Admittedly, as a green homeschooler of a newly school-aged student, I have not a clue what I am getting myself into. But I didn’t at pregnancy either (you don’t know until you actually know what it is to love a child) and I do know the compass of my heart pointing me into this path, right now. Here are some things that I have learned as a newbie. I hope that it helps to dismantle some barriers and build confidence whether you are homeschooling, considering to or supplementing existing education.
(6 items from this post are also found in ‘How to Become a Homeschooling Mama, Overnight”)
1. Wipe the slate clean.
Erase everything you know about mainstream education and education as a whole. Think about the spectrum of life. Consider the way nature evolves and releases, shifts and transforms. Put yourself in a loving state upon which you can arrive to this opportunity with an open heart and an accepting mind. In the beginning of an exploratory process, it’s human nature to dive in, get detailed information, begin to order and sort, binge drink coffee and read every blog post (thank you) book and YouTube playlist. That energy is a masculine, logical and willing action. It’s useful in many ways, but maybe not at the onset of an exploration that influences your (and your kid(‘s) life so dramatically). Your life is an embodied, ambulating expression of your Soul. Your Soul is seated where Spirit (energy) meets your heart (matter) and so this must be approached with an unlimited access and authentic connection to and from the heart. If you don’t already have a practice, consider meditation or a cleansing bath or a grounded walk in nature to engage a space of emptiness so that you can receive and, later, review options with your whole being.
*By prepare I mean be curious about what homeschooling actually is (because it’s NOT school, drag-n-dropped into your house). Become a scientist: get inquisitive, research, “inspectigate” (as Aspen calls is and observe what others are doing. Make mental notes, journal, follow feeds, pin, dream, attend classes or visit moms groups and ASK other moms who are doing it.
Personally I had already made the decision and began the application process when I picked up the phone to call a contact who had met my own mama in a barre class. She homeschooled three children who were now all graduated and doing incredible things with their lives. Her journey was inspiring and empowering and became a confirmation that I had made the right choice for us.
what does NOT work for you (some of this might be easy “no’s” like secular or non-secular)
what is a MUST for you (nature-oriented, CORE curriculum requirements, etc.)
create a list of resources, people, friends and influencers that spark curiosity and inspiration
3. Set an intention
As a medicine woman I believe that intention and Love are the two greatest superpowers we have as human people. Intention literally shapes cells and the structure of music, light and the way we love. Intention will bring you in and out of the deepest crevices of your homeschool journey.
what is your personal intention for homeschooling / supplementing?
what is the intention you hold for your child/ren?
create a mantra or sentence out of this information and put it somewhere to inspire your alignment (and realignment) daily. This reminder will serve you well when you feel lost or alone or your kids are being a little extra annoying and you had a little less rest than hoped.
4. Live in the right now
In AA there’s a saying of “just for today…” it’s a beautiful way to breakdown a perceptively overwhelming life-shift. Allow that narrative to enter into the space of unknown addiction to the programming that has been placed into your world. Humans are creatures of habit and lasting behavior change happens in incremental, consistent, compassionate and inspiration-driven steps. Over-commiting can create confusion or paralysis. A self-fulfilling prophecy forms when we have a pedestal too high to achieve. So, allow yourself to be in the now. Don’t worry about the year or high school when you are in day-to-day actions. Focus on that just for today you are committed to (your intentions) and keep returning to that space. Personally, I have no idea if I will be homeschooling in six months or six years. A mother I spoke to shared that when asked ‘when did you plan to homeschool your children’ she replied with '“I didn’t. The days just strung together like that.” It was invaluable to hear and I hope that you remember it for all areas of your journey.
5. Give Permission
Set a precedence for compassion by practicing it with yourself. There will be days you FAIL (because that’s life, and motherhood, and learning). Expect it, prepare for it, find a way to love being perfectly imperfect. As you learn to be resilient, understanding and adaptable, your children will too. Give yourself advanced permission for (at times) overwhelm, confusion, guilt or whatever other emotion comes up for you. Give permission to others to not understand or accept your choices. Free yourself from the need to explain, sell, or defend what you’re doing to anyone other than your educating partner (if that’s present). Give yourself a hall-pass for not having it all figured out, for deviating from curriculum and for having a sick/personal day. Lean into and communicate your learning curve. Allow yourself to course correct and gift yourself with a green light to get support before (and when) needed.
