The Late-Awakened Heart

So I’m reading The Heart of Learning and love it, but I’m also left with a feeling of failure. I feel like I failed my 9 and 5 year olds. My 1.5 year old, too, but I still have time with her. Anyone ever feel like this?

Can you relate?
On your way to a heart-centered approach to learning, has the journey has been long and complicated? Have you have spent years trying different approaches to parenting and/or education before finding one that really feels right? Have the many twists and turns left you, and perhaps your children, feeling frustrated and exhausted?

Photo Credit: Yoko Hirano
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Start by giving yourself credit for where you are and how you’ve gotten there! You’ve worked hard to navigate the complicated path of parenting. You’ve followed your heart to the place where you are now. Your children benefit from your courage when you open your family to new possibilities. You are not failing — you are succeeding!
It’s never too late to adapt your parenting style in response to new ideas and inspiration. Even partway through childhood, your child continues to benefit from your growing confidence and experience. Parenting skills evolve over time. When your first child arrived, you had no choice but to learn on your feet. Maybe later you had other children whose needs were nothing like your first, which meant you needed to develop new tools.
You tried whatever came to you along the way. Perhaps you followed the model of other parents, the suggestions of relatives, or the advice of professionals. Or maybe you stayed with what felt familiar and made choices similar to those your own parents made. You made use of the resources you had and made the most of whatever was available at the time.
Photo Credit: Lacey Grim
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Maybe those approaches worked, at least for awhile, or maybe they taught you that your child needed something else. Or maybe your instincts were tugging at you to take a different path from the start. Every parent has had the experiences of making a choice that turned out to be less than perfect. Every child is unique, and it can take several tries to figure out how best to meet a particular child’s needs during a particular phase or circumstance.
Even when you’ve discovered an approach that feels like the perfect fit, you may have mixed feelings about switching gears – and your child might, too. Here are some suggestions for navigating this transition:
Explain the changes. One of the most valuable things we can do for our children is to model what it means to be a lifelong learner. If you are making a change that your child will notice and wonder about, affirm their experience and share your reasons for moving in a new direction. If you feel regret that your older children did not benefit sooner from such a shift, acknowledge this, but also make sure they know you tried your best given the information and support you had at the time. Let them know that everyone can learn from their experiences.
Include your child in the process. If a big change is in the works, such as a switch from public school to home learning, ask your children what matters to them. Give their input careful consideration and let them know that their opinions and insights are important to you. Do your best to foster and maintain connection with your children, especially if your earlier approach was less connection-oriented.
Photo Credit: Litteken Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Take good care of yourself and one another. Remember that significant transitions can be stressful even when the result will be positive and healthy. Find ways to create and maintain balance for yourself and your children. Spending time in nature can be restorative and healing for the whole family. Finding and following a rhythm in your days and weeks can help keep everyone grounded, especially when new adventures are beginning. Stay present with your child; you are on this journey together.
Take time to feel. If you need to grieve the way things might have been, give yourself (and your child) space for that important process. Be gentle with yourself and allow the transformation in your life the time it deserves.
Acknowledge growth. Your journey will not be like anyone else’s – embrace its unique lessons and gifts.
Remember that the heart is at the center of the parenting journey. It awakens to new ideas in its own time. You can trust that your heart is leading you well. You can do this!
 

12 Clues That You Might Be Homeschool-Minded

Are you homeschool-minded? Even if you do not homeschool, you may have some of the key traits that also characterize homeschoolers.

Photo credit: The Cloud Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Cloud Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Homeschool-minded parents are open to possibilities. They recognize multiple ways of learning, and they seek out ways to engage with their child in the way he or she learns best. They also recognize multiple solutions to the question of education. They see public school and homeschool as two potentially valid choices among many. If the status quo is not working for their child, they seek a different solution with an open mind.
Homeschool-minded parents don’t turn their child’s whole education over to others. They recognize the value of being regularly involved with their child’s learning. They search for materials to support, supplement, and enliven learning at home. They take an active interest in their child’s passions and go out of their way to support them. They recognize that school grades are never a complete assessment of a child’s well-being, character, or potential.
Photo credit: The Rockhounds (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Rockhounds
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Homeschool-minded parents enjoy engaging with their children. They seek connection through shared pursuits and experiences. They find common ground by learning more about the things that interest their child so they can foster this connection. They consider themselves lifelong learners, always seeking to grow through new inquiries and experiences. They sometimes learn things from their children, and when this happens, they feel proud.
Are you homeschool-minded? Even if your child is not homeschooled, homeschooling might be a natural fit for you. How many of the following statements can you relate to?
 
1. You enjoy being with your child much of the time.
2. You take it upon yourself to find out ways to support your child’s learning when they are excited about something.
3. You believe there is more than one right way to learn.
4. You recognize that academic pursuits are only one part of a complete education and that learning happens outside of school walls as easily as within them.
5. Your child’s well-being matters much more to you than his or her grades.
6. Your family’s mealtime conversation includes things like word games, math challenges, and a discussion of what everyone is reading.
7. Your home is your favorite office.
8. When school vacations end, you fantasize about keeping your kids home with you instead of letting them go back to school.
9. You’ve been known to allow your children a day off from school “just because.”
10. When your child sits down to do a craft or project, you are tempted to join them – and you sometimes do.
11. You consider it your responsibility to personally teach your children the things that matter most to you, rather than leaving the job entirely to their teachers.
12. You find yourself often saying things to your child like, “How could we find out more about that?” and “Good question. What do you think?”
Photo credit: The Yengst Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Yengst Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

What does “homeschool-minded” mean to you, and how does it play out in your everyday life? Do you think you might ever make the switch to homeschooling – or have you tried it already? Why or why not?

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