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Your Parenting Mojo - Respectful, research-based parenting ideas to help kids thrive - Jen Lumanlan 7th June 2020
SYPM 005: Getting Confident About the Decision to Homeschool
00:00:00 00:45:46

SYPM 005: Getting Confident About the Decision to Homeschool

Click here to learn more about The Confident Homeschooler course!

 

School districts are starting to make plans to reopen - some with sneeze guards between desks; some on reduced schedules to accommodate the amount of space needed for social distancing, while some are going online-only for the Fall semester.

How will your child cope with this?

Did your child adapt well to online learning when schools closed? Will they find it relatively easy to see their friends but not be close to them? There are some children for whom these arrangements work well, but for others parents see big trouble ahead.

What are the options? Even if you've never considered homeschooling as a realistic option in the past, it might now be the tool that gets you through the next few months. But are you terrified that you don't know everything your child needs to know? And how could it possibly work for your family?

Join me for a conversation with Dr. Laura Froyen, who is considering homeschooling her two children next semester - even though she has a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies and wrote a dissertation on supporting young children in learning to read, she's nervous that she doesn't know everything she needs to know - so if you're worried about this you're certainly not alone!

We look at what we know about how long children actually spend learning in school (the answer is going to shock you!), how you can work AND homeschool, and how you can get confident that you really can support your child's love of learning - even if you know your child will eventually go back to school.

 

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Jen

Hi, I'm Jen and I host the Your Parenting Mojo Podcast where I critically examine strategies and tools related to parenting and child development that are grounded in scientific research and principles of respectful parenting. In this series of episodes called Sharing Your Parenting Mojo, we turn the tables and hear from listeners. What have they learned from the show that's helped their parenting? Where are they still struggling? And what tools can we find in the research that will help? If you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released and get a FREE guide to 7 Parenting Myths We Can Safely Leave Behind, 7 Fewer Things to Worry About subscribe to the show at yourparentingmojo.com. You can also continue the conversation about the show with other listeners in the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group. I do hope you'll join us

 

Jen

Hello, and welcome to Sharing Your Parenting Mojo. We are here with Dr. Laura Froyen today to discuss the topic of homeschooling. She's thinking about whether and how to do it over the next few months. And as we were chatting about it, we figured that some of the things that she's thinking about right now are probably similar to some of the things that other parents are thinking about too. And so we thought, why not just get on a call and discuss them live and share what we're thinking and what we're learning with other people as well. So that's kind of what we're going to do today. So welcome, Laura, do you want to tell us a bit about yourself and your background first?

 

Laura

Absolutely. Thanks for having me and agreeing to answer my questions Jen. So so I'm Dr. Laura Froyen and I have my PhD in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in couples and family therapy. I am currently a peaceful parenting and respectful relationship coach and course creator, but I started right out of grad school in an academic job. And so I did my dissertation on how family processes influenced the home learning environment and children's early literacy skills. I'm a big believer in delaying, reading, teaching, active reading, teaching until in a developmentally appropriate age. I've always been deeply curious and, you know, interested in the prospect of homeschooling, but then also not sure if I could ever handle doing it. I have a very strong willed personality, I tend towards control. It's something that being in the respectful parenting world as a constant exercise and letting go for me. My oldest daughter is my best teacher in that way. So I guess I just I'm so glad that I get the chance to learn from such an expert on this, as I'm trying to make a really conscious and informed decision for my family.

 

Jen

And I think the thing that stuck out to me when you were saying that you wanted to talk about this was that you have a PhD in a related topic and you've studied reading, and you still feel unsure about how to best support your child in learning to read. And so when parents are thinking, oh my goodness, I don't know how I'm going to even do this. How do we even support my child? They're not alone, right? Even you're struggling with this.

 

Laura

No, I literally am an expert in how parents support their kids and learning to be at home. And it's still like I my youngest is five, she just turned five. She had a quarantine birthday. And she would be learning to read if she went into 5K in the fall. And I am so intimidated at the idea that no so if we homeschool for this next year for just the fall or kind of whatever, it ends up looking like that she'll go into a school system and I am worried about her being behind because, like it's, we're not in as a Scandinavian country where she wouldn't be allowed to learn at her, you know, reading at a developmentally appropriate age. We're in the US, and it's the reality of it. So yeah, no, of course, parents are not alone in this. I think like I think I have a couple of things that are coming completely normal parent, like even like all of us are, you know, we all are. The experts make mistakes. We have questions, we need support, and it's okay.

 

Jen

Yeah. Yep. Awesome. Well, thank you for, for owning that for all of us. And yeah, I definitely mess up too. And we figure things out as we go. And we move on, we adjust and we move on.