6. Be a kid
One day I noticed that I was becoming agitated at bubbles in chocolate milk that Aspen was blowing through her straw — at my computer: on a white sheepskin. Internally I was like “umm what are you doing, you know how to drink from a straw!?” but then I had a flashback of being little with my baby brother and how much fun it actually is to make bubbles (all kinds, anywhere) and I suggested she take it outside so that she could laugh with it and keep our things safe.
Embodying our inner child is such a beautiful way to heal, experience an expanded awareness and (usually) be a “better” parent.
7. Be curious
This intentionally is emphasized twice, as I think it’s paramount as a #studentofearth and as a mom/mentor.
what are the things YOU would want to learn about?
ask your kid(s) what things s/he wants to learn about
Focus on the result:
What are the qualities and characteristics that you envision your 18 year old possessing? What are some of the things that you value in your family (now or to be created)? What really matters at your last breath when you stare into your children’s eyes?
8. Let go of the idea that you’re their teacher:
You are not a teacher: you are their mother. THAT’s why you’re qualified.
In my opinion, teachers are some of the most loving, spiritual beings on our planet. They are often under appreciated and under compensated. Sounds a lot like momming, huh? The most intelligent, well-trained, experienced teacher could be educating your child, but they aren’t YOU. And you aren’t them.
Maybe, because I don’t embrace the term “teacher” in my working life, since I am ultimately a student of life who shares my experience, insight and wisdom I identify more strongly with being a mentor. I encourage this mental adaptation, because essentially you are there to guide your child to teach themselves about all things and cheer along as they create who they are meant to be.
Rather than focus on giving them the answers (which requires you to have all the answers) inspire them to seek answers, consider options and learn from the process of learning, itself.
9. Be quiet, be brave.
DO NOT ask the opinion of others. Homeschooling (and being a human) is not anyone else’s job, business or responsibility but yours. The decision is personal and perpetual. What’s right now may not be right in the future. A need for approval is exactly what we’ve been conditioned to do in brick boxes. Consider your internal evolution before discussing with those on the need-to-know list (like a partner). When you do discuss it, keep it small and when you’re ready to share, do it with a rootedness, a bravery and remember why you started this in the first place (see your intentions).
10. Plan to be OUTSIDE
One of the best parts of being homeschooled is that your kids aren’t in a box. Don’t trade the brick building for another container; explore nature, museums, moms groups, meet-ups and enjoy the many lessons that Mother Earth provides as an educator. Creating “field trips” or joining existing ones takes a little effort and maybe some facebook searching, but will save you (and your kids) from going stircrazy. Make lots of plans and lots of ‘unplans’ in which you can adventure and play.
A. Rose really wanted a backpack. Pack a bag for spontaneous “study” including rain gear, a change of clothes down to socks and undies, etc. (My entire packing list is HERE).
11. Refine your ability to teach
Unless you were homeschooled, have had a perfect upbringing or are blissfully oblivious, you (we) can all polish our personal growth skills a little more, heal a little more, and use a little more help for us. It’s easy to be externally focused on curriculum, lesson blocks and keeping the house orderly with a full crew, but the BEST educational resource you could refine is you. This could look like committing deeply to your self care, incorporating yoga, movement and meditation, connecting regularly to conscious ones, and carving space for reading. It can also look like regular coaching sessions, being supported by other moms and making space to join retreats and workshops that nourish your Soul.
At the beginning, whether enriching mainstream education or homeschooling, you felt a calling in your heart and Soul. The spirit of you and your child/ren are at the epicenter, alpha and omega of any education path you follow. Know that, along the way, there are others out there in a constellation of continual growth, a collective cosmology of unity, love and development and a community holding you in support.
Explore how you can connect or receive a 1-1 consultation with me to be more confident, clear and aligned with an alternative option for your family’s developmental journey.