If you read part one, you know that this last year of homeschooling as been less productive and more instructive on the emotional, spiritual level. So here in part 2 are the things I have learned and what I have been able to take away from this last year and apply to my next school year and my life.
Because I have so many experiences I am able to do a few things that I am kinda proud of: 1. I can see patterns. It’s a crazy gift. I see them everywhere, and I use them to find my place in my world. Plus it really helped me in do well in school even when I struggled. Being uprooted so many times, the scholastic area can take a toll. 2. I can empathize with many different types of people. That does not mean agree or condone (I will explore that later), but I can see there is a backstory to everyone and I love backstories! I have been known to talk a lot and if you ever want to see me go quiet, start telling me your backstory. I will be enthralled. 3. I have learned an amazing gift of forgiveness. I can let go of a lot. The only hiccup to this gift is if there is something unresolved, I tend to have a harder time letting go. 4. I have a gift of discernment. This gift could just be sent from heaven to me, because I can’t see how I developed it with my experiences, but I use it a lot. These gifts are important in my homeschooling journey, which is why I mention them. And it is important to state that owning these is not bad or prideful. It’s good to recognize your gifts and love them as part of who you are so that you can lean on them in tough times.
What are your amazing gifts?
Having a strong Christian faith also meant that I had a moral compass based in the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Yes, Mormons are Christian in the sense we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer of the world.) This faith is what helped me build my core beliefs, and those beliefs helped shape the way I think, feel, act and treat others. Some of those core beliefs are: I am a child of God. I am worth his time and attention. My children are sent from God to my home. It is my privilege and responsibility to love them and help them know who they are. We are all children of God, and so we should treat others in the manner that best honors that heritage. I have boundaries and it’s OK to have proper boundaries. I am meant to experience joy in this life. And this last one has been one that I have recently developed through my constant prayer and communication with God: God created this earth, my life and relationships for me to enjoy, love, bond and use (appropriately) to increase my happiness. I was not put on the earth just to sit on the side lines, but to live.
Where do you get your core beliefs, and what are they?
truth vs Truth
When I act outside of my core beliefs, I have frustration in my soul and body. When that happens it easy to recognize because I start to feel angry, depressed, or confused. That is when I need to go back to my core beliefs and adjust my behaviors accordingly. This is sometimes difficult. Sometimes my core beliefs conflict. One would argue the conflict is a result of a belief not being good or true. Well, sometimes that is the case. It takes some maturing and practice to know when that is true. But sometimes they just conflict. It’s called “opposing truths”. This is when I start to rely on God for guidance. Something may be true for one person or situation but not for another. I am sure anyone can think of several examples of this in their own life. But then there is just plain truth and standing for that truth in a mixed up world is becoming increasingly difficult.
Now there are times when our core beliefs about ourselves do not line up with God. Do any of these sound familiar?
“I am not good enough”
“I am ugly”
“I am fat”
“I am worthless”
Easy to see those. How well does your homeschooling go when you apply these core beliefs? There are some that are more subtle, but these statements are examples of untrue core beliefs. How can you recognize them? Ask yourself if they line up with the foundation or author of your core belief system. For me that is God. You may need help from someone else to release or change these limiting and even damaging belief systems. In the book “Through His Eyes: Rethinking What You Believe About Yourself” by Virginia H Pearce, they are described as little “t”-truth and big “T”-Truth. The “T” is absolute truth, and the “t” can be challenged. When I am at home with my kids ALL DAY, EVERY DAY….ON and ON and ON. There have been times that I have to take a step back and say “Am I acting out of the “t” or “T”? What does it look like when I am acting according to “t” core beliefs? Well, angry, frustrated, depressed, confused,and hopeless. It’s an endless list. But when I am acting out of the “T” core belief system, I am amazing, I am loving, I am happy, I am patient, I am experiencing life fully. For this reason, mantras, affirmations, and “I am” statements are so beneficial. They help us tap back into the Truth of who we are, from where we came, and for what we were meant. And when you see your kids in this light, how effect can homeschooling be now?