 

Laura

There's something so intense about the idea of like, teaching your kids. So you know, like, I mean, I feel so much more relaxed about parenting, just because I know like, we're resilient. Like our relationship is resilient, like attachment relationships are built to be resilient and, and open a bit. There's just something so intense about being charged with our child's learning, you know, and, yeah, so I'm looking forward to hearing about that from you about, like, what are my options and approaches to homeschooling? What do I need to be thinking about?

 

Jen

Okay. Well, let's start there, because I think that's a really nice place to start. And it's so interesting what you say about needing to teach my child. And that's such a kind of a Western idea, basically, from someone who has been through school and I went through school you went through school, we have this idea that our the teachers role is to know everything that there is to know. And they hold the knowledge. And the child's job is to kind of wait there with this ready and open mind. And the teacher pours the knowledge out of their jug into the student’s vessel. And that's how knowledge is transferred. And so when we're thinking about different approaches to homeschooling, I kind of think on a continuum where traditional schooling is kind of at that end of it is at one end of it. And then there's a whole continuum of potential approaches to the other end where we just see learning as part of life. And so if we kind of talk through what are some of those, well, anything that's curriculum driven, is based on this idea that the teacher knows what there is to know. And their job is to teach the child and so when you're doing this at home, I mean, there are books that you can buy of 100 curriculum options. And you can go through and you can pick one that covers all the subjects that you want to study. And you can pick, you can just decide to focus on reading and math. And just buy those ones, there's any combination of these things that you can do, and build your own approach to it. But it is based on the idea that somebody somewhere knows the essential things that children need to know. And you're kind of saying that…

 

Laura

Like, I don't even believe that. I know!

 

Jen

Yeah, and by saying, I'm going to go with that approach, you're essentially saying, I do believe that I do believe that there is a set of skills that somebody has decreed is the right skills for children to have, and where I don't know what that set of skills is. So I'm going to trust somebody else, I'm going to outsource that aspect of the decision making. And so when we do that, what we're doing is we're kind of absolving ourselves of responsibility for needing to know everything our child needs to know and that can feel good that can feel like a weight off our shoulders. That somebody else has decided this stuff is important. It's not just me. And if I follow this, my child would know what they need to know.

 

Laura

Yeah, you're speaking to me. Because I am such a perfectionist, a recovering perfectionist, I work on my perfectionism every day. But like, I sometimes get paralyzed in doing something new because I want to do it the right way. Yes, I have this concept that there is a right way. And if I could just know the right way, what the right way it would be right. It's just, and I have dedicated my children's life to trusting them. Why wouldn't I trust them in their education? And their learning process? It's just this there's this big disconnect. Yeah, I feel like what it isn't, is there a process of like, like unschooling yourself?

 

Jen

There is there is obviously there is. Yeah, and that's the reason you're feeling this cognitive dissonance.

 

Laura

That’s the word.

 

Jen

Yeah. I mean, you know, one thing you believe it to be true, and yet you grew up In a system that taught you that another way was the right way to do things you feel in your bones that trusting your children is the right thing to do. But you were told in school for a couple of decades, that you don't trust children that you tell children what they need to learn, and you were told what you needed to learn. And that's why you're feeling this. That's why you're having such a hard time with this. And we're not alone. I was lucky enough to see this when my daughter Carys was you know, she was two or three at the time, and I saw, okay, well, if I believe this about learning, how can I put her in that environment? And so I had years to figure this out. And now parents are they're feeling this discrepancy, and they have weeks to figure it out. And so…

 

Laura

Clearly there’s a sense of urgency.

 

Jen

Yeah, that's why you're feeling stressed. And so okay, so let's keep going through our potential curriculum options, or potential approaches to schooling. So you're kind of moving towards more self-directed Charlotte Mason is a name that gets thrown around a lot. You've probably heard of it. She was an Englishwoman Who Lived In the early 1900s, and she had these kind of three philosophies or three ideas that underpin her philosophy. Your values shape your child's education, cultivating good habits is important, and based on her background that include very heavy religious values. And thirdly, we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So ideas to understand not facts to remember. And so that sounds pretty good, although there tend to be ideas about what are the right ideas. And it's not the child's place to determine what those right ideas are. The parent’s place to determine what those ideas are.

So there's that and then classical homeschooling is another method where you have these kind of three stages of learning. The grammar stage where you're you really are kind of doing rote memorization, you're learning facts. And then as the child gets a little bit older, they begin to be able to apply reasoning to knowledge. And then the third phase is rhetoric where we're applying wisdom and judgment. And so you can already probably see already the discrepancy between these approaches between Charlotte Mason between classical homeschooling, either we're living thoughts and ideas with Charlotte Mason, or we're saying that we need to memorize dry facts. That's what that's the work of early childhood because the child is incapable of reasoning early on and therefore they have to wait to do that. So which is it? How can we figure that out? And so what you'll often find with these approaches homeschooling is that whoever's approach you end up falling will say all the other approaches are wrong. If you do it my way, you'll be golden. And so just keep going through these and we'll kind of tie it together.

