I don’t mean to be “careless,” but rather, to “care less” (two words). In other words, can you lean back, figuratively put yourself on a porch swing and let your feet dangle as you glide back and forth, not a care in the world—while you homeschool?
Can you relax your jaw, lighten your tone, notice the puffy clouds floating by?
We are so invested in how our kids respond to what we offer them, and how we guide them, that sometimes we jinx the outcome! They stiffen or put up their defenses to avoid having to live up to our expectations.
Think about it: Have you ever felt pressured to like a certain meal someone made for you, or felt you were going to owe such a big show of gratitude for a favor done, you almost wished the person had just not “helped” you?
This may be your kids! It’s tough to know on some intuitive level that my mom’s happiness is contingent on how well I enjoy the lesson, or book, or curricula, or activity, or field trip. The part of us that wants to have our own original experience resists/balks at the pressure to make the “giving person” feel good.
You know what I am talking about—think of your mother or father-in-law or next door neighbor who stands back waiting to be thanked. How do you feel about the service rendered? A little resentful?
Kids have big emotions. They need room to feel and express. It’s never about you—these reactions to books or lessons or strategies for learning. How can it be…really? Who doesn’t want to be loved by a parent, to feel the parent’s approval?
Yet they resist what we offer them when two things happen:
- They feel they owe you more than they will get out of it for themselves.
- They feel nervous that they can’t live up to your expectations.
So care less. Unschoolers use a term called “strewing” – the strategic placing of unattended items in the way of a learner—allowing a child to explore the item or book or movie or game—unattended, independently, privately.
- Do the activity, workbook, lesson, game without the kids, without announcement. Get involved by yourself, in front of them, without a word.
- Ask your child for help—in any arena. Does this sound like a good program to you? If you could be in charge today, what would we be doing?
- Openly judge flops with a sense of humor. “That collection of manipulatives must have been created by someone with 12 fingers!”
If the house is filled with tension, try one of these:
- Disappear. Go into the other room and read a book or page through a catalog, or make yourself a snack.
- Grab a blanket and curl up on the couch and doze.
- Head outdoors (put the baby in the backpack). Walk, exercise.
Do not judge a day or week or month gone wrong. Care less. You have tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow. All you have is time. Take the time you need, trust the process, care less about the minutia of today.