A while back, a homeschool mom reached out to me for support. Her arms were tired from stringently clutching the schedule, the rules, even the “inspiration” she had heard was supposed to come when she embraced the so-called enchanted education.
The weariness was apparent in every sentence. She asked sincere questions like, “How can I keep going?” and “Why aren’t they happy when I’m trying so hard?”
I could relate. I’ve had those moments too—where it felt impossible to right the ship. We were all floundering in the sea of too many good ideas, workbooks, methods, ideologies. Which one would deliver us safely to the shore of “happy homeschool”?
It occurred to me that what might be missing—what had been missing for me at various junctures—was permission to simply enjoy homeschool. Such an odd revelation! As though I needed to be told that it was okay to get a kick out of my kids, to pause to notice the sweetness of the read aloud, to play soccer in the back yard and count it as “on task.”
The original Brave Writer motto was “Joy is the best teacher.” I had to scribble it at the top of notebooks to remind myself that when the crying comes, the lesson’s done. It was important for me to return to joy—not through a program, but through permission. I could have the homeschool I wanted—I just had to be willing to live it, to not discount it, to not undermine it when it showed up. I got permission from my best friend’s daily example. Her whole-hearted entry into her children’s world reminded me that I could do the same, and homeschool would sing.
As I read this mom’s email, I could tell she was looking for my permission. I represented some authority to her and if I told her it was okay to enjoy her kids and her life, maybe she’d let herself do just that. So I wrote a little permission slip (a paragraph) and sent it to her. She loved it!
I figured she might not be the only mom looking for that permission to be a happy homeschooler. So I wrote a long form permission slip and posted it to Facebook. It garnered hundreds of likes, shares, and comments—because we all want permission to be our happiest best selves.
I talked with my team about it in a staff call. I realized right away that what I really hoped parents would learn is to give themselves permission to be the homeschoolers they secretly aspire to be. True permission comes from within and that sense of confidence in our choices undergirds the moments when life is less than ideal.
In that spirit, I created a permission slip to download, print, sign, and date.
You might try framing it! It is your commitment to yourself to live your happiest version of your homeschool—as best as you can, without guilt or doubt (of course you’ll want to look at the document when those assail you).
Share it with your friends. Let’s get a movement going of giving ourselves permission to be the kinds of home educators we most wish we were. At the end of the day, what we want to remember is the joy of our children’s company in the exploration of the wide world around us.
If you do print and sign your permission slip, I want to see it! Post it on Brave Writer’s Instagram or Facebook accounts with the hashtags: #bravewriter #bwpermissionslip I’ll come congratulate you when you do!