So you probably have heard of Montessori and Waldorf and Montessori - with its focus on personal responsibility and Waldorf kind of bringing in mystical elements. And so there are homeschooling approaches that you can use that are pretty similar to the kinds of things that you have seen in preschools with the same name. Unit studies where you're kind of allowing the child to live with a topic for a certain time, so maybe they might explore the History and Geography and literacy and math angles to whatever is the topic they're interested in. pretty often as the adult that picks the unit and says, Hey, we're gonna learn about ancient Rome. And then you explore it from all angles. So that can be more interesting as a child, although it's definitely more interesting to them if they are allowed to pick the unit. And the parent may also supplement with a curriculum. So if we feel like we're not getting enough math with ancient Rome, then we'll maybe we'll do math curriculum on the side. And then kind of where we're ending up here is with more child led approaches to learning.

And so with the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, you're really focusing on following the child's interests. And there's a heavy emphasis on what's called the co-creation of knowledge. So the idea that knowledge isn't some thing that you can put into somebody's mind. But through having this conversation, we are co creating knowledge. We are developing both of our ideas about what it means to homeschool. So that's an approach that I really like.

And then sort of the opposite end from the school approach is unschooling. Conveniently named school or unschool, which sees learning in life is inextricably linked. And by living life, the child learns. So when a child is in school, what we're saying to them is, you're not ready to live life, you're going to be here you're going to do this stuff that we're telling you is meaningful. And when we deem you ready, we'll let you out into the world and you can live life. What unschooling says is that learning comes through living life, and by living life, we are doing our work. This is the work of a life of childhood, of adulthood, of our entire lives. And so when we're interested in something, we will learn about it when we need to learn something, we'll learn about it. I know you just started a podcast, you have probably had a fairly steep learning curve for the number of things. You're not an expert in podcasting yet. You've learned enough to be able to record and release an episode. And when there's something you find you can't do, you're going to Google “The thing I can't do” and you're going to learn how to do that task. That's how we learn in real life. We don't have this, you know, I'm going to be a podcaster. And so I'm going to learn everything about the recording software I'm going to use. Why would you do that?

 

Laura

Right. Why would you? Learn as you need it. Yeah

 

Jen

Yes, exactly. And so that's more about kind of what unschooling does. It says, we're going to take this as far as we want to take if I want to learn everything about dinosaurs or ancient Rome, I'm going to absorb because I'm just fascinated with this stuff. And there are other things that I just need to know the bare minimum right now. When I need more, I'll tack on more.

So let me pause there and just I want to hear your reactions and what's calling to you and what feels comfortable and what feels super scary, but really interesting, anyway.

 

Laura

Yeah. So in the past couple months of being at home with my daughter, we, you know, so part of like, with my older one, like we're both stubborn, and so, like, even as much as I kind of wanted to homeschool, like when she turned three I was like, “This is not going to work for us” We just butted heads. Like even if I ever tried to teach her something. She knows I'm a feelings doctor. Like that's what we say like a therapist. This was the feelings doctor. She would much rather learn about emotions and feelings from her guidance counselor than from her mother, you know, like it just like there was just multiple relationships. I like it got too complicated.

Anyway, so when we got into kind of our saver at home orders, we were learning at home, her teachers with assignments that she was not interested in doing. And it was this big battle and my relationship with her was way more important. So we just didn't do them. And she's a very self-motivated learner. And I sat down with her teacher about two weeks in and I was like, This is not working for us. I'm happy to turn in what she's writing and reading kind of on her own, but I'm not gonna make her do these assignments. And her teacher was like, that's totally fine. Like, All I care about is that she's writing and reading really.

And so like so today. She had some assignments from her teacher where they were given a virtual field trip to an aquarium, like an aquarium in Georgia. And all of her assignments, her math and reading and her writing were all based on that. And she like, loved it. And she loves marine biology. She loves ocean life. She did way more than what was required of her. She filled her notebook with like, for small space writing, like full of pages and math problems. And, like, I mean, just facts and stuff to do above and beyond what was asked because it was interesting to her and I just like I can see us doing that. What do you want? You know, what do you want to do today? Like what would be good for you today? Oh, yeah, I can see us doing that. Um, it's just hard. It's scary to think about like, especially like with math. I think math is the thing with her. She loves it and she likes learning about it. She likes to do worksheets. I just don't know how that all fits in. I don't know.

 

Jen

Yeah. Yeah, no worries. And I think that is in a way that teach you got lucky that she picked a topic that your daughter is interested in. If she had picked the desert, then your daughter probably would have said, I don't care about the desert. I don't want to do this. I'm not doing it and you would have been in your usual battle. And the reason that it didn't go that way is because the teacher landed on something that happened to be of interest to her, probably half the class doesn't care about.

