and who is to blame, focus on where you want to be and what you want to do.”
So, if something isn’t working well in your homeschool right now, make sure you have a clear vision of what your ideal homeschool would look like in mind. Then….
Tracy encourages people to “Think and talk about the ideal solution to the obstacle or the setback, rather than wasting time rehashing and reflecting on the problem.”
If mornings are always hectic and chaotic, and you’re always leaving the house for co-op 10 minutes late every Wednesday, hit the pause button.
Stop yelling at your kids to hurry up. We both know that doesn’t work.
Stop threatening to drop co-op or put your kids back in school - unless you actually plan on following through.
Stop seething with anger that your daughter can’t find her other tennis shoe and your son doesn’t have any clean underwear. Being angry doesn’t change either of those problems in the moment.
While the pause button is hit, so….NOT on a hectic, chaotic Wednesday morning...put pencil to paper. List every single bump and crater in your mornings. Sally’s missing shoe. Johnny’s pile of dirty laundry that never makes it to the hamper. You’re out of cereal and you don’t have time to make pancakes.
Whatever it is. Just write it down.
Then, get creative. How can you take a more proactive approach to solving those problems?
“The instant that you begin thinking in terms of solutions,” Tracy writes, “you become a positive and constructive human being.”
Or, as I like to think, you become the adult in the situation at home. It’s hard to be the adult when you are as negative, or more negative, than your kids are.
Sally needs to get her entire outfit - shoes and all - set out Tuesday night. Voila! No more frantically hunting for the lost shoe Wednesday morning.
On Thursday, you teach Johnny how to do his own laundry. And if he doesn’t get it done, he wears dirty underwear to co-op. Not your problem. It’s his.
Someone, and it doesn’t have to be you, can make a batch of pancakes on Sunday and stick them in the freezer for easy breakfasts all week long.
You get my drift...Don’t fall prey to “victim mode.” It’s unattractive and unproductive. It won’t help you or your kids have a peaceful, successful homeschool.
“Assume that something good is hidden within each difficulty or challenge,” Tracy advises.
Okay, okay...I know it’s hard to find the hidden good in Sally’s misplaced shoe or the empty box of cereal on the one day you actually needed everyone to be able to eat a quick breakfast.
And it’s impossible for all but the most Super-Mom of us to find the hidden good in Sally’s misplaced shoe or the empty cereal box when you’re running around lifting up couch cushions or staring at a barren pantry when your stomach is growling and you were supposed to be pulling out of the driveway five minutes ago.
Wait for the crisis to pass. And before it has the opportunity to present itself again next week, find that hidden good.
The good can be as simple as knowing that your children have shoes they can wear. Or you can dig a little deeper and realize this is the perfect time to teach your kids about planning ahead and being prepared. Both of those are very valuable life skills.
Well, sorry. I’m not pulling any punches here. And, for the record, I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, so don’t feel singled out.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the lesson in the scenarios I presented is the famously worded, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Yup. Life is trying to teach you (and your little darlings) to be proactive.
To take charge.
To plan better.
To be better organized and more prepared.
It’s not rocket science. It’s just agonizing for those of us who aren’t naturally inclined that way. It’s easy for us to overlook the power, and necessity, of being organized and prepared when we’re too busy putting out little fires all day long and too exhausted at the end of the day to want to spend the energy getting ready for tomorrow.
However, life will reward you for doing so anyway.
You ready to go out and tackle the problems in your homeschool now?
Don’t do it alone. Come join me over in my Facebook group, and we’ll do it together.
We’ve reached the final day of valuable lessons we homeschoolers can learn from some gurus in personal development, success principles, and entrepreneurship.
You’ve learned about how to just get started with the homeschooling even when you’re scared, how to face those fears with courage, how to cultivate and keep a student mindset, and how to respond well to the inevitable problems.
Now it’s time to take some advice from entrepreneur Michael Hyatt about what you can do after you’ve blown it with your kids.
Homeschooling makes for a lot of family togetherness. Sometimes all that family togetherness isn’t always a great thing. Sometimes being both mom (or dad) and teacher makes for an explosive combination.
