Why I Want to Homeschool (Or How to Embrace Ideals without Going Crazy)

Warning: extremely long post that may change your life. Or not. But who knows? It may just change mine.And that’s okay. I’d love to hear your thoughts though.

Last night, after teaching Nia, I was buzzing with energy. (And of course, I was thinking – if I could teach Nia in the morning, then I could be buzzing with energy the whole day instead of when it’s almost time to go to bed. Which is what I’ll be doing next month at the Center, so stay tuned!)

I felt so full.

In fact, I was overflowing.

And when I’m overflowing, I want to give of myself.

Like, a whole lot of myself. (Which is the whole point of my other blog.)

So I sat down and started planning our “homeschool curriculum” for next year.

Oh Yes! We are doing kindergarten at home, our way.

::Pause::

Now I have to tell you that for the past year, I’ve agonized over THIS decision: to homeschool or NOT to homeschool. I’ve read the literature. I know what my gut is telling me: I want to homeschool. I’vee been wanting to homeschool since my little girl was born. And in many ways, we have homeschooled since birth, according to my definition of homeschool.

Which is this: homeschool is about self-leadership not only when it comes to what one wants to learn but how to LIVE life. And in that sense, homeschooling is the IDEAL kind of education for any kid. And by that I am not trying to be an elitist, like some people accuse Penelope Trunk (whose homeschooling blog I follow – she is one of a kind and perhaps the first highly visible-successful business woman to openly advocate for homeschooling in our time) for asserting that homeschooling is the RIGHT choice period. I am careful saying anything like this, because I know how people respond: no, nope, we each have our own way and not one way is right for everyone. Which I totally agree.

Except for this:

I believe there is an IDEAL for everything.

There is such a thing as The Way Things Were Designed. Call it Nature’s Way or the Universe’s Way. Life’s Way. Or whatever you want to call it.

Take the Nia Technique for example.

What sets apart Nia from other fitness programs out there is that it is based on the Body’s Way. It’s based on the art and science of how the body is designed to move. And the routines, the choreography, the movement forms, the moves are all crafted into a class meant to move every Body closer to the Body’s Way. Yes, we always always tell every Body in the class to listen to their own body and tweak the movements based on where there body is at. Because we are all different.

BUT.

The foundation of Nia is the Body’s Way. The reason why a Nia class feels so freakin’ good (that one of our student commute to work from West Seattle to Downtown Seattle and then commute back to West Seattle to take a Nia class and then commute back to work!) is because we all get a taste of the Ideal Way the body needs to move.

The Ideal Way is Our Design and it is there to Guide us towards Fullness, Aliveness.

::Pause::

Too often, when we pursue the Ideal Way, we get caught in the trap of Perfectionism and Judgment or we raise up our hands and silently whisper…F*ck The Ideal I Was Born This Way.

There is an Ideal Way to Raise a Child. There is an Ideal Way for a Child to Learn and Grow Up To be a Creative Leader in the world.

It is Ideal to breast feed a baby for at least two years, if not longer.
It is Ideal to keep your baby close to the mother’s body and breast for the first year of life, if not longer.
It is Ideal to eat real food and none of that icky processed sugary stuff that poses as food.
It is Ideal for a child to grow up alongside a primary caregiver/parent at home who is intentional about modeling a life attuned to natural rhythms, conscious work and simple wonders of the world around.
It is Ideal for a child to have a lot of unstructured play, time outdoors and a village of nurturing grown-ups and kids of all ages to connect with and learn from.

And of course. There is an Ideal Way to Raise Ourselves as Women and Moms. And Ideal Way for the Feminine to Rise up as Creative Leaders in the World.

It is Ideal to put ourselves first and fill up to the point that we are overflowing with GoodNess and Joy and Sexy that we can’t help but to give.
it is Ideal to pursue our passions and convictions within the context of our most important relationships: with ourselves, our Family, the Divine and our community.
It is Ideal to be connected to like-hearted sisters who are big on support, vulnerability and FUN!
It is Ideal to work according to our feminine biological and psychological needs, aligned to our monthly cycles, to the ebb and flow of our energy and to our deepest and immediate desires.

We really don’t need to be debating about these things. If we put away our attachment to being right, we can all agree that we are designed for these things. And that the closer we are to all of the above, the happier and fuller we are.

The problem is that we take these Ideals and make them a measuring rod for our worth.

The closer we are to the Ideals, the better we feel about ourselves and the more prone we are to judge others who are not there yet. And the farther we are from the Ideals, the crappier we feel about ourselves and the more prone we are to not even wanting to bother trying.

So Back to Homeschooling

Homeschooling is not the ONLY choice. Nor it might be the best choice for someone in their particular situation. BUT homeschooling defined as the environment and the opportunity for a person to learn about life asking their own questions and finding their own answers and to grow up into the best version of the person they are at their own pace in their own way IS the Ideal Way for any child.

It’s not even about education. It’s really about the Ideal Way to live for all of us.

Now, I get that our personal circumstance may seem so far far far from the Ideal Way that it feels impossible to even conjure change that offers the slightest resemblance. And here is where we get tripped up.

We’ve lost our ability to imagine. To be curious. To open up to possibilities beyond our current limitations.And we’ve lost our ability to accept ourselves the way we are. To withhold judgment, to do away with measurement and comparison. To hold that positive tension between What is Possible and What is Now.

