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!
You Can't Fail as a Homeschooling Parent
© Beverley Paine
No one said homeschooling was easy. But it isn't hard either. We tend to make it harder for ourselves in lots of little ways. Lack of confidence in our ability as teachers of our children arises from many incidences each day and can easily overwhelm us. When things aren't working out as we plan we often feel like throwing in the towel and start talking about sending children to school. We feel like homeschool failures.
At times like this the things you need to do, first and foremost, is find an affirmation that you can breathe in and out - something that reminds you to relax and take it easy - say "we've got all day" or " Rome wasn't built in a day", or "she's only six, we've got another twelve years to get this licked".
I use affirmations whenever I can remember to take the tension out of the day. I don't use them often enough, however! I know when I need to use an affirmation - it's in those emotionally charged moments when I'm in danger of reacting, rather than consciously acting. An affirmation is like a deep breath - it gives you that moment in which to pause. Counting to ten - slowly - while breathing can do the trick too. You need that space, more than anything else. The affirmation simply begins the reprogramming of unhelpful self-talk process.
Consistency begins by recognising the most important thing (just one!) you'd like to change right now. It would be beneficial if the whole family could agree on this one thing. Everyone can then contribute to making sure you all change that one thing - having support is crucial when we're trying to change entrenched behaviours.
Name that one thing. You could even put up a poster on the fridge with the new behaviour loudly proclaimed! Keep words and thoughts constructive (positive).
It's more effective to think about what we want, as if we already have it, than to dwell on what we don't want or what isn't working. Often naming what we want is enough to manifest it.
Forget about happiness. None of us are ever going to be consistently happy! It's okay to have blue moments or blue days. It's okay to be quietly reflective.
Sometimes my children were/are quietly reflective and I'd interpret that as unhappiness and intervene... Not happy then! Or sometimes when one of us is learning something challenging we get frustrated with ourselves, we may get cranky or cross, and even short-tempered. When I saw my children struggling like this I would intervene - uninvited of course - and then they'd get cross at me!
We need to accept that learning isn't always about having fun or being happy. Sometimes it's about loss, reconciliation, compassion, grief, coming to terms with inability... and so on.
Happiness is something that if we take care of ourselves will come naturally. Adequate sleep, rest, relaxation, laughter, exercise and nutritious food underpin happiness. Aim for those and you'll soon be on your way to happiness.
Happiness, as I'm currently finding out, doesn't arrive without balance though. That's the where stability and consistency come into play in the homeschool.
Cultivate a habit of avoiding extremes. We naturally do this in the physical realm but forget the importance of finding and maintaining mental balance. I'm terribly guilty of this: I have 'highs' where I get oodles of impressive work done and dreadful 'lows' where I simply sit and wait for the mood to pass. I'm learning to resist the urge to be ultra busy when I'm hyper - learnign to relax more, especially at those times though it's so tempting to stay busy and productive - so that I don't dive too low. As a result I'm able to do much more all the time. It's a huge relief, and - wonder of wonders - I'm naturally happier!
Reacting, especially emotionally, drains energy. Time is the healing potion. When you're reacting, step back, sit down, hug yourself and your children. Stop whatever you are doing and have a playful moment, even if you don't feel like it.
Break the cycle. Go outside. Remove yourself to break the building tension. Don't engage if you feel that you're reaction is going to be anything other than constructive... And try to view the situation objectively - stand outside of yourself and look on, perhaps as God would...
One of the tools I used to help me relax about 'education' was thinking about what schools really offer. Not what the ideal school would offer, but what the real school, the one down the road, does offer every day. I'd look at society - with all it's never ending and never solved problems and realise that school has to cop a large part of the blame. It's at school that the apathy that permeates society sets like concrete.
For every caring 'leader' that comes through the system there are nine people who are lost, haven't got a clue how to solve the big problems in their communities, or even in their personal lives.
When have schools ever delivered the curriculum they promise to all their students? We, and many other natural learning families, have discovered that even if you don't 'educate' your children, they will be on par with most of their peers at age 18. Any 'education' that you offer you children as a homeschooler is therefore a clear bonus!! You can't fail.
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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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