I imagine you have been thinking about educating your child at home for some time and you feel pretty strongly that this is what is best for your family. Maybe your bright, intense, creative child is unhappy in school, or they are complaining of being bored, or you just know that a customized education would be so so much better than what they are currently getting.
Whatever your reason, you want to homeschool but your spouse says no.
I know you....you have done all the research and have talked to other homeschoolers but every time you try and discuss it - all that happens is you end up in an argument. It seems every issue you have in your relationship is being dredged up because you just can't let this go and you are not sure what to do.
Listen, I get it, Homeschooling is a huge change and it is not something most people do on a whim. We are talking about leaving the mainstream and forging out on your own. It's no wonder that even the very idea of it can be enough to cause alarm. There are worries about what others will think, fears about the effect it will have on relationships, and concern over whether or not you can really handle the work.
The good news is that I have come to learn that most of the time it is not so much that the other spouse is so against homeschooling ( even though they say that they are) but rather that they don't really understand what it even is, You are asking them to trust something that is so foreign to them that they can't seem to even listen and as a result communication between you is seriously failing.
I came up with this list after working with couples who were in your exact same shoes and through our work together they were able to find common ground. I hope you will use it as a guide to seek understanding and support so that you can achieve your homeschooling goal.
6 Tips to Get Your Spouse on Board with Homeschooling When They Say No Way.
1. Talk with your spouse about what their fears or concerns are...
Have them list them out one by one. Listen carefully with an open mind and heart.
2. Review together the many options of how to homeschool legally .....
Check into the laws in your area and what it might look like for your specific family. Some families choose a hybrid approach where your child was in a classroom setting several days a week, others go with a charter school where the kids are overseen by a teacher, still others homeschool online.. These are just a few. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. , Explore them all.
3. Discuss what education and learning mean to you....
Most of us just send our kids to school without ever giving this much thought. Give yourselves time and space to really think about what skills, knowledge, and experiences you want your child to have when they go off into the real world.
4. Meet with a veteran homeschool parent...
Let you spouse ask all the questions. Nothing quite compares to power of the story from a parent who homeschools successfully and the comfort that it provides to ease ones' fears.
5. Attend a homeschool conference ...
You'll get a chance to hear from parents who's kids have graduated and gone on to be successful adults and also learn from experts in the field. For a long time, even though my husband supported our homeschooling. I was on the journey alone. I was the one reading all the books and searching online. A few years in, I took my husband to a homeschool conference and that was when the lightbulb really went on. Plus these are great fun for the kids!
6. If all else fails: Hire a homeschool coach or therapist .....
who can meet with you and your husband and work through any remaining issues. Remember, your spouse wants what is best for you and your children and sometimes you may need an impartial mediator to help you get on the same page.
Our Homeschool Friends Camping 2015
A few years ago after many failed attempts to find a homeschool community where we really felt at home, I started a group on Meetup for families who have gifted kids. I cannot begin to tell you how many park days I dragged my oldest to when she was in 7th grade - only to have her sit with her back turned to everyone - headphones on and a sketchbook in hand. No matter how much I loved the other moms, somehow she just knew that she wasn't home.
Originally my group was just for me to have a way to talk with other parents who were also raising these unique, often intense, asynchronous learners. We would meet at a local cafe and share our stories over dinner. It was so reassuring to my husband and I to listen to each person relate such similar experiences and it helped us to not to feel so alone. As the year went on though it became obvious that in order for my kids to really thrive, they were going to need to find that same sense of belonging that I had found with these other parents.
I'll never forget that first park day when my oldest wandered off with this sweet tween girl who had taught herself to play the ukelele and then later when she got in the car and told me with a smile on her face... " mom I made a new friend" . I could hear the emotion beneath her words that said- I finally feel accepted and understood. I have come to watch this happen time and again in the group and every single time it warms my heart, Parents will bring kids to our park days who have rejected many other groups or have struggled to find like minded intellectual peers in school (and beyond) and then "it happens'. It is a magical thing when kids feel that very thing my daughter felt, sometimes for the very first time in their lives!
Often times, I am contacted by other parents who don't live close enough to visit our group about how they can start their own. I was lucky enough to organize a successful membership organization for many years long before I started homeschooling, so I thought I would write a top ten list of my best tips to help you get started. If you love the idea but don't want to start your own- look in your area to see what already exists. There are many groups on Meetup, Facebook, or even Yahoo. There are also online groups if meeting in person isn't possible and some have ways for kids to connect online as well.
Top Ten Tips:
1. Decide why you want to start a group .
Is this group just for parents or will you have activities for the kids as well? What are you hoping to get out of your group? How committed to getting this group started are you? Organizing a group takes a lot of time and dedication- figure out what is driving you so you can stick to that goal.
2. Figure out what kind of activities will you host.
Park Days, Field Trips, Campouts, Parent Workshops, Moms Night Out, Bookclubs, Classes, The list of possibilities is endless.
3. Choose which days you will meet.
In my experience groups fail to gain momentum because they are inconsistent. Consider deciding to meet on the same day every week for several months at the same time so that parents can plan for your events. For example- my parent workshops are on the 3rd Sunday of the month in the evening. Our park days are every Friday. Field trips are on Wednesdays. We meet at the same time with rare exception and families plan their lives around our events.
