Episode 212 - Audioblog, The Spark - Lessons Learned
Hello Firestarters! Thanks so much for listening to our 2017 podcasts! Like we did last year, for the month of December we will play the highest downloaded podcasts for this year. I will announce that list along with exciting news for 2018 plus maybe a call to action at the end of this podcast, so we urge you to stay tuned.
With the dawning of a new era in my life as my oldest graduated school and has left to be a volunteer in Russia, I thought I’d spend this podcast maybe reminiscing and talking about what I would do differently as a mother, and his educator, of things I would have done more and things I’m glad that I did through the passed 18+years. I will also formally answer a listener who was kind enough to email me with this question:
She writes: “I’m thinking about essential-ism in homeschool.. what are the essentials for you in the environment and the habits?
What about skill learning essentials and in your daily routine?”
Thank you Lauri Muse for the question and I’m so sorry for the delay, I’m hoping this podcast will be a good answer to your question.
First off, to give you an understanding of the education my oldest son did receive, I’d like to give some background. If you listened to podcast 001 - the first Luminous Mind show ever recorded over 3 years ago, I tell this story. If you listened to that, I’d first like to apologize…hopefully I have improved. But I know, since even then my own paradigm on education has changed dramatically as I have listened and learned from close to 215 amazing people. So there may be variation to the story, or at least the conclusion to my paradigm change.
I began homeschooling accidentally, I say in my show bio that I’m an “accidental homeschooler.” This is what I mean by that…I began accidentally because I was first trying to replicate my sister in starting a charter school like the one she began on the other side of our state. As we were starting this charter school, it was getting close to the time I was to enroll our oldest son into school. Not wanting to put him in traditional public school then pull him out and put him in the charter school we would start, I thought I will just keep him home…I mean how hard would it be to teach him kindergarten, letters, numbers and such. I’d learned about the online school, K12, from a radio show and found out we had a local state charter school sponsoring k12’s curriculum. That was the beginning of our homeschooling, I never intended to homeschool, or continue homeschool all the way though his education, it just happened and every year we thought it over again, but in the end our oldest son attended that online charter school for 7-8 years and then our local district k12 school and other online schools all the way through graduation where he also earned 14 college credit and his EMT certification.
It might seem with that explanation that his education was pretty cut and dry and that my philosophy didn’t vary all that much. Really my overall paradigm procession was like a slow evolution, it moved through my thoughts on all aspects of life; education, religion, politics, government, individual subjects, child development, etc. This questioning in one area of my life which was education and homeschooling, really changed me completely as a person, my mind, soul, and whole being.
I first began with really feeling very incapable, following all that this online school suggested. I felt my own answers for parenting were in adequate to now with a very different understanding of learning as a process as well as my role in it and how questions can effect everything. I definitely feel more able to trust my instincts and know they have been placed there for an important purpose. That is the reason for The Luminous Mind, to help spark your own individual paradigm shifts, in hearing from others about their shifts, how it affected there lives, and hopefully to give people courage and strength so their paradigm shifts happen more rapidly. Paradigm shifting is a line upon line process, maybe a giving of our will, acceptance kind-of thing to make it happen more efficiently.
However, it seems I’m rambling (too excited about this process) so I’ll return….
Things I wish I’d done differently during my first son’s education:
Not Force so much - Through this process, I have really learned valuable lessons on free-will. It has been woven into every accept of my thinking and life. I now know that free-will is a true principle and you can’t have force or coercion mixed with free-will and be totally successful. It really was a major paradigm shift for me that I’m still working on, studying, trying to understand, and implement into every facet of my life. That is how true principles work, they work for everything. I wish I would have understood this principle better! I wish I would have understood the power of free-will better from the begin and used more love, interest, and acceptance to inspire my children. In the beginning, I parented and taught with force, manipulation, and anger than I really care to admit….I’m a slow learner. This is the thing I most regret, that I cared less about preserving the relationship and more about getting my kids to bend towards my will. I’m not saying all was lost and still credit the fact that, homeschool doesn’t take as long so my kids had more free-time than they would have otherwise. I was also observant and noticed all the amazing things they did with their free-time as well as how their attitudes changed when it was their will driving their experiences vs. me forcing them. However, lesson learned Less Force, more Love…. example of this is
Took more days off - Taking more days off was a big limitation to attending a government online school as well as moving more slowly to fit the student’s learning and understanding. When the bureaucracies of these schools have expectations. Their expectations override the student’s needs. This was one of the main reasons that we pulled out of these schools with our younger students and I gave the option to my oldest but he chose to continue. There are just days that you need to enjoy the day’s activities like field trips, or fun activities, nice weather etc. fully, without the overcrowded schedule of school. I remember trying to force schoolwork before we left on these activities and it left us frazzled and unable to enjoy the day plus the relationship was harmed as once again, I put my needs above theirs. Also, if your child is sick, let them rest. I had so many days I forced them to work when they weren’t feeling their best. I needed to let our kids have more days of quietly reading in a snuggled blanket because I know they would have loved their learning more. Also, one of the advantages of homeschooling is that they actually get the rest they need. Don’t keep them up late but don’t wake them up too early either, at least that is my advice.
Let him follow more of his interests - Let your kids follow their interests and skill level. Another disadvantage of government online school is they have a set curriculum ignores the individual. I also had my kids do things that they understood because I “didn’t want them to miss anything” This created some boredom in their learning and some frustration between us. A memorable story with our oldest is his interest in medicine. He was taking a college level online medical terminology class, that he signed up for himself. He LOVED everything medicine! When I saw this I was like, “Finish your English assignment” SO STUPID! I really have learned to let your student drive their learning by their interests. It makes it more fun for them and less work for you.
