Some days I wish that I could just focus on being a mom, I wish that it was enough. Honestly, I really love being with my kids. We explore new places every week, visit museums, the library, cook together, go on amazing field trips and have a tight knit community of friends, I don't feel the desire to send them off to someone else or have them away from me all day. Being a mom is incredibly fulfilling, and yet somehow I want more.
I was a coach and owned a thriving organization for women entrepreneurs for over a decade before I started homeschooling. I met privately with clients helping them start and grow a business. I taught them how to get more clients and make more money working the least number of hours.
We worked on their personal lives too - I helped them learn to be more organized, overcome procrastination and face their fears. I helped college students figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, and out of work middle-aged men find work. I loved it all but the pull to be home and do one thing well was always there.
It's been over 5 years now since I closed that business to begin homeschooling. It's been an incredible journey and one I would not trade for anything but now I want more, again. Lately I have been asking myself, what if A Spacious Life includes having something for myself and teaching others in return?
Starting a business is at once exhilarating and exhausting. There are the long hours contemplating what it will look like, brainstorming ideas, and watching it unfold. There are the deep conversations and revelations. Ooh...this is my sweet spot. It is as if I am coming home once again.
I am learning that it is okay to want more and that it is good for my kids to see me as an entrepreneur. They are watching and picking up little bits just like they do with everything else that I teach.
If you are still with me , maybe you are wondering how you can make a little extra money for your family and all those fun adventures you want to go on? Or perhaps you have a great idea and you feel called to see it come to life. You can do this! We can do it together.
As homeschoolers we are very busy. Our days are full. My advice is to start with laying a really good foundation. Clear your clutter, plan your meals, develop a plan, eliminate your tolerations. I have spent the last year getting ready to start my business doing those things because I knew I would fail if I tried to add it into my already chaotic life. It may not take you an entire year but taking the time before diving in is key. If you can, don't skip this step.
Next you are going to have to figure out when you will work. For us, we homeschool in the nooks and crannies of our days. We are not sit around the table learners most of the time but we do have scheduled activities that happen at predictable times. I have found that getting up way before my kids do works perfectly for me to write blog posts, journal and read. I also work a few hours a couple of days a week meeting with clients both over the phone and outside the home. Generally I spend 1 day on the weekend working as well. The main thing is to be consistent but with enough flexibility so that you don't stress yourself out.
Once you have a solid structure in place you can get started!
1. What type of business do you want to own? What lights you up and gets your creative juices flowing? What do you do best and what are you good at? What you are selling and who you are selling to? Owning a business takes an incredible amount of dedication and drive but when you love what you do, it fills you up in a way that nothing else can!
2. Decide what success looks like to you. Are you just wanting to make a little extra money so you can take the kids on field trips or are you wanting something much bigger. Perhaps you want to start a non-profit so you can give back to the community. Get really clear about what your goals are from the very start so that you can stay on track.
3. Create a business strategy. This doesn't have to be set in stone. For now, you just want a general guide so that you don't lose interest over time. It will help you stay focused on your goal. I find that many business owners fail because they start and stop one thing and start another before ever gaining momentum. This can be a general one page outline to get started. It will include the things you want to focus on, your target market and your business mission and vision. You can even find templates online for a one page business plan.
4. Do market research. Take the time to gather information, find other businesses that are similar to yours both in person and online, talk to prospective customers, see what people are paying and make sure there is a demand for your product or service,
5. Make it legal. This includes choosing a business name and registering it as a DBA( Doing Business As) . Determine your business structure- decide if you will be a sole proprietor, partnership or a corporation (LLC, Non Profit etc) . You may also be required to get a license in your city. Register for State and Local Taxes.
6. Get Paid. Figure out how you will collect money. Will you collect cash, checks or take money on paypal, square etc. There are pros and cons to each so choose carefully. Once you start making money you can open a business bank account and keep careful records.
