Home Schooling: In The Beginning

One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.

One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.

It took me a long time to make up my mind when I was deciding to homeschool my son. I suffered many nights tossing and turning, and when I couldn't sleep I got out of bed and walked around the house hoping I'd come to my decision so I could go back to bed and sleep. I talked to neighbours, teachers, strangers I met in the street and family. All said, "Why would you want to homeschool? You won't have any time to yourself. It's the  only time I get away from my kids. It's going to take up too much of your time. You'll be with him twenty-four-seven. What about his socialisation, you can't cut him off from other children, especially when he's an only child. He'll end up a loser." These comments and more made me feel I was "the loser".

That last comment was the one that burned me the most and really got my ire rising faster than a tsunami. It was the turning point. Loser eh? The quote on the slate in this post says exactly what was going through my mind. My son wasn't coping with school life. He was bullied, the classroom was so noisy with rude children he'd become overwhelmed with the noise and have to leave the classroom. Teachers often found him out of the schoolgrounds. He just had to get away. I knew I had to do something because my son wasn't learning. When I checked his school books, nothing had been written in there for two terms. He was attending a private school. A week later, he was home with me and I was determined he wasn't going to set foot back in a school unless he wanted to.

Our first year was our hardest as Dan and I adjusted to being home together. Dan was in year seven. My husband ran a business from home, but he was out on jobs most of the time. I ran a business from home, too, so my time was divided between it and the homeschooling and running the house. What I learned about myself and my son during this time was more than I could have imagined.

Lesson number one, we were both individuals. Somehow, because he was my son, I thought he would work the same way I did: head done and just get the job done, also that when I'm focussed the rest of the world doesn't matter. Dan was different, he was easily distracted by noises, ringing telephones, and people coming and going, so that he just couldn't settle to the work. We solved this problem by encouraging him to listen to music while he worked. An outstanding result. At the same time, as he was completing his school work, he was able to do two or three things at one time which astounded me. He had two computer screens running several programs while he was listening to music and working.

My mind boggled. I stepped back and thought a moment. How could he be retaining all that he learned while he had all those distractions? The few times I insisted he focus on one thing, I was met with indignant stares and he refused my request. After much coercion from me where I said he would be more prolific and his school work would be finished faster, I got a shock to find his work stalled, and he was lost as though he'd been put in the middle of the jungle and didn't know which way to turn. My insistence in trying to organise his time failed miserably, so we returned to his way and hey presto, work was completed well before time with top marks. Well, if that was his way of learning, then who am I to change that?

I'm glad I learned this lesson. It made me aware that some of my employees may have had unusual working habits to be efficient. I learned how to get the best out of the people working for me to keep them happy and fulfilled in their work and develop a special relationship with them I may not have done otherwise. During the next few weeks I want to share other lessons I learned from home schooling.

Have you had a similar experience? Please leave a comment for me below.

Achieving The Dream

Have you ever come to your latest project and no matter how hard you try to get started, you can't?

Many authors and aspiring authors have signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is into day six as I write this blog. For those of you not familiar with NaNoWriMo, the challenge is to join an online community of writers all striving for the goal of writing the number of words they want to write in November. Most writers strive for 50,000 words, which means 1,667 words per day to be written for the full thirty days. This sounds easy until you have to find the time to sit in front of your computer; ensure your creativity is going to kick in when you want it; and giving time to your spouse and family. When taking all these factors into consideration, you suddenly discover writing a novel of 50,000 words in a month is a major project. A project of this size tests your creative ability; your discipline to sit at the computer each night, especially if you have a day job that takes all your energy; and your patience with your family who love you to be with them after dark. However, NaNoWriMo is great way of getting started on a project and creating the habit to get the work done.

What if you're someone who has a dream to learn to play a musical instrument, to invent a device that will make human life simpler and easier in the future, or paint a masterpiece that's going to hang in the National Gallery of Australia, or any other project that's imprinted on your heart you want to achieve. There's no such thing as NaNoWriMo to keep you focused. So what are you going to do?

Firstly, let me talk about an attitude that can destroy any dreams you have as quick as thinking of them if you let it sneak into you psyche: perfection. Perfectionism will cramp your style and strangle any hopes or ideas you might have in achieving a dream.

I speak from experience: when I first started writing I thought every word I typed into my computer or wrote on a piece of paper had to be perfect. This ridiculous attitude delayed the publication of my first book for years. I thought every word I wrote was rubbish and wouldn't mean a thing to a reader. My work sounded so different to all the other published writers' work. I tried to emulate the great authors, but still my work wasn't getting published. It wasn't until I realised every author had their own distinct voice and that they wrote from their hearts that I understood where I was going wrong.

Achieving my dream wasn't about perfectionism, it was about understanding who I am as a writer and writing about issues that are important to me so that my writing style and voice began to develop.

Walk the path and see where it will lead you.

Walk the path and see where it will lead you.

So, it is for anyone achieving the dreams they have in their heart. Be yourself and take hold of the dream and never let go of it. Forget that the word 'perfect' has ever existed. This is your time in history, take hold of the life given to you and step forward to achieve your dreams.

Toss this word out of your vocabulary now, practise the skills that will enable you to fulfill your dreams and in little steps reach out and take all that's meant for your life.

Have you let perfectionism cripple your life and your dreams? Let me know how you overcame this attitude that has the power to destroy the person who we were meant to be.