Trust your hunches

TrustYou’ve got that hunch: he’d do better if he __________.

She’d thrive if she had ___________.

My home would feel more alive and nurturing if __________.

I like to talk about the “fantasy homeschool” – the one that lives in your imagination and pops up when you rinse suds from your hair, alone in the shower. You know what it is the same way you know what you’d do to your kitchen if you had the money.

Occasionally you look across the room at your diligent children, painstakingly obeying you, and you wonder if this is it. Is this what you signed up for? Supervising the production of pages, the recitation of math facts, the completion of objectives laid out in a teacher’s manual.

Sometimes your kids aren’t even especially unhappy. When they are, you are more likely to make changes. Sometimes it’s the blank daily-ness of not-too-terrible, not-too-stimulating school work that eventually disappoints you, bores you, makes you doubt.

When you embarked on homeschooling, you imagined…not this. You thought it would feel like…something else.

Pause. Right now. What is it? What is the feeling (the felt sense) you imagined? What is the texture of learning you wished to experience with your kids?

Don’t let that go! It’s your deepest hunch—your most important aspiration.

The crazy thing about your homeschool environment: you do control it. You don’t need to spend yourself into debt to achieve it either. Sometimes a well-chosen piece of curriculum, or a set of tutorial lessons, or one tool like a microscope or telescope, or a change in how you structure the days, will be the difference between humdrum and energized optimistic.

What keeps us locked into “just okay” may be one of two things:

1) A lack of clarity about what it would take to get to the other side—how do I create an environment for invested, creative learning?

2) A fear that if you let go of the current pattern, you might get behind or make a regrettable mistake.

These are valid concerns. The first can be addressed fairly easily.

For number 1: Do this –> Get time alone. Make a list of all the fantasies you have for your homeschool. What would an ideal year be? An ideal month? An ideal week? An ideal day?

Drill down. What can you do now, today?

Of those fantasies, which single thing can you swap in now (don’t overhaul everything, just pick one thing)? Put it on the calendar. Buy the item, or do the research for the field trip, or check out the book to read to your children, or Google about how to soften your tone so that your kids feel your peacefulness. Whatever it is that is missing, add that one thing.

You can feather in other “one things” each month—one per month. Slowly reorient your home to the fantasy, but do it a little bit at a time. No big announcements—just a gentle following of your hunches.

For number 2: Do this –> Talk to veteran homeschoolers whose kids are on the other side. Discover that every single parent who embarks on this kind of education has taken side roads and weedy paths to the final moment of high school graduation. There is no one right way; there is only your way. Kids will have regrets and will tell you what didn’t work once they are off to college or working a job. But that’s how it is with every kid of every educational system. That’s perfectly okay.

You can’t homeschool by fear. You can educate yourself about all the options and test them with your children. If you learn to trust your “hunches” (not your fears), you will modify and adapt to what your children present to you as they react to the practices you adopt. If you live in fear, you will not even hear your kids’ feedback. You will be controlled by the ideology of the experiment or the belief system that says, “If you follow this way of educating and do it thoroughly, you will be okay. If you don’t, you can’t expect good results.”


The system doesn’t create your homeschool. YOU do.

Fundamentally, your homeschool thrives when you are fear-free, and you have faith in your own judgment. These are not easy to achieve, but they are the right goals. Reinforce your choices by finding support from wise (non-ideological) people. Above all, pay attention to your inner sense. Do not let others tell you about you. Seek outside input from experts, veterans, and people who are not anxious, fearful, or judgmental.

You can do this…one hunch at a time.

Keep going.

Cross-posted on facebook.

Image © Nikolai Sorokin |

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