7. Create an Online Presence. Pretty much every business these days needs to have a website. Will you hire someone to make one for you or will you do this yourself? Will you have a blog? Or a facebook page? Begin thinking about the ways in which you can market yourself on the internet.
8. Find Prospects and Get New Clients! Start spreading the word about your new business. You can send a grassroots marketing letter to your contact list or facebook friends letting them know about your new venture. Be sure to follow up with those who express interest.
Of course, starting a business takes time especially when your kids are home and you are not able to spend 8 hours a day on your idea. No need to get overwhelmed, Remember that you don't have to do this all in one month or even one year. If all you can do is work on your plan a few hours a week , you are still getting closer to your goal. Stay positive, keep moving and above all have fun!!
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.
When your kids are babies and toddlers life naturally adjusts to their schedule. You slow your pace because small children cannot be rushed. Projects and personal interests may be put on the back burner - waiting for a time when your kids are older. Somehow you just learn to be in the moment and enjoy the now.. When your kids are suddenly home all day after having once been in school, it is easy to become overwhelmed and wonder if there will ever be time for you again. You may wonder how you will ever get your errands done, clean your house, go for a walk alone, or sheez ...have coffee with a friend.
One day early in this journey, I remember thinking that it would be 17 years before all my kids would be off to college!! As excited as I was to start this new homeschooling adventure, I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Honestly, picking curriculum is the easy part-finding a new sense of identity and balance trumps that part any day.
I could post all the pretty pictures of our days , share the cool science experiments and show you all the learning that is going on around here. Make it look all easy and perfect. And I will, eventually. Promise. But for now, that would't be fair. You need me to tell the whole truth if you are going to be successful in this spacious living GIG. You need to see behind the curtains in all it's imperfection so you can learn from my mistakes..
The truth is, for a short time after brought my kids all home, I struggled to find my way, develop a routine, and feel balanced. I was lonely. I found it difficult to think because I could not get any space. At the time the kids ranged in age from 18 months to 12 and were with me the entire day from the moment I woke until practically the moment I went to bed. I would literally fall into bed each night wondering how I was going to survive and get these kids through high school.
I am not one to stay in a stuck place long. I am a professional coach afterall. So ...I started to think about what lessons I would give myself if I were my own coach. What would I tell my clients? How would I work with them to adjust to this new way of living so that they were not just surviving but actually felt alive and free?
Here's what I came up with-
1. Don't Be a Martyr:
Your kids need you to be rested, fulfilled and healthy. Realize that in order to do this job well, you have to take care of yourself first,
2. Hire Help:
This one is tough for me because I have a tendency to try and do everything myself. I couldn't. Not possible. I hired a mother's helper 10 hours a week so I could focus on the older kids and not go insane. It was only temporary until I got my feet under me but made all the difference.. If money is tight- consider swapping with a friend, finding a teen after school, or giving up something else while you work on getting into a groove.
3. Put the Big Rocks in First:
Have you ever heard the lesson about putting in the most important items in your schedule first? Look it up if you haven't as it is so powerful. Spend some time thinking about what you need to have in your days to feel inspired and alive. If you are like me, more than likely it looks something like this: exercise, time alone, quality time with your spouse, personal development, a peaceful/clean home. Next would come reading aloud with kids, crafting, baking and playing games, cultivating curiosity and learning, connecting with friends, having a sense of community, being in nature. etc, Then fill in with the smaller and less important items. If all else fails you will have gotten to what matters most.
4. Figure Out Your Homeschool Philospohy:
At the beginning don't worry so much about finding curriculum and buying a bunch of stuff. Trust me, you'll thank me later. Give yourself time to adjust and explore what your homeschool philosophy will be. Get a good book on homeschooling or research online. Take time to think about how your kids learn best without rushing the process even if this takes months.
5 Join a Community and Attend Regularly. :
I cannot emphasize this enough. There is no way I would have survived those early days if I didn't have other parents who walked this path ahead of me to lean on, ask questions of and commiserate with. There are awesome spaces online for gifted families who homeschool but nothing can replace a thriving in person community of like minded friends. Consider joining both. These groups abound on meet up, facebook and yahoo or consider starting your own like I did. Don't just drop in occasionally- commit to showing up every week no matter what.
