Welcome to the World of Home Education and Learning Without School!
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!
Natural Learning: Build Confidence Slowly
by Beverley Paine, July 2008
Feeling fragile about diving into learning in a more natural way?
One of the best pieces of advice I came across was to to hesitate, dip one's toes into the vast learning natural ocean, paddle and splash around a bit until confidence builds. It's not a good idea running headlong into the surf because there is a good chance that the encounter will scare you away from swimming at that beach forever!
So, my advice would be, pick a one or two areas of the curriculum where learning naturally comes easily and is easily recognised by the authorities as areas where it works quite successfully - such as history, geography, cultural studies, religious studies, even physical education and health, as well as the Arts - and stick to a more 'school at home' or otherwise structured approach for the 3Rs.
We began by doing structured educational activities for a couple of hours for four days a week (averaged out) for the first year and this helped to build my confidence as I watched and observed and recorded how my children learned - not only then, but througout the day. I needed what I called my 'skeleton' academic program. The few pages of bookwork my children did reassured me that even when they weren't doing those pages they seemed to be learning anyway. The pages were like tests, proving that they were learning regardless of any overt teaching efforts by me. I don't think I would have realised this as soon had I not asked them to do those pages. We slipped into a pattern of unschooling and learning naturally interspersed with one to three week periods of intense 'school at home' or unit studies for the first few years of homeschooling.
The other thing that I urge families who want to learn more naturally to do is record - record your children's activities (all of them) but translate what you write and record into educational jargon. Learn to see how your children naturally fulfil the curriculum guidelines.
Nothing beats doing this work for yourself. I found it the only way I finally learned to believe that my children were learning when they were 'doing nothing'. If someone told me that playing with dolls was educational and ran off a spiel about how it was educational I'd think they were clever, but I wouldn't be able to truly see it until I worked it out myself. I'd just think their kids were gifted, the mum was clever and theirs was a special case, not at all like mine!
Pull apart an activity - say the evening going to bed routine - and rewrite it as a teacher would if she was wanting to teach 30 children about:
a) dental hygiene - health
b) the importance of washing in the creases/folds of the skin (underarms, behind the knees, etc) - health
c) routine of prayer and thanks giving (spiritual and personal development)
d) making sure there is a clear path to the bed, not strewn with toys (safety)
e) story time (language development)
f) hugging family members and saying good night (building relationships, personal development)
You can pull apart each of these and come up with subject and skills related objectives that run like undercurrents continuously throughout your life with your children.
Dental hygiene is a fantastic opportunity to talk about the role of calcium in bone building, about how they make floss material, why toothbrushes are different now to how they were when you were a child. Voila! You have covered science and technology today...
Take note of the conversations you have with your children and see the learning in each subject area that flows naturally...
A good system of recording becomes your forward program for the next year and will convince most people that you aren't neglecting their education in any area.
Just because our children are learning naturally doesn't mean we aren't educators or that we don't need to think or act like educators. It's a natural role of parenting to do that, but one which many - most - people have been taught and conditioned not to do, expecting that this role will be filled by special educators - teachers in schools.
Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you?
Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating
and reassurance to families
better outcomes for their children.
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.
"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people." Vanessa
"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!" Davina
"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others." Lesley
"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
in the morning, I 've been encouraged!" Louisa
"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful." Gythaa
A gift of any size, small or large, is greatly appreciated.
By contributing, even as little as $1, you are helping to inform, encourage, reassure and support parents live closer, happier lives with their children.
I am currently giving this site a much needed facelift!
If you experience difficultiess accessing any page can you
please email me the link? Thank you.
The information on this website is of
a general nature only and is not intended
as personal or professional advice.
This site merges and incorporates
'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.
Advertise with The Educating Parent
Without revenue from advertising
educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know
that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!