 

Laura

I don't battle with those things. Like I drop the rope and like, I'm not doing this great, we'll do something else. And then she ends up writing like a book about like, the spells that she's inventing for whatever suite and I just turned that in to her teacher.

 

Jen

And there are a lot of parents who think well, if the teacher saying you need to do this, you need to do this. Yeah. And they don't realize that you can say to the teacher, you know what, this isn't working for my child, we're going to do something different and that probably as long as you're achieving the goal, you know, the teacher's goal is to have your child spend some time doing writing. They actually don't care if you engage with the lesson or not so that kind of illustrates the idea that when the child is interested in something, they will learn it. And so then you went on to talk about math. And that gets to you know, do you need a curriculum? I think you told me that your daughter really likes the way math is taught in school, right? The common core math that they're doing right now.

 

Laura

I love it. I wish I had been taught that way. I mean, I, you know, in the 80s and 90s, learning math, like my teachers made me sit on my hands to do math, that I couldn't count on my fingers. And I like went through. I mean, Jen. Like my freshman year of college, I wrote an entire workbook with the sentence, “My ability to do math does not define my worth as a person.” Like an entire notebook, just writing it out. Like as I was studying for the calculus class that I was failing, you know, like, I mean, like, I don't want that for my kids. And she loves math. She has all these great strategies, but I don't know them. Like I literally don't know the strategies. Nobody ever taught me them. Yeah.

I'm good at math, by the way, like, I'm a statistician. I love that. I'm good at math. But I got that message early on in traditional school that I wasn't.

 

Jen

Yeah, I remember experiencing that as well, when I was taking the GMAT to try and get into business school, which ended up not doing for one of the reasons was because I flunked the GMAT, because I could get to the answer on a problem. But yeah, kids in American schools had been taught a certain way of getting to the answer fast. And the whole point is to get to the answer faster, and get on to the next question and get more hard questions. And so I would show it to my husband who grew up in American schools, and he would say, Oh yeah, you just do this thing. I was like, nobody ever told me that.

And so yeah, we do have this fear that we're going to miss out on something if we don't follow a curriculum or if we don't do math in the right way or, and I would say that to that you don't need a curriculum. A curriculum is really for the parent’s peace of mind, to know that you are not missing something. But if your daughter loves the way that common core math is taught, then go buy a common core mastery. If you just do a Google Search for Common Core math curriculum, you will get 100 workbooks pop up, and you can order them. And if she's already reading and she really loves doing these workbooks, then that could be a quiet time activity while you work or take personal time, or whatever it is. If she needs help, maybe she has the opportunity to bring it to you or to another parent, and you have some kind of exchange over it.

But yeah, I mean, the point is, don't ever use curriculum. The point is to use curriculum, where it makes sense to use it. So we're not saying that the people who made the curriculum really do know everything that needs to be known. But the Hey, I'm really interested in this. And I really like the way this is taught. And I want to do that. I want to do more of that.

 

Laura

So use it as a tool rather than as “the way.”

 

Jen

Yes, the way or the framework. Yeah, for sure. And so, there is no one right way of teaching math or any subject there are going to be kids in your class who can't stand common core math, and they will be kids in your class when you were learning math, the way they were teaching it then really resonated with them. And they didn't care if they had to sit on their hands. And so we have this idea that there's one right way to teach reading, there's one right way to teach math, when there really isn't, there's the right way for that child. And so if your child loves common core, do common core if your child can't stand common core math, don't do common core math.

I interviewed a math tutor for the course that I have just released called The Confident Homeschooler. And he recommended some apps and some games that you can play with to increase math literacy. And if you feel as though you're out of your depth in this, the couple of strategies he recommended are firstly, take a look at the end of the workbook to see where you're going to end up. And then secondly, if you wanted to skim read a lesson or two ahead of where your child is, then you're doing what you need to do. You don't need to know everything there is to know about math to be able to teach your child effectively.

So does that feel reassuring at all?

 

Laura

Absolutely. I think that sometimes like again, my perfectionism gets in the way and I'm going to do unschooling, I'm going to do unschooling all the way, you know. I like this idea that I can follow my child's interests and I support her and I can trust her and sometimes trusting her will lead us to a curriculum that works for her. I like it that idea.

 

Jen

Yeah. And classes as well. We're not saying never be in a class like environment, if the most effective way to learn something she wants to learn is through a class sign up for the class. The point is, she got to choose, nobody else said to her, you will learn this because it's important. She decided it was important. That's the critical shift here.

 

Laura

Yeah, that was really good.

 

Jen

You wanna talk about your willpower and her willpower?

 

Laura

Oh, no, I think that like we butt heads like so if I have an agenda. She knows it, like any little hint of an agenda. And I think a lot of kids are like this. Kids are very clued in to our agenda. You know that right? Like, I mean, they totally are. And she but when she sends us an agenda, like this big push back, it's a big infringement on her identity and her autonomy and she, you know, and so like, I think that that's why I've always just kind of written off homeschooling as an option for us because I was worried that it would complicate our relationship or put too much strain on our relationship. On a relationship that is always already like, you know, like that I have to work at to stay connected and loving and calm and peaceful with within it. It's not effortless.