6. Avoid Decision Making Out of Fear or Worry
Living life spaciously takes conscious effort and a clear decision to not act out of fear and worry by rushing into anything. Everything is done thoughtfully and only after careful consideration. In the early days, I see many new homeschool parents of gifted kiddos signing up for a bunch of classes at homeschool campuses, buying loads of curriculum, or sucking the joy right out of the homeschool by fighting with their kids over learning when they have not taken the time to do the above steps first. Lay the foundation first and the rest will follow.
7. Find Your Rythym and Have Fun!
Choose to fill your days with joy and laughter. Give yourself and your kids time to adjust to this new way of living. Allow them to rediscover a joy of learning. Stimulate their curiosity. Be engaged and present. Go on field trips, get out in nature, join a group of like minded friends, read books, watch educational television, visit a museum, explore life. Don't rush into doing school around the table. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. First find your way.
8. Still Overwhelmed, Hire a Coach or Mentor
I had no idea that there were homeschool coaches out there for parents of gifted kids when I started this crazy journey. Who knew that there was someone who understands that raising gifted kids is both a joy and an immense challenge? A parent who gets that our lives are filled with balancing our kids emotional intensity, asynchronous development, perfectionism, etc. . I wish I would have known when I started. If you read the above post and are feeling overwhelmed at going it alone, reach out, okay?
Sometimes the very best thing is to have the personal support of a professional that is focused solely on you and your unique situation. Message me if you want to set up a consultation, I would be delighted to help.
( Homeschool Field Trip Olvera Street and Union Station 2014)
I was one of those students who just did well in school. It wasn't particularly hard for me, I was a Type A personality, extremely organized and very driven. My teachers liked me and for the most part I had a good group of friends.
As you can imagine, nothing could have prepared me for having kids who hated school, resisted the status quo and frankly just learned differently.. As we stepped out of the mainstream and began our education at home, I had no idea that "school" was only a small part of this lifestyle and that I would soon be questioning everything I had ever believed about how we live our lives, how we parent and especially about how we learn.
I have to be honest, in the beginning I made every mistake in the book! Oh my gosh, you would get a kick out of what a mess I made. I really had no idea what I was doing. I bought all the books, talked to anyone who would listen, and spent countless hours researching curriculum. I was in full-on manic mode and spinning out of control. I made lists and lists of books to read, prepared our daily "school" schedule, and planned to get started. I see new homeschooling parents deep in the throes of this phase all the time now and wonder if it must just be a required part of the process.
Can you imagine, that those first few weeks I had all my kids at home, my carefully crafted plan completely blew up in my face? The kids squirmed in their chairs, they refused to do my pretty worksheets and cried that this was so unfair!! The toddler climbed all over the table, the dog was barking and loud, the dishes and laundry were piling up. I might have threatened to send them back to school. I fell into bed that night feeling like a complete failure and wondering how I was ever going to survive this, let alone actually teach my kids. . It was painfully clear...something had to change and it has better be quick.
If one thing was obvious to me as my husband and I discussed in those early days, it was that for our kids - following a schooly mindset was missing the entire point of homeschooling. The kids were miserable and so were we. Worksheets, quizzes, and rote learning were seriously not going to work anyway so we needed a new philosophy- one that met our kids exactly where they are right now and focused on them as an individual.. We needed a way to feel engaged as parents and to have our kids get a fire in their belly to learn. This was going to require an out of the box approach to learning.
We are in our 5th year of homeschooling now and our lives are so different. I really had no idea how much I would love this , how much fun it is to watch my kids bloom! Friends stop me all the time to tell me that they see my kids smiling faces and know that we must be doing something right, something that is working for them. Not only are the kids happy, but so are we. We get to be different and do things in a way that works just perfectly for our family! This is where the beauty of homeschooling lies and where the amazing adventure begins!
