Episode summary:

If you’re feeling uneasy or unprepared for the upcoming school year, you’ll take comfort from this conversation between two seasoned homeschoolers.

Rebecca Kochenderfer is the co-founder of Homeschool.com.  She is the author of two popular homeschooling books: Homeschooling and Loving It! and Joyful Homeschooling. Rebecca homeschooled her children from preschool through high school and has taken great pleasure in helping the next generation of homeschooling parents get started with their own children. Rebecca has now embarked on a new adventure with Journaling.com as founder and host. She is the author of Joy Journal, an uplifting collection of journaling tips and technique to help people connect, thrive, and grow. Journaling.com

Things you’ll learn from this episode:

 

  • Prioritizing the most important goal
  • Tips for reducing anxiety and overwhelm
  • One of the best tools at your disposal

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Transcript:

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles. I’m your host, Susan Stiffelman. I’m a marriage, family and child therapist, a teacher, a long time parent coach and a mom. And I’m the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence. And I’m really glad you’re here. This podcast series is all about supporting you in practical ways so that you can enjoy raising your children with fewer power struggles and more love and connection. Now, one of the things I know that parents have on their minds right now is how to do homeschooling, especially when it’s not something you plan to do or, or even wanted to do. So I’ve been working on a three part series on Homeschooling without Power Struggles, with some wonderful cohost, Rebecca Kochenderfer, who is the founder of homeschool.com and Marilyn Mosley, who founded Laurel Springs School distance learning program.

Speaker 1:

If you visit Susanstiffelman.com, you’re going to see all the information on the homepage there. I encourage you to check it out. It’s going to be a fantastic, in-depth very practical series that will help you formulate a plan for overseeing your kid’s learning while working from home. We’ll talk about learning style. We’ll talk about resistance, kids who are tired of being on the screen, all kinds of important information. That’s going to make this coming year much, much easier for you, including answers to your biggest questions and concerns. The class series begins September 8th. So in the meantime, Rebecca Kochenderfer and I had a conversation that I’d like to share with you about how to approach the coming year with less anxiety, less overwhelm, more actual enthusiasm and confidence. So have a listen. I’m joined today by Rebecca and we are going to talk about homeschooling and making it more fun and feeling more confident.

Speaker 1:

Hi Rebecca. Hi. So you’re the founder of homeschool.com, which means that you have traveled that world lived and breathed homeschooling for a long time, right?

Speaker 2:

That’s right. And for my kids all the way through all the way through, I also had the chance to mentor thousands of homeschoolers to over the years. So who knew that we were all going to be homeschooling now? There was this very tiny bit of the population who, who thought to themselves, you know, I’m going to do that. In fact, I homeschooled my son until the sixth grade and then again in grade nine and I chose it partly because I was also a credentialed teacher as well as a therapist. And I think I’m going to be kind of an annoying parent. My son’s teachers I’ll just take it on myself, but so many people aren’t prepared. So let’s offer some suggestions and words of advice and kind of inspiration.

Speaker 2:

You know, it’s a different set up now, like you said, you and I chose it. We probably had time to read books about it, really research it and meet other homeschoolers before kind of leaping off the edge of the cliff. But for families right now, it’s not a choice. So one of the things you can do mindset wise is get back into choice by looking at the benefits because Susan and I can tell you that if you let it this time with your children can be really special. It can be one of the highlights of your life. And even though you have now added a big piece to your life pie, and you’ve got a lot going on, it can be really special. And we think that you’re going to love it. And that’s what we want to help you do. We do we want to help you really enjoy this specialty.

Speaker 1:

We’re going to be joined by our dear friend and colleague Marilyn Mosley who founded Laurel Springs, distance learning school. We’re going to do a three-part class on homeschooling. So we’re going to go into a lot of depth that we’ll touch on today. But if you go to my website, Susanstiffelman.com or my Facebook page at the top, you’ll see all the details about the class. But, but I wanted to emphasize something or kind of revisit this thing of choice because I did an Instagram live today and I was talking about something called the wall of futility. The wall of futility is a term coined by a mentor of mine who I, whose work. I love Gordon Neufeld who wrote, Hold Onto Your Kids.

