Welcome to the World of Home Education and Learning Without School!
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!
© Beverley Paine
Remember - it's not your job to teach your child everything there is to know! Homeschooling families draw on the entire environment and community as resources. For many homeschool families there is no difference between 'life' and education. Children are always learning! Sometimes we don't like what they are learning and it often easier to identify those resources which give rise to unwanted informal learning than it is to recognise the very many wonderful resources at our fingertips which can offer our children positive and constructive learning experiences.
People - access to a wide variety of people each week - is incredibly underated as learning resources for children. Learn to see everyone you and your children meet as valuable esources: friends, family, professional and community workers, groups, special interest tutors, classes, clubs, etc. Get involved in your local community! Go along to local markets, festivals, celebrations and activities. Build strong local networks - these will form a strong foundation for your children's education as they move into their teenage and early adult life.
Excursions equals motivation! Think museums, work places, parks, shops, etc. Get out and about as often as possible. Begin small with a daily walk around your neighbourhood. Look at places differently - take an interest. Ask questions as you walk and talk about what you see. Learn to see the architecture in the shopping centre and start comparing it with other architecture you see - anything can be a springboard for learning or sparking a life long interest in your children. Homeschooling doesn't just happen at the table in your living room!
Use things you already have in your home: books, toys, games, kitchen, garage, garden, computer, etc. Get busy making and creating... in the kitchen, in the shed, in the garden, on the dining table. Children of all ages love learning with their whole bodies - not just their eyes and ears.
Use your local library or begin to build your own. Books form the basis of many homeschoolers learning programs. Stock it with not only fiction but how to books and reference books too. It will probably end up your best educatonal investment. The internet is very useful to keeping in touch with other homeschooling families as well as providing a wealth of information and learning opportunities - there are millions of excellent learning resources and websites online.
Recycle - and if you find a good resource, share that information with other home educators! This will help your home from becoming cluttered.
Children progress through planned lessons much faster than their schooled peers and generally need less programmed time to do academic work. If you are following a school-at-home approach a few good text books or online tutoring programs are really all you need.
Each year the HEA publishes its Resource Directory listing curriculum suppliers, free to members, and offered to non-members for a small cost. There is an online directory divided into categories anyone can access.
Text and student work books are available from home education suppliers. These are businesses run by families who have homeschooled their children and understand that all too often work-books and text-books written for the classroom don't translate easily into the home environment. Many have written lessons and unit studies specifically for home educating families.
Quality bookstores often stock work-books and text-books for the education market. Ask your local homeschool contact or group for information about those in your area.
Free lesson plans can be found on the internet, but take time to source. Again, belonging to a homeschool network can come in handy - ask people what they use and why. Some groups build lists of favourite online resources. Others organise group discounts.
Second-hand materials, available online or through local groups, will save you lots of money. Most of us take advantage of these, saving our money for exhibitions or holidays or expensive specialist equipment.
Enrolment in distance education schools (criteria to be met) and part time attendance at school (not easily available in all states) can satisfy gaps in learning, particularly during the teenage years.
And lastly, curriculum guidelines for all states are published on the internet. Although they don't tell you how to teach each subject or give explicit lesson plans they do provide an overall idea of what can be taught. I used them to help brainstorm ideas when our homeschool life became a little lack-lustre or if I was started to worry about 'falling behind' in some area.
With purchasing resources, before you buy, ask yourself:
The goal is to create a curriculum that is concise, memorable and, most of all, meaningful for your child. And one you can work with! It should also be flexible and adaptive, as your child's learning needs evolve to match her changing personal interests and goals. Don't spend too much money at the beginning. Secondhand resources, recylcing and judicious use of the library and internet can provide most of the materials that you will need. Talk to others and carefully examine curriculum materials before buying them. Funds may be better spent on memberships to science museums than on a set of text books!
See also Resources.
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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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