While those of us with more than one child will spend quite a bit of our time acting as referee, stepping in to help our children deal with the realities of sibling rivalry, sometimes the ones we need to be guiding to repentance and reconciliation are ourselves. Sometimes we’re the problem.
And if we’re the problem, we also need to be the solution.
As Michael Hyatt says, “Anybody can damage a relationship. But it takes courage to fix one.”
While he is speaking to business owners in his article, How Leaders Make It Right When They Blow It, those same lessons are applicable to homeschooling parents as well. We’re leading our families, after all.
Hyatt lists five steps leaders need to take after they’ve blown it with their employees, and I’ve adapted them for us homeschoolers.
When I started writing this article a few hours ago, I was wondering which story to share to illustrate my point. I had no idea, at 10 AM, that I would blow it with my youngest daughter by 2 PM.
On the positive side, thinking back to an earlier lesson to pay attention for the blessing in the problem, now I don’t have to wrack my brain for a great story about how I blew it.
To make a long story short, I was irritated about something that had absolutely nothing to do with her...and of course I behaved like the adult I am.
I might have used my “mean voice” and snapped at Jillian when she asked me a question. Because I was too busy being irritated to want to be bothered with whatever she was asking me.
Wide-eyed, Jillian backed away from me and beat a hasty retreat.
Of course I wouldn’t have let that “mean voice” slide from one of my kids.
Nor should I let it slide from myself.
I gave myself a stern talkin’ to. Calmed down. And then I called my kid over.
I looked Jillian right in the eye, and I said, “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that.”
I took responsibility.
I could have just pretended nothing ever happened. Jillian would have gotten over it, right?
The problem is that while she may get over it once, I’m a deeply flawed human being and it never happens just once. I blow it on a regular basis. Blowing it on a regular basis and pretending nothing ever happened will erode our relationship and teach my child lessons I don’t want her learning.
If I don’t want that happening, I cannot be defensive. I can’t make excuses.
I have to tell my child, “You didn’t deserve that.”
No excuses. No shifting the blame.
No excuses. No shifting the blame.
My sweet girl wrapped her arms around me and kissed my forehead. She said she knew I was grumpy about not being able to go to the movies this afternoon with friends like I had planned.
I appreciated her understanding and her forgiveness, but I didn’t want to get into these ifs, ands, or butts. I didn’t want to accept the out she was giving me, because it’s not the out I would want her giving herself.
I kissed that little darling back, and I told her it didn’t matter. Yes, I was disappointed I wasn’t able to go to the movie with my friends, but that was irrelevant. It wasn’t her fault. Missing the movie didn’t have anything to do with her, and I was wrong to take my frustration out on her.
It wasn’t her fault. I was wrong to take my frustration out on her. I don’t like it when other people do it to me. And that’s what I told her.
As Hyatt writes, “Our teams (I’d change this to children for us) won’t feel so alone in the hurt if we identify with what they’re feeling and share it. Instead, they’ll see...that we truly get the pain we’ve caused and are present with them in it, rather than turning away to protect and console ourselves.”
Hyatt is right: “Once the breach has been closed, it has to be sealed with forgiveness.”
Asking for forgiveness, to me, is a really important part of restoring the relationship. It’s the final piece in taking responsibility for blowing it in the first place.
A lot of people, adults especially when we’re dealing with children, have difficulty apologizing and asking for forgiveness. For some, it’s awkward, uncomfortable, and it feels like admitting weakness.
That’s not what I want in my family culture, though. I want apologizing and asking for forgiveness to be a normal part of being a person who sometimes blows it for my children. If that’s what I want, that’s what I must model.
Additionally, I don’t want my kids saying, “It’s okay” when someone has wronged them. Even if that someone is me. It isn’t okay.
What I’d rather they say is, “I forgive you.”
As Hyatt says, “I believe most relationships are easily fixed if we have the courage to stop defending our own egos.”
That includes parent-child relationships...even if homeschooling has gotten on your last nerve and you’re blowing it regularly.
If you need help restoring some peace to your homeschool, you can download my free guide, 9 Steps to Rescue a Floundering Homeschool, by clicking on the link below.
I'm not the only homeschooling blogger who participated in this 5 Day event. Click on the image below to be taken to a list of other 5 Day posts!
I'm a married, homeschooling mama of three who is passionate about self-directed learning.
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