Diana Allor is a writing coach who pairs a voice of experience with gentle encouragement to form a winning combination. She’s a deep thinker who loves literature and writing.
Truth? Diana is everything she seems to be. When we met at our staff retreat, she exuded calm and generosity. She’s a soft talker, with powerful skills!
Diana is open to considering anything you say to her—taking it in and reflecting carefully on your point, then coming back with her thoughts. She’s the perfect coach to discuss writing and books with your kids.
Listen to what this mom had to say:
Diana was wonderful! Her encouraging comments to my daughter gave her the motivation to write more. Watching Diana slowly pull gold from everyone’s children through the slow process of observation, freewrite, and revision was a revelation!
Diana is also one of the most flexible coaches on our team!
When you signed up for the task of homeschooling, you surely imagined what the ideal homeschooling life would look like. This is the life you are fighting for.
In homeschool, the vision for natural learning is a powerful draw. It’s also worthy of fighting for that vision. But because it is not natural to many of us and we have this controlling memory of traditional school interfering with our new, fragile vision of what homeschool can be, we often wind up fighting about it more than for it.
We’re going to unpack the differences between the two, and how you can focus on fighting for the things you want instead of fighting about them.
I had a question last week that has stuck with me. The homeschool mom told me that she felt overwhelmed by her kids’ constant need for creative ideas. She is running out of them and mostly just wants to settle into that routine that gives the structure and support she needs to homeschool. Meanwhile, her kids resist the routine she has in mind. They wind up arguing about what needs to be done, and how, and by when. Sound familiar?
I thought about the heart of the issue.
I wonder if her real question is this one: What’s worth fighting for? Or maybe it’s this one: What are we fighting about?
It’s a question of emphasis but a super important one. Let’s unpack it in a moment.
What are you fighting about or for?
We fight for what we want. It’s rare that anyone fights without a reason that is compelling to that person. We fight for human rights, sure. But we also fight about how to organize the garage or whether to allow daily time on screens for online gaming.
Fighting is either for or about something of value to the fighter! And frequently that fight is defined by the fighter. In other words, some vision lives in the imagination of a person and they use their fighting skills to try to bring it into being.
How does this fit into homeschool?
When you signed up for the task of homeschooling, you surely imagined what the ideal homeschooling life would look like: Eager kids trotting downstairs to pop open their grammar book, passionate children who are self-motivated to learn, making grade-level progress each year, or a clearly laid out curriculum with no confusion or resistance from your children.
This is the life you are fighting for. In homeschool, the vision for natural learning is a powerful draw. It’s also worthy of fighting for that vision. It’s just that because it is not natural to many of us and the controlling memory of traditional school interferes with our new, fragile vision of what homeschool can be, we often wind up fighting about it more than for it.
Fighting about vs fighting for
When you fight for something, it usually means you have settled on a vision or cause that is worthy of your dedicated energy. The nature of that “thing” is the 20,000-foot view. It’s not necessarily the implementation yet. When we talk, for instance, about how to support the mattering of Black lives, that’s the fight for. We are saying, “I am fighting for equal treatment under the law for all Black lives.” What too often follows, though, is a fight about. We fight about strategies, policies, politics, laws, and so on.
In homeschool we go from fighting for natural learning or brain-based education to fighting about the daily routine.
We get in trouble when we turn the fight for into a fight about.
The warriors in Mulan go from thinking of what it would be like to be in a relationship with a wonderful woman (the fight for a woman) to a fight about what that woman ought to be like. That’s the mistake they make!
A fight for a great homeschool can include:
A child’s wellbeing
Scaling the work to the child’s skills
Providing lots of natural learning resources and opportunities
Partnering with a struggling learner
Pressure off, appreciation and support on
An inviting learning environment
Where it all breaks down is when you and your child have an entirely different idea of what homeschool will look like. When the child is not completing tasks or taking advantage of the routine or is sidetracked by a personal project that doesn’t feel like it’s related to “school,” it’s easy to resort to fighting about what the child is failing to do.
When you are fighting for your vision, you have lots of room for brainstorming, conversations, and trial and error. You’ll be interested in your child’s feedback as part of the process that guides your implementation. You’ll feel brave and curious rather than worried and stressed. You’ll seek alternatives to the only way you know how to do things.
