I homeschool so they can fail

Yes, I want my children to be able to fail.


If you’ve ever watched gymnasts train, especially young gymnasts, you might have noticed the foam pit at the end of a long track. This pit is not just for safety. Sure, it ensures a soft landing so that no matter how the gymnast crashes to the ground, she is unlikely to be hurt. But it is there for another purpose as well. When they are starting out, young gymnasts will practice falling backward into the pit. It’s like a trust fall, but with no one to catch you. Because you have to lose your fear of falling backward before you can leap, twisting and turning, into the air.

I think life is the same way. To be successful, you have to be willing to fail. You have to trust that you can hop back up, dust yourself off and get back on the mat.

Embracing failure isn’t just about perserverance and pushing through the let-downs.

It isn’t just about the lessons learned through failure, which often are more valuable long term than our successes.

It is about losing the fear of failing so that we go out and try something new. Something outside our comfort zones. Something with risk attached.

The fear of failure is probably the strongest force holding people back from their potential. Itโ€™s not talent, or ambition, or ideas that stops budding entrepreneurs. Itโ€™s fear that can stop people dead in their tracks. And itโ€™s stopped countless great businesses before they even begin. ~Business Insider

So when my children come up with crazy ideas, I try not to give them too much of my seasoned advice (even if it obviously isn’t going to work). When they fail, I tell them stories about my failures.

Like when I froze in the final round of a national speech competition and couldn’t think of one thing to say on the topic. I stood there silently for three whole minutes. And I didn’t derive any great lessons out of that. In fact, it made it impossible for me to compete in impromptu speaking the following season because I was so afraid of repeating that performance that I froze Every. Single. Time.

But you know what? My life didn’t end. Now it is just a funny story. And if you think about it, all the best stories involve our failures. When people share their failures, it makes us laugh and share our own stories. We admire success, but we connect with failure. Partly, I think, because we are afraid of it.

And I don’t want my children to be afraid of it. At least not so much that they never risk anything for their passions. I want them to step outside themselves and know that all those failures represent dreams they reached for.

So I try to create an environment like that foam pit above, where they learn to let go of some of that fear of failure so they can begin to learn to soar.

This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what Iโ€™ve written so far!

A is for Adventure
B is for Boredom
C is for Christ
D is for Daydreaming
E is for Every day
F is for Failure

(Image used via creative commons license. Original may be found here.)

Interested in more from Life Led Homeschool? Sign up for my newsletter and receive updates right in your inbox!

Related posts:

Leave a Reply

30 Comments on "I homeschool so they can fail"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I took gymnastic lessons when I was a kid and I never thought that was what that pit was for. How interesting! And how true. You wouldn’t know what success is if you don’t know failure.


I’m strongly considering homeschooling my twins for several reasons. I’m not sure they will get accepted into preschool in the fall, because it is needs based, so I may begin something at home for next year. Thanks for sharing your story!

Neely Moldovan

Very interesting perspective. I have a lot of friends who do homeschooling and while it isn’t for me I love the ideas behind it.

JoJo Tabares

You cannot succeed unless you are willing to fail. Failure isn’t the end unless you stop. It just gets you closer to where you want to be. And homeschooling is a safe environment to do that.


Failures or steps?

“As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. … Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.””

~ http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/OnFailingG.html

Life is full of both.


I was actually thinking a little about Edison while I was writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Annemarie LeBlanc

This is so true. Success is sweeter if we have achieved it through hardship and failure. Reading through this post made me think of that song by Diane Reeves – Better Days. The particular part of the song goes, “You won’t get to know better days unless you make it through the night..”


Yes. I think some of the problems young people seem to be having entering college is that they’ve never been allowed to fail. Their parents have been there giving them support to the point that they don’t have experience with failure.

Liz Mays

I think you may have an effective strategy there. I think failing is just a part of life, you just can’t give up when it happens.


Yes, and it is all to easy to decide “this doesn’t work” and not try again.


Excellent post! If we don’t fail, then it means we’re not trying. I love your example of the speech competition, though I know it wasn’t fun when it was happening!


No, it wasn’t. Especially the next season when I thought I’d never shake that feeling!

valmg @ Mom Knows It All

To be successful you have to be willing to take risks. But there’s more to it then that, you have to be willing to learn from mistakes if you make them.


Yes. If you don’t think about why you failed, then it’s more likely to happen again. ๐Ÿ™‚


What a great point of view. And gymnastics is so much fun!! I did it for 15 1/2 years, myself a lot of that time being competitive in gymnastics meets. I met so many friends.

annette @ A net in Time

my lad doesn’t do well with failure at this point. He’s very careful not to fail. ๐Ÿ™‚


I agree with you, it’s important for them to push through the failure. Life is not easy that way.

Amanda H

What a great concept! Thank you so much for opening my eyes to this. I now have a new love of the foam pits…

Renee K

We admire success, but we connect with failure. I love how you said that as it is so true.


As the kids get older, I am giving them more room to explore without my input. My five year old accidentally broke a remote control vehicle and happily took it all apart. He couldn’t get it back together, but I let him try because it was a learning experience. Failing has a lot of value in it.


[…] is a complete disservice to kids. ย Failure is powerful. ย It is at the edge between failure and success that real learning and growth happens. ย  When our […]