Embrace Where You Are
Exactly where you are right now is the perfect place to begin homeschooling. It doesn’t matter where you are, and how you may be feeling about it, what matters is you’ve decided to homeschool so you might as well make the best of it. Acknowledge and own your feelings first, whether it’d be fear, intimidation, frustration or even enthusiasm and excitement. When I first started 2 years ago, I felt afraid and overwhelmed, and although I understood that would be temporary, I mean, I knew unease and overwhelm wouldn’t last forever, it just wasn’t pleasant or helpful. Once you acknowledge how you feel about things though, you can then move on to a higher feeling place. A place that can serve you better, and ultimately that will help you succeed in your desire to provide the best to your child.
Define Your Success
Success is such a subjective thing. The more you ask others what success means to them, the more diverse their answers. So now that you begin your homeschooling journey, pause to reflect about what success means to you, to your child, and to you as a family. Your own definition of success will depend on where you are right now emotionally, and where your child is regarding his willingness to learn. Most children can’t wait to get started, others not so much, and may in fact be uncooperative or even defiant. Usually the younger the child the more eager, probably because they’ve had less experiences being forced to comply, which unfortunately, does tend to kill the joy of learning.
So you may be homeschooling because your child has been “falling behind” at school, and you’ve had enough pestering about it. (In truth, no child can “fall behind”, each child has her own developmental timetable and it does not always coincide with others’). Or perhaps because your child has been begging you to homeschool for the last 3 years because he’s passionate about tennis and wants to play all day –and you finally gave in. Or maybe your child is bored out of her wits because no one in her class just got the material as fast as she did, yet she had to wait quietly until everyone else got it.
Your own definition of success may be to forget about performance, and concentrate in nurturing your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence by letting her go at her own pace, by letting her explore her own interests, even if they’re not academic in nature. Although with a little creativity, any interest can become grist for the academic mill. You’ll be able to gauge her learning just by observing or carrying conversations with her. And if extra support is needed in some areas, you’ll be able to provide it to her with loving care and attention. Success may also mean you supporting your child’s love of tennis by crafting a schedule that will accommodate his passion, as well as his academic progress –on his own terms. You might find that learning with a motivated child is really fun and effortless. Or success may mean forging a new, deeper connection with your gifted child, as you spare her of busy work in favor of what truly gives her satisfaction, regardless of how long it takes her to complete it.
Relax, Trust, and Expect Success
Trust yourself and trust your child. Homeschooling is as much a learning process for yourself as it is for your child. When you’re first starting out you will likely seek curricula that grants you guidance and a whole lot of structure (or not). After weaving through the myriad of curriculum choices, you’ll eventually settle on something you hope is your child’s best fit. Trust that, trust your insight, don’t second guess your decision. You know your child the best, so you’re making the best decision you can. You’ll be excited and on your way, perhaps even more excited than your child. Celebrate it. Use the structure you sought, let the curriculum be your guide. If your child starts to show some resistance, tweak, exchange or sell the guide. Don’t let it become your homeschool’s master. Your child is the master of his learning, don’t lose sight of that. Empower your child by allowing him the command of his education as early as possible. Imagine if every child were allowed to decide what, when and how to learn from the youngest age possible, knowing they count on their parents’ complete support along the way. How prepared would they be when it’s time for college? Or for life in general? How would that influence how they see themselves, their place in the world and their contribution to it? So trust and expect your child’s making good decisions because he is. If it’s a wise decision, it will fuel a passion, if not, he will learn and grow from the experience anyway.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle, it goes beyond schooling your child. Homeschooling is about commitment, it’s about being involved in your child’s little and big things, it’s about experiencing life together as a family. Congratulations on your new lifestyle, chances are you’re going to love it!
I’m thrilled to be part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! Check out more articles on this month’s theme: Homeschooling: Where and How to Begin.
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