But I’m an educated person,
why would I need to change?
And thereby hangs a tale.
For most parents, home education presents us with challenges we simply don’t feel we signed up for, at some point or other. Taking on the education of our child was all we signed up for, wasn’t it? So why do we need to change our own thinking when it’s our child’s thinking we expected to be shaping? Simply, because home education is a very different educational model from school education.
To my way of thinking, the fact that we’re dealing with a different model means we need to think differently, and because most of us have been raised with schoolish thinking, our mindsets will inevitably encounter some adjustment requirements. Even if you were home educated yourself, your child may well require something slightly (or vastly) different from what you experienced. Actually allowing even the most necessary of adjustments in can require considerable courage.
Below are some thoughts which, hopefully, will help you as your thinking shifts to better accommodate what you’re doing.
What has shaped you so far?
The answer to that question is as debatable as its deepest psychological roots. Nature versus nurture, right?
The point of the current discussion, however, is home education. What has shaped your thinking so far, in terms of how you believe your children should be educated?
- What were the principles your parents and your upbringing instilled in you?
- What concepts did your own schooling entrench in your thinking?
- What did your former dreams have you imagining about your child’s education and development?
The point of asking yourself such questions is that sometimes we hold beliefs that we don’t even realise are deeply ingrained into our thinking. Hauling them out into the naked light of day can actually be a hugely helpful exercise.
Your parents, your extended family, your former teachers and even your own fondly-held ideals aren’t raising or educating your child, however. You are.
It’s worth assessing what your expectations are, so that you have some insight into where your reactions come from. It’s good to be able to assess what your child needs and respond accordingly, neither in favour of or in reaction to our own childhood experience, but in open-hearted response to your unique child’s individual requirements.
What is shaping you now?
If home education is a new area of exploration for you, it’s likely that something isn’t working in how your child has been educated up to this point. Something not working can be a great catalyst for allowing change to seep into your thinking.
- Is your current thinking reactionary?
- Is a quick solution at the heart of what you seek?
If the answer to either of those questions is yes, some re-shaping is inevitable. Your best friends at this point will be:
- Acceptance of the need to change your thinking
Your worst enemies will include:
- An iron-clad belief that all children should be educated in a certain way
- Feeling like you have to have a complete, unchangeable solution in a short space of time
- Any kind of unchallengeable belief about your child’s education, development or behaviour
Take care in what you allow to shape you now.
- Get lots of input from sources which foster the directions that make sense or seem right to you
- Protect your processes from those who are negative or whose ideas contradict that which makes sense to you in relation to your child
- Read and talk broadly, but learn to develop confidence in your own discernment
For me, the process of acknowledging that I need to allow some kind of change, and cogitating on how that can take place, is often a very quiet evolution. It culminates with a little frown, as the formerly amorphous blob in my mind suddenly comes together and takes on a newly discernible shape. Then, an utterance of “Y’know what?” is followed by a surprisingly lucid explanation of my thoughts and conclusions as the light comes on fully.
For you, it will be different in some way, because you are different from me. How it happens for you is every bit as valid, and it’s purpose is about finding freedom for you and your child, in the context of your own home education experience and environment.
What will shape you in the future?
Beyond your own purposeful self-education, there will be other factors which help to reshape your thinking on home education significantly, including:
- The network where you find your ‘fit’ – the people you find connection with amongst other home educators.
Even though as we first became involved with local networks we were more prescribed in our approach, we initially found our ‘fit’ amongst those who were more natural learners. They did not attempt to change me, and our change was not quick, but these families have been unobtrusively very influential, which I am ardently thankful for. Now, we find loving, supportive relationships within a variety of networks.
- The results you see in children around about you – for good and for bad. When you observe, through your own uniquely-tinted glasses, things can become surprisingly clear as you are drawn to or repelled from certain principles. Hearing a well-schooled child eloquently espousing certain very politically correct views did not make me wish my child had been more rigorously drilled in debating skills – it strengthened my resolve to teach her to think for herself, whether she agreed with me or not.
Perhaps the only real pre-requisite for allowing change to take place is the belief that it is necessary and it is possible.
We’ve all heard the saying that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
We had a friend, some years ago, who would wander around muttering, “I can change, I must change, I will change.” While we chuckled at his eccentricity back then, I’ve often emulated him as I challenged my own thinking (which was preventing us from finding freedom in our home education at the time). If it isn’t working, it’s worth changing.
- Will you allow yourself to change?
If you won’t, you’re condemning yourself to considerable frustration, boredom and tension.
If you will, wisely and expectantly, you’ll have a fabulous opportunity to open life wide to both yourself and your child in ways that you’ll both potentially enjoy.
- Will you allow your child to change?
If you won’t, they’ll change anyway, but they’ll resent your rigidity and find ways to rebel against it.
If you will, wisely and expectantly, they’ll thrive and your enjoyment of them will be icing on the cake of both your lives.
- Will you allow time?
If you won’t, you’re creating pressures that will bring resentment with them.
If you will, wisely and expectantly, you’ll find an ease seeping into your routines that engenders co-operation in your activities and peace in your home education environment.
All change takes time. Sometimes De-schooling is necessary, and that process just doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes you have to sit back and allow your child to think something through for themselves. You may be frustrated because you think they should just ‘get it’ when they don’t, but as you learn patience, you help everybody involved find greater freedom.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate
to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high
with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.
As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”
~ Abraham Lincoln