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The Paine Family Home Based Learning Philosophy 1998

© Beverley Paine

The following learning program is a reviewed version of the original program we wrote in 1986 when our daughter turned six years of age and we sought exemption from attending school for the first time. Because we had given considerable thought to writing this initial curriculum we found all that we changed were the details of what the children were going to do each year. You can read of copy of our first learning program, for
which we were granted exemption from attending school, in my book Getting Started with Homeschooling, Practical Considerations, Australia's first homeschool manual.

  • Philosophy
  • Aims
  • Socialisation Statement
  • Curriculum Statement
  • Communication
  • Mathematic
  • Environment
  • Evaluation Statement
  • Learning Program Outline
  • Recording
  • Resources

Philosophy

  • Children are naturally curious and eager to learn. Their love of learning and ability to think creatively will only be fostered when they are able to learn at their own pace and follow their own interests as much as possible.
  • Children learn most effectively in an environment that provides honesty, trust, love and security. In a safe, secure learning environment each child is able to make choices about themself and their learning with increasing skill and confidence.
  • Responsibility and self discipline are best learned by real experience and by emulation of good example.
  • Unhindered by social and peer pressure to conform and in the absence of unnecessary competition children are able to develop stronger and more positive characters.
  • Education is an integral part of life and learning is not to be seen as a separate task. Learning should occur in the real world as much as possible and be viewed as an on-going life long process. All learning should be relevant to each child so that it is seen to have purpose and interest to the child.
  • Awareness of self is learned first within the family unit, gaining confidence and a sense of responsibility, which can be gradually applied to the wider community and in a variety of social settings when the child shows as readiness for this.
  • Caring, sensitive, responsible parents know best their children's strengths, weaknesses, interests and sensitivities. If the parents are willing to take the responsibility, time and interest to facilitate the education of their own children then those children have available to them the opportunity to learn in the best possible way.

Aims

  • To develop self-awareness, self-confidence and self-worth; respect and consideration for others and the environment we share and live together in, both as a family and in social settings.
  • To develop an ability to work and play effectively and co-operatively with people, evolved out of an understanding of one's self and abilities.
  • To be able to confidently express and communicate thoughts, ideas and opinions clearly using different media.
  • To be able to formulate their own set of values and to be sensitive to the values of others.
  • To be able to act responsibly, independent of direction, with purpose in a confident and assertive manner.
  • To be able to draw on knowledge and skills gained in a range of areas; to ask critical and constructive questions and use imagination and reasoning in devising responses and developing plans for action; to apply ethical standards and judgements in assessing situations and taking action.
  • To understand there are many different ways of knowing and understanding the world, and to be tolerant and respectful of other perspective's, to develop cultural and personal awareness.

Statement on Socialisation

  • Socialisation is a natural development in the education of children given that the above philosophy and aims are enacted and pursued.
  • Children learn social values and skills by example from a wide cross-section of people - first in the home as personal values are built and secured, and then in the wider community.
  • In an environment where children are trusted and valued, children can discover their abilities and natural talents, and are able to challenge themselves, promoting growth and development according to their own time frames, adequately pacing their acquisition of social skills to suit their own developing personality.
  • As parents sensitive to the needs of our children, we see our role as facilitators of opportunities to allow our children to follow their own social learning programs, guided by observation of, and discussion with, them.

Learning Program

Our program covers three broad areas of learning - Communication, Mathematics and Environmental Education. It is our aim to integrate these areas to provide a comprehensive and inclusive educational program. These three areas encompass all traditional curriculum areas.

