Tips For Natural Learning
© Beverley Paine
If you want to take advantage of your children's natural learning you need to become astute observers of their behaviour, interests, likes and dislikes, and to begin to understand the ways in which they learn best. Allow your children to choose what, when and how to learn things on their own. Allow them to participate in decisions made about what they want to do, and how, and when; and give them opportunity to have greater responsibility within the framework of your family for their own lives. Don't leave your children to be responsible for themselves, encouraged them to explore responsibility, and to gradually accept self-responsibility according to their overall development.
Don't fall prey to exposing your children to a plethora of experiences, activities - anything and everything! Recognise the richness of everyday existence and take time exploring that. Build on the interests and strengths already present in children. Be selective, temperamental and responsive to individual and family needs, and as your children grow, to the needs in your immediate social community. Stay interested in what is on offer (as resources and activities), and choose wisely, matching what is out there to what is needed, not making up a need to match what is available! Learn to let go of what you don't need - unhelpful attitudes, experiences and materials, and focus on what you really want out of each experience. Stay 'rooted' in the real world of everyday existence, not offering unrelated fragments of 'learning experience' for the sake of learning.
Recognise and celebrate how much learning happens incidentally, unprovoked, unstructured, spontaneously. Allow for quiet, calm times of solitude or togetherness, recognising the learning value of them, as well as encouraging lots of activity. Don't focus on your child's life as the centre in the family. Remember that everyone one in your family is a learner, with unique needs and experiences. No one member is more important to the family's social structure than any other - all have their own special unique contributions and places. Natural learning for children is a social phenomenon, moving from the primary caregiver, to family, to local community, to wider society and beyond, always allowing an interactive and interdependent process to occur.
Natural learning is building family, and then community, and places emphasises on the development of beneficial and co-operative relationships and associations. It is not something you can do with your child. Natural learning is what happens anyway, despite what you do. Natural learning is what we allow to happen - not what we make or create. Learning is a process, not a product or outcome.
Read Amy Bell's definition of natural learning and unschooling - one that is similar to Eleanor's but different from my own. http://home.rmci.net/abell/page6.htm
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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 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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