You see, we have found that when kids are allowed to pursue their own interests, in a way that engages them, for as long or as deep as they want to learn about that thing - they thrive. We've learned that when kids are not being forced to learn - they are naturally curious and and engaged, When they are given the ability to go deep in the areas they are passionate about, beautiful things start to happen and learning is suddenly fun again, and after all, isn't that how it is supposed to be?
A lot of times friends tell me that they could never homeschool as if what I am doing seems utterly impossible to comprehend. In the beginning this would make me feel badly but I have come to appreciate why they may feel this way. Either their kids are happy in school or they can't imagine being with their kids all day. I get it, I used to feel that way too.
What they don't understand is that homeschooling offers the promise of a spacious life. One with freedom and flexibility. One where relationships come first and everyone has a voice. One where kids are happy and at peace. One with what I call flow.
When your kids are in school, especially if you have multiple children, you spend your days in a rush. You start with dragging sleepy bodies out of bed in the morning, quickly gobble some breakfast, deal with your kids whining and fighting and rush out the door to the bus or drop off line. Your days pass quickly whether you work or stay home and before you know it all starts all over again. You may even spend hours in the car at various pick up times.
Once your kids get home there is homework to complete, dinner to make, practices and lessons to attend. If you have intense kids like mine, more than likely your days are stressful and chaotic. Oh my, how people do not know what goes on behind closed doors in a family with gifted and sensitive souls!
One of my kids had stomach aches every morning and would cry that she did not want to go to school. We missed the bus often as I struggled to get her out the door and almost every day I dropped a crying child off at the steps of school.- all the way until 4th grade. Another preschool child would cling to me at drop off begging not to go, for months and months. Another older daughter wouldn't complete her work in school and teachers were constantly telling me that she lacked focus and motivation. Life was not meant to be lived this way.
Somehow inside I knew something needed to change but I was scared. Every day of school - I would pull away feeling wracked with guilt and worry- was I doing the right thing? Were the professionals right that letting her stay home was harmful? If they were right, why did every part of me feel so awful. Why was my mother's intuition screaming for me to listen and bring her home under her mothers wing- if school was just what you did?
Learning to trust my own intuition wasn't easy. I had no guide. No friend to lead the way. I had to give myself the space and freedom to think differently. To understand that inside I truly knew what was best for my kids.
I had to learn that there is no one way to do things that works perfectly for every family and that no professional could possibly know what was best for mine.
By trusting myself, I have learned that life is a grand adventure just waiting to be explored! Our kids are naturally curious and if we honor their needs and listen to their wants, they will reward us with more peace and fulfillment than we could ever have imagined. I have learned there is no need for worry or fear, and by living this way, my kids are growing and developing at their own pace and in their own way.
In those first days since we decided to homeschool , it was obvious that a giant weight had been lifted off of my oldest's shoulders. Learning she was gifted helped her understand that there was nothing wrong with her. She even told me - now I know I am not stupid. Still, it was the actual pulling her out of school that gave her back to us. I could feel the energy in our house shifting already. We all felt a surge of freedom and independence despite the fact that we had no clue what we were doing or what this homeschooling thing really was anyway. Finally after all of her years in school, she would be able to pursue her own interests and explore the world at her own pace.
I can remember a day in that first week where we went to the beach in the middle of the day while all the schooled kids were still in school.. We just sat there together and enjoyed the quietness. and marveled at the fact that we could do that- go to the beach in the middle of the day. We could do whatever we wanted. It was so cool. I felt a bit like a rebel- to which my daughter reminded me that she was the one who was the rebel. Sigh....
Once the novelty of being a rebel wears off though- and it will- stay calm. You may have moments where you feel completely freaked out and unsure if you are ruining your child's life and have made a huge mistake. It is completely normal for those of us who are suddenly, unexpectedly homeschooling to feel a range of emotions. Lots of parents share with me how utterly overwhelmed and unsure they are of themselves. In the beginning it can feel like your entire foundation has been pulled out from under you. and that you have no one to turn to.