COMMUNICATION

  • Communication encompasses all interaction between individuals or groups of individuals, and includes spoken and written language, non verbal (physiologically expressed), aural and visual forms of interaction. Communication occurs for a variety of reasons, both aesthetical and practical, and includes self expression.
  • Children learn language when they are immersed in it, it fulfils their own needs and purposes, they have access to help when they need it and they receive positive responses to their own attempts. Language encompasses all aspects of spoken and written words, non verbal and coded visual communication.
  • Children are confident in their own ability to progressively acquire language skills, and need to know that others trust that they can learn and expect that they will.
    The provision of a language rich environment where language is used constantly for purpose or recreation is the basis of our program.
  • When children learn language, their focus is not primarily on language acquisition, but on doing something else. The motivation to go on learning language comes from the satisfaction children gain from using to get things done and to help them make sense of the world. Therefore opportunities to use and discover language in a meaningful way is a priority in our program.
  • Humans communicate a range of emotions and events via the Arts, using a great variety of forms and materials to express their ideas and feelings.
  • Language and the Arts and best learned in an environment rich in diverse examples of meaningful and appreciative uses of both, which recognise the need to express and communicate ideas, thoughts and opinions as basic to both.
  • Immersion in an environment where many art forms are exhibited and practiced is seen as beneficial to the development of skills and fostering of emerging talents.
  • By providing materials and exposure to the many and varied forms of artworks of others, and allowing the children the space to experience art as a personal creative event, we hope to foster individual excellence and appreciation of all art forms, including language, musical, visual, creative movement and drama.
  • The ability to critically appraise and to reflect on personal response is encouraged and practised in all areas of language and the arts.
  • To enable us as parents to confidently provide this environment we shall use resources that are available to us, including programs, suggestions and ideas available in published literature, including accessing forms of language and artistic expression that may be infrequently used in the home or immediate community. It is our intention to draw widely on all the resources available to us.
  • Evaluation will be through sympathetic observation, including self-evaluation, with collection of samples of work forming the basis of appraisal, and personal assessment criteria.

MATHEMATICS

  • The ability to think in a logical manner is a clear necessity for survival and the processes involved in mathematics encourages and fosters this ability.
  • Mathematics is seen as a collection of skills and concepts which would equip a person to cope with most everyday situations. Therefore Mathematics should be experienced in real life situations where meaning is pertinent. Numeracy skills need to be acquired to facilitate this.
  • Our mathematics program follows the natural interest of the children, exploiting opportunities for learning as they present themselves, allowing the children to set their own pace of learning. There is scope within our program to introduce skills and processes as the need for them arises, and to demonstrate by example the meaningful use of these abilities.
  • In order for our children to become adept at mathematical thinking we will avail ourselves of both published resources, and opportunities for learning which present themselves in everyday life.
  • Evaluation will be by observation that a process and its use has been understood, and can be used confidently. Samples of the children's mathematical learnings will be collected to form the basis of a progressive appraisal database.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

  • Environmental education is seen as learning to live in and care for the environment, and encompasses subjects such as society and environment, health and safety, personal and public responsibility, religious studies, language, mathematics, technology and science studies.
  • It is not only a study of the physical environment but also of the animals, humans and plant life that populate it, and the intricate and complex interdependencies that exist between all three.
  • Our aims are to develop a sensitivity to the natural world, foster a sense of responsibility for all other living things, understand different life forms and life cycles, become aware of interactions and interdependencies and maintaining healthy relationships, develop the capacity to observe, explore, wonder, to express opinions and values, and hypothesise.
  • Access to a rich and varied environment is a key to learning in this area, with clear values and examples set by us as parents, with an emphasis on a hands-on approach. The ability to progressive develop research skills is seen as a natural outcome in the quest for information about the world we live in.
  • Opportunities for the child to experience real life events are vital, based on the understanding that a child must first wonder at the world and try to make sense of it at his/her own rate.
  • Encouraging the development of a questioning mind, the freedom to engage in activities of high interest, and support and assistance where requested are important aspects of our program.
  • Again, evaluation is through the process of observation and the personal satisfaction that the children are learning and retaining knowledge, values, skills and abilities.

Evaluation

  • Working and playing closely with our children we are constantly aware of their changing needs and interests.
  • As parents we are naturally and constantly evaluating their progress, adjusting our own personal program of parenting to suit each new challenge parenting brings. This natural ability is extended to all areas of their learning, and our own, with an increased awareness of the educational needs of our children, based on our desire to give them the best skills for surviving as adults in this rapidly changing world.
  • We feel confident in our ability to assess our educational program and change it or vary it as the need arises.
  • With a program such as ours based on maximising the learning potential of life experiences, the ability to be flexible in our approach is easily attained.
  • We propose to adopt and adapt many and varied forms of evaluation and record keeping, and to be dynamic with our approach to planning and devising and carrying out specific learning programs, with the proviso that they retain meaningfulness within our life.

Learning Program Outline

Emphasis will be on language development - reading, writing, listening and speaking, with activities drawn mainly from real life situations and events and supplemented with chosen educational activities and texts suitable to Thomas's level.

