When was the last time you tried something new?
When was the last time you challenged yourself to try something difficult?
When was the last time you took yourself out of your comfort zone?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines comfort zone as “the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.”
I will go one step further and add that it’s the mental space where we avoid change.
Think about what we do as human beings on a daily basis: we don’t tolerate heat well, so we look for air conditioning; we don’t tolerate cold, so we look for additional heating.
Comfort is our personal control of what is.
Challenging the status quo to grow
Three months ago, I joined a fitness center with the intention of enjoying a spinning class. At the time, I considered myself an occasional cyclist. I didn’t worry much about how difficult it would be to ride a stationary bike. I was sure I could do it.
Goodness, was I wrong.
From the get-go, it was nearly impossible for me to keep up. I sat through most of it – panting.
I was reassured that it would get better by the third class. I sulked at that third class when I still couldn’t get it.
I was ready to give up by the second week.
I was emotional. I was upset. I was discouraged.
Why was I the only one who couldn’t get it? Why was I the only one completely drained after 5 minutes? Why was the clock moving so slow?
But, I didn’t give up.
I thought about how easy that would be. I thought up a billion reasons why throwing in the towel was what I should do. I considered finding a class that was more my style.
But, I stuck with it. Four days a week — I went in and challenged myself.
I thought about my son.
I thought about how hard he works daily to do things that everyone takes for granted. I thought about how he smiles and enjoys himself and never looks left or right. He doesn’t care that he’s the only one who can’t get it. He doesn’t care how long other people think it should take. He just keeps going – taking it one day at a time, one step at a time.
Because I kept going, I finally got it. It took me four weeks and lots of encouragement from the instructor and classmates. But, on that fourth week, I knew I had reached the point of no return. I got it. I was strong enough. I was able enough. I was finally a part of that class.
And, oh, how I beamed. I was so incredibly proud of myself I felt I had grown a few inches. I could not stop smiling for days.
Parental growth brings on child’s growth
It’s important to take ourselves out of our comfort zone. If we don’t, we need to revisit why we chose to homeschool in the first place. It’s important to learn outside of ourselves just as much as we want our children to.
We need to put ourselves in vulnerable situations on purpose in order to grow and to be better teachers.
Being out of school for so long, we sometimes forget what it’s like to be a student.
How being a student of life makes you a better homeschooling parent:
- Knowing how you react to anxiety will help you recognize and compassionately deal with your child’s anxiety as he tackles a new skill.
- You will know the weight of encouragement to keep your child going when he just can’t get it.
- You will understand the importance of celebrating your child’s newly acquired skill – even the small one, because it all counts.
- It’s important for your child to see you as a student. He needs to see you fail, see you keep going, see you encourage yourself, and see you take the time you need to get there. Modeling these stages makes you fallible and approachable.
Bring yourself to your child’s level – become a beginner.
Get out of your comfort zone
There are several ways you can challenge yourself. Here are some suggestions:
- Tackle a new craft (woodworking, knitting, crocheting, weaving, painting, etc.)
- Join a fitness center
- Join a team sport for adults
- Pitch an article to your local paper, magazine, or a blog you love
- Learn a new language
- Try karaoke in public (this is actually on my “out-of-comfort-zone” list)
- Take a dance class
- Train for a marathon
Pay attention as a student of life
We need to make mistakes in order to grow, and to also observe how we feel as we go through the stages of learning.
- What can I learn about myself by observing my reactions when I struggle?
- What is my body language like when I just can’t get it?
- How quickly do I get that “I want to give up now” feeling?
These are many of the sentiments your child goes through when learning a new concept or testing out a new skill.
Focus on yourself to focus on your child. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Put yourself in your child’s shoes.
Then, you can learn to trust yourself, trust your child, and true learning will emerge for both of you.
Do you feel that you are a student of life? If so, how does you feel this makes you a better homeschooling parent? Of course, we always love feedback here at CHM, so please drop us a line (you can write a comment below or leave a voicemail.)