Be a bushwhacker! much is made of systems and plans. There’s not enough hacking through the undergrowth, looking for the hidden gems in our families, homes, and the writing our kids do for us.

We all want a map, or even better, a fully-charged GPS that tells us Siri-style where to go. We’d take a human guide, if one could be found—someone who’s been there and knows the way.

If there were a single destination for your children (for instance: a type of education that we all agree is the right one, or a type of writing instruction that yields a uniform result), a map would work! We could follow the well-worn paths others have taken and wind up in the right place.

That’s not how it works, in the real world of parenting and home education. How do I know this? Because every parent who adopts a plan, at some point on the journey, revises it. They change course, or decide to go to a different destination. Sometimes their kids simply won’t go where the parent leads—and the family must adapt.

Your child is a thriving jungle of competing impulses and talents—each one seeking sunlight, looking to bloom or grow and expand. A vibrant education (and skill in writing) comes from that rich inner life—or at least, it can come from that rich inner life if that thinking, dreaming, imagining, contemplating person is nourished in such a way that promotes growth.

Our job, as parents, is to weed through all the stuff that gets in the way of sunlight and composting nutrients. We might have to hack through underbrush or lop off a limb of a competing tree, to let in the sunlight.

This journey through the jungle of home education looks like experimentation, creativity, attentiveness to the individuality of your child, dialogue, repeated course corrections, leading by example, being willing to chuck what doesn’t work (no matter how much money you spent on it, or how persuaded your friends are of its value).

It takes courage to trail blaze the path in front of your child when you aren’t even sure where you’re going!

But that’s okay! You’re a bushwhacker. You can beat back the propaganda, you can deny the insistence that your children go where others tell you they should go, and you can pay detailed, patient, loving attention to your children for who they actually are—ironically, they are your best guides. They LIVE in this jungle.

A Brave Writer mom commented on the blog saying that she sometimes misses the forest for the trees—not seeing the overall value of her work, so focused on the small, individual issues. Good point.

But I’d like to flip this around—sometimes we are so fixated on a vision of what the woods “should” look like, we miss the blossoming plant in front of us—our unique child who needs us to tailor-make a plan that capitalizes on his strengths, his curiosities, and his slowly growing cognitive skills.

I’m impressed by you bushwhacking parents. You see this huge mess in front of you—the delightful fruits of your hard work, laced with overgrowth, twisted roots, and strangling vines. Yet, you keep at it—trying new tactics, testing new resources, blazing your own trail to hew out the gorgeous person who is your child, who will be educated (is happening, will happen), and who will find her way in the world.

After all, we don’t home educate to reproduce the cookie cutter outcomes of school. We chose this path because it gave us the chance to do this brave thing: fashioning an education to an individual—a fascinating, interesting, quirky, wonderful, bright child—your child.

Go forth, my Bushwhackers! Bring sunlight to your part of the jungle!

Cross-posted on facebook.

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One Response to “Be a bushwhacker!”

  1. Claire says:

    Love this post Julie. Thank you for your inspiration and all you share.