We’re all afraid of failure, of letting those we love down. Homeschool families are no different, and we face those fears daily. When our twins were little, my husband wanted to homeschool. I was adamantly opposed to it because I was terrified that I would mess it all up. I refused to even discuss the possibility of homeschooling them because the mere mention of homeschool left me a quivering pile of jello.
Homeschool fear had paralyzed me, and I was unable to consider it a possibility.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that so many of us allow fear to ruin our fun and run our lives. We make decisions based on “What ifs” and the possibility of failure, instead of the possibility of success. The US was not built by people hedging their bets against failure, but by people who believed that we were capable of greatness, if only given the chance.
But is this how we live now? Is this how we are parenting? We are terrified of Ebola, SARS and other potentially deadly viruses. We are terrified that our kids won’t get into good colleges, have good lives and careers, and families who love them. Many of us avoided homeschool with many of those fears, and more, running rough-shod through our minds.
But what if you could turn fear into the tool for growth and success that it should be?
Here are my favorite tips for doing just that:
1. Accept that the fear exists, and recognize it for what it is.
Fear, like many of the negatives in our lives, has a habit of wanted to hide under the cupboard and deny its very existence by deflecting attention to some perceived short-coming.
Fear: I did not want to homeschool because I wasn’t a “professional teacher” with years of education and degrees, etc. I was afraid that the lack of a degree would somehow diminish my kids’ education.
Truth: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to teach two little boys 2+2, to read, to love learning. It takes a devoted parent or set of parents, willing to learn what they do not know, explore new ideas, and learn with their kids.
Once you accept the fear at face value, then call it out and answer the questions it’s forcing you to ask, you have a new sense of freedom.
2. Be courageous, for true courage isn’t in being unafraid, but in doing the right thing even while afraid.
This may be a bit obvious, but I think it’s a good reminder. When we let fear have way too much real estate in our minds, it has a tendency to set up shop, then expand to take over all the independent “mom & pop” shops on the block in an effort to grow … at your expense.
Take the leap, and have faith that you are your kids’ best and first teachers. You know what lights them up, and what bores them to tears, you can do this better than you think.
3. Realize that the best teachers, the ones who really inspire greatness in their students, are the ones who have become comfortable saying, “I don’t know, let’s find the answer together.”
Our culture has become so afraid of not being all-knowing that we have developed an aversion to ever saying the dreaded words, “I don’t know,” and it creates an insecurity from which it is hard to escape.
Have you ever noticed that kids are willing to ask questions, to say that they don’t know something, and seek answers? Yes, there are exceptions, especially where they’ve had a bad experience in their lives, but by and large, this is what they’re programmed to do.
Cultivate an attitude of child-like innocence, the sense of wonder a child feels when they see their first snow-fall or hold a baby for the first time, or sees their first rainbow.
4. Be patient.
The transition from institutional schools to homeschool is not always easy. Many of us, myself included, tried to bring school home and stand up at the front of the class to “teach” the “students.” Try not to do this, but if you do, don’t beat yourself up either. We start with what we know, every single one of us. The key is to be patient and understand that the only constant in life is change, embracing it is the only way to maintain some level of sanity.
If your kids had a difficult time while in school, give them time to decompress from that atmosphere of constant pressure. They’ll thank you for it, and over time, will become self-directed learners. Show them where to find the answers, but don’t just hand them out. When you’re frustrated, walk away and call a 15 minute recess.
Patience doesn’t come naturally to many of us, especially those of us who are self-employed or of the entrepreneurial mind-set, but it is vital, so cultivate patience.
5. Never stop learning.
Again, you may be saying, “Gee thanks, Captain Obvious,” but it bears repeating. Those who graduate college and say have the attitude of never having to learn again are wrong. They’re dead wrong. If you’re not learning, you’re not living. If you’re not living, you may as well be holed up in a small dark room blogging about the life you wish you led.
Get out there and live, learn, and most importantly, let your kids see you learning!
Kids learn more from our example than they ever will by what we say. Use that to their advantage.
Editing on October 27, 2017 to add:
The single best thing you can do to alleviate fear and make progress is to just start doing something. Anything. Action seems to help in more ways than one, and it doesn’t have to be terribly well-planned. Just do something. You’ll feel better, I promise.