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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!
My Non-educational Thoughts on Curriculum
I've been a home school mum for over a year now. Something to be proud of I know. Initially I was happy if I survived a month... then a term... and now with a little bit of hindsight I'm kind of thinking that maybe its not so hard after all.
There is one thing in particular though that hangs over my head like a dark cloud. It's that eternal question that pops up when I least expect it... "Which curriculum are you using?" I know, I know... people just cant help themselves. It goes hand in hand when mentioning that I home school. In the same way that children get asked how old they are and mothers of babies asked "is he a good baby?"
In my opinion, the word 'curriculum'... like other words that have that dreaded "rr" in them, should be removed all together from this planet. No one would disagree with me that terrorism, haemorrhoids and cardiac arrest are things that we could all do without. So why not get rid of the curriculum concept as well? Just think... it would make homeschooling so much more enticing.
Imagine the education department sending their rep over to your home to make sure that your children were being properly educated. They would make sure that your child was spending most of their day outside in the fresh air. They would then deduct points if they felt that your child's day looked too similar to the day before. The rep would 'tsk tsk' when seeing work that looked repetitive and practically faint when presented with a daily schedule.
In many ways a curriculum for a home school family reminds me of a birthing plan for the pregnant couple. It's a fairly standard procedure these days for the doctor or midwife to sit down with the couple and discuss what sort of ideas they have in mind for the impending birth. The options are endless. Water births, epidurals, medical students being present and so on. Reality is though... that once the woman is about five centimetres dilated... the birthing plan, along with the scented candles, whale sounds CD and the massage oils get thrown out the window. The rest of the labour is then able to progress as nature intended. It's a completely acceptable practice to spend ages discussing a birth plan... and then having it discarded within moments of that first contraction.
Let's embrace that for the homeschooling family as well. Let's allow the dialogue about curriculum to take place... but once that first cramp happens, let's ditch it and allow nature to take its course.
As much as I'm in awe of families that have their day planned out... as much as I come away from their home with my head hanging in shame... I have to wonder...
How do you design a curriculum that makes room for a spontaneous trip to the beach... that lasts all day... where you just can't pull yourself away from the magical sand castle so you come home after bed time with sand in your hair and exhausted smiles on your faces? A curriculum that then allows the next day to not even start till after ten because everyone needs to stay in bed and recharge...
Or a curriculum that allows for the kids to venture down to the nature reserve at the back of your house. They pack their own lunch and don't come back for hours. Eventually in the late afternoon they return with stories about waterfalls from the latest down pour, finding blue tongue lizards and catching yabbies with their bare hands.
Or a curriculum that caters to younger siblings who are urgently needing help to build the biggest Duplo tower ever and then decide that they no longer need morning naps?
Yes my kids are doing maths most days. Yes they write stuff about their lives or stories that they create. And yes... if I can pull myself away from the endless dirty dishes I do try to make a point of correcting their spelling and so on. But to be honest... other than that our days just happen. I figure that they are learning so much from the books they devour, the cubbies they are building, the dance routines they choreograph and the time spent helping in the home.
Their dad gets involved with the occasional science lesson (thankfully I'm not expected to help out in that department) and he is available at dinner times for vital questions about friction and distances in space. We are also blessed with a multi talented friend that teaches the kids anything from fire twirling to crocheting colourful beanies.
I long for the day I can stand tall when asked about my home school curriculum. When, with a straight face and with full confidence, I can say "we follow the highly sought after... 'spontaneous' approach"!
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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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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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