What are some of your limiting beliefs or “t”-truth?
What are some of your empowering beliefs or “T” truth?
So, I have discovered some of my amazing gifts that I can tap into when times are tough. I also have a solid core belief system based in Truth given by God. Next-Boundaries!
Due to many negative, damaging and even abusive situations in my life, I have struggled with healthy boundaries. I can not be an effective parent let alone homeschooling mom with out proper boundaries. In learning about boundaries I learned two important things right off. What boundaries are, and what they are not. It is not God’s purpose for me to be a human carpet, nor is it good for me to be a jerk. So where are all those lines, and when do you know lines are being crossed? This was really hard for me! People tend to project feelings on to others, and I was the perfect sponge. I absorbed so much of what others’ thought and felt, that my core beliefs were being challenged on a regular basis.
So what is a boundary. First, it’s knowing who you are, and where you come from. Accepting that as absolute Truth, and challenging thoughts that try to strip that away from you. It’s knowing what you believe and accepting that others may have differing points of view. This is where you can have empathy for someone, but not agree with their position or condone behaviors you see to be out of line with your own core belief system. Those who are able to do this, can live peaceably among a group with differing philosophies or core beliefs. Having boundaries is giving people back their own drama. You can watch from the audience, you don’t have to be on stage. The book “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life”, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, is a wonderful resource to refer to when I forget how to set good boundaries with those around me.
What boundaries are not: they are not an excuse to be mean, controlling, or limiting. There may be times when you have to be firm with your boundary, especially if you are in an abusive or co-dependent relationship. However if you find yourself over explaining your boundaries with others, take that as a warning sign. Good boundaries don’t need introduction, explanation, or to be defined. You have them and that is that. Explaining cause and effect to kids or anyone else shows the boundary with out the over explanation. When you have good boundaries at home things fall into place. If they don’t two things to consider 1. it takes time and consistency to change bad habits due to poor boundaries or 2. There is a deeper problem to be addressed.
I loved the book “A House United: Teaching Self Government” by Nichleen Peck. She shows wonderful examples of how to have good boundaries with your kids by teaching cause and effect. When you have good boundaries based on a solid core belief system, you govern how you act and react. When you have poor boundaries, you allow what others think and feel to govern how you act and react. Notice, I said “you allow” because no one chooses how you feel. That’s all you, and that leads me to my next gem in my learning process this last year.
What are some of your good boundaries?
Where in your life could you have better boundaries?
Challenge the Thought
A very useful tool that was given to me while I was in therapy was “challenge the thought” tool. Thoughts lead to feelings, which leads to actions, that lead to results, that leads to thoughts. So when I feel discouraged, afraid, frustrated, emotionally charged, depressed or otherwise negative, I have to think back to the thought that started it all. Maybe it’s the little “t” truths that keep creeping in. Maybe it’s bad information, maybe it’s just your own insecurities. Whatever it may be, you never challenge the feelings. Never challenge others’ feelings and don’t let others challenge your feelings. It’s OK to be scared of the dark. It’s OK to be disappointed when you lose a game. The challenge comes when you allow the negative feelings to govern your life. Challenge the thought! (There are boogie men in the dark, I am not good at playing this game ect) when you challenge the thought you give yourself power to change it thus you change your feelings.
There will be times when something happens and you just feel bad about it. Again, having negative feelings is not all bad. These feelings can move you to change, redirect, or sure up boundaries. So what do you do. Accept the feeling. Let yourself feel it and then let it move right through you. Do not give those feelings a place to live. Your heart and mind are for positive residence only. Negative feelings are just strangers passing through. Learn from them, and then let them go on their way. This takes practice. Many times I have had to just take a moment and breath through it. But how much more powerful is that to your children when they see you feel things and let them go vs take it out on the people you love most. You are teaching them how to manage the many feelings and emotions that are there for the experiencing. Not everyone is perfect at this. You can practice, practice, practice all you want, but sometimes you will slip up. Re align with your core beliefs and forgive yourself. Also very important tool for your kids to see.