With my other daughter it's much easier to be calm and silly and like my best parenting self with her. Like she's just invites me in in that way. My other one invites me into work on all of my rough edges. She calls me into healing, and it's hard.

I have always been worried that homeschool, wouldn't work. And now I find myself in this situation where like I can't in good conscience send her to a school where she's not going to be able to hug her friends, she's not going to have the arts, or any of the best parts of school where she's not going to be able to have recess. Like, I can't do it to her like it would I feel like it would be traumatic for her. And she already has some trauma in her history. And so, you know, like, I'm facing this thing, like, and I'm going to have to do it. And I'm going to have to, you know, I don't know. So I don't know if there's a question there, but…

 

Jen

Yeah, I can feel the hesitation on the, well, I can feel that you feel stuck. You see that this environment in school, even if school was going really well before that school as it's going to need to be for at least the next few months is not going to work for your child. And you're also worried about the alternative, which may not work for you or your child. And it's a scary spot to be in where you're trying to choose between two options that seem that both seems scary and have things that seemed deeply wrong.

And so I think any kind of curriculum based learning where you're going to impose a curriculum is not going to be successful here. Because of your willpower issues, because you're saying anytime she senses that you have an agenda that she is going to push back. Well, a curriculum as an agenda is your agenda as a parent saying, these are the things that you need to know you're going to learn them. What's going to happen when you say that to your daughter?

 

Laura

No, I’m never going to. Nor will I ever want to. No, I will never.

 

Jen

So your challenge is the parent then is to let go of this idea that anybody really knows the set of things that we need to know. There's really nobody does, we can take a guess now, but in 15 years, when she's graduating from high school, the world is going to be so different. We just think of the changes that have happened in the last 15 years and the skills that people need now that are different. We're not even going to be able to imagine the careers that she's going to be applying for.

And so our challenge is firstly, let go of that idea. And then secondly, to let go of the idea that we need to prove that learning is happening that if you haven't done a certain number of pages in a workbook, then learning hasn't happened. If this isn't hard, if you're not struggling with this, then you're not learning. And instead, embrace the idea that learning can be fun. And learning doesn't have to be you telling her things or you telling her what to learn. But instead that she can lead that process. And oh, my goodness, when she truly understands that, that this is something that you are not even allowing her to leave, but you're saying, you know what, I'm not the sage on the stage here. I'm not going to tell you what to learn. I'm your guide on the side. And whatever it is that you decide that you want to explore, my job in this is to connect you to resources and to help you achieve what you want to achieve.

When she realizes that I mean, just with your anecdote about the aquarium and how above and beyond. She went on a you know, a simple school assignment. There's going to be no stopping her.

 

Laura

No, you know, and it's funny like we already do that. So I was schooled in a I'm in a traditional public school but my dad was a high school environmental science and biology teacher. And I grew up on a 400 acre prairie in Iowa. So like, anytime I wasn't in formal schooling, I was out on the prairie with my dad, like, absorbing everything I could like and learning within a context of like, of just like nature based learning. I mean, even like, history and politics, like we talked about within the context of environmental science. I mean, so I was like, I feel like I was partially unschooled as a kid and like, never lost curiosity and wonder.

Sorry…

 

Jen

Sounds like that was really important to you. And it's really formed a big part of who you are.

 

Laura

It is and my daughter is never happier than when we're at grandma and grandpa's farm like that is the place that she is most alive and I want that for her, you know. Right after a few weeks into our quarantine, we were on a nature walk. And the moss was in various stages of blooming and giving off spores. And we just spent like an hour in the woods, looking at moss and learning about it getting curious about it, like, why is it on this side of the tree and not on the side of the tree? Like, where is it growing? Like, why are you know, look at these different species. What do you notice about that? Like, just like really deep into it? And like as we were walking home, she took my hand and she said, Mom, we were learning today, weren't we?

 

Jen

Yeah, we were.

 

Laura

You know, and she said, that was fun. I didn't know learning can be fun that way. And that broke my heart that at seven, you know, she already I don't know. Like, I don't want that for her.

Sorry.

Yeah, like I want like a deep love of learning and an intense curiosity and passion. Those are what I want for her in terms of her education process. I don't think she's getting it in public school.

I don't know. Sorry.

 

Jen

Yeah, Yeah, it is really hard. And because we went through this ourselves, and everybody else is going through it, probably all of your friends are putting their kids in school and so it's kind of the thing to do. And so we go along with it, and we say, okay, well, this, this is what there is, I couldn't homeschool. So, school is what there is. And now we're being forced to look at things differently and to consider is school going to work for my child when we may never have asked yourself that question before.

