“It was absolutely horrid.”
I don’t know about you, but “absolutely horrid” is not the word I want to hear my children use to describe their experiences as homeschooled kids.
“Absolutely horrid” probably isn’t what you’re expecting when you’re reading the next installment of a series about why homeschooling is awesome, either, and yet, here we are. Don’t worry, though. I’m not going to leave you hanging.
It makes me unbelievably said that my two oldest children, Jarrod (19) and Erica (16), have any recollection whatsoever of homeschooling being “absolutely horrid,” and yet, that’s the word my son used to describe our earliest years homeschooling.
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Incidentally, our earliest years homeschooling were also the years I was focused on making sure my kids didn’t fall “behind”. Our earliest years homeschooling were the years I felt like I had to make sure my kids “did school,” even if it meant squaring off and going toe-to-toe against them to force them to do it for what I saw then as their own good.
What Jarrod actually said when I asked him about those years was, “That was absolutely horrid. I remember doing just the bare minimum to get you off my back.”
That’s like a knife to my gut. All my sweet, little boy had wanted to do was get me off his back.
Doesn’t sound like homeschooling is so awesome, does it?
Not the way we were doing it in our early years of homeschooling, anyway. And not when I succumbed to the momentary panic that I wasn’t doing enough after I’d started dipping my toes into unschooling.
Like after Erica was diagnosed with dyslexia four years ago. We’d started unschooling four or five years before her diagnosis, and I was pretty settled and comfortable with it for the most part. However, immediately after her diagnosis, the neuropsychologist was all doom and gloom. It was imperative, he insisted, that we begin remediation right away.
So, against my better judgment, I bought a program that was designed specifically for dyslexic students to remediate their reading. This program focused entirely upon their weaknesses, and it left me with a yucky feeling inside. But, the neuropsychologist we’d just paid a fortune to had advised us strongly to do it.
“I absolutely hated it,” Erica recalled. “It made me uncomfortable, man. It’s like, all right, I hate this. You hate this…What’s the point?”
You know what? She’s right.
What is the point of homeschooling if you’re going to spend all day every day fighting with your kids over their schoolwork?
What is the point of homeschooling if you’re spending an inordinate amount of time and energy working with your kids on their weaknesses and things that don’t interest them?
Here’s the thing: homeschooling is awesome because we have the freedom and flexibility to focus on our kids’ strengths, interests, and priorities, and create absolutely incredible, rich lives in the process.
Homeschooling is even more awesome when we take advantage of that freedom and flexibility to focus on our kids’ strengths, interests, and priorities, and actually create these absolutely incredible, rich lives in the process.
If you think about it, that’s why most of us homeschool in the first place.
We homeschool because we want our children to grow up to be successful adults, and we believe we can stack the odds in their favor by homeschooling them. We want them to live absolutely incredible, rich lives.
The single best thing I ever did as a homeschooler was hit the pause button and do some serious reflection. If I wanted my kids to be able to create and live out absolutely incredible, rich lives, wouldn’t it make sense for me to study successful people and then free and empower my children to do the sort of things they had done?
That was a lightbulb moment. One that was transformational in our homeschool. One that made our homeschool awesome.
Let’s look at a few things three very successful entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, and speakers have to say about focusing on your strengths.
- “But when we focus on our strengths…life improves significantly on both personal and professional levels. This is why the most successful people in the world focus on their strengths.” – T. Harv Eker
- “Whether you’re 9 or 90, stop trying to fix the things you’re bad at, and focus on the things you’re good at.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
- “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is we never direct our focus, we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
As I was talking to my children about homeschooling with a focus on their strengths, my youngest, Jillian, who is nine, said, “I actually like to focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses because (working with weaknesses) is slower and harder.”
Successful adults do not choose the slower, harder route. Why should we force our children onto that path?
Sensing that it’s fear keeping us focused on working with our children on their weaknesses, I asked my teenagers whether they thought I have done them a service or a disservice by freeing and empowering them to channel their time and energy into their own priorities.
Jarrod said, “I absolutely think I’ve been better off because of the choices you’ve made and allowed me to make. By focusing on what I’m good at and what I enjoy, I’ve been able to make friends that I never would’ve been able to make otherwise. Connections that would not have been there.
“And I’ve been able to be exposed to different professional environments at a younger age, and get some good experience in those fields…By focusing on what was important to me at the time, I became more educated on that and that’s helped me refine my focus over time, which I think is more beneficial.
“Instead of exiting high school with a vague understanding of what I might want to do, and then going and sinking thousands of dollars into something and realizing maybe this isn’t the exact course of action for me, I was able to bypass a lot of that by exploring a lot of these opportunities earlier.”
Echoing her brother’s sentiment, Erica said, “I think you did me a service, partly because you’re putting the responsibility on me to make sure I get what I need to do done, and so that transfers over to when I’m on my own and you’re not here, I can still do those things.”
When your youngest child has no memories of homeschooling ever being “horrid,” and your other two tell you they believe the focus on their strengths has been an asset to them, you know why homeschooling is so awesome.
Becky Ogden is a married, momma of three who is passionate about self-directed learning and has always homeschooled her kids. She blogs at: www.selfdirectedhomeschooler.com, and hosts a Facebook group, The Self-Directed Homeschooler’s Hub, which you can join for more advice, support, and encouragement for self-directed learning.