Being 100% There for Our Children: Being Attentive to Needs Promptly Pays Off
by Beverley Paine, Nov 2013
One of the things I've discovered about the unschooling lifestyle is that no matter how much it looks unstructured it really isn't! Some of us are more spontaneous than others but we find that to do all the things we want to do - and are lives tend to be led by that - we need an underlying structure to support that level of activity. It's just that this structure doesn't look anything like the structure used by the majority of people in their lives!
There are a heap of things us parents have to do every day. These provide a framework for the structure and routine of our days and weeks. Including our children while we do these things adds extra time but is essential - we are, after all, talking about the most important things humans have to do - the provision of clean nutritious food, water, safe and appropriate shelter, companionship and love. These chores provide the bulk of the natural learning curriculum!
The biggest parenting lesson I learned arrived when my eldest was six, her brothers four and just born. The house was a mess of toys and stuff, the four and six year old bickering and clamouring for my attention. Of course, I was preoccupied! Definitely no time for me with a bubs on the breast and a house to maintain... One day, after a particularly nasty fight in the play room, I sat down and played with the children (bubs on breast, I think he lived there for years). Really played with them. It was so hard to pretend to be a character in their game of dolls. I was out of practice. But they didn't want me to pretend to play while I actually tidied the toys around where I sat. They wanted me to be in the game with them, give them my total attention and, because bubs needs were already met, I could actually do that. About twenty minutes later I noticed they weren't really playing with me any more, I'd slipped into the background, so I got up and left them to it. They played for another hour or so without yelling for me or needing me at all.
Next time I heard them getting fractious, I took notice of what was going on, intervened, attended to the need being expressed promptly. As I got practiced at this something awesome happened. At first it felt like I was running around after them a lot more, but because I was prompt and sometimes jumping in ahead of their clamouring for attention, meeting what I often guessed rather than knew was their need, they grew to once again trust that I really was there, looking after them, helping them, guiding them, etc the way I did when they were tiny babies, the way I was their younger brother. And I felt less nagged and consequently less frustrated by this aspect of being a parent.
As our children grow into toddlerhood we assume that they can get by without our help and intervention - we force independence on them - because we're busy and we really do enjoy those increasing moments of time we miss from before they were born. I honestly think we start grabbing them too soon and we break that trust we were careful to nurture when they were babies. Hence the urgent clamouring tone to their requests for our attention when they are toddlers and beyond!
For every minute of undivided attention - actually really truly focusing on the child's needs, tuning in when listening, not thinking about what we want and need from this moment, but what the child is expressing and needs - pays us back tenfold. I got more time to myself because I was 100% there for my children.
The only time I needed 100% time for me was when I was writing creatively - my brain goes somewhere else when that is happening. I chose not to do that while my children were very young, knowing there would be time later. When my youngest was six I started writing a novel - but before then I was producing a homeschooling newsletter which they helped illustrate and put into envelopes.
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.
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.
"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
Welcome to the
World of Home Education and
Learning without School!
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
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
||DIY Getting Started with Home Schooling Pack
Beverley Paine's best selling comprehensive common sense manual detailing how to write your own curriculum tailored to your children's educational needs
PLUS 9 of Beverley's popular practical home educating series booklets!
Great value $60
and Unschooling Pack
Each Pack contains a copy of the following:
Natural Learning Answers
A5 or A4
Learning Naturally Diary
Learning Maths Naturally
A Sample Approved Natural Learning Program and Review
Only $29 or $33
Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.
Without revenue from advertising
by 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!