3 Breakthrough Growth Strategies That Will Help a Home Educator

7 Minutes

Home educate? Me?

The first time it was mentioned that I home educate, I seriously thought the other party was insane! “No” I said emphatically in my response. “I’m a life coach and I mentor adults.” Said the thoughts in my head.

“I don’t ‘teach’ children”, were the rumblings that then went around my brain.

With a side glance at my eldest, I took great satisfaction knowing that he was only a few months old. I had several years before this conversation reared its (unwelcome) head again.

Fast forward three children and a collective eighteen years of motherhood later, guess what I’m doing? You got it – I’m home educating! I share this with much glee and passion. So, what changed?

Well, life to begin with.

How Life’s Unpredictability Sometimes Forces Your Hand

Circumstances and situations, people and resources were amongst a few things that encouraged the beginnings of my home education journey.

Maturing as a mother, I realized just how much parental responsibility I had. This accountability included how I wanted to raise my children and what kind of education I envisioned to provide.

To home educate my children meant to actually think about what it meant to be a parent. Moreover, it gave me a reason to look hard at ‘education’ and see what it really meant to me.


There’s an Arabic saying: “The mother is the first school”.


Reflecting upon this, I felt that it was incumbent upon me that I serve as a role model in my behaviour and attitudes.

This reflection was further clarified in the Prophetic narration:

“Take care! Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked concerning his flock; a leader is a shepherd of his people, and he shall be asked concerning his flock.

And a man is a shepherd of the people of his house, and he shall be asked concerning his flock…

And a woman is a shepherd of the house of her husband and over their children, and she shall be asked concerning them.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Following on from these sayings I was even more conscious of my part; to do the best in facilitating a beneficial development for my children.

This was my intention, however, with years of traditional schooling behind me, I had come to believe that in order to earn a living, one must be educated in a school.

I was led to believe that school is the only place where a student has a social life, learns how to cope with difficult situations and grasp the concept of problem-solving. And exams are the only proof of that.

The Lizard Brain

My years of traditional schooling now seemed to be in question.

Did I want the same institution to educate my children? Or was there something else? From my experience, I knew of school to be the only place to teach and to learn so what about an alternative home education?

And how could I facilitate this for my children? Could I fulfil the role of mother and teacher? Was I even ‘qualified’? These questions quickly gave rise to the overdrive of the lizard brain.

You see, there’s a tiny part of our brain called the amygdala. It’s located deep within the temporal lobes of the brain that handles our memory, speech and visual cues and is about the size of an almond.

The amygdala’s job is to provide us with our most primal instincts: fear, hunger and arousal. It drives us to fend off predators and protect ourselves from harm.

When I think of the amygdala, I think of one word. Fear. The amygdala is the reason we are afraid of things outside our control.

It also controls the way we react to certain stimuli, or an event that causes an emotion, that we see as potentially threatening or dangerous.


Don’t Let the Amygdala Win!

Here’s an example.

You hear a tiny voice inside your head that says, “A catering company? That’s too risky.

You won’t make any money.

You won’t be able to pay any bills.

You’ll starve.

Your children will suffer.

Your husband/wife will leave you.

Your family will disown you.”

That’s your amygdala talking.

It’s the originator of the fear response in your brain. Its job is to keep you safe from shark attacks, but its side effects include talking you out of your dreams.

In a nutshell, it is the amygdala that gets priority in the brain. Sensory input reaches the amygdala first, triggering a fear (or pleasure) reaction long before that same information gets a chance to reach the slower, more reasonable portion of your brain, called your neocortex.

So if a snake tries to bite you, this is a huge advantage. The odds are that you’ll start running before you can even process why.

But when you’re trying to overcome your fears and anxieties, it means that you are – quite literally – trying to re-programme the deepest instincts nestled in the centre of your mind.

The mass onslaught of self-doubt that I was experiencing was coming from the amygdala which was creating irrational fear.

The amygdala was being so unreasonable that it was stealing my God-given right to be the first teacher to my children.

To add to this catastrophe, I was beginning to believe the negative thinking, dangerously limiting my beliefs; including feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness.

Big Picture Thinking and Goals Were My Antidotes to Fear

As a Life Coach I knew I had to re-wire my thought patterns that were deeply embedded; originally as a survival instinct.

I recognised that I had to apply some Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and fast! The easiest way to explain NLP is that it is to understand how individuals organise their thinking, feeling, language and behaviour to produce results.

NLP reprograms our internal control systems.

I also recognised the need to focus on the end goal and the bigger picture, “to provide learning that is a lifelong adventure by facing each day with minds open to knowledge.”

From previous attempts I knew that each time I made the effort, the amygdala would pipe up screaming. For every time my script was ready, and I was about to thrash out a task, the amygdala freaked out.

So I needed a game plan, one that would help me disengage from the lizard brain’s torments and silence it.

Breakthrough Growth Strategies

These were the tactics I adopted:

Positive mindset:

Retraining my brain to think and speak positively. In order to resist my amygdala, I had to re-wire both my thought process and use of language by formulating, expressing and communicating positive and healthy affirmations. With a positive mindset and healthy mission statements, I could take the first steps to implementing the changes I wanted to make.

Focusing on the end goal:

An ambitious facilitator. I believe in the freedom to wonder, to ask, to explore, to imagine and to create in an unrestricted learning environment. Intrinsically motivated to achieve my pursuit, it wasn’t hard for me to keep the end goal in mind.

Making sacrifices:

Hard work and investment. Home education is a journey. It takes time to establish. It requires patience and perseverance. Sometimes there are tears. Other times there are frustrations. But for the most part there is immense joy when a child ‘gets it’. The lesson here is that you need to make sacrifices when you really like what you do.

Conclusion – Silencing the Lizard Brain

The lizard brain (also described as the resistance) is not something that is going to go away.

The amygdala will always tell me to watch out, to be careful, to compromise or don’t bother at all. It will always pipe up whenever I get close to achieving a goal – for it fears change, achievement and risk. Therefore, its job is to get in the way of what we really want.

NLP has taught me to work with it in such a way that I either ignore it by being the detached observer or silence it by simply not engaging with its melodrama.

I chose to silence my amygdala, disengaging from it and promoting my neocortex, the decision-making part of my brain, to make choices calmly and rationally.

And boy did it feel liberating! I was no longer shackled to my negative thoughts, rather, I felt free, I found choice and I was able to pursue options.

By disengaging with the limited beliefs and affirming unlimited self-belief, I promoted myself to embark on one of my bravest goals ever – “to provide learning that is a lifelong adventure; by facing each day with minds open to knowledge.”

These strategies have helped me to grow as a home educator exponentially.

I have managed to overcome several fears. Secretly, I still feel dread, but I don’t focus on it as my goals are the antidote to my fear.

Furthermore, whilst some may interpret the word fear as a disappointment, sadness and the sinking sensation in their stomach, I associated the word with an opportunity for new beginnings and a fresh start.

My dream “to provide learning that is a lifelong adventure by facing each day with minds open to knowledge” is now fruitioning and for that, I am sincerely grateful.

The best part about my story is that it has just begun.

I am not afraid to make hard decisions and I certainly don’t want to compromise my vision.

Now that you’ve identified with the lizard brain and know its name (the amygdala), what are you going to do with yours?



Fan of SpaceX, Elon Musk and all things Physics, Umm Aasiyah is a home educator to three cheeky cherubs. A blogger and a life coach, you will find Umm Aasiyah gracing the pages of personal growth…usually with a chocolate Twirl in her hand!

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