Friday, February 14, 2014

Six Ways to Stay Motivated Un/Homeschooling With a 2e and Not Totally Lose It

How to Stay Motivated Un/Homeschooling with a 2e and Not Totally Lose It

1.  Cost-benefit analysis or reality check.  I do this nearly every day.  I remind myself the reasons why I'm un/homeschooling:  I've run out of alternative options.  I did not initially set out to un/homeschool my son.  I am un/homeschooling by default.  This is a least-worst case scenario situation.  My son's been in public schools and private schools.  That's it.

IF my son were in school (private or public), he would be considered an underachiever or lazy.  He is intrinsically motivated, not externally motivated by rewards and punishments.  He is a divergent, independent thinker.  He is a leader and definitely not a follower.  He doesn't think linearly or always follow directions.  He finds his own solutions and makes his own theories up.

With un/homeschooling, I can cater to his visual spatial strengths ( and concentrate on the positives.  He can be wildly creative.  He can break the mold and work in unconventional ways.  He can be beat to a different drum and not be penalized.  The fiery fluctuations in mood, sensory overloads, and restrictive diet are not going away but they can be managed more effectively or at least that's the goal.  I don't have to contend with the psychosomatic conditions (headaches, sleepless nights, depression) associated with an educational misfit either.

Schools, by their nature, are designed to shepherd students into schools of thought and into rote-based, sequential work.  They're designed to provide structure and order.  They're not designed for solitary thinkers or rebels.  They're not designed to deal with  flashes of more intuitive, irrational thought.  Except for perhaps some, schools are not designed with highly spatial, creative abilities in mind; they're designed for kids who think in words, not in images.  Moreover, emotionally sensitive and high strung kids are usually viewed as problems rather than assets at schools.

NOTE:  I'm not trying to beat up on schools or teachers.  I taught history as an adjunct instructor at a community college and state college as well as briefly at a public high school.  I'm just speaking from experience here and talking about the reality of public education in general.

2.  Define terms yourself.  How do you define your child?  Do you try to turn what's often seen as negative traits into positive traits?  If not, I would encourage you do so.  Help your child view themselves in positive terms with un/homeschooling.

With the vast majority of schools (either public or private), the child is expected to fit and adhere to the curriculum rather than the other way around.  Schools, policymakers, or a school committee make the decision on what books children read, what curriculum to use and follow, what the frameworks or objectives are for each subject in each grade, and how much and what types of technology are used in the classroom.  Choice?  Not much.  With un/homeschooling, it's the opposite situation.

The beauty about un/homeschooling with a 2e child is that you can create a curriculum (or free yourself from one) and environment that caters to them.  You have a lot of latitude.  If your child is a visual spatial learner, you are free to watch Ted Talk videos, for instance.  If your child balks with rote-based learning, you can switch to more project-based learning or go unschooling instead.  The world is your oyster.  So if halfway through the year, you find yourself in a grind:  Change course.  Take a break.  Try something else.  Don't bang your head.

What is the definition of gifted or un/homeschooling?  It's not as straightforward as you think.  Some people can get hung up on the differences or ranges within the un/homeschooling world.  To me, that's not important.  To me, what's important is taking care of my son to the best of my ability that I can.  That's my priority.  

3.  Define or redefine routine or plan.  I have basically been scheduling or planning my life, and thus my son's education, around various therapies and appointments.  That's one of the reasons why I laughed at the question of how to stay motivated with homeschooling: treating my son's special needs is partly my motivation.  It's a maternal drive thing.

Oh, yea, I have more academic plans and expectations of my son with un/homeschooling.  I do expect him to a read at least every day, maybe 15-30 minutes tops, on a mutually agreed upon book.  I don't think this is arduous or an unrealistic expectation.  Most days my son cooperates.  Some days he does not.  He's got other plans.

Do I wobble or panic about my son not cooperating with reading or doing more 'schoolwork'?  No.  I say to myself: eventually he will take responsibility for his own learning and become more self-directed.  Give him time.  Give yourself a break.  Don't bang your head.

4.  Think in terms of development and keep notes.  Every time I think I'm not doing enough or somehow failing my child with un/homeschooling him, I remind myself of the gains he's made since September.  I keep some track of what he reads and writes.  I keep some track of any educational videos or games he watches, for instance. I keep some track of what he's doing for English, math, science, history, art, and music for myself and the local school department.  I try to keep some track of this information in a wiki.  It helps to look back at these lists (or quick mental lists) when I'm feeling blue, feeling anxious, or incompetent.

Every time I have a panic attack on my son's social/emotional development with un/homeschooling, I run through the list - which the public schools tend to ignore.  My son's not suicidal.  He's not depressed.  He has some down days, but those don't stack up like chips anymore.  He doesn't have to deal with bullies at school.  He sleeps!  He's not waking up in the middle of the night either.  He doesn't have stomachaches or headaches.  He can take recess any time and go to the bathroom any time and without a permission slip.  He doesn't have to deal with fire drills or loud announcements.  Most importantly, he's usually happy.  He often skips or dances around the house if he's particularly happy.  And that's what really makes un/homeschooling worthwhile.  To see that utter joy and contentment that spills out of one tiny little body.  It's bliss.  Sorry, but screw the academics!  What's more important?

5.  Survey Technique.  Sometimes I do a quick stock take.  In other words, I ask myself are people going to judge my son based on whether he is un/homeschooled or whether he is a kind, caring, and compassionate person.  I remind myself that the latter should be the case (hopefully) and that who cares when he's twenty-five years old whether he's been un/homeschooled.  I also remind myself how many famous people have been un/homeschooled (or should have been!) - a laundry list here.

6.  Take care of yourself.  I have to take care of myself and be careful not to burn out or get overwhelmed or frustrated too much.  Exercise.  Journal.  Join a support group.  Meet other un/homeschoolers.  Take breaks.  Find creative outlets.  Find how to restore your inner peace and calmness.  Learn new things.  Explore.  Discover.  Dream.  Don't doubt yourself or your abilities.  Don't bang your head against a wall.  Forgive yourself for raising your voice or tearing your hair out. Remind yourself that you are human and make mistakes.  Protect your sanity!!!

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum first blog hop of the year - Staying Motivated throughout the Homeschool Year
 (blog hop).



  1. Super list! Thanks for sharing your secrets to homeschool/unschool 2e motivational success.

  2. Number 4 and 5 are gold and not ideas I've seen elsewhere. Thank you!

  3. A heart warming read for me... I have a visual learner and divergent thinker here too...struggled to fit in school!...whilst we did not 'realise' he was gifted...thankfully he was rescued by homeschooling! I LOVE number 4 and 5 too!

  4. This is really helpful. We often homeschool around the myriad of specialist appointments too!

  5. Home schooling can be really great for Visual Spatial Learners. I like your suggestions of taking stock of the gains that you are making.