Unschooling: How to Cover the Minimum Number of Hours of Instruction Necessary for Registration
Unschooling is a way of thinking about education rather than a method or an approach. It helps to start 'seeing' everything in curriculum terms - as in, when my child does [whatever] where would this fit into the curriculum? And to do it for everything the child does in a day, not just the things we think are educational.
Think about how you learn and how you learn best. What factors make learning easy, or hard? What switches you on or turns you off? When are you engaged? Thinking about how we learn helps to demystify the education process. We're all learners, we're learning all of the time (most of it subconsciously!)
Investigate and explore different learning styles: start to learn about how your child (and you!) learn. Schools and school curricula favour one particular method - not all of us are suited to it!
School and school methods of education are so restrictive and unrelated to what we need and want to do in life now: it is focused on the future needs of your child rather than meaningful to his or her life now. Children can and do learn the same way as adults: on the job. Learning that is immediately meaningful to the learner is retained. The learner must be invested, interested and engaged. Unschoolers capitalise on natural motivation rather than creating extrinsic motivations is a key. What we have to do to keep the registration authorities happy is translate that kind of learning into school-speak.)
Covering the minimum number of hours of instruction necessary for the purpose of registration is actually fairly easy! Just add up all the moments spent talking to your son throughout a day, or you working with him doing anything (chores, feeding or looking after pets, gardening, going for a walk, watching him at the playground, watching TV together, etc). Although the authorities don't see those things as 'education', they are opportunities for learning and most unschoolers take advantage of them by talking, demonstrating, mentoring, explaining, challenging, expanding, questioning while they are happening. Then add all the minutes he's on task doing something for himself. Then add in anything that you have added into the daily structure that has become routine or is a special occasion: reading together, prayer or meditation, regular exercise, play dates with friends, excursions, specific activities, any classes he goes to, etc.
I advise parents to keep a detailed log of these moments and minutes for a week or two (it's tedious but incredibly reassuring) as it is really hard to notice the learning taking place living life without 'education'. You will see that once added up, four to five hours daily is easily reached.
To feel really confident that this is an equivalent education to school (different in delivery timing of content and skills) spend some time and energy translating this log using the Australian Curriculum as a guide. That's even more tedious but very rewarding as part of the deschooling process. It helps us see that so much of the curriculum is based on natural child development and happens anyway simply by living a busy, creative, productive and constructive life, actively participating in home and community life.
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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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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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