Speaker 1:

And he talks about it in terms of that, that moment, when you realize that you can’t have what you want for a child, I’m really not going to get fudge for breakfast. I’m really not going to get to, you know, spend three weeks at grandmas. It’s the moment when, what you hoped would happen, isn’t happening. And you actually come to terms with it and you have to feel your sadness and disappointment so that you can move into a feeling of acceptance and adaptation. And I think that frees us up to move into, okay, well, if I can’t have things the way I want, I can’t have things the way my child wants, which is to go to school, be with his friend, run around, not wear a mask, have things the way they used to be. How can I first feel my disappointment and give it space and then choose how I want this next few months to look. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

I think you’ve nailed it, Susan, is that resistance? It’s not like, it’s, like you said, you’re not homeschooling by choice right now, you know, for many of you. So, but that resistance is what really causes the, yeah. So what about if, instead of resistance, you just pivot over to, if you can’t at least embrace it, how about just acceptance and what Susan and Marilyn and I want to do is we want to help make it as easy as possible for you because we know all the different tricks, you know, how to homeschool different age children at the same time. And that’s tricky for anyone and, and how to homeschool while you’re working. Cause all three of us worked while we homeschooled. And I think Marilyn brings a lovely addition too, because she’s coming from a school. So you’re getting three really good perspectives. You’re getting me with full time homeschooling. You’re getting Susan as a parenting expert and you’re getting Maryland as an online learning expert. So that’s why I think that we could be a powerful team.

Speaker 1:

Well, I mean, I love the collaboration we’ve already been doing and one of the threads that we want to make sure we emphasize and we’ll talk a little bit about right now is the set of expectations you bring to the experience. There’s a great quote, lower your expectations. You’ll achieve more. And you know, when all this broke back in March and people were passing around all the, you know, schedules and all the inspirational quotes, and now your kids learn to program computers and bake like, you know, bake souffle’s and we were kind of gonna, I can hardly get out of bed, you know, let alone like nurture these beautiful, but out of, you know, out of my league kind of aspirations. So when you think about perhaps feeling fearful about the coming year, look at your expectations, what is the imagined look of your day? And let’s become more realistic. Most educators are saying that because this is going on with everyone, the concept that my child’s going to fall behind relative to what his peers have covered or learned is out the window. Can you say a little bit more about that? I know you’ve, we’ve talked about that. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, that was our, it was our family joke. It was the advice we gave every beginning, homeschooler it’s, you know, keep your sense of humor and lower your expectations because you have to let perfectionism go. It’s not your friend. And no matter whether you’d been homeschooling for just this semester or for 12 years, the biggest fear is always, I’m not doing enough. Yeah. So you, yeah, you got to let that go. You’re going to just do the very best that you can right now, you’re going to be good to yourself. You’re going to be good to the kids. And sometimes the house is not going to be as clean as when nobody was in the house all the time. Right. Because things are really different. So just try to be as flexible as you can, keep your sense of humor and lower your expectations because you’ll just be, you’ll feel so much better about it and let perfectionism go.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. And so one of the things we’re going to do in our class that I want to do right for a minute is invite you to kind of connect internally with your heart and the love you have for your kids, like push everything out of the way for a minute and just connect with maybe that moment when your child was born or first placed in your arms or when you see them sleeping and they’re not bothering you or misbehaving, and you just see them in that pure state. And if you can anchor yourself to that feeling, that that is the goal. The goal is just to feel connected and love for your child. And that expectation is realistic. And then we move from there. We establish a baseline that says the goal is to just nurture this connection. Feel the love I have for my kids, even in the midst of all this chaos.

