What is Life Like Without School?
© Grace Chapman
If our children were enrolled in a school, the eldest would be doing her last year of primary school. There'd be a certain level of excitement and anticipation as she mentally and emotionally prepares herself for the 'leap' into high school. The middle child would become our oldest child at the primary school and the youngest would be in her second year of primary school - and I would hardly ever be at home because I want to be with my young children.
We were able to enjoy sunny, dry weather for a week. It was almost enough time to dry out the lawn - but not quite! What a welcome relief the change in the weather was. We've discovered, through our son, that fungus and bacteria can grow on your fingernail - as well as the furniture- causing the nail to die! Ah! But things are never as devastating as they first seem. As a result of that nail gradually being separated from the finger, we watched the new nail slowly emerge. The timing of the process is amazing. The changeover took three months and never left him with a naked fingertip rich in nerve endings. We treated the finger with twice daily applications of tea-tree oil.
Easter time saw us camping alongside a river in the dry country for ten days. The children ventured out, sleeping under the stars each night and returning for food. We discovered that through osmosis, the children had learned to play Canasta (a card game). The only time we adults ever play is when we're camping and the children drift in and out, sitting beside us, observing the game. This time, when they sat beside us, they were asking (in hushed tones) questions about how we played our hands. One day the older girls (10 11) asked us to help them play the game. All it took was one adult sitting with them, clarifying the rules and they were off. Within two days, they had also taught the 7 and 8 year olds the rules - and we had to race them to be able to play a game! The 4 and 6 year olds were also sitting at the table; welcome to join in the game whenever they were interested. No one was ever told, "You'll have to wait until you're older."
I guess that's one of the basic philosophies in our family. The children are welcome to join us in whatever we are doing. We don't tell anyone that they're too young to be able to do something. Each person is encouraged to experience things in their own way. It helps keep us all honest too! When I am in conversation with the children, I treat them as my friends rather than someone to be served or tolerated. Children have such a curiosity about their world that everything through their eyes is fresh and exciting. Look at how they can turn washing the dishes into such an opportunity for discovery and pleasure.
Have you ever monitored your every thought, word and action? It really does require tremendous effort, both mentally and physically. It can be quite disconcerting for those around you too. Suddenly you're not responding in the way that they have grown accustomed to, you're not making the same sort of jokes, you're taking longer than usual to respond, you have less to say - because you're busy monitoring what you've just said or done or felt. It's worth the effort though! Each time I do it, I became aware of what my underlying thoughts and values are. I see how I am creating the circumstances in my life. I realise just how many judgements I make, unconsciously, in a day.
There is a certain amount of structure in our days. I find routine helps me achieve my goals yet at the same time, the routine allows a lot of freedom. We all have daily household chores. Monday mornings are known as house care day, other things fall on other days. We read together every day - purely for the pleasure of enjoying a story together. Sometimes we might read through a selected encyclopaedia together, our attention being drawn by the illustrations. These past three months we've enjoyed Harry Potter by JK Rowling, Pigs Might Fly and High Valley by Colin Thiele (All highly recommended by us by the way.) amongst numerous other smaller books selected from the town library as well as our personal library.
The children have been collecting Yowies. They were inspired to make a Yowie Paradise out of papier-mâché. It took three months to complete, not because of the size or complexity, simply because they just worked on it when it occurred to them.-Usually they worked on it for a couple of days at a time, then nothing for weeks. But it's 'complete' now, looking fabulous and in daily use.
I became involved in a community project - to make a love seat out of ferro-cement and tile it with mosaic tiles. The eldest child has joined in too. The other two come along with us and play in the park, keeping a casual eye on what we're doing. In between times, I grow vegies and put SSHED together. Ideally, I could set aside one day a week to develop its content and business even further but that doesn't fit in with the constraints I've placed on myself for now. Soon that will change but that's another story!
Grace is a home educating mother of three in far north Queensland. Until recently, Grace was the editor and producer of Stepping Stones For Home Educators. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as Byronchild Magazine and Education Choices .
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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 support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment 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. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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