Thinking About Homeschooling--What's Next?
Congratulations! You've made the decision to homeschool. Or, at least for today, you have! Some days you may not be so convinced. That's ok.
The decision to homeschool your children is a big deal--worthy of your best thoughts.
If more days than not, you're convinced that you want to take charge of your child's education, what's next?
Find a support group.
Homeschooling is a great adventure and you're going to need a crew. Now is the best time to make a list of friends and family members that are as excited about your homeschooling journey as you are.
The most important people on your support group list may surprise you. If you're married, it is a big deal that your spouse supports your decision to embrace homeschooling.
On hard days, you need to know your spouse has your back. On good days, you're going to want your spouse to celebrate new milestones.
The next most important person on your list may be an even bigger surprise. Because school is often about performing and because performing is often about approval, it'll be really important to have the support of your mom, and your mother-in-law.
Having support is about building a culture of love, instead of a culture of fear. If you're afraid to share your struggles with homeschooling with your spouse or your mom (or mom-in-law,) you will pass on that fear of failure to your children.
If you're afraid to struggle, your children will be afraid to struggle. Their performance will be tied to approval, too. The fear will hang in the atmosphere, even if you never talk about it.
Fear drains our strength. Love builds our strength.
Learning happens because we struggle, not because we avoid it. Protected from shame, growing up is about perseverance, not simply perfect performance.
In a safe place, failure grows into success. In a culture of fear, failure can seem fatal.
Use this language to help communicate your needs:
I need to trust that you have my back on the days that homeschooling doesn't go very well.
I need your encouragement more than I need you to fix the problem or criticize me.
It's not going to be helpful if you say, "I told you this wasn't a good idea."
When I have a bad day, it'll be very helpful for you to say, "I know this is really hard. I'm so proud of you for risking this hard thing because you believe in doing something beautiful for our children. I believe in you."
I know you're afraid this won't work. Me, too. For this school year, can we believe together that this is the best choice for now, especially when it's hard?
Find a team.
Just like when you're mountain climbing, it's a good idea to tackle a big adventure with a team. As a homeschool mom, some days, you're going to have a million questions.
Who will you ask?
Who's been homeschooling the way you want to do it and can help you when you're lost?
Who can help you when you're out of gas?
Others are going to need you, too. Even if you're new, you're going to discover some unique ways of doing the same old thing. You're going to have fresh ideas that will inspire others.
We're created for impact and influence for good. It's the way we experience love.
If you've decided that classical education is what you want for your children, find a CC co-op in your community.
If you're wanting a hybrid model of homeschooling, where your kids can learn with other children 2 or 3 days a week and learn at home the rest of the week, look for a university-model school in your area. (Google "university model homeschool near me.")
If you want to choose a team that offers something between no flexibility and unlimited flexibility, check out John 15 Academy. We're an online co-learning community that exists to strengthen families and repurpose education.
My research and experience in 30+ years of education indicate that when you aim at the target of performance, maturity and relationships often suffer. But when you aim at building relationships of trust and intentionally supporting maturity, performance goes off the chart.
John 15 Academy offers both--an online community and great resources. Membership provides support videos, curriculum lists, and clear direction at the same time you enjoy the freedom of making many of your own choices.
Choose your curriculum.
Choosing your team will have a big impact on choosing your curriculum.
Don't choose a team simply because lots of your friends are on that team. Relationships are important, and so are priorities.
Choose a team that's excited about the same things you are.
Choose a team that's going to celebrate the kind of growth you're prioritizing as a family.
Some teams rally around transactional education. The primary goal is meeting standards. The methods are systematic.
The teacher requires mastery of the student and offers rewards (stickers, grades, awards...) for compliance. Much of our traditional public education system is transactional education.
Earning and performing are the student's roles in transactional education.
Some teams really around transformational education. The goal is building mature relationships with people and with reading, math, history and more. The teacher sits with the student as a guide and a helper. The student's priority is learning, not simply earning.
It's safe to struggle. In transformational education, it's even ok to fail.
When it's not ok to fail, it's not ok to learn.
Transformational education sets the intention to build a culture of love. Love protects from shame and immaturity. Mature persons rarely struggle to perform, beyond our power of measurement.
Participating and taking responsibility in their own journey of maturity is the student's role in transformational education.
If your team is a Classical Conversations community or a university-model partnership, most of your curriculum decisions will be system decisions. Each grade level follows a prescribed curriculum.
If you're choosing John 15 Academy, there is both a list of suggestions and the freedom to choose.
The books on the lists are based on the power of ideas. Student experiences are planned with the intention of developing tastes for all things good, true, and beautiful.
"We believe life is an adventure, not a race.
Children may experience real delays, but they are not behind. They may experience the blessing of ease and efficiency, and they are not ahead." (Education by Design, Not Default by Janet Newberry)
Every moment of every day, every child is right on time.
Curriculum selections in a John 15 Academy education are often more rigorous than traditional education because transformational education aims at the target of maturity, and because it's ok for children to need help.
Children need more than a good curriculum.
Making good curriculum choices will help our children grow up but they need more. Our children need experiences, at every age, that help them develop as a person and build emotional fluency.
Children need a daily dose of healthy struggle, leisure, and play.
Achievement alone won't solve the problem of prolonged immaturity. Living a full and free life is about so much more than good grades.
Homeschooling your child is not an easy adventure, but it is a risk worth taking if your intention is to offer your child this full and free life.
Be sure you find a support group and a helpful team. Together, there is great hope.
This post is the second in a series about Homeschooling for Beginners. Be sure you've lingered in the ideas in the first post, and watch janetnewberry.com for more to come.
Visit john15academy.com to find a link to a free webinar designed to help you map out a reliable response when you're the teacher and your child is struggling. Or, simply follow this link to learn more: How To Help Your Child Learn To Struggle Well.
Here's another great resource: a video I made for Learning Success about the power of expectations on learning: https://www.learningsuccesssystem.com/tips/expectations/janetnewberry
And, this, too: My book has some great insights into the history of education in our country and a clear and practical roadmap for repurposing education. Order your copy today!
Education by Design, Not Default--How Brave Love Creates Fearless Learning by Janet Newberry
I'm so proud of you! You're wrestling with important decisions in a thoughtful and intentional way. Your child's future looks bright. There is great hope!
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