Speaker 1:

And then there’s one other goal. I know we’re not going to talk for long, but there’s one other goal that I always held front and center. When I homeschooled my son. And you might be surprised to hear what it was, you’re ready. I just wanted my son to love learning. I just wanted him to emerge into his adult life as a passionate learner and someone who felt whatever he wanted to study or pursue whatever line of thinking or passion or gifts that called to him, that he would feel internally the confidence to pursue it. I think if that expectation and the expo and the hope or the goal of feeling love and connection for our kids, then we work from there. And of course, we’re going to get in the class. If you look at a look below, you’ll see a link to the class and it’s all over Susanstiffelman.com.

Speaker 1:

So you’re welcome to look at that. And there’ll be more videos and more of these conversations leading up to our course. But if you can start with that, then we build incrementally into the practical pieces of what it looks like for your child to have a schedule and take responsibility for their lessons and how you’re going to manage your own work life. What would you add to that, Rebecca? I think you absolutely nailed it because we want to raise lifelong learners and then I would bring it down to that. The goals, I see three main goals right now, joy family bonding and growth because no matter what goes on, so we’re going to teach you how to create a schedule that promotes growth and family bonding and joy. So we’re going to be working as those as the guideposts, because that’s really what you want.

Speaker 1:

Isn’t it, you know, you want a joyful life close ties with your children and you want them to grow as individuals and as students and hopefully as lifelong learners. Absolutely. And you know, the flip side of this as many challenges that there are with us, coping with the pandemic and our own anxieties and fears and desire to see family and all the things that have changed. The other side of it, that when we model flexibility and adaptability, by embracing it ourselves and dealing with the sorrow and loss, when we can’t have things the way we want our children observe that. And they internalize that. So when you talk about growth, it sort of triggers for me, this idea of what is growth growth is moving into more and more of yourself. And I think that this opportunity in the coming months will provide that for our children and for us as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I just want to say to everyone too, you’ve got this, you know, your children, you taught them how to tie their shoes. You taught them how to eat. You know how to put on clothes, you know, you’ve, you’ve got this, you love them. You’re going to be able to adapt. Human beings are amazingly adaptable. You’ve already been adapting. All you need are some, some just little ticks, tips and tricks to try to help you make it easier, but you can totally do this. Totally do this. You guys, and we’ve got your back. So stay tuned here will be on YouTube. And of course, we’ll be doing the class for those of you who want to go deeper with us, we’re gonna get into the nitty gritty.

Speaker 1:

Rebecca. I hope to see everyone I know and thank you for your joyful way and your bright light. And I’m going to be so much fun to work together with you. Thank you. I loved homeschooling. It was one of the highlights of my life and you know, it turned out so well for the kids. You are going to be so surprised at how and how well it works for your kids. You let that fear go do the very best you can to let that fear go because you love them. It’s going to be okay. We promise. Okay. I second that, you know, I, I would, I would absolutely do it all over again, even though there were of course bumpy days and I now have a son almost 30, I’ll be 30 next week. Who still has a pile of books beside him. And is still just a ferocious learner.

Speaker 1:

So big payoffs. You guys hang in there. We’ll see you next time.

I hope you got something of value from that and encourage you to check out Homeschooling without Power Struggles for all the details about this upcoming series, starting September 8th. And as always, if you’re enjoying these episodes, it would be great. If you would leave a quick rating or review or tell a friend, I would so appreciate that and make sure that you’re staying in touch, that you have support as you step into this next phase of parenting. Especially if you’ve got kids who are going to be learning online, allow yourself the freedom to not know everything and to feel like a beginner and to stumble and again, to lower your expectations. And at the same time, staying in close connection, open communication with your kids that you work together as a team, as you begin homeschooling this fall, I hope you visit Susanstiffelman.com and sign up for the newsletter. Cause you’ll get all the updates, lots of inspiration and parenting tips, and that you treat yourself with kindness. So remember, no matter how busy life gets, look for those moments of sweetness and joy, stay safe, stay well. And I’ll see you next time.

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