Use 'snap shots' to help record natural learning
Beverley Paine, 2006
I'm a haphazard recorder, even though I write reams every day. My hard drive is a mess, according to Thomas, who wonders how I can find anything and asks if I ever access even a fraction of what I've stashed away. I do. I have boxes and folders on my desk and on shelves in my office too. It's one of the things I want to change and simplify in my life!
What I found very useful was bouts of concentrated recording: a snapshot of our life in a two to four week period, three or four times a year. This was something I could do. Keeping detailed records every day was something that would quickly fall by the wayside as life simply got in the way! Plus, in the early years, I'd work with one learning plan and recording system for two-three weeks and then abandon it. We did a lot of 'contracts' in those days, with checklists and the like. It looked terribly structured (for those few weeks anyway) but in reality the children still played most of the day, or did chores, or became involved in what we were doing, etc. The difference between those weeks and the other weeks was that I recorded, in educational jargon and in a structured way, what was happening. Back then I was also in the habit of asking the kids to do a page or three from workbooks for an hour or so three or four times a week - it all helped to build my confidence that they were learning even when they didn't use their work books.
I chatted to a homeschooler whose preferred mode of learning had nothing to do with paper or writing and she really didn't want to keep records, plus she wanted her children to learn nestled within their culture - which wasn't one that embraced recording and writing. It was challenging coming up with ways to record the natural learning process. The best I could think of was visually - through art and film, with audio recordings. Much of their learning activities were of the kind that left no trace - no concrete 'evidence' that learning has occurred. And it's true to say that most of the education in a home learning environment occurs through conversation and doing things together. I settled on the idea of taking snapshots of development over the year - at least four separate 'weeks' spaced widely apart, captured on video perhaps, like a TV documentary. Or a scrapbook, done in much the same way. There is nothing to say that our records of our children's progress can't be a creative endeavour or a labour of love.
Recording doesn't have to be an everyday affair, although it would be good if you think you'll ever have to defend your decision to home educate (eg if an ex-spouse/parent objects and decides to cause trouble), to mark your child as 'present' at 'homeschool' on your wall calendar during the weekdays and then store you calendars until the child is post-compulsory school age. From what I've read over the years this seems to come up as the minimum required as legal proof of receiving an education.
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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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