What are some of your limiting thoughts and how can you change them?
Let Go of pride and Trust God
With my postpartum depression I felt that no one really understood me. I felt like there was no one who could help me and I became very closed minded in opportunities to help myself. Part of that was my lack of boundaries. I felt as if everyone around me was trying to “rescue” me without even really knowing what they were rescuing me from. I had “mentors” coming out of the wood work trying to “help” me while also helping themselves financially. I was very weary of everything making it really hard to actually get help. I would disregard just about every solution, suggestion, or inclination. I didn’t want to read one more book, go to one more seminar, visit one more blog, try one more weight loss program or listen to any podcast no matter how many times someone told me it was “just what I needed”. So I was a “negative Nellie”. I said “no” to everything and was kind of a brat about it. I would come up with every last reason why this “such and such” or that “what have you” is not just wrong for me, but just plain wrong. Besides, I probably tried it already and have already deemed said suggestion as “stupid”. I was prideful and didn’t trust God to take the helm in my life.
One day I realized that I wasn’t much fun to be around. Who would want to be around someone who always told you you were doing everything wrong and it wouldn’t help anyway? And every time you got excited about something that helped you, they rained on your parade? I decided to be more open minded. This is still something I struggle with but I am getting better at it.
The first thing I did was choose God as my mentor. I knew if he was by my side, I would not be lead astray on some wild entrepreneurial, self-help, goose chase. The next thing was to apply good boundaries. A program that really works for one person, just might not be what works for the next. But if you keep an open mind and allow everyone permission to follow their own path, you may in effect, find yours. Or at least you will pick up little gems that help you along the way. I am so grateful for the little gems I have picked up because I have been more open minded. God has been able to lead me to the right people to get the help I needed in my healing, homeschooing, parenting, and in my daily dealings with others around me. As new things come into view, I look at it, and decide what to take from it. Maybe it’s a gem, maybe it’s the whole package. I am still careful about who I let in,and what path I go down, but it’s done out of good boundaries (accepting all paths having worth) then out of bad boundaries (all or nothing mentality). And that is good.
What methods have you found helpful in your homeschooling journey?
What gems have you been able to apply as a homeschooling parent?
Simplify and trust yourself
All of these tools I have shared is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been so many “gems” it’s impossible to explore them all. During this time of re-learning how to homeschool again, the greatest lesson thus far has been to Simplify and trust yourself.
In my early years of homeschooling, I had learned about many different methods, theories and curriculum. Blogs and pod casts had not really taken off yet, and being of the GenX group, I got all my homeschooling info the old fashioned way: Word of mouth, books, catalogs, conferences and good ol’ intuition. I read so many books and had already decided what I wanted and how I was going to go about things. Little did I know that I would soon drown in the information waterfall that was the internet. The info was out there, but I had not really encountered it. I had already had my first baby when blogs became mainstream, and considering my pattern of being a late bloomer in most things, it was 2010 before I even really heard about homeschooling blogs and pod casts. And it was still relatively knew. I was more familiar with message and bulletin boards, and homepages. Most of my peers at this point had teenagers and kind of missed the whole Pod cast/blog craze and were introduced to it through their teenagers. I still had little kids.
I didn’t grow up immersed in so much technology. It was there, just not everywhere! I didn’t get my first cell phone till I was 24 years old. And it was a Nokia, that had and antenna you pulled out when you made a call, and you charged in on a docking charger plugged into your wall. I was afraid of the smart phone and didn’t get my first one for at least a couple of years after they came out. I know, I’m a cave lady. (*My husband just informed me that the term is Paleo now.)
One of the biggest blessings I have had during the whole homeschooling, to breakdown, to school, to back to homeschooling roller coaster I’ve been on these last 3 1/2 years, is a homeschooling mom’s group. Once a month we get together and chat. Lately we have had some presenters come. Thankfully, due to my new found open mindedness, I have really enjoyed these these special evenings.
