Challenging Yourself

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It’s an entirely natural by-product of
home education that you find yourself
becoming differently educated too.

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Just because you’re home educating your own child doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily end up mastering those horribly complicated mathematical equations that had you stumped in high school. It does mean that you will almost certainly find your concepts of what actually constitutes ‘education’ being challenged to the hilt.

Sometimes those challenges will feel overwhelming. That’s the time to be kind to yourself and give yourself processing time. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the adult mind (yours, as the home educating parent) does not generally embrace change readily.
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Help! My Brain’s Going to Explode!

Most of us have been educated in a regular school environment. There’s a part of our brain that tends to acknowledge that that’s the ‘proper’ way of doing things, and while we might be choosing an alternative path for our own children, those well-worn paths often manifest in the words we utter when things get stressful. You know how we sound like our mothers sometimes, when we swore we never would? It’s possible that you’ll find yourself sounding like your own least favourite childhood teacher too, and that’s really cringe-worthy.
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Here are some things to consider:

  • Learning can occur in all sorts of places – sitting straight-backed at a table is not the only appropriate scenario for home education
  • Your child will learn in their own unique way – and that may or may not bear any resemblance to either how you learn, or how you expect them to learn
  • If your child has been in any kind of formal learning environment, whether actual school or school-like home education, it’s likely that at some time they will need to De-school.

There is no doubt that when we are taught to believe that something simply is one particular way in life, to change direction and embrace that thing from a completely different angle takes courage, determination, and a whole lot of other skills we’re not necessarily familiar with. Understanding that home education is a different Model of education to schooling is important.
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Help! Which Way Do I Turn?

Whatever is challenging your thinking at the moment, some change is likely to occur. Whether you are deciding between school and home education, or between a more structured style of home education and a more natural approach, here are some ideas for easing yourself through the process of change:

  • Understand that this is your family’s process, nobody else’s.
    All sorts of people, from relatives to friends to teachers or other home educators, even the woman at the supermarket checkout, might feel they have the right to express opinions, but what is it you want to do? What do you feel is the right thing?
  • Be open-minded.
    If you like the way things are, your opposition to change will make you your own worst enemy. There will be a solution to this somewhere, but if you feel like you have to be in complete control at every point, you’ll drive yourself, and others, quite barmy (feel free to picture my husband and daughter nodding knowingly in the background here). Truthfully, the solution probably doesn’t lie in everyone else ‘getting’ what you want and complying – it will probably take a bit of adjustment from all parties.
  • Diversity of input is good, but just because someone speaks authoritatively doesn’t mean that they’re right in the context of your family. That’s your job.
  • Change might be necessary, but it comes in all sorts of sizes.
    If what you’ve believed about your child’s education isn’t working, some change is obviously required. The solution might be a simple tweak of the existing formula or a complete overhaul or lifestyle change involving the whole family. As parent, you’ll find the unique solution for your unique child and your unique situation.
  • Get a range of input from a variety of sources, but do stop when your brain hurts. Thinking time always adds some sanity to the discussion . There’s a time to seek input, but there’s also a time to be still and let the thinking-pot just cogitate at first and then settle.
  • Don’t commit to something massive until you’ve checked it out well.
    Find a general direction first, and flesh out the details later. Take time to sleep on big decisions, especially if they involve a large financial commitment. In home education, it’s frighteningly easy to over-resource.
  • Experts aren’t always.
    School teachers, principals and even doctors, although skilled and valued practitioners in their fields, are not experts on home education. Some react as if home education is a personal slight – it isn’t, it’s simply an alternate solution for your child’s own personal educational needs. No matter how revered the professional, they are not your child’s parent, you are.
  • Accentuate the positive, latch on to the affirmative and all that.
    Whatever the change is, whenever we’re venturing into the unknown, we tend to be fearful. Fear leads us to negative thinking, so we need to purposefully focus our own thoughts on what we’re aiming for, and the existing positives about our children and our family.
  • Don’t go it alone.
    Talk with your partner and children, especially. Find other home educators. Go out with friends and talk about other things sometimes, just to stop your brain from imploding with all that new input. You are a multi-faceted being, not just a single dimensional parent, after all. Enjoy who you are in the midst of everything.
  • Your brain works as well as anyone else’s.
    You can figure this out, even if you don’t have letters after your name … and even if you do. 😉.

You may find our article Allowing Change to be helpful, as it addresses some issues that we adults, who can be very set in our ways indeed, can consider in the challenging processes of adjustment. Do take things one step at a time, and resist the idea that it’s all got to be sorted right now. To quote an old friend of mine, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. By the yard, life’s hard.” The same can be very true on our home education journey.
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    “Any change is inconvenient, even a change for the better.”
    ~ Ada Grace Phillipps

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