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#AlwaysLearning with a Needs Based Education

by April Paine, Aug 2021

I most often describe our learning style as “ eclectic home education ”, but reflecting on it more deeply I think “ needs based education ” suits better.

Our children, although home educated from the outset, are very resistant to formal book work, and even minimal writing requirements. Given the choice, they’d never do any writing or anything formal.
Over time I have implemented responsibilities within our household, and recently formalised this with framing it as such to the kids. There are responsibilities we each have that must be attended to each day, and it’s easier to ensure these are done before we can go about our leisure time freely than to put them off until the end of the day. Each member of the family has responsibilities for self care , pet care , household chores , and education.

Self care is something you would think is a given, but sometimes interoception difficulties can make it harder to identify how we can look after our bodies. Sometimes they need gentle reminders, and sometimes simple routines built around our daily rhythms are enough.

Their pets are responsibilities that they chose for themselves, that they agreed to the care of, with full understanding, prior to acquisition.
Household chores are because they live here, and we all have responsibilities with regards to living in a space together. Their household chores are age appropriate, increasing gradually as they grow older to help them learn how to manage their own household one day. They have always been supported by a parent as they learn these tasks, and with understanding and kindness if they’re feeling overwhelmed on any given day.

The kids are aware that we have responsibilities to the Home Ed Unit with regards to their education, and that if we don’t meet the requirements, then they will be required to attend a school. They know this is not my choice, but that we must work as a team to be able to continue to home educate.

We don’t have a big focus on book learning, but still incorporate some formal work to cover maths, English, and a language. Typically the kids spend 30 - 60 minutes a day on their book work, covering 3 pages of a year level maths book, 2 pages of a year level spelling book, some handwriting practice, and a Duolingo lesson. Handwriting is a struggle, and not one I like to put a lot of emphasis on. As a society we are all writing less and less by hand, so we’re aiming for competency (legibility), not perfection.

Our kids have some learning difficulties, and home educating means that we can work where they are at, challenging where needed, and stepping back a bit sometimes to help build their confidence too.
We cover the rest of the curriculum in a variety of ways; horse skills classes, occupational therapy group sessions, circus classes, mutisports group sessions, a local home ed nature club, speech therapy, Scouts, Cubs, and Joeys, and various casual meet ups and excursions with friends and extended family.

One of our favourite things to do with our home ed friends is to go camping, and we have been fortunate to attend many home ed camps, where the kids have covered loads of learning and social opportunities jam packed into a few short days.

Soon we are about to start renovating our “forever house” and the kids have been exploring Pinterest, pinning ideas on how they’d like to decorate their bedrooms. They are also excited to be involved in knocking out walls, building walls, and ripping up and laying flooring!
In any given week I can go through the Australian Curriculum and tick off a multitude of ways in which our kids have covered various outcomes. It doesn’t take a great deal of time to cover most of the curriculum through what we do with our “ needs based education ”.

We are @alwayslearningbooks on Instagram if you’d like to follow our learning adventures.

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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