Before I left homeschooling, most of the ladies in the group still had really little kids. I had a school aged kid. So we talked more about parenting and possibilities of homeschooling. During my hiatus from homeschooling, I would go to these meetings and feel like I really didn’t belong because I wasn’t homeschooling. I even quit once. Soon after I quit I decided to homeschool again, so I came back to the group.
The group has changed a lot since we first started. When I came back with all my heart, I started to hear a lot more about all kinds of curricula, programs, methods, blogs, pod casts, this wind direction, that wind direction and on and on. I got caught up in the whole hype and didn’t want to feel left behind. I lost count of how many math curricula I have tried. But lets face it, that’s common no matter when you start homeschooling.
Every new idea came crashing in my little mind and I became very lost in a vast sea of information and possibilities. I didn’t trust my intuition anymore, and I didn’t ask God for direction. One day I was reading “Called Home: Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool” by Karen DeBeus. She gave a word of caution to managing all the information out there. The caution was to not let all the wonderful blessings of information, co-ops, support, ect replace the “One and only One that we need the most. GOD.” That really hit me. She also wrote about simplifying your homeschooling to allow more room for Joy. I thought a lot about that.
Toward the end of school year, and looking back at the million and one ways I failed, I began to see how I had let so many distractions into my homeschooling. I will give an example and this is not an example of why you shouldn’t use curriculum, because I still do, but how I let distractions lead me away from purpose and joy in my homeschooling.
When I taught my first daughter to read, I used a very simple, basic program. “How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. I used it as a base to help move her along in her reading. But her reading instruction started much earlier. Ever since she was little, she was read to out loud. Big books, with big words, every night for years. Then during the day, I would read to her picture books. Every day at least 30 min if not longer. I showed her pictures, we talked about letters and sounds. I showed her easy words she could read. We pointed out words and letters in the world around us. When she memorized books I would have her “read” it while I moved my finger across the page to show her which words she was saying. It was a bonding experience most of the time, though when we hit mechanics, there were times of stress. But mostly it was just a fun time with her. She is a very good reader. She loves to write. She has not struggled much at all in her learning.
Then came my second daughter. She didn’t seem as much interested in the alphabet. She was 5 or 6 before she even knew letter names or sounds. It just didn’t click. She is a math genius, but reading just wasn’t her thing. I didn’t really worry about it because every kid learns differently. I wondered if she had a learning disability of some kind. And I still do just a little. So when I brought her back to homeschooling after 1 year of preschool and 1 year of Kindergarten, I wanted to help her read more than anything. In this last year I tried 3 or 4 different curricula to get her reading up to snuff. I tried to get through the lessons with her and became very frustrated. We didn’t have any consistency because frankly, it just wasn’t fun. I didn’t read to her at night or during the day. I was so caught up in her “lessons” that I didn’t trust my own intuition and experience. I went to God with this dilemma, and I knew I had missed the whole point. All those years lost. She is still a struggling reader, and we have made very little progress. She may not ever be a really good reader, but what I missed wasn’t consistency on reading lessons that were droll and pointless, but the time together to read stories together and bond over a good book.
It is time to simplify and trust myself and stop chasing every new idea out there. When you trust yourself, and let God lead your homeschooling, distractions go as quickly as they come. With the good boundaries in place, trusting God to lead and my own intuition and experience, new ideas are just opportunities for gems of insight and possibilities for new adventures. And if they don’t work, you can let them go without shame, pride or regret. I love these ladies in my group that are so Tech savvy that they do a lot of the foot work for me. Frankly, I don’t know if I could have done this year without them. It’s fun to hear all the things they love and get excited about, and I can have the confidence I need to hold my own even if I am a cave lady/paleo diva in the wonderful world of technology. I own it! and I love it!
So on the eve of this homeschooling year I am taking away some pretty huge lessons. I am currently planning out my next school year with all of these things in mind. I am trying new things and even using technology more (eek!). But the most important thing I am adding to my homeschooling is an emphasis in Character based on the core beliefs founded through God and Christ. And that is why I homeschool.