Rest assured you are on the right path!! It's not like we knew we would do this from the time our kids were born after all. Homeschooling for us was a choice of last resort and we are thrust into this new territory without the clarity of a homeschooling philosophy or a community of support..
I have two words of advice for this first phase of homeschooling : read books and join an in person group. The internet can be a dangerous black hole and if we are not careful we can find ourselves spinning out of control. Get offline- read and talk to actual live people who understand because they once were new to this way of living too.
We have to give ourselves the time and space to figure out what education really means to us and I promise this is not going to happen overnight. Most of us have a very schooly mindset and spacious living is so much more than that. I believe learning is way more than just sitting around the table working through curriculum and filling out worksheets. If we want to do this differently- and we do right? ....or we would have just kept our kids in school- we have to dig deep and ask the hard questions not just follow along with the status quo because it feels safe and certain. .
In order to break free and learn to think differently- we have to give ourselves time . We have to have powerful conversations with ourselves and others so that we really understand our philosophy of education and learning.. In doing this, we are laying the foundation for homeschooling and spacious living.
One of the first books I read when I started this journey was Quinn Cummings "The Year of Learning Dangerously". In this often hilarious read, Quinn talks about her first days of homeschooling and reveals that in order to get through this she needed to find her tribe. She decided to visit a bunch of homeschool conferences such as the Fundamental Christian and Radical Unschoolers Conferences and see where she fits. This is a must read for anyone who wants a behinds the scenes view to the life of a homeschooler and is starting to explore just where they belong .
Living a Spacious Life is meant to be done in community with like minded others. It is normal at the beginning to go through a period of mania- desperately trying to find the answers to all your questions and to make sure that you are doing things so you won't mess up your kid.. Find other parents who have walked this path ahead of you and know that there is peace and calm on the other side. Check on Yahoo Groups, Facebook, and Meet Up. Join Our Group Here at a Spacious Life. You are not alone.
The honest truth is it was not easy deciding to homeschool. No matter how awful school was for my kids, it provided me structure, support and a false sense of security that everything was going to be okay. School was just what you did, right? I mean, every time I tried to share my struggles with friends they would get this glazed look in their eyes and share with me how their kids "loved" school - so I stopped sharing. . Homework battles- they had no clue. Stomach Issues and anxiety - not them. They would try to offer support and advice but mostly they could not relate and I would leave our chats feeling hollow and lost.
It seemed like everyone else's kids were thriving in sports, enjoying school and basically succeeding at playing the game, but not us. No, my kids were miserable and so were we.
I knew from the time my oldest was very young that she was bright. You can't not know that when people tell you that they just had an adult conversation with your 3 year old, or when your kid starts reading super early, or when your kid just seems to pick things up like sponge. These things are obvious. Things get more fuzzy when your bright child starts under-performing in school . When homework leaves both of you in tears because you KNOW she knows the answers but it takes hours to complete. When teachers are lost because she is so bright but she just won't do the work and are keeping your child in at recess to do work that she learned how to do months ago. When years and years of parent- teacher meetings are a complete and utter waste of time, when each and every time all your advocating for your child needs falls on deaf ears and when,,,,, finally the principal tells you his hands are tied and you realize something needs to change because YOU just can't live this way anymore.
After years of everything being so uncertain, everything got super clear the moment that the psychologist handed me the report and told us that our daughter was gifted. Understanding that gifted is not about achievement but that it is about how you are wired - made all the difference for me. Getting my daughter tested and doing my own research answered so many questions and helped me see that there is nothing wrong with my kids or us for that matter. It's just that the way that traditional school works doesn't accommodate gifted kids well and that is okay. Knowing this gave me the guts to listen to that deep inner knowing that is a mother's intuition and to leave the mainstream to homeschool. And so my Spacious Life begins.....