How do you stay enthusiastic about

home education when your best ideas
are met with sighs, yawns or grunts?

Often times, it isn’t that your darling child doesn’t want to be home educated, it’s just that your idea of what might spark their imagination hasn’t hit the bullseye in the child’s imagination. They just want to do something else at home, or from the home base.

Confidence and Enthusiasm

A few years ago now, I stumbled across this interesting comparison [1] between Confidence and Enthusiasm.

Confidence Enthusiasm
Focus on You Focus on your Subject
Focus on You Focus on Others
Certain Creative
Impressive Infectious
Serious Fun

For many of us, as home educators, it’s so easy to focus on wanting to build our own confidence that we quite lose sight of the importance of maintaining our enthusiasm for what we’re doing.

I can testify to that myself. When I’m focused on what I want to do or achieve, on my desire to be certain in what I’m doing or sound impressive to others, I become far too serious and introspective. When I am able to focus instead on why we home educate and how it will benefit Hayley, I am automatically  more creative, infectious and fun.

Confidence and enthusiasm are both desirable in home education – both the self focus and the other focus are needed, to my way of thinking. My own introspective tendency, however, has been to put the cart before the horse – to think that once I’m confident, I’ll be more enthusiastic. What an abberation! In fact, as I’ve refocused on enthusiasm, the confidence has come far more naturally.

After all, home education isn’t about me, as the parent, it’s about providing a broad, deep education for my child.

Gaining & Maintaining Enthusiasm

  • Breathe
    It will all be okay. Yes, you do have a responsibility in home educating your child, but you still have time and space to figure things out on the way. If you’re a loving, engaged parent, working for the good of your child, in all likelihood you’ll be fine. Breathing won’t cost you anything, and it will help everyone be more relaxed in the process.
  • Smile
    Don’t let the pressure, real or imagined, weigh you down. Smile big and smile often. It’ll set off a very positive chain reaction. Really.
  • Focus
    Why are we doing this again? This is where a bit of groundwork can stand you in good stead. When you understand why you’re home educating, you’ve discussed your own philosophy, and gone some way to developing your own approach, you have those things to fall back on when you need to refocus. Going back to your roots is a great way to remind yourself why you’re here in the first place.
  • Maintain Curiosity
    A UK website called ‘Wishful Thinking’ [2] uses a lovely story to explain how curiosity can be maintained:

Once you start stripping wallpaper, you end up with little ‘tags’ sticking out, which you start to pull slowly – sometimes the tag breaks off in your hand and you’re left with almost nothing. Other times you pull the tag and it gets bigger and bigger, till you’ve got a long strip of wallpaper coming away in your hands. … If you hadn’t been curious enough to pull the little tag, you’d never have managed such a spectacular achievement (in wallpaper stripping terms).

Where are the ‘tags’ that are piquing your curiosity? A book …? A film …? A conversation? A subject? An idea? Follow your curiosity wherever it leads you – lots of times it will trickle out, but if you keep trying, sooner or later you’ll feel it swell to a rushing torrent of enthusiasm.

  • Stop Worrying
    I spent the first six years fretting that a professional teacher would be doing a better job of educating my child than I possibly could. When Hayley went to school for a short time each week, I quickly saw how deluded I’d been. Without denigrating her dedicated teachers in any way, it was a great thing for me to see that I was actually a far more competent educator (of my own child) than I’d ever dared to imagine.
  • Have Fun
    If you enjoy your children, and the process of educating them, that will leave a far more indelible mark on their lives than all the times tables and spelling lists under the sun. Don’t just endure – enjoy. Don’t just tolerate – treasure.

Remember, enthusiasm isn’t self-oriented, but it is creative, infectious and fun.

“Enthusiasm is contagious. Be a carrier.”
~ Susan Rabin

[1] Wishful Thinking – Mark McGuinness: 5 Reasons Why Enthusiasm is Better Than Confidence
[2] Wishful Thinking – Mark McGuinness: 7 Ways to Tap Into Enthusiasm