What we need is courage to say, okay, yes THIS is the IDEAL. And THIS is where I am at, where my family is at. And THIS is what we need to do us right this moment that is closest to the Ideal and that feels Good and Right for everyone involved.

And we tweak along way towards the Ideal. Slowly. Small Steps perhaps. But we tweak. Without tearing down our ideals. Or ourselves. Or other people.

We tweak together. We celebrate the Ideal together. We celebrate our own journeys together.

We don’t need to argue about what is Ideal.

Instead, we need to support each other towards the Ideal that we are all designed for, our way, our time.

And that is what super duper long post is all about.

Wow you’ve read this far. You might as well leave a comment and tell me what you think. Maybe you are an idealist too like me and it’a time to hold the Ideals up without the Icky part.

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Comments

  1. Christa says

    Interesting thoughts! I thought your ending phrase, “maybe you are an idealist like me” was very thought provoking simply because I was able to think about my own personal evolution through various versions of idealisms – both healthy and unhealthy versions.

  2. Christa says

    Let’s see… it was thought provoking because I was trying to decide if I feel like I am an idealist or not. There is lots of proof in my past thinking and present thinking that would point to me being an idealist. But actually, I am probably more of a pragmatist than an idealist. I see and appreciate lots of ideals, but feel best about myself when I do more of a “cost benefit analysis” of different ideals and synthesize as many of these ideals into my life while trying to stay happy and healthy and keeping my children happy and healthy too. So in actual practice, I’m guessing that I’m not an idealist although I like what idealism adds to my life. Does that make sense?

  3. amanda says

    I agree with pretty much everything you just said and I respect homeschooling and its beauty fully but I have never, not once, desired to do it myself. I don’t know if it’s just a personality thing but I am never the one ever volunteering to teach Sunday school or running crafts with kids etc. The thought of homeschooling just makes me feel exhausted. This is the same feeling I got when I was working as a social worker and direct practice with clients was required. I prefer to be an administrator of non profits, never the therapist. So draining. Personally I would love tobe able to afford Waldorf schools, but I don’t know if that’s a fit for my oldest particularly. I do know that the academic load my first grader has is ridiculous at his Lutheran school (which my mom pays for, our entire extended family is Lutheran as are we but a much different kind). So as far as kids academics I feel really torn- not at all interested in homeschooling but not at all fitting the results driven typical school now a days. I am a self professed crunchy neo-hippy obsessed with real food, natural living, slowing down and feeding souls. How come the thought of homeschooling makes me wanna run the other way??

  4. says

    This post represents why I could never stop following your blog(s), Vina. You speak so much wisdom.

    “We really don’t need to be debating about these things. If we put away our attachment to being right, we can all agree that we are designed for these things.” I agree with you completely.

    I wish I could go on but I’m squished for time; just know that I loved this.
    Kathleen | Becoming Peculiar´s last blog post ..Why I Need the Church

  5. Vina Barham says

    Hi Christa…Makes sense. I think I know what you mean by being an idealist and a pragmatist. And I think essentially we are saying the same thing. I don’t want to be the idealist that kills herself to reach her ideals but accepts and embraces where she is at while living out what is closest to the ideal, her way her time. So in a sense, would that be the kind of “pragmatist” you are describing? At least that is how I see it and what I was trying to express in my very long-winded way. :)

  6. Vina Barham says

    Amanda, hello! I hear you!

    such a good question and I know you have the answer to that question.

    are there any beliefs you have about homeschooling that makes you run the other wy?

    That desire for me to do it or not ebbs and flows depending on what I believe homeschooling requires from me: that i have to ‘teach’ and have this “curriculum” and be super organized, etc. I guess it’s the same way that I feel about therapy (and why I never went to grad school for it) – like you said the direct practice with patients is so draining because it feels like I need to help them change. Such a big burden from both jobs. And I have this sense that with “school” and “therapy” – the burden is often on the teacher and the therapist. And so it feels so heavy. But when we shift to being simply facilitators and guides, and the “burden” or should I say the “response” ability to learn and grow really falls on the child/client – there’s this light feeling, or at least that is what it does for me.

    I actually want to scratch the word “school” from our vocabulary because it just has a lot of baggage. I have a lot of fear about schooling, about what my child needs/should learn academically and therefore what it demands of me to know and to prepare. It seems like this journey to homeschooling is so much more challenging because there is so much I have to let go on what my child should be learning, how is she going to “measure up” with everyone else..etc. But when I peel the layers of what I’ve been conditioned to believe about school, I know for me it comes down to really trusting this process, trusting myself and my child, that we are designed for growth and learning, that we learn what we need to learn when it comes from an internal motivation, and that the whole world is enough of a classroom to learn and grow from.

  7. Christa says

    Yes, that is mostly what I think. I don’t think, however, that ascending to those ideals (if even possible) equals things in life turning out ideally. That is probably why I’m more apt to veer away from thinking in “ideal” language and more in words like “great ideas” or “preferred trajectories” or “my best efforts”. So in some ways, for me, if the
    “ideal way” doesn’t procuce the ideal results, I’m not sure an official category of “ideal” is actually real…. is that too confusing?

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