Daily reading practice, both aloud and silent, will feature prominently, with texts drawn from both fictional and non-fictional materials. Attention to developing his handwriting skills will progress according to his readiness. At this stage we will continue to the computer, developing key board skills, in order to facilitate his continuing interest in writing stories and letters.

Attainment of mathematical skills through daily living activities involving use of concepts in number, space and measurement, including art and craft projects, will be supplemented with progression through "7 Plus" mathematics text and educational games. Attention will be focussed on assimilating the times tables number facts.

There will be a continuing focus on cultural studies, environment and science, drawn from personal and cultural interest, especially in the use of special days/week/events of celebration in these areas. This will be conducted through practical investigation and experience, research and some reporting. In addition, specific activities will be introduces to extend the learning experience beyond normal daily life.

Thomas will be further exposed to map related activities, discussion of land formation and land use patterns (past and present, consequences, etc...), adaptation of species to environment and environmental change (including human).
There will be a focus on the examination of different cultures and periods in history, mainly focussing in South Australia and Australia, via use of mass media (television, radio, internet...), historical and cultural institutions, variety of texts, and use of projects.

Hygiene, personal and physical development will be given attention, with focus on development of tolerance and respect for differences. Thomas will be further encouraged to accept personal responsibility for his actions in all areas of life, and this will involve learning about, and understanding, the different roles of social structures, beginning with family, and looking at those in the local community, state, country and world.

Specific Focus Areas

  • Basic first aid.
  • Involvement in Trees for Life - revegetation projects.
  • Local and State Government, including excursion to Parliament House - rules, laws.
    Maintenance of clothes - basic sewing skills, laundry skills, shoe care.
  • Telephone skills - answering and making (all types of calls), emergency calls, information accessing, using directories.
  • Staying safe in the community - avoiding peer/media pressure to conform, dealing with unwanted attention, invasion of privacy, safety in home and environment.
    Media awareness - advertising, fact and opinion, bias, stereotype.
  • Using the Internet.
  • Food Foresters Certificates - research, practical projects.
  • Science Days - monthly, mostly chemistry and physics investigations.
  • Involvement in Local Exchange Trading System - markets and keeping own account.
    Use dictionary, encyclopedias, atlas, and street directories.

Teaching Practice

As parents we will make use of what talents and abilities we have to promote the growth and development of Thomas. These include considerable practical skills (building, gardening, mechanical, electrical, writing, researching). Where necessary we will supplement these with the talents and skills of others. Our emphasis is always on concrete learning preceding abstract forms, with practical manipulation and experience preferred over reading or viewing (hands-on learning). Assimilation by repetition or drill practice will be used as deemed necessary in certain areas of skill acquisition (eg maths and music).

We will draw on extensive community resources such as libraries, museums, exhibitions, galleries, Festivals, community events and celebrations, community organisations, educational suppliers (texts and materials), computer software and the Internet, local and Australian homeschooling support networks.

Our focus in on allowing Thomas to follow and develop specific areas of interest to him, while participating in family life and sharing the interests of others. Social activity with people of all ages in a variety of settings and purposes will help to extend Thomas's range of interest and offer new learning opportunities.

Opportunity for play and quiet moments of solitude are seen as essential elements of Thomas's learning program - not separate to it. As parents we feel all of Thomas's life is an educational experience for him - thus the daily activities (personal hygiene, care of self and possessions, behaviour, play, chores, food preparation and diet, etc...) all become part of the full learning experience.

Recording

  • Daily recording in personal journals.
  • Excursion scrap book.
  • Recording in specific subject or project books, including the use of some commercial workbooks.
  • Recording in folder/scrapbook of all notable work produced.
  • Photographic journal of outings and events of educational and social nature.
  • Audio and video recording where appropriate.
  • Collection of calendar pages.
  • Collection of participation and meritorious certificates.

Resources

  • Access to people other than parents for skills and information.
  • Regular use of local Library and Noarlunga Library, access to Teacher Resource Library at local school (curriculum guidelines and texts), use of own reference and fiction library. Use of Internet.
  • Regular use of educational institutions such as Museums, Galleries, Theatres, National and Conservation Parks, etc.
  • Use of commercial texts and educational computer software in areas of interest.
  • Access to community activity programs, including those specifically for children.
  • Participation in community festivals, events and exhibitions.
  • Participation in homeschooling support networks: outings, camps, activity based days, social gatherings and newsletters, email discussion forums.

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Welcome to the
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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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