Podcast: Persistence in Homeschooling

Brave Writer Podcast

On today’s Brave Writer podcast, we discuss a topic that I believe is fundamental to the homeschooling journey: persistence.

Regardless of where you are in your homeschooling adventure—whether you’re still contemplating the idea, just embarking on your first year, already ten years deep, or even approaching your final year—it’s essential to understand what it takes to persevere.

My most frequently shared piece of advice is a simple but powerful one: “Keep going, keep going.”

But how exactly does one maintain momentum? How do we cultivate persistence?

Let’s explore this together today.

Show Notes

How do you persist in homeschooling?

Persistence has to do with having enough resources and training to be able to carry out an objective or goal. Leah talked about having a purpose as the undergirding foundation of your homeschool. We have to know why we are choosing to stay home with our kids. Once we do, then we want to create a context for how we create the conditions for learning to happen.

Naturally, we want:

  • serenity,
  • joy,
  • and intimacy.

We want to learn and grow. We want our children to WANT to be home with us, to want to learn, to want us to be their companions on the journey.

The trick is: we sometimes expect our kids to want all of what we offer even when they don’t. We blame them for not wanting to learn or cooperate or behave. We don’t think about what we can do to create the conditions for learning to thrive.

Sometimes we don’t notice that we are persisting with our wills but not with our hearts. And that’s okay: our job is to just notice, not to shame ourselves.

Take a moment to remember what it felt like to be a kid in your home. What is the lingering felt experience? What is the experience you want for yourself now? What is the experience you hope your children take away from being home with you?

We can’t pretend a healthy home life into being. Persistence depends on honesty because to sustain a homeschool, we have to like our lives together.

First, it must be understood:

The priority of school is: achievement.

Achievement means matching the expectations of the school system. We feel it as a shadow in the background no matter how well we lead our homeschools. We wonder: Have I done enough? How do I know that what I’m doing is preparing my kids for the future? I know—I’ll measure myself by schools! But there’s a problem with that. The measures in school come through assessments. That doesn’t work in the same way at home.

The priority of home is: connection.

Everything you want to accomplish can be accomplished through connection. Connection IS the priority of your homeschool. It is your top priority of family life. Through connection, you can address every single need for achievement!

To persist means to create the framework that allows you to pivot, grow, and immerse yourself in your children’s education.

So let’s dive into what those conditions are. I am going to talk about 6 concepts that all start with the letter C.

  1. Compassion: We are usually good at compassion for struggle. What about compassion for lost drive, for changed mind, for losing one’s nerve, for outbursts of anger, for sneaking, for lying, for breaking the rules? What would it be like to be loved and known for our limits, not just for our strengths?
  2. Collaboration: I talk a lot about partnering—the essential to great mentorships is the presence of the mentor! We don’t “get a mentor” so that we can work independently! We ask for mentors and coaches specifically to have the presence of the person who will teach us, help us, lead us. Being with our kids helps sustain our joy in homeschooling—ironically. The more we disengage, the more we lose the thread of why we are doing what we do. If you get to the point where being in your homeschool as an active mentor is no longer your priority, it’s important to notice that and either: admit you are done, or reconceive of your homeschool to make it vibrant again.
  3. Communication: Not the sterile, perfectly worded kind. The honest kind. The “I can’t take it any more” kind or the “I’ve been blaming you and I’m sorry” or the “Looks like we’ve got a conflict in our expectations. Can we talk about it?” (Share about the “Art of the Sulk.” When we sulk, we are communicating that we need support and a place to confidentially express our lack of motivation. Sulking is a safe way to express disapproval and discontent)
  4. Creativity: Considering ideas that are currently not apparent. You can wait for creativity to come. One idea is to say: “Right now, I don’t know how to address how much you hate math and how much I feel you must learn it. Let’s give it a week and see if a new idea comes to either of us.” Await creativity—the muse—to help you! Open space for an alternative to your current “not working” practice. Be open-minded.
  5. Cognition: When we engage the mind, we create the context for learning. When you see disconnection in subject matter, it means the mind has not yet apprehended the topic enough to muse, mull over, ponder, consider. Give your kids the chance to engage a subject that is currently “caught the blahs” by finding ways to engage the mind.
  6. Consistency: Consistent connection is what creates the predictability of emotional safety. Many parents worry about their ability to be consistent. I hear from them. They worry that their children don’t have a perfectly routine schedule or that they are getting behind because the child regularly balks at doing a particular subject. There are a couple ways to be consistent that I want to share. There’s a predictable pattern (like a routine) and there’s a randomly created pattern (like a bingo card).

Citing the wisdom of T.S. Eliot, William May tells the story of a student pressing the poet with a question following his lecture, “Mr. Eliot, what are we going to do about the problem you have discussed?”  To which Mr.Eliot replied, “You must understand that we face two types of problems in life.  One kind of problem provokes the question, ‘What are we going to do about it?’  The other kind poses the subtler question, ‘How do we behave towards it?’” (May, 3)

The first type of problem evokes strategies and tactics so the problem can be solved – so it can “go away.”  The second admits of no solution because the problem will not go away: “The problem will persist.  It requires behavior that sensitively, decorously, and appropriately fits the perduring challenge…. it demands a response that resembles a ritual repeated more than a technique” (May, 4).

The shift is important—not all the troubles you experience in your homeschool need to be done away with. You and your kids have limits.

The enemy of a healthy home is pretense. We pretend that we have a certain kind of family. We pretend we aren’t worried. We pretend that we have solutions in six easy steps. We pretend that the pain we are feeling personally is not bleeding out on our children. We pretend that homeschooling is better than public school in all circumstances to avoid dealing with our limits and fears. We pretend that we agree with our spouses against our children to make peace.

Sometimes we are pretending with the highest motives—as if we can will our homeschools into our imagined fantasy.


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