Are you riding the homeschool pendulum? Throughout my years as a home school mom, life coach and personal home education consultant, I’ve seen many homeschoolers stress out and burn out from the heavy demands of following a purchased curriculum or following a strict protocol someone else has created. They often give up entirely and enroll their child in public school or they ride the swinging pendulum to the extreme left and do what is known as “unschooling”.
Purchased curriculums and unschooling both offer varying degrees of benefits as well as drawbacks, I have come to the conclusion that there is a happy middle ground where one can reap the benefits of both approaches without the common drawbacks associated with each.
Self-education is where the child learns how to learn – anything, anywhere, at any time developing a lifelong love of learning. Self-education also provides time and space for personal growth which is what homeschoolers spend 80% or more of their time on. Academics and daily living activities can be thought of as simply development tools.
Self-education does not require a teacher, but rather a mentor who walks beside the child as a partner. The mentor provides, guides and then steps aside. In a homeschool environment, the parent makes a perfect mentor. This fosters true balance within the family dynamic. Everyone in the family unit is perfectly matched for their highest growth; individually and collectively. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, especially on more challenging days. When support meets challenge, we experience our greatest growth.
We’re all wired for self-education, however it must be cultivated. Self-education can take the path of curiosity and inspiration which is primary during the early years. Over time other skills must be developed and added to carry us to greater depths. If not, the self-educator will fall short every time.
What two main skills does a self-educator rely on in order to not fall short? The self-educator at all times must be developing discipline while always partnered with a mentor. Let’s look deeper at what each of these looks like when homeschooling.
1) Discipline: Self-discipline is like working out the muscles during weightlifting. Just as your muscles grow stronger by resisting the weights, your inner self-discipline is strengthened as you overcome your resistance to doing what is aligned with you (letting go of should, ought and have to’s.) The same is true for children who are still fresh, learning to be human and navigating their mind, body, emotions, passions (pains) and purpose.
Many people believe that to have discipline they must forfeit some levels of freedom, but the opposite is true. Being disciplined in any area of life creates a sense power and being in charge of yourself, leading to success, happiness and satisfaction. Those who are undisciplined are like what Stephen R. Covey wrote: “The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions.” Instead of living according to mood and appetite we must act according to the way we were wired, in more mindful ways, following inspiration. This means staying aligned with our highest values (the breadcrumb trail to your purpose) and honoring the same for your children. Children model what they see, so as we do this for ourselves they are empowered to follow you.
Inspired Action: Self-discipline includes understanding yourself while also guiding your children to understand themselves. Focus on the long-term by beginning with the end in mind. Create a family rhythm that honors everyone’s highest values. Don’t wait, get started and if you need, get the support you require to reach desired results.
2) Partnered with a Mentor: A child must not be left alone to learn, but have the partnership of a mentor. When children are young, typically only the parent will be mentoring, but as the child grows so will his sphere of influence and will naturally include other mentors. Just as the most successful athletes and business people seek a mentor to achieve greater success, our children need the guidance of a mentor to help them reach their natural born fulfillment of purpose. The mentor mindset is crucial as you are leading your children. Remember, you are not managing them, you’re empowering them. Regular mentor meetings with your children, establishes accountability. These meetings help identify their strengths, including a review of what’s working and not working to stay on a more productive path, nurturing growth and development. Becoming the mentor your children deserve means being willing to invest in yourself and your own greatness while at the same time inspiring your children. This is where parents kiss burnout goodbye and find a real satisfaction in growing themselves while growing their children.
Inspired Action: Move from being the parent who rules over their children to one that walks beside them as partner and mentor. Provide, guide and step aside. Become intimately familiar with your own as well as each family member’s highest values to align high value action plans. If you’ve never been mentored before, seek out a mentor who will walk beside you as a partner while you’re homeschooling your children through self-education. Create in your family rhythm time to meet with each child individually for a mentor meeting to work together as partners.
“We cannot live better than in seeking to become better.” -Socrates
Whether you choose to be your child’s mentor or not, you’re still the most influential ingredient in their environment. How much greater that is when it includes excellent resources, books, classics, customized execution plan, a lot of reading and re-reading, discussing, writing and more writing, working to the highest quality possible; working together as partners, growing and learning together, becoming leaders day by day. In self-education when you incorporate both discipline and mentorship, you will experience long-term success.