And then when we do that, we realize the kind of skills that we want our children to have the kind of feeling that they have when they're learning and the idea that learning is fun, and that they get to choose. And who knows. And I'm not saying that moss is going to be the thing that launches her career, or her knowledge of moss but maybe she does end up following up on that maybe you can bring some of it home and look at it under a microscope or, Carys has a piece of moss has been hanging out in the bathroom for months now and you pour water on it and it comes back to life. You walk away from it for three weeks, and then it kind of looks like it's dying and you pour water on it comes back to life. And what I do is that spark and where could we go with that? And it's that process of being able to follow your own ideas about what you want to learn. That's so important.

But also, I mean, how much is this going to deepen your relationship with her, when she sees you as her partner in this in a partner in crime in a way, you're there to help her and support her not to tell her, you need to learn this, you need to go to school because everybody else is doing it, because it's the right thing to do, because that's how I learned because it's the only way.

You know, I'm not trying to vilify school here. I think one of the particular tragedies of school is that the system is filled with talented, passionate teachers who are basically told you need to do it in this way. We're not going to allow you any freedom to do it in a different way. And by the way, you're going to be accountable for the results. I mean, that's just so if we could harness teachers’ energy and passion and knowledge into something that allow them to teach things children were interested in, oh my goodness, I would prepare school in a heartbeat. But now we're in this special time period where we can't do that particularly. I think homeschooling can be an amazing alternative.

Like what are you worried about? Are you worried at all about screen time or anything like that?

 

Laura

I mean, I think there's a little bit of worry around screen time I can self-regulate around screens pretty well. I think my older daughter again, with the math, she loves math games, like Prodigy and Freedbox, like there's some great math in she loves those would spend more time on them probably then would be good for her because she hyperfocuses and gets eye aches and stuff with it.

But I think one of my like, bigger concerns too is that like, I'll be working from home while they are doing this school thing I have, like I have my own business, but I'm trying to get set up at this point in time so that it runs itself a little bit more when fall comes and I, I feel a little bit worried like, am I going to be able to get my business ready and get like ready for schooling them like all at the same time, you know? And then once we're in the midst of it, are we going to be, you know, am I going to be have time to, like have alone time or have downtime, which is also important for me in being a balanced, respectful parents, like I have to take good care of myself and like so I just like I wonder about balancing and all of those things.

 

Jen

Yeah, yeah, I interviewed a bunch of homeschooling parents for The Confident Homeschooler course, and yeah, there's no single solution to that issue. And different parents will find solutions in different places.

I think one thing that can take an enormous amount of stress off this is the idea is sort of letting go of the idea that all of the time that children spend in school is spent learning and that to be a successful homeschooler. You need to be teaching for the same amount of time that they would d be learning in school. There was a fantastic analysis. done by a teacher from the UK. And she's okay, well, the school year is this many hours. Now we're going to subtract the amount of lunchtime the amount of break time, the amount of time it takes to get set up in the morning, take roll call or whatever it's called in whatever country you're in. The last 10 minutes of the day, we were talking about homework and the periods of time where people are just not focused in the teacher trying to get their attention back again, you know, the drifting off time because nobody can focus for an hour at a time without taking a break. The school play the daily assemblies, I don't know if that's the same in the US, but in England, their assembly time every day where you go and sing hymns. And that was why I learned to play the recorder actually, because I did not want to sing hymns and so once you subtract all that down, yeah, I mean, you're gonna you're probably not even gonna believe the number that's left but it's less than an hour. It is less than an hour a day.

 

Laura

I believe that totally. Yeah, I mean,

 

Jen

And so if you are working With your child on school related stuff on stuff that feels like learning, I mean, putting aside the fact that, that life is learning. But if you're doing sort of activities that are focused on something your child wants to learn for an hour a day, even if it's curriculum based for an hour a day, you're doing as much as they're getting in school.

And so there shouldn't be this big focus, Oh my god, they're learning for five hours a day in school, how am I going to stand in front of them for that time with flashcards, and this is going to be so insanely stressful. And so that, well, that leaves is the idea that well, okay, so they're only learning for an hour a day, what are they doing for the rest of the time? And so that's where you need to think creatively about your schedules. And I've seen this done when I talk to homeschool. I see it done in so many different ways. Dual professor household where they stack their courses on opposing days, and then one parent is home with the child all the time.

If you run a business, then you can get your child more involved in running that business. I talked to a woman who was running a business and she had a five year old and the five year old was coming up with new ideas for things that she could sell. I mean, what more of an education could you ask for that than true entrepreneurial experience at age five? This is not a lemonade stand. This is how our family makes money.