When you are fighting about your vision, you are assuming that the implementation has to look a certain way in order for it to be valid. You’ll find yourself stressed and uptight, careful and irritated.
The vision and the implementation
As you fight for your vision, it’s important to make peace with the idea that the implementation may not match your fantasy. For instance, if one of the visions you are fighting for is your child’s wellbeing, that means when the child is suffering, you are not married to the current practice. If you start fighting about the importance of math and that not everything can be fun, etc., you’ve lost the thread. You’re saying that the “about” is more important than the “for.”
But the other tendency is to give up. It’s like we wanted a child’s wellbeing, but now it’s costing me mine so I am just going to have to use the parental power tool called “my authority” to will you into doing the thing I need you to do despite how you feel about it.
If your vision is a worthy one, though, it’s worth it to put forth that slight bit of extra effort to not give up on it! You can claim for yourself the power of that noble vision. Yes, it may take some work, there may be some bumps and bruises along the way, but ultimately it matters that my child feels good about learning more than completing today’s worksheet.
When you fight about what should or should not be done, at the first sign of distress or distraction, your kids will abandon the requirements. They will see their chance to escape.
In our increasingly polarized world (particularly during election season in the United States), there’s a lot of fighting. Frequently the fighting is about particular policies, practices, laws, leadership behaviors, media coverage, and more.
What is helpful to remember in these fraught times is what each individual is fighting for. Sometimes it helps to scale back the adrenaline rush to ask that question. What vision animates all your passion? Why are you so committed to your struggle? What are you fighting for? When you hear someone’s vision rather than their prescriptions, it’s easier to start a conversation even when you don’t agree.
This fighting for dynamic is one we admire in most cases. Fighting for can have a liberating effect and at least is usually intended to. Fighting about leads to a lot of misunderstanding and anger, judgment, and resistance.
So I give you this final thought:
What are you fighting for? And how has your vision been undermined by falling into the trap of fighting about?
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You’ve stepped away, decided to try something new, rescue your child from a crushing educational situation.
Now, big breath, drop these school words from your vocabulary:
getting ready to go back to school.
Ditch em, bury em.
Okay, new vocabulary set coming:
tune in to my child,
Ready? Got your new homeschool perspectacles on? Now, let’s go…
Consider your child going back to school like being a transfer student. Kids transfer into new schools every day. These kids may be behind in some areas, ahead in others, because no two curriculums for fourth grade are exactly alike.
For instance, your new school might be studying Ancient China and your kid spent last quarter on the American Revolution. So, for your new school, your child is “behind.”
Yet that isn’t a crisis. Schools will do what they do—bring your child up to speed, excuse him from some of the less essential stuff. They fold him in to what’s happening.
It’s a little awkward for a time. But imagine if you spent time helping your child
learn how to learn,
express the thoughts that live inside
I think such a child would be well equipped to transfer into her new school, whether it’s a few miles away or at your kitchen table.
I don’t know about you, but big feelings are everywhere right now. Big sadness, big longing, big frustration, big fear, big anger.
Our children have been taught they are most acceptable when their feelings don’t inconvenience adults, when they stay small and friendly. They:
shouldn’t look angry,
shouldn’t get crabby,
shouldn’t cry too hard,
shouldn’t wallow in self pity,
shouldn’t show irritation.
You know, all the things adults do pretty freely around children.
We all need a release—a lifting of the ban on big feelings. If your child shows a sullen face, instead of cheering her up, ask her what she’s feeling. Then ask her to measure her feelings: “How big? This big?” Hold up your hands ten inches apart. Then move them another two feet apart “Or this big? Or bigger? Can you show me?” Works especially well with littler kids.
You can also model bigness by stomping feet lightly. Then harder/louder. Then REALLY BIG STOMPS.
You might use a mildly cranky voice, then annoyed, then full out petulant. Ask him to pick which matches how he’s feeling. Use that voice for the next ten minutes—really getting into it. The play-acting is a great release. You can even join a tantrum and ask: “Am I doing it right? Angry enough?”
For teens, you can say: “How big? Like a cup of coffee big or half a pizza big? Or is this time for death metal turned all the way up?” In other words, even just naming the scale gives permission and allows your child/teen to be seen/known. Oh and death metal is really big so fair warning.
This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!
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