Is Following a Child's Interests Enough?
By Beverley Paine
Aeron wrote: "When unschooling do you completely allow your children to follow their
interests for learning throughout their whole childhood and teen
years? So if the child never learns, for example, that calcium is an
element and occurs naturally in foods and is also present in the
ground and in our bones, is that ok?"
I personally don't describe natural learning as allowing a child to simply
follow their interests - life is way more complex than that.
For instance, if life hadn't intervened, would my children have played LEGO most
days for 14 hours a day? No way.
They would get up, start playing LEGO, then get cold or hungry. This would
necessitate getting dressed and browsing for food. At this stage they'd come
into my sphere and we'd start talking, making plans about what was going to
happen during the day. I'd let them know if we were going out, what chores
needed to be done, if I needed their help. They'd let me know if there was
anything they wanted to do, or not do. We'd bumble along through the day, doing
all the things that have to be done to live. If they were in the middle of some
project or game I'd make time for that, but if not we'd do things that
interested all of us.
I 'strew' stimulating things in their path all the time too. Plus we did lots of
interesting things in our lives, as parents, and the children naturally became
involved in those things.
Life is busy, it's full, it's amazingly complex. What we found is that most of
the obvious and noticeable learning - especially knowledge - was through
conversation. We talked a lot! The informal learning - background learning -
that happened because we led busy, complex and interesting lives - is where most
of the skills were learned.
Let's not worry about what our children will 'do' when they are grown up and
educate them into that role. Let's give them a liberal education that is far
ranging and interesting and covers all the basic survival skills well and then
let the future take care of itself.
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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.
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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
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