And so really the main environment where it is a struggle is where to both parents of their two parents at home or one parent, if there's only one parent at home has to be at a certain place, it's not at home for a number of hours a day, then it becomes more difficult, particularly if that's five days a week. Because if you're you can switch off childcare with other families and kind of form an informal co-op, and your child goes to their family some of the time you take care some of the time. But that only works if you're available some of the time. Yeah, so where you have to be out of the house for a lot of hours a day, it becomes difficult, but other than that, there are ways to make it work. And a lot of it is related to supporting your children's ability to play independently and be able to do that for periods of time.

 

Laura

Yeah which luckily I've been doing since I were babies. We did it.

 

Jen

Yeah, and not everybody has. So that that can be a transition for sure. I'm not gonna sugarcoat it and say, you're gonna say to your kid, okay, it's time to play independently. And they’re not going to interrupt you.

And before you go on to calls with clients, you're probably going to need to put a sign on the door and some snacks somewhere and make sure that they know that you're not to be disturbed when that sign is on the door, no matter what happens, unless somebody is actually dying. But the rest of the time that you're open to being disturbed if it's absolutely necessary. So, yes.

 

Laura

That is good practice with that. Yeah. You know.

 

Jen

So it is doable.

 

Laura

Yeah, it is doable. I think this was really helpful, Jen, in like talking it through, I think, I think I might need a little bit of like hand holding, in not getting caught in perfectionism and, like, all of the things that I'm already in Your Child's Learning Mojo. I love that. I think that's gonna be really helpful and supportive. I'd love to hear a little bit about The Confident Homeschooler course that you mentioned a couple times like I don't, but tell me a little bit about it.

 

Jen

Yeah, well, it's basically, for parents who are where you are right now. And they're thinking, Okay, I see what's going to happen in school, even if I love school before, even if my child loves school before this, what's going to happen in the next few months is not going to work for my child, what options do I have. And walks you through the main elements of making that decision?

I had years to think about this. And when you have that time, you can do a whole lot of really deep kind of philosophical discussions with yourself with your partner, and just sitting with it and thinking, Okay, how do I really feel about this? And but we're not in that place right now. We're in a place where we need to make a decision in a period of a few weeks. And so what are the key things that you need to know to be able to do that?

And why is this so difficult for you we dig into some more of the ideas that we talked about that about the dissonance between the way we were raised and the decision we're trying to make right now. Okay, if we decide to do this, what are the approaches that we can take? How do we pick a curriculum if we just can't get it out of our heads that we need somebody to help us through this, how do you even pick a curriculum? I have an interview with the woman who wrote the book on how to pick your career and feel like okay, I can do it all except the math. The math is beyond me. I have an interview with a master math tutor who walks you through, okay, how do you get comfortable with this, with this idea that you actually can support your child's math learning?

 

Laura

I think that I need that. Like that would be worth the homework for me right now. But I think that's my biggest block. I have so many limiting beliefs around math.

 

Jen

So we'll get you through that. And then if we can say, okay, but can I get comfortable with this idea of not using a curriculum? What does that even look like? You had mentioned deschooling for parents? Yeah, we have a whole interview with an expert on deschooling. What does that even mean? The idea that we have this so deeply ingrained in our minds of what school needs to look like what learning needs to look like even a school calendar, where there's this period of learning in the autumn, there is a period of learning in the spring and then we're off in the summer. That was designed so that kids could be at home helping their parents harvest in the fields. We don't harvest in the fields anymore. Some people do, but the vast majority of children are not spending their summers harvesting in the fields. And so we can reimagine the calendar of what learning looks like we can have chunks of learning and breaks if we want to. Or we can just say, you know, what all of life is learning what does that look like for our family?

And so moving you towards this idea of Okay, how can I get truly comfortable with this what a homeschool is want me to know what are parents who have been doing this for a while want me to learn? I have a whole interview with parents just saying, here's the thing I wish I had known before I started. What do they want you to know so that you don't make the same mistakes that they did. So that by the end of the course and you can do you can do the core content in an evening or two. If you want to dig deeper into the expert interviews and the homeschooler interviews, you can spend a little more time with it. But by the end of this really tightly focused course, you're going to be able to say you know what, this is doable. I can do this. I don't have all the pieces yet. And that's honestly where the Your Child's Learning Mojo membership comes in after that is if you know enough to say, Okay, I can do this, I can get started. And then when you actually get going, you're probably going to realize, ah, I'm probably gonna need a little more help with this aspect of it. I don't know exactly where to find more resources, how do I recognize learning when it's happening? And that's where the membership piece really comes in on the back end and supports you through the whole thing rather than just the decision making up front.

 

Laura

Okay, so I have a quick question. My husband and I are not always on the same page. So like, I feel strongly about this. Like, if I take this course with you, Jen, can my husband go through the materials?