4. As the leader - attend every event.
As the organizer of the group you will need to be at all of the events. This can get quite exhausting so be certain to only choose events that you would be happy attending even if no one shows up. It is hard for a group to get off the ground if new members show up and no one is there.
5. Consider charging dues.
In my experience people are more committed to the groups that they pay for and gifted groups are no exception. Perhaps offer a free trial period after which you ask for an annual dues. This will attract members who value what you provide, weed out those who are not willing to get involved on a regular basis,
6. Decide on a forum
Personally I love using meet up because initially it markets to those interested in your type of group which gains you members right away, it is so easy to use, member dues are easy to set up and charge for, and scheduling events and keeping track of RSVP's is a breeze.
7. Pick a name for your group.
I think it is easiest to go with your city so people can find you
8. Market your group.
This one can be challenging for people but honestly- there are families out there right now that are desperately seeking what you have to offer. Consider marketing on homeschool forums, through friends, or through local professionals who specialize in gifted.
9. Be an advocate and don't be afraid of the word gifted .
I feel strongly that we must be advocates for our kids so that they know that being gifted just means it is how you are wired so I don't shy away from the word which is not always easy for people. It doesn't mean that we think our kids are better than anyone else. It means that they have unique needs and go through the world a bit differently than others. It is true that some people have not always been kind but the joy I get from watching my kid thrive in this community far outweighs any of the misunderstanding and I find that using the word gifted in my group name helps people find us. .
10. Above all have fun!
Enjoy the process and have fun!! Our gifted community has been the biggest and most unexpected gift for my family in our homeschooling journey. I wish you all the success in starting your own thriving group!
Bookclub Gathering in the Park
"El Deafo" 2015
Recently someone was asking me about teaching kids who are unmotivated, lazy and prone to daydreaming. She was watching her child slowly shut down in school and in the back of her mind, she wondered if he would be successful there long term. I'd been in her shoes so I understood what she was asking. She wanted to know if she pulled her son out of school would he just want to sit around and watch t.v. all day. She was afraid. How could she as a mom get him to do anything at home that at all resembled learning when he so clearly lacked a desire to learn?
Oh... I just wanted to share with her the beauty that I have witnessed over the past five years in my home since we started homeschooling. By letting go of all the negative thinking, by letting go of worrying about what everyone else was doing and really paying attention and seeing my children as whole, I began to see them as magnificent human beings with their own interests, wants and needs that are so uniquely theirs' and no one elses. Once I let go of the pushing, prodding and forcing them to learn what someone else wanted them to learn , magic started to happen. They started to want to learn for themselves.
The thing is that all kids are naturally curious aren't they? I have never met one who isn't. So what I told her is this. Outside of school, I don't actually believe any longer that there are unmotivated kids. I mean given the freedom to explore and delve into what truly interest them, with as much time as they would like to spend - allows our kids to get back to when they were just wee little ones and the world was a magical and amazing place. Remember how they just couldn't get enough, back when they wanted to touch and taste everything and each new experience just made them want more.. We all have an insatiable desire to learn. We just need to give our children space and freedom to really become who they were meant to be, who they have been all along.
So I encourage you to shift your thinking and see possibility where there was previous frustration. Find openness and acceptance. Move beyond labels and negative thinking. Resistance and push back are signals to explore new ways of teaching and learning and for us what a beautiful gift that has been.
It is a funny thing that whenever you tell someone you homeschool you almost always hear " I could never do that". . It happens like ... ALL ... the... time and I am not the only one who hears this. It used to drive me nuts, make me feel invisible and alone as if I was doing something so completely foreign that people could not relate to me. Then I figured it out. People weren't really saying they COULDN'T homeschool. I mean some were, they worked or were on a tight budget and didn't realize that there are many ways to do this. The rest though... they weren't really saying they couldn't homeschool, they were saying they didn't want to.
Listen, I get it. Homeschooling changes your life, it requires giving of your time and a certain level of engagement and if your kids are happy and thriving in school then it's not something you've needed to consider. Guess what though? I have a big secret. I didn't really want to homeschool either. I owned a successful business coaching company for over a decade and closed that to have a 4th child. I had visions of being a lady who lunches while my kids were in school, maybe serving on the PTA or finding a volunteer organization to give of my time. Never did I see myself being with my kids all day, everyday for the next 18 years!
Here's the thing though. True, there are some families who dreamed of homeschooling before they ever had kids. They just knew that they wanted an alternative education. For the rest of us though, our kids needed this. I mean they really needed this. They were suffering in school. They had significant emotional problems, behavioral issues, or even sometimes physical symptoms caused by being in an ill fitting environment. They cried every day or begged to stay home. They were not being intellectually stimulated or in fact learn so differently that they felt invisible and misunderstood every single day. School was literally crushing them.
So you see. I understand that you don't want to homeschool and you truly think you couldn't do it. I've been there. But my friend, you could if you had to. Even if you have no money, even if you work full time. Even if your spouse doesn't support you or your ex is putting up a fight. I believe you could do it because I know that we are all dedicated to doing whatever it takes for our kids to be successful, even if that means homeschooling.