Not cared what people thought / Responded with more kindness - When I began homeschooling, like most people, I had some detractors that really felt they needed to tell me all the ways I was going to fail my kids. With my strong personality this set me on a path of defensiveness, that I’m sure many times came across as rude or self-righteous. I think we need to understand that this type of lifestyle has some detractors. We are lucky that there are less detractors but they are still there. When people ask questions we need to be as kind as possible to them and avoid feeling frustrated, although I understand how annoying some of the stereotyping can become. When you make this decision and have studied it out to decide if it is the best decision for your family, have faith on that and don’t care what someone else might think, it is your life, your family, and their opinion doesn’t really matter. We all have different lives, circumstances, experiences and other people aren’t privileged to lead your family. That is your job, be strong in that role and follow your intuition.
Things I’m glad we did:
Even though, I have spent the last part of this audioblog lamenting all the mistakes I made and things I should have done different, I’m glad we homeschooled! I am SO glad we homeschooled, accidental as it happened to be. It really was were we were meant to move! My kids are grateful, I’m grateful, for how it changed me and our family for the better. I feel like homeschooling removed the scale from my eyes. It helped me see my children differently, with more compassion, more as unique individuals with their own missions. Homeschooling helped me learn too, like I said above to helped me question everything which changed my paradigm and almost everything. Homeschooling changed my family, my children, and myself.
Vacationed / Spent time together - I’m grateful for the last few years were I did finally learn to take days off and enjoy my children. I’m think the most important time we spent together we low-key activities that weren’t stressful. Many times we cause that stress so always working to preserve the relationships, check the emotions in the room and acknowledge them, those things are important to be aware. Taking advantage of our flexible schedule and go and doing more things is something I’m glad we did in homeschooling. I think for far too many years, there were excuses made for why we couldn’t go and do more of the things we wanted to do, so I’m glad we just finally did the things we had talked about doing.
Taught the value of work - I’m glad that I made my kids work. This was more out of necessity because my kids were home. I didn’t have time to make 3 meals a day and do all the cleaning as well. I think I felt guilty about that in the early times when my kids were little. They were doing laundry, cleaning and even doing a good amount of the cooking. I was always finding jobs in and out of the house for my kids to do. Our oldest was mowing neighbors’ yards at around age 11 out of necessity to earn some money because we lived on a single income. I’m just glad that they had to work because they gained so many skills. There was no adult-ing problems with kids who spent a good amount of time doing all the things to take care of themselves.
Essentialism in Homeschool:
Religious / character Training - I think it is important to instill values in our children. All education in the old days included character training. I believe if we homeschool passing on the values of good people can only help them because life is more about how we treat others and less on how much we know. I think spending a small amount of time with religious training with our kids is essential. It can be from books but even more important real life service. (Story of grade vs. learning)
The Basics - I love the idea of unschooling and I’ve seen children (even my own children) learn and do amazing things on their own. However, I do believe in teaching the basics which can be done on their own time early or late but I think an understanding in reading, writing, and math can be information that is vital for their development. Hopefully they are asking and we are helping with information that can be vital in the way that they learn best, this doesn’t have to be long or taxing and usually after 10 years old, my kids have taken this over for themselves. I think setting the stage for the daily practice of these things 3 skills is vital for ourselves and to help our children.
Teaching kids the process of learning - The longer I’m in this realm of education, the more people I talk with, the more I understand that instead of teaching our children facts and figures, we need to teach them the process of learning so they can be life-long learners. With my section on the basics, this would fall into that area. Most kids anymore come out of educational institutions unprepared in this area. They are not as successful as they need to be because they have been taught to follow orders and not fulfill other needs that they may see within the whole of the area of their scope. How many times do we here a phrase, “that isn’t my job.” As we have learned from numerous guests on this show, the process of learning is important to being successful in the future. I believe that unplugging a kid from the daily system naturally teaches this process. I have seen it in my own life. (story of scout camp) However, In the coming months, I hope to address this in more areas within our scope.
Now for the what we hope to see in the future. I have a number of projects in the works, including a book and online course. Projects working with other past contributors. I hope that you will want to be part of this process and tell us what you need and how we can help you - that is the call to action. If you want to help us be able to finance these projects, you can go to patreon.com/theluminousmind
For the last 3 years, I have produced free content. It was at a time of abundance for me and my family, but if you really follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will be aware that my husband lost his high paying job in the Spring which has set us into a turmoil for the last few months, including moving, and looking for other ways to support ourselves. I have been flirting with the idea of giving this podcasting stuff up and getting a part-time job and who knows, that may end up happening. However, if you have ever found any of this information helpful. Please join us on Patron and donate what you feel this content has been worth to you. I also think I’d like to give up trying to get sponsors and just use patrons to fund our work so we can keep this message of changing our paradigm rolling. Again to make a donation, you can go to patreon.com/theluminousmind
I want to produce content helpful to you, I’m grateful when I put out questions like, “what do you want to hear,” and people let me know. It give me ideas but more importantly, it gives me strength to continue.
The next 3 weeks we will be playing the most downloaded podcast for 2017 - That list is as follow:
"So THANK YOU for listening, I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas and a great holiday season!