 

Jen

Oh yeah absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And, and some people may find their partner doesn't want to, they're just not open to doing it. Yeah. I mean, share the login information with your partner Absolutely. with anyone else in your family and have them go through it too if they're interested in doing it. It's possible your partner's not going to want to do that are not going to have the time to do that. And in that case, what I would say is to sit down and have a conversation with them about why they feel that way. And if they are saying, I love school, and I want my kids to have that experience of school, well, why is that? What is it about school that you love so much?

You know, my husband was not on board with this approach when we started. He loved school. And so when you have a conversation about what is it you love about school? Well, I, I like spending time with my friends. Well, I'm not saying that when we homeschool. We're going to be standing in front of our daughter with flashcards for six hours a day. No, I mean, we're in this weird period right now we're socializing is more difficult, but there are still ways to do it ways to do it remotely. But absolutely, we're going to be socializing. We're going to be out at park dates. We're going to have co ops. In formal ones where we pay and she goes and spends time with other kids. Informal ones where we switch off houses. We're not shutting her in a closet.

And so if you can understand why it is your partner's resistant, not just that they're drawing a line in the sand and saying we're never going to homeschool. But what's underneath that? What are their values around learning? And what was their experience in school? If we can truly understand that, then we can say, Okay, well, we can do that too when we're homeschooling, it just looks a little different. And then you may find that your partner's more willing to consider it as an option.

 

Laura

Okay, that's really helpful. You know, I loved school growing up, I always loved learning I could have been in like, when I was finished my PhD I was like, Well, what should I get for my PhD now? I can be in school always. I love being in school. It was not the same for my husband, who's also a professor and has his PhD, you know, in school and learning was always a means to an end for him. Yeah. And he recognizes that he doesn't want that for our kids like he because he never had interactions like I had with my dad where learning spark curiosity and wonder we're valued. Like as a core value. We were in my family and like He wants that for our kids, even though he never really experienced it as a child.

 

Jen

Yeah. And so he's probably in a spot where he sees that he wants something different. He just doesn't know how to do it. My husband's the same. He was paid 20 bucks to get an A, and recognizes the negative impact that that's had on his willingness to learn. But he wants something different for our daughter. And yeah, he's drawn to school, because it's what he did is where he went through, and he enjoyed spending time with his friends. But if we can address what are the things you loved about school and the experience you want our child to have, there are probably ways we can have that experience with homeschooling too.

 

Laura

Yeah, I think that my husband's reluctance is that he doesn't want to put it all on me. And, you know, he, like an egalitarian approach to our roles is really important to us as a couple as for our values, and I think he knows he'll be working outside of the home. He's, uh, you know, he is a tenured professor, he knows he has to keep those things going. And so I think he's worried about it being uneven. So yeah, it's hard.

 

Jen

Yeah. But maybe there are ways that he can really other aspects of burden from you about is about broadening the conversation. It's not well, for homeschooling you need to teach 50% I need to teach 50% is that here are the things we need to do to keep our family running, if you want to help, and thank you, thank you for not wanting to put all this on me. Here's something I wish I didn't have to do so that I could spend more time doing this. Would you be willing to help with that? Relieve the burden on you. He feels like he's contributing, he is contributing, and we get to where we need to go as a family. So yeah, so many potential paths forward that can work if you can broaden your vision of the pie and the problem that needs to be solved beyond the immediate one.

Well, I hope you're gonna take the course and really, come on in and see just what it's like to imagine a different solution and not just conceptually, but physically, practically, how is this going to work for our family?

 

Laura

I definitely need that. So absolutely.

 

Jen

Awesome. Alright. Well, thank you so much for talking this through with us. I hope that even this answered some questions. Some niggling issues. Are you feeling a little more comfortable with it than you were before?

 

Laura

This was so helpful? Yes, absolutely. And I really hope it was helpful for the folks who get to hear this too. But yeah, it was, it was very helpful. You really quite a few of my fears and worries.

 

Jen

Yeah, I think they're super common fears as well. We all want the best for our children. We all want to know that we're doing everything we can to set our children up for success. And it can be hard to get out of that mindset of well, school is the thing that my child needs to be successful and think about it a little differently. And, and if we can kind of open up the realm of possibilities of ways we can think about learning, we realized that it is possible. And it's not only possible, but it can be an amazing, amazing experience for our families too.

So I hope other parents are hearing this and feeling reassured as well. So thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Laura. It was really great to see you.

 

Laura

Thanks for having me and holding space for my questions.

 

Jen

Thanks so much. So if anyone's listening to this and thinking yeah, I want to know more about this you can find more information about The Confident Homeschooler at yourparentingmojo.com/confidenthomeschooler.

I hope to see you there

 

Jen

Thanks for joining us for this episode of Your Parenting Mojo. Don't forget to subscribe to the show at yourparentingmojo.com to receive new episode notifications and the FREE guide to 7 Parenting Myths That We Can Leave Behind and join the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group for more respectful research based ideas to help kids thrive and make parenting easier for you. I'll see